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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.

Difference between revisions of "FANNING, Timothy"

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Latest revision as of 19:47, 15 June 2019

FANNING, Timothy. (1810--Feb. 17, 1863). In December, 1838, an act of the Iowa territorial legislature authorized Timothy Fanning to operate a HORSE FERRY at Dubuque for twenty years. He was required to land at any required part of the river front of the town; to keep ample boats and facilities, and two years later was to put on a steam ferryboat and a sufficient number of flatboats. (1)

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
The same year, he purchased land and started a tavern called Tim Fanning’s Log Tavern. By 1840 Fanning and Arthur Conway were officially recorded as owners. The hotel portion on Lot No. 1 was known as the Jefferson House; however, most people simply referred to the location as “Tim Fanning’s Log Tavern.” (2) The site was later marked as the beginning of the MILITARY ROAD.

So popular was the hospitality of the tavern that the state’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was held there. As described in My Old Dubuque: (3)

                The first celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the State 
                of Iowa was held in the city of Dubuque on March 17, 1838
                . . . . Sixty gentlemen sat down to a festive dinner . . . 
                at the Fanning Hotel. . . . Thirteen toasts were raised 
                to the occasion.

According to an early edition of the Missouri Times, people came from far and near to invoke the "higher powers" of the “Wishing Willow” in the tavern. Fanning felled a huge tree to provide docking room for his ferry boat, which ran across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER between Dubuque and Dunleith (now East Dubuque). Intrigued by the willow’s gnarled stump, Fanning brought it into his tavern where it became a table, a platform for dancing and a place for imbibing customers to “make a wish.” (4)

The first meeting to consider organizing a Masonic Lodge in Dubuque was held on July 18, 1842. Those in attendance were James Smith, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire; Timothy Fanning; Narcissus Nadeau, George W. Cummings; Timothy MASON; Samuel Biggen; Benjamin F. Davis; and Elisha Deville. These men prepared and signed a petition to organize and forwarded the document to the Most Worshipful J.H. McBride, Grand Master of Freemasons in Missouri.

On October 10, 1842 the request for the first Masonic Lodge in Dubuque was granted. Timothy Fanning was named the first Worshipful Master.

Fanning was also involved in local politics in Dubuque. He served as an alderman in 1841, 1843, 1844, and 1845. (5)

In April, 1852, Timothy Fanning's construction here of a steam ferryboat caused the newspapers to observed that there was no reason why Dubuque should not become a boat-building center. (6) In 1853 he was involved in FANNING V. GREGOIRE,one of the earliest important legal cases in the history of Iowa. (7)



1. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880 p. 207

2. Lot One. Online: http://lotonedbq.com/reservation/

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Official Roster-Town Officials. http://members.tripod.com/~Doreen_3/officials.htm

6. Oldt.

7. 57 U.S. 524 - Timothy Fanning v. Charles Gregoire and Charles Bogg. Online: http://openjurist.org/57/us/524/timothy-fanning-v-charles-gregoire-and-charles-bogg

Timothy Fanning's birth and date dates: http://www.academia.edu/5660157/Appendix_B_Bioarchaeology_and_History_of_Dubuques_Third_Street_Cemetery_13DB476