Herrmann came to the United States with his parents in 1859. He worked in a bakery for some time and then tried farming. (2) He moved to Dubuque in 1871 as a surveyor for the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD, but left to work for the DUBUQUE CABINET MAKERS' ASSOCIATION. In 1877 Herrmann bought the business including the factory and its retail store. In 1908 the factory was sold, but he continued to operate the furniture store at 544 Main Street under the name of R. Herrmann and Sons. In 1927 the Herrmanns had been in business fifty years. (3)
Herrmann began his collecting as an employee of the Illinois Central Railroad. (4) Beginning with geological specimens, he gradually developed an extensive collection of Native American relics. (5) In 1911 he was given, and took, the opportunity to purchase the baby cradle of Julien DUBUQUE. (6) At the age of eighty-three, he was still giving guided tours of his collections which were stored in the upstairs areas and halls of his home. (7)
Herrmann was a moving force behind the collection of six hundred dollars for the construction in 1897 of the JULIEN DUBUQUE MONUMENT south of the city. He excavated the grave to prove it was that of Dubuque and, for a time, displayed the remains of Dubuque and Peosta in his museum. Herrmann was active in the Masonic Lodge in Dubuque and held many of its highest offices. As the oldest Mason in the city, Herrmann turned over the first spadeful of dirt at the construction of the new Masonic Temple. (8)
Herrmann was the author of Julien Dubuque--His Life and Adventures (1922) and an autobiography entitled Curriculum Vitae-Memoirs of Life. He was listed in Who's Who in America and listed as a founder of the American Anthropological Society, an organization of Harvard University. He was also elected to a membership and fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (8) At his death, Herrmann was believed to be the last member of the OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION. He had been the youngest member in the Association when it disbanded. (9)
Upon his death, relatives loaned his countless artifacts to the DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Originally displayed at the HAM HOUSE, the collections were moved in 1982 to the Mississippi River Museum. (10) In 1995 the donation was made permanent.(11)
1. "Herrmann Museum Chock Full of Rare Relics, Antiques, Curiosities, and Art Work Gathered From the Middle West," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, Feb. 26, 1933, p. 18. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4v1QAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Or4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=5525,2808432&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en
2. Kruse, Len. My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 2000, p. 54
3. "Richard Herrmann in Business Fifty Years," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, June 12, 1927, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7J9FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vLwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3382,5237935&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en
4. "Mr. and Mrs. Richard Herrmann Celebrate Diamond Anniversary," Telegraph Herald, Feb. 22, 1938, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=TZJSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NaoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1508,5263963&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en
5. "Herrmann Museum Chock..."
6. "Julien Dubuque's Cradle," Telegraph Herald, Mar. 18, 1997, p. B5. Online: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=DQ&p_theme=dq&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAE49034DEAC6D5&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
7. Kruse, Len.
8. "Oldest Mason of City Wields Spade," Telegraph Herald, Nov. 10, 1930, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4rpFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aL0MAAAAIBAJ&pg=1001,4108012&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en
9. Kruse, Len.
10. Kruse, Len.
11. Gilindinning, Mary, "Family Donates Dubuque History," Telegraph Herald, May 10, 1995, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fHNjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pnkNAAAAIBAJ&pg=2119,2447646&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en