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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

O'DONNELL, Frederick

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O'DONNELL, Frederick. (Illinois, 1846--Dubuque, IA, Sept. 10, 1925). MAYOR. Little is known of his early life excepting that his mother was a widow. It was believed his parents came to the United States shortly before he was born. (1) He and his brother were raised by Dr. J. C. Ware, a physician of Fairfield, Iowa. (2)

In 1861 O'Donnell ran off to Missouri and enlisted in the Union Army at the start of the CIVIL WAR. He served with Mulligan's Brigade when it was captured by Price at Lexington, Missouri, September 20, 1861. O'Donnell was paroled and returned home.

He read law with Slagle & Acheson of Fairfield and in about 1866 moved to Dubuque and entered practice as a member of the firm of Wilson, Mulkern & O'Donnell. Following the death of his partners, O'Donnell formed a partnership with his brother, Hubert, and Judge McCeney. (3) In 1869 he was elected representative, was re-elected in 1871, and elected again in 1879, serving in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Seventeenth general assemblies.

In 1882 he was elected mayor of Dubuque, and was re-elected in 1883. In January 1882 those who had incorporated the pile and pontoon bridge surrendered the authority granted to the company by the United States secretary of war. Those who were supporting a wagon bridge were notified. Iowa was divided into the Northern and Southern Judicial Districts. Dubuque became the headquarters of the Northern District under Judge Oliver Perry SHIRAS. Julius K. GRAVES who was faced with a daily round trip of sixty minutes to reach his hilltop home from downtown petitioned the city council to construct an elevator after seeing the advantages of incline railways in the Alps of Europe. The petition was granted on June 5, 1882. In December, 1882, the NOVELTY IRON WORKS was lighted for the first time by electricity. In 1882 Congress appropriated twenty thousand dollars to dredge down six feet below the low-water mark and provide room for twenty steamers and fifty barges. Under the direction of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., an organized mound exploration was conducted in 1882. By an act of July, 1883, additional rights and privileges were granted to the DUBUQUE STREET RAILWAY COMPANY and additional requirements were expected from it. Dubuque residents saw the first use of electricity on November 17, 1883, when the PLATT BROTHERS COMPANY was lit for five hours in light compared in brightness to noon day.

He was elected a judge of the District Court and and served for sixteen years from 1891 to 1906. He died as a result of an automobile accident.

Judge O'Donnell was once married to Fannie STOUT. (4)

Other events in 1882 or 1883 can be found by writing either year into the search feature of this encyclopedia.



1. "Pay Tribute to Judge O'Donnell," Telegraph Herald, Sept. 10 1925, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GiBFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OLsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1690,2195025&dq=frederick+o-donnell+dubuque&hl=en

2. Ibid.

3. "Judge O'Donnell Dies of Injuries," Telegraph Herald, September 9, 1925, p. 2. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GSBFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OLsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4682,2047816&dq=frederick+o-donnell+dubuque&hl=en

4. "O'Donnell Will Filed in Court," Telegraph Herald, September 30, 1925, p. 2. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KyBFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OLsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5388,4731358&dq=frederick+o-donnell+dubuque&hl=en

The Iowa Legislature, "Frederick O'Donnell," Online: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Legislators/legislator.aspx?GA=13&PID=4730

"Frederick O'Donnell," Linwood Legacies. Online: http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/the-stout-and-odonnell-family.html