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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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Home of the Friendless

HOME FOR THE FRIENDLESS. The Home for the Friendless was a charitable institution founded in 1874 as a home for homeless women and children judged worthy of support. The institution was first located in a home leased by Archibald Graham (1) The residence of John KING was considered immediately as a replacement. (2) There was enough interest in the future of the home that a bill was passed in the Iowa House in 1876 providing $5,000 for the institution. (3)

The new building was contributed by Jeffrey M. GRIFFITH, one of Dubuque's most prominent attorneys. The home was also financed in part by a five thousand dollar legacy left by Griffith and the same amount