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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.

FLOYD, John H.

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Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=madagtenet&id=I01662


FLOYD, John H. (Nelson Co., KY, Mar. 4, 1800--Sept. 16, 1885). During the War of 1812, Floyd escorted British officers from Lake Erie to Chillicothe, Ohio. He moved to Illinois in 1814 and then Wisconsin in 1828. (1)

Floyd, one of the earliest and wealthiest settlers in Dubuque County, came to this area prior to legal settlement in 1833 and was probably driven out by the United States military. He returned after the BLACK HAWK WAR of 1832. Floyd assisted in obtaining the logs for the construction of Dubuque's BELL TAVERN, once a popular meeting place where the HOTEL JULIEN DUBUQUE was later located. (2)

Pin Oak Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

He left the city after three years and returned to Kentucky to marry. Returning to Iowa, he settled northwest of Dubuque and farmed six hundred acres, obtained the appointment of postmaster, and built a cabin similar to the dog-trot cabin at HAM HOUSE east of the present city of Holy Cross. The first winter, the cabin had no doors. Floyd, assisting in the burial of Kentuck ANDERSON, used planking intended for doors in the construction of a casket for the outlaw. (3) On July 1, 1837 the Iowa News, as was the custom of the time, listed a letter he had not picked up at the post office. (4)

Improved the second year, the cabin became known at the "Pin Oak" for the variety of trees growing in the area. It is claimed that the name was not chosen by Floyd, but instead by a neighboring pioneer, Franklin Emerson. With the growth of population the need to establish a post office was clear. Floyd was named postmaster. In agreeing to establish a post office, Floyd used the nature of pin oaks to rot early. He set a series of shelves into a rotten tree trunk. It was fitting to name the post office "Pin Oak" as well. (5)

The wagon trail that led past the home became known as the Dubuque-St. Paul Trail. Located on such an important route, the building became a home and inn until 1849 when a larger structure was constructed. The new inn known as the Western Hotel had three stories and again no tavern as Floyd was a prohibitionist. Each of the floors was divided into two rooms. On the first floor a large dining room and kitchen with a great fireplace shared space with a storage room which later became a general store. The second floor had two large rooms each having its own fireplace. The third floor was similar to the second. Two story porches extended the full length of the building on the front and back. The business remained in operating until after the CIVIL WAR when railroad transportation ended its usefulness. (6)

His hotel was added to the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES in 1976.

In 1940 Mrs. Leonard Tucker, a daughter of the Floyds, who was born in the cabin in 1845 died in Chicago. (7)



1. Hellert, Susan. "An Inn to Rest In," Telegraph Herald, June 21, 2005, p. 1

2. Ibid.

3. "List of Letters," The Iowan, July 8, 1837, p. 2

4. Hellert

5. "Inns of Yesteryear," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 19, 1933, p. 6

6. Ibid.

7. "Mrs. Tucker, 95-Year-Old Pioneer, Dies," Telegraph-Herald, November 20, 1940, p. 1