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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.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

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


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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/38908880:60525?tid=&pid=&queryId=b407be74bc7e0305d06aae87972392db&_phsrc=HEg1212&_phstart=successSource


HERRMANN, Richard. (Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany, Mar. 10, 1849--Dubuque, IA, Apr. 29, 1941). Herrmann is remembered for the HERRMANN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY that he maintained in his home at 2419 Central Avenue.(1)

Herrmann came to the United States with his parents in 1859. They settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Centralia, Illinois before moving to Dubuque. He worked in a bakery for some time and then tried farming. (2) In 1871 he was employed as a surveyor for the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD, but left to work for the DUBUQUE CABINET MAKERS' ASSOCIATION. In 1877 Herrmann bought the business including the factory and its retail store. The factory was sold in 1906, but he continued to operate R. HERRMANN & SONS at 544 Main Street. In 1927 HERRMANN BROTHERS' FURNITURE had been in business fifty years. (3)

Herrmann began his collecting as an employee of the Illinois Central Railroad. (4) Beginning with geological specimens, he gradually developed an extensive collection of Native American relics. (5) In 1896 he was elected secretary of the organization meant to be a reorganization of the IOWA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND ARTS. (6) In 1911 he took the opportunity to purchase the baby cradle of Julien DUBUQUE. (7) At the age of eighty-three, he was still giving guided tours of his collections which were stored in the upstairs areas and halls of his home. (8)

The collections including the skeleton of PEOSTA were said to require a day if attention were given to each item. (9)

Herrmann was a moving force behind the collection of six hundred dollars for the construction in 1897 of the JULIEN DUBUQUE MONUMENT south of the city. (10) He excavated the grave to prove it was that of Dubuque and, for a time, displayed the remains of Dubuque and Peosta in his museum. Herrmann was active in the Masonic Lodge in Dubuque and held many of its highest offices. As the oldest Mason in the city, Herrmann turned over the first spadeful of dirt at the construction of the new Masonic Temple. (11) Continuing his reputation as a scientist, in 1898 Herrmann was cultivating shamrocks on the grounds of his home. (12)


Herrmann was the author of Julien Dubuque--His Life and Adventures (1922) which he wrote after making several trips to the Canadian birthplace of his subject. (13) He also wrote an autobiography entitled Curriculum Vitae-Memoirs of Life. He was listed in Who's Who in America and listed as a founder of the American Anthropological Society, an organization of Harvard University. He was also elected to a membership and fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (14)

At his death, Herrmann was believed to be the last member of the OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION. He had been the youngest member in the Association when it disbanded. (15) He was also the oldest member of the Masonic Lodge in Dubuque in age and years of membership. He had served as treasurer of the Metropolitan Lodge for forty-three years. (16)

Upon his death, relatives loaned his countless artifacts to the DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Originally displayed at the HAM HOUSE, the collections were moved in 1982 to the Mississippi River Museum. In 1995 the donation was made permanent. (17)



1. "Herrmann Museum Chock Full of Rare Relics, Antiques, Curiosities, and Art Work Gathered From the Middle West," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, Feb. 26, 1933, p. 18. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4v1QAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Or4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=5525,2808432&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en

2. Kruse, Len. My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 2000, p. 54

3. "Richard Herrmann in Business Fifty Years," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, June 12, 1927, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7J9FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vLwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3382,5237935&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en

4. "Mr. and Mrs. Richard Herrmann Celebrate Diamond Anniversary," Telegraph Herald, Feb. 22, 1938, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=TZJSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NaoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1508,5263963&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en

5. "Herrmann Museum Chock..."

6. "Natural Sciences," Dubuque Herald, December 16, 1896, p. 8

7. "Julien Dubuque's Cradle," Telegraph Herald, Mar. 18, 1997, p. B5. Online: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=DQ&p_theme=dq&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAE49034DEAC6D5&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

8. Kruse

9. Dahlinger, Mark. "Peosta's Skull Still Hangs in City Home," Telegraph Herald, August 8, 1954, Dubuque News, p 1

10. Miller, Jim. "A Story about City, Dubuquer," Telegraph Herald, February 25, 1973, p. 12

11. "Oldest Mason of City Wields Spade," Telegraph Herald, Nov. 10, 1930, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4rpFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aL0MAAAAIBAJ&pg=1001,4108012&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en

12. "Shamrocks in Dubuque," The Dubuque Herald, July 27, 1898, p. 8

13. "Dubuquer, 92 Years Old, Dies," The Telegraph Herald, April 30, 1941, p. 1

14. Kruse

15. Kruse

16. "Dubuquer..."

17. Gilindinning, Mary, "Family Donates Dubuque History," Telegraph Herald, May 10, 1995, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fHNjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pnkNAAAAIBAJ&pg=2119,2447646&dq=richard+herrmann+dubuque&hl=en