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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.

BOOTH, Caleb H.

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/35024935/person/46582677692/facts?_phsrc=cbC280&_phstart=successSource

Caleb H. Booth. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Booth/Carter mine 1966. Photo courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/ykyguidiiyr/

BOOTH, Caleb H. (Chester, PA, Dec. 26, 1814--Dubuque, IA, June 19, 1898). MAYOR. Booth received his first education in Burlington, New Jersey. Trained in civil engineering, he was offered his first job at the age of seventeen with the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company. (1)

Soon after becoming an attorney, Booth traveled to Dubuque while it was still a part of Michigan Territory. He arrived on July 3, 1836, one day before the act establishing the new Territory of Wisconsin. (2) Booth became actively involved in MINING and was involved in finding LEAD deposits from which seven million pounds of ore were recovered. (3) In 1838 the firm of Booth & Carter reflected his partnership with William CARTER. Later R. O. Chaney joined the business which was renamed Booth, Carter & Company. (4)

In 1844 Booth, Carter & Company sank a shaft which resulted in the discovery of one the richest veins of lead yet discovered in the Dubuque area. The cave was 1000 feet in length, from 8-40 feet in width, and from 12-30 feet in height. Descriptions said that the mineral reflected light in all directions. Chunks weighing as much as 1,000 pounds lay on the cave floor. While estimating the value of the ore was difficult, some miners suspected the total amount of ore could reach millions of pounds. (5) The closed mine was explored in 1966 (see picture).

Booth held a wide variety of business interests. In 1848 he built the KEY CITY MILLS, the first flour mill in the city and developed a process for drying flour that extended its storage. (6) The firm of Nadeau, Booth and Company, became Booth and Rogers. (7) He was a partner in the mercantile business of Booth, Townsend and Company; assistant secretary and treasurer of the DUBUQUE AND SIOUX CITY RAILROAD; secretary and treasurer of the Cedar Falls and Minnesota Railway Company; and general manager of the DUBUQUE AND DAKOTA RAILROAD until it was sold. (8) With other partners, Booth invested in the DUBUQUE AND PACIFIC RAILROAD and was elected treasurer and one of the directors of the company in 1857. In 1856 he was one of the commissioners who established the State Bank of Iowa. (9) In 1868 Booth helped organize the DUNLEITH AND DUBUQUE BRIDGE Company. He was also secretary and treasurer of the Iowa Land and Loan Company.

Booth designed Booth's Improved Dredge Pump. (10) Their popularity was proven by July 1890 when contractors in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington were contacting him for business. (11) In the Engineering News and American Railway Journal of March 26, 1892, a complete description of this pump and system was given.

         By means of powerful air and suction pumps built in co-operation with the 
         engines on the boat, light material from the depth of fifty feet can be 
         conveyed to the banks. This method has proven very practical and valuable 
         on rivers like the Upper Mississippi, where the soft sandy banks are 
         constantly filling the riverbed. When in operation the suction pipes lie on 
         the bottom, and the material is drawn in and conveyed to tile surface to be 
         dumped at any reasonable distance. The movement and direction of the
         suction pipe are under control of the engineer by machinery driven by the
         pump shaft. The dredge can be utilized for removing islands or sand-bars
         that hinder navigation, and it is believed it would be useful in gold
         hunting, where deposits; of the metal are washed by the mountain streams
         into the bed of rivers on a level. (12)

In 1893 General Booth's new sand pump barge was christened the "Mound Builder" by Miss Fannie Cozech; it was built by the IOWA IRON WORKS and was 112 feet long. (13) In 1894 two crews allowed the pump to be used around the clock to pump sand from the main CHANNEL of the river to fill in sloughs. (14) He sold the machine capable of pumping 6,000 cubic yards daily in 1896 to the Wiggins Ferry Company of St. Louis after he had used it to fill in the lots he owned along the river. (15) Booth's steam flour dryer was placed into operation at the DUBUQUE CITY MILLS. (16)

Responsible for the filling of sloughs on Dubuque's southeast riverfront, Booth can be credited with lessening the rate of illness in the city and providing improved docking for steamboats. He also developed a rapid process of manufacturing SHOT that contributed to the success of the firm of Booth, Carter and Company. (17)

Beginning a long political life, in 1839 Booth was elected a member of Iowa's first territorial legislature when it convened in Burlington. (18) Later he was elected to the first legislature that convened at the territorial capital in Iowa City. In 1841 Booth was chosen Dubuque's first mayor.

