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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.


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DUBUQUE HARBOR COMPANY. The Dubuque City Directory of 1857-1858 listed the officers of the Dubuque Harbor Company as Charles H. GREGOIRE, president; Richard BONSON, Vice President; and directors--Gregoire and Henry L. STOUT. The company in 1855 agreed to build a causeway south of WAPLES CUT, the payment was to be all the city land south of the cut except enough for streets, alleys, etc. The company agreed to extend Jones or Dodge street to the river. (1)

The wealthiest business in Dubuque in August 1857, the Dubuque Harbor Company first issued post notes in November 1857. The denominations, $5 and $10, were engraved in New York. The notes caused controversy because some people felt they were in violation of state law. The Tribune, one of the local newspapers, was opposed to the bills while the Express & Herald although opposed to the bills saw them as a temporary necessity. (2)

All the bankers in the city, with the exception of J.L. Langworthy & Brothers who had an interest in the DUBUQUE HARBOR IMPROVEMENT COMPANY honored the currency. A group was formed to support the Harbor Company notes and the company asked local businessmen to aid the community and not to profit from the currency being issued. The bills circulated throughout northern Iowa.

In November, 1867, the sheriff sold at public auction many lots of the Harbor Company for non-payment of taxes; they were all bought back by the Harbor Company. (3)

In 1873 the company was ready to begin filling submerged blocks 2, 3, 4, and 5 between First and Jones STREETS. While asking the city council for 120 days, it was granted five months to use the roads in the area to carry out the work. (4) In March of the same year the company proposed the construction of a large hotel and restaurant near the proposed new passenger depot of the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD and the establishment of a stockyard on the lower part of the company's property. (5)

In 1874 the Harbor Company's filling of sloughs under the supervision of William G. STEWART used 10,729 carloads of sand. (6)

In June, 1878, the Dubuque Harbor Company directors and stockholders elected officers including William COATES, president; D. N. COOLEY, vice-president; James H. SHIELDS, secretary; and William G. STEWART, treasurer and financial agent. (7) They then announced the company was going out of business and selling all of its property in September. It had large holdings including about 5,000 feet of frontage on South Main street covered with buildings. There were 1,678 lots which were bought by Cooley, Stout, Bonson, Bush, Shields, Waller, Staples, Langworthy and others; the two days' sale brought over $100,000. (8) Sales of land continued to September 12, 1881. (9)



1. Oldt, Franklin T. and Patrick J Quigley, History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, p. 106

2. Oakes, Dean G. Iowa: Obsolete Notes and Scrip. The Society of Paper Money Collectors, 1982

3. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-17-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml

4. "City Council," The Daily Herald, December 23, 1873, p. 4

5. "Dubuque Harbor Company," Daily Herald, March 2, 1873, p. 4

6. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, July 9, 1874, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18740709&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "The Dubuque Harbor Company," The Daily Herald, June 12, 1878, p. 4

8. Oldt, p. 20

9. "Caught on the Fly," The Daily Herald, September 13, 1881, p. 4