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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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63-75 S. Main

DUBUQUE MATTRESS COMPANY. John KAPP immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1851. They came to Iowa in 1859 and lived briefly in Jackson County before moving to Dubuque in 1860. Knapp served an apprenticeship for three years to learn the business of mattress making and then moved to Chicago for two years. He returned to Dubuque in 1876 and with his father established Knapp & Son.

c. 1912. Photo courtesy: Center for Dubuque History, Loras College
Photo courtesy: Larry Friedman

Knapp's father died in 1879 and John continued the business, renamed the Dubuque Mattress Company, with J. Belzon. (1) The firm had about ten employees in the new factory equipped with a 25-horse engine. Their products were shipped throughout Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. Dubuque Mattress was considered the pioneer wool mattress factory and the only one west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

In 1880 the company was located at 451-457 4th St.

The Dubuque Mattress Company was incorporated in February 1884 by Knapp and Henry Sauer. Kapp served as the company's president while Sauer held the offices of secretary and treasurer.

The 1884-1885 and 1886-87 Dubuque City Directory gave 801 White as the address.

The 1899-1900 Dubuque City Directory listed 63. W. Main.

The 1890-91 Dubuque City Directory listed 65-75 W. Main.

The 1916-1917 White's Dubuque County Directory and 1922 Dubuque Telephone Directory listed 63-75 S. Main.

The 1939 Dubuque City Directory listed 59 S. Main.

The 1942 Dubuque Classified Business Directory through 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 180 Main.

Sales receipt

The company was originally a wholesaler. Edward Eisenschmidt brought the company through the GREAT DEPRESSION and then, about 1930, began selling directly to individual customers, institutions and retail customers.

The continued prosperity of the firm has been credited to William Riedel, a graduate of the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE and former physical director of the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.). Riedel married Eisenschmidt's daughter and then learned the business of mattress manufacturing. He continued to manufacture mattresses until around 1990 when this work was carried out by Comfort King in Dubuque. The business was closed in 1999.

In 2003 Doug Dolter purchased Dubuque Mattress.

In 2010 and 2012 the company's address was 3220 Dodge Street.

In 2015 the address was 2794 University Avenue.

1976 advertisement. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotter (1912)
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding



1. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, March 18, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790318&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

Dolter, Doug. Interview. July 22, 2013

"Families in Business," Telegraph Herald, July 30, 2010

Salwolke, Frank: e-mail, July 22, 2013