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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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Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
RIDER-WALLIS DRY GOODS COMPANY. In August 1864, John Vincent RIDER was informed by John BELL and James WALLIS that they had purchased the retail business of Wood, Luke and Company. Bell and Wallis asked Rider to become an equal partner in a business capitalized at $24,000. (1)

The company was first known as John Bell and Company. The name was changed in 1865 to Bell, Rider and Wallis. Bell's interest was purchased in 1866, and the company was renamed Rider, Wallis and Company. In 1889 the firm was incorporated. The officers were John Vincent Rider, President; James Harold Wallis, Vice-president; and S. P. Rider, secretary and treasurer. (2)

The business included the wholesaling of a full line of dry goods and the manufacturing of men's work clothes. The White Elephant brand of overalls, shorts, jackets, lined duck and corduroy coats, cotton flannel gloves and mittens were especially popular. Dry goods included underwear, notions, dress goods, silks, wash goods, piece goods, dress shirts and furnishings. The company also imported laces, damask, embroideries, hosiery, gloves and ribbons. (3)

Offices were maintained in New York, Paris, St. Gall and Chemnitz. (4) A branch factory was located in Princeton, Wisconsin. (5)

Rider-Wallis had a trade area covering Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, the Dakotas and Nebraska. The only exclusive wholesale dry goods house in Dubuque and the largest of its kind in Iowa, the company in 1910 employed three hundred with sixteen traveling salesmen on the road. (6)


The 1886-87 Dubuque City Directory listed 356 to 364 Main.

The 1890-91 and 1899-1900 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of 7th and Locust.

The 1911-12 Dubuque City Directory listed 101-149 7th.

The 1929 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of W. 4th and Locust.

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1. The Industries of Dubuque: Her Relations as a Trade Center, Dubuque: J. M. Elster and Company, Publishers, 1887, p. 56

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "The Dubuque Overall Industry Gives Employment to 1,300 Persons," Telegraph Herald, February 16, 1910, p. 1

6. Ibid.

Trade card (front)
The reverse of each of these cards is the same--the wording shown. Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque
Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque
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Trade Card
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Trade Card
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey