"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

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

CARR, Ossian E.

From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search
Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

CARR, Ossian E. (Pennsylvania, Sept. 7, 1876--Oakland, CA, Jan. 10, 1970). In 1900 Carr received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Allegheny College. From then until 1903 he was employed with the U. S. Geodetic Survey. He then worked from 1903-1905 for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (1)

Carr was employed from 1905-1906 by the City of Philadelphia in the construction of a filtration plant. His employment then shifted to the J. G. White Company in the the Philippines. Carr's employment record then moved to Seattle, Washington where he was involved in computing earth compaction for reducing the grades in the business district. He remained in the Pacific Northwest, but moved to Portland, Oregon from 1909-1911 where he worked in the construction of water mains. (2)

Carr moved east in 1911 for one year in Cincinnati, Ohio as the engineer in charge of an underground survey. (3)

From 1914-1916 Carr was employed by the city of Cadillac, Michigan as the city manager in charge of installing the city manager form of government. From 1916-1918 he worked in Niagara Falls, New York installing the commission form of city government. He was employed by the city of Springfield, Ohio as its city manager from 1918 until he accepted a similar position in Dubuque. He had served the City Managers' Association as secretary and then as its president. (4)

From 1920 to 1925, Carr served as Dubuque's first city manager. His immediate issues included the collection of $300,000 in unpaid taxes, pay off 60-year old debts, beginning sewer and street improvements, reorganization of city administration, appointment or retention of present personnel, and addressing concerns in the salary schedule. (5) In an article of the Telegraph Herald dated June 1, 1920 the writer commented that a budget system was being considered for Dubuque. Whether it would become permanent was something Mr. Carr would not state. He did comment:

                   In many instances, the budget system, properly handled, is the
                   salvation of cities swamped in debt. If a certain amount is
                   appropriated and those in charge are not permitted to expend
                   more than their allotment, the budget is practical. If they
                   spend regardless of the amount in the budget, it is no better
                   than the old manner. (6)

In 1925 he accepted an offer to be the manager of Fort Worth, Texas at a salary of $13,500 which was an increase of $3,900 from what he was earning in Dubuque. (7)

In 1939 Carr co-founded Insurance Securities Incorporation Trust Fund of San Francisco. The Carr Hall of Science at Pennsylvania's Allegheny College was built in part with a $500,000 donation made by Carr and his wife in 1964. There is an Ossian E. Carr branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland. (8)



1. Stokes, David R. The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America Steerforth Press, 2011, p. 69

2. "O. E. Carr Comes to Dubuque From Springfield, Ohio," Telegraph Herald, April 27, 1920, p. 1

3. Ibid.

4. Stokes, David R.

5. "Dubuque's City Managers," Telegraph Herald, April 14, 1974, p. 16

6. Hogstrom, Erik, "Dubuque's 1st City Manager Began Work in 1920," Telegraph Herald, June 5, 2020, p. 5A

7. "Takes Post at Fort Worth for $13,500 a Year," The Telegraph-Herald, May 1, 1925, p. 1

8. Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland, California. http://afterschoolprograms.us/program-996690-boys_and_girls_clubs_of_oakland_ossian_e_carr_branch_east_oak.html