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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.


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30 Main. Office. Undated photo. Library of Congress.
c. 1912. Photographer unknown, “[Thomas J. Mulgrew ice wagon on Couler Avenue],” Loras College Digital Collections, accessed April 12, 2014, https://digitalcollections.loras.edu/items/show/17.
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
THOMAS J. MULGREW COMPANY. The Thomas J. Mulgrew Company began on April 1, 1893 with the purchase of the coal business of the E. M. DICKEY COMPANY (THE). A partnership was formed three months later between Thomas James MULGREW and John Phillips. Phillips died fifteen months later, and his half interest was taken over by Thomas F. Phillips, his brother. It was decided to enter the ice business in 1896. Equipment for ICE HARVESTING was purchased and the company entered the retail ice business in 1897. (1)

In 1902 Mulgrew purchased the Phillips interest in the company. The company was incorporated in 1904 and a second ice house was constructed along the river front. (2) The firm sold coal, building materials, lime, fire clay, fire brick and sewer pipe.

The office, yards and ice houses were originally located at Jones and Iowa STREETS and occupied four acres. In 1911 a spur from the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD ran to each yard providing quick loading and unloading of cars. An average of forty men were employed with more needed during the winter. (3)

Letterhead: Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
The Mulgrew Company in 1911 had a contract with the Illinois Central Railroad for 20 thousand tons of ice to be shipped to Waterloo, Iowa during the summer months for icing the refrigerator meat trains which began at the Missouri River and for dining cars. (4)

In 1915 a new office building was constructed on the corner of Jones and Main. In the same year a coal elevator was erected which mechanically handled all coal from the car to the truck or the wagon. (5)

Fire struck the company in 1920 with the loss of two ice houses, coal elevator, coal sheds, and all the buildings located on the two blocks of land on the river front. Construction began immediately on a new ice house. In 1922 a brick building was completed for an artificial ice plant. Purchase of up-to-date equipment allowed the plant to be functional by May, 1923. In 1924 an elevated 1,500 foot long track was erected allowed the re-screening of all coal. (6)

The Mulgrew Company entered the oil business in 1926 when only oil used for fuel in oil burners was sold. In 1934 the company were distributors for Skelly products, Aromax and Re-Fractioned gasoline, and Tagolene lubricating oil. (7) Beginning in 1929 Hart Oil Burners were sold and serviced within a 75-mile radius of Dubuque. (8)

In 2017 Mulgrew Oil and Propane Company supplied branded fuels such as BP, ConocoPhillips, Sinclair and Valero. It also supplied wholesale diesel, gasoline, liquid propane (LP) and DEF. (9) Offices were located in Dubuque, Cascade, DeWitt, Strawberry Point, Monona, Waukon, Maquoketa, Clinton and Lansing, Iowa as well as Scales Mound, Illinois. Mulgrew Oil Company was a heating fuel and oil supplier. (10)


Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
1955 advertisement. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The 1904-1905 through the 1913 Dubuque and Dubuque County Directory stated that this business was located at Jones and Iowa.

The 1915 Dubuque City Directory listed 725 Jones.

The 1918 Dubuque and East Dubuque City Directory and the 1923 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of Main and Jones.

The 1934 Dubuque City Directory listed 198 Jones.

The 1937 Dubuque Consurvey Directory listed Main and Jones.

The 1939 through 1959 Dubuque City Directory listed 197 Jones.

The 1974 through 1983 Dubuque City Directory listed the ice business at 85 Terminal.

In 2017 the corporate office was located at 10314 Silverwood Drive.


1942 War Map



1. "Dubuque Industry Purchased in 1893," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, August 24, 1930, p. 35

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Advertisement, Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, August 19, 1934, p. 7

8. "Dubuque Industry Purchased..."

9. Mulgrew Oil and Propane. Online: https://mulgrewoil.com/

10. Mulgrew Oil Company. Online: https://porch.com/dubuque-ia/heating-oil-suppliers/mulgrew-oil-co-26662215/pp