Among the actions of city government during his term of office: (19)

         a) On May 26, 1841, it was determined by the board to begin at once the 
         improvement of the harbor under the supervision of the street commissioner, 
         who was directed to open a canal to connect the outer and inner sloughs at 
         the best practical points. He was directed "to deepen the channel which now 
         connects the slough at the lower landing with the inner slough and levee the 
         same on the side next the town so as to make as good a steamboat landing as 
         may be practicable." 
         b) The board opened Eighth street.
         c) Proposals for work on the canal were called for in June, 1841 ; this work 
         was paid for in city scrip. Another $1,000 was appropriated for canal work on 
         June 21, 1841. Steps to deepen the mouth of the inner slough at the lower 
         landing were taken in August, 1841. Another $1,000 for canal work was 
         appropriated late in August, 1841. Previous to September 6, 1841, there had 
         been appropriated for the opening of this canal a total of $3,500; the canal 
         to connect the outer and inner sloughs. The board on September 6, 1841 pledged 
         the fund due the city from the land office from the sale of public lots for 
         the payment of the above appropriation. 
Iowa Gravestone Photo Project

During the administrations of Presidents Polk and Taylor, Booth served as the Surveyor General of the district including Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. (20) With William J. BARNEY, several subdivisions and the town of Farley, named for Jesse P. FARLEY were platted.

Booth was the second person to join the MASONIC LODGE in Dubuque. He served as the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Iowa in 1845 and the Master of his lodge in 1948-1855. For many years he was also the treasurer of his lodge. (21)

In 1868 two heirs to the Booth fortune willing $1 million to the City of Dubuque. (22)



1. Klauer, John. "Caleb Hoskins Booth: Filling in the Swamp," Julien's Journal, 2013, p. 48

2. A. T. Andreas Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875 Biographies, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iadubuqu/andreas/1875bios.html

3. Tuttle, Charles Richard and Daniel Steele Durrie, An Illustrated History of the State of Iowa, Chicago: Richard S. Peale and Company, 1876, p. 728 http://books.google.com/books?id=Jo8-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA728&lpg=PA728&dq=caleb+booth+iowa&source=bl&ots=CpFkpx279N&sig=nHaaVceeHpqaZU85Cp5rhtJ6iYM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=RgfhULnMM8bO2AXg5YCwAQ&ved=0CFQQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=caleb%20booth%20iowa&f=false

4. Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1894, p. 218

5. "Iowa Lead Mine," The Cadiz Sentinel, October 2, 1844, p. 2. Online: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028793/1844-10-02/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1836&index=0&rows=20&words=Iowa+Lead+Mines&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1850&proxtext=iowa+lead+mines&y=21&x=14&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1 Research: Jeff Gruber

6. Klauer, p. 48

7. Ibid.

8. The Iowa Legislature, Representative Caleb Booth, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Legislators/legislator.aspx?GA=14&PID=4983

9. 1875 Biographies, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iadubuqu/andreas/1875bios.html

10. Iowa Inventors Database. State Library of Iowa. http://www.statelibraryofiowa.org/cgi-bin/patents/browse/patents.cgi?patentsDir=ASC&place_id=671&county_id=61&patentsOrder=Sorter_title&patentsPage=2

11. "Local News in Brief," Dubuque Daily Herald, July 31, 1890, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18900731&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

12. Dubuque County Genealogy, "General Caleb Hoskins Booth," http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iadubuqu/biographies/chbooth.html

13. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa.

14. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, April 14, 1894, p. 4.

15. "Gen. Booth's Sand Pump," Dubuque Daily Herald, November 28, 1896, p. 8

16. "Patent Steam Dryer," Dubuque Herald, February 1, 1866, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18660201&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

17. Klauer, p. 49

18. 1875 Biographies, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iadubuqu/andreas/1875bios.html

19. Oldt

20. Iowa Gravestone Photo Project, Caleb H. Booth, http://iowagravestones.org/gs_view.php?id=197298

21. "Complete History of Masonry," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 13, 1932, p. 19

22. Miller, Jim, "City Groups Willed Portion of Booth Fortune," Telegraph-Herald, November 10, 1968, p. 1

"Caleb H. Booth," Linwood Legacies. Online: http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/caleb-h-booth.html