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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

CHALMERS, John George

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CHALMERS, John George. (Downsville, NY, Aug. 17, 1874-Dubuque, IA, June 8, 1962). Chalmers came to Dubuque in 1901 after graduating from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. (1) From 1901 to 1902 he taught math and history at the Dubuque High School and coached. During his first year, his team won the state football championship. (2)

In 1902 Chalmers moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as football coach and athletic director for one year before returning to the University of Iowa from 1903 to 1906 as the director of physical education and athletics. While serving as the head coach of baseball, basketball, football and track, he attended law school. (3) His football team record for the three years was 24-8.

Advertisement from 1926. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
In 1906 Chalmers returned to Dubuque. While continuing his law practice, he considered coaching his hobby. (4) Chalmers coached at COLUMBIA COLLEGE from 1907 to 1913 with a record of 28-16-4. He coached football at the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE from 1914 to 1925 and was their first baseball coach from 1915 to 1921. (5) In 1921 he was named the president of the DUBUQUE BUICK COMPANY.

Beginning in 1919, Chalmers served as a referee in bankruptcy for the Northern District of Iowa, eastern division. In March 1942, he was appointed judge of the 19th Judicial District. (6) He was the first Republican to hold the position. (7) Chalmers served as a district judge from 1942 until 1955 when he retired.

Locally, Chalmers served in many leadership positions. He was president of the Dubuque Independent School District from 1931 to 1933, Dubuque County Conservation Society, Dubuque County Abstract Company and the Langworthy Silica Company. He was president of the Iowa State Cancer Society and for many years served as its legal adviser. (8)

In recognition of his coaching record, Chalmers Field at the University of Dubuque was named in his honor. (9) In 1960 a lecture room was named for him in the science hall of the university. (10) In 1962 Chalmers received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Dubuque Real Estate Board. (11) As a final honor, on September 14, 1991, Chalmers was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the University of Dubuque. (12)



1. "Judge Chalmers Dies; Coach, Civic Leader," Telegraph Herald, June 8, 1962, p. 1

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. University of Dubuque. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/athletics/facilities/chalmersfieldanddouglasjmillertrack/

5. "Judge Chalmers Dies..."

6. "Chalmers Now on Bench Here," Telegraph Herald, Mar. 23, 1942, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BldFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_LsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2565,2640105&dq=john+george+chalmers+dubuque&hl=en

7. Ibid.

8. "Judge Chalmers Dies..."

9. University of Dubuque.

10. "Judge Chalmers Dies..."

11. Ibid.

12. University of Dubuque