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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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CONNOLLY, Maurice. (Dubuque, IA, Mar. 13, 1877--Indianhead, MD, May 28, 1921). Connolly, the son of successful carriage maker, Thomas CONNOLLY, graduated from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in 1897; the New York University School of Law, in New York City in 1898; and was admitted to the bar in 1899. He did postgraduate work in Oxford, England and the University of Heidelberg, Germany. (1)

Connolly returned to Dubuque when his father died and assumed the ownership and management of the CONNOLLY CARRIAGE MANUFACTORY. (2) In 1910 he completed his term as the youngest president of the Carriage Builders National Association, the oldest and one of the largest of the national trade organizations, whose membership consisted of carriage and buggy builders and auto body manufacturers throughout the United States. (3) As president of the organization, Connolly had been willing to state unpopular beliefs. In the annual meeting of the organization in 1909 he told his audience that manufacturers of high grade carriages would soon have to produce automobiles if they wanted to remain in business. (4) His own company was by then deeply involved in manufacturing the chassis for ADAMS-FARWELL AUTOMOBILES. After his presidency, Connolly was elected a member of the executive body of the association for a term of three years.

Image courtesy: Mike Day

Connolly ran as a Democrat for Congress in 1912, against incumbent Republican Charles E. Pickett. Dubuque was a Democratic-leaning city at the edge of Iowa's strongly-Republican 3rd congressional district, which in Connolly's lifetime had elected only Republicans. In every election since 1890, Republicans captured either all or all but one of Iowa's eleven seats in the U.S. House, while holding each seat in the Senate. When Iowa Republicans were divided between Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party candidacy and Republican Party nominee William Howard Taft, Connolly tied himself closely to Democratic presidential candidate, Woodrow Wilson. Connolly was elected in 1912 to the Sixty-third Congress. (5)

Image courtesy: Mike Day

In 1914 Iowans had their first opportunity to directly elect a U.S. Senator. Until the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, the United States Constitution had authorized only state legislatures to choose senators. In 1913, 37-year-old Congressman Pepper was the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for Senate to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Albert B. Cummins, but Pepper died unexpectedly in December 1913. Connolly ran in the Democratic primary for the nomination. He defeated Edward Meredith in the primary by the largest vote ever cast, but was defeated by Senator Cummins in the general election. (6)

After leaving Congress, Connolly returned to Dubuque to run his family's carriage company. He also became first vice-president of the DUBUQUE FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, a director of the IOWA TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK, and a director in the Bank and Insurance Corporation. He served as the leader of the Iowa Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, DUBUQUE CLUB and the DUBUQUE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB. (7) Connolly served as an at-large delegate to the 1916 Democratic National Convention.

After the United States entered WORLD WAR I, Connolly enlisted. He earned his flight wings and serving as captain, then major, in the Aviation Corps. (8) He served as adjutant, executive officer and commanding officer at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois; Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio; and Hazelhurst Field in Mineola, New York. Connolly flew in one of the "flying circuses" of fliers performing to raise funds for the Liberty Loan program. He and future New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia were the only former congressmen to earn their wings during the war.

When the armistice was declared, he was assigned to Washington, D.C. where he assisted Major General William L. Kenly, first head of the United States Army Air Service. He later became the Washington representative for the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. In 1917 Connolly was named the Dubuque postmaster. (9)

Connolly was killed in an airplane accident near Indian Head, Maryland on May 28, 1921 with another civilian passenger and five air corps officers. (10) Their army Curtiss Eagle converted air ambulance crashed during a wind and electrical storm while returning to Washington D.C. At the time, it was considered the worst aviation accident in U.S. history.

Connolly gravestone



1. "Maurice Connolly's Life," Telegraph Herald, May 30, 1921, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=F4RiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iHcNAAAAIBAJ&pg=4808,4983013&dq=pioneer+trust+and+savings+bank+dubuque&hl=en

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. "Autos Knock Out Carriages," Warsaw Daily Times, Oct. 20, 1909, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NpJHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hHwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3859,3822146&dq=maurice+connolly+dubuque&hl=en

5. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. "Maurice Connolly," Online: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000699

6. "Maurice Connolly's Life..."

7. Ibid.

8. Biographical Directory...

8. "Maurice Connolly Named Postmaster at Dubuque," Telegraph Herald, Apr. 4, 1917, p. 8. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=3gheAAAAIBAJ&sjid=518NAAAAIBAJ&pg=3109,6417481&dq=maurice+connolly+dubuque&hl=en

9. Biographical Directory...