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Pier and his brother, Philip PIER had a boat store on the levee in 1861. In 1878 GLEED'S BREWERY was sold under foreclosure proceedings to John for seven thousand dollars. Within two years, he was employing six men at the renamed KEY CITY BREWERY (THE) and brewing ten barrels of beer daily. When the brewery burned, Pier returned to the grocery business, near the court house until 1879. He began JOHN PIER & COMPANY, a lucrative real estate and insurance business with his daughter, Lena.
Pier held the office of City Alderman and Chief Engineer of the Fire Department. Among organizations in which he played a significant role were the Volunteer Firemen's Association, the Odd Fellows, Iowa Workmen, and the EARLY SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION.
Oldt, Franklin T. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, p. 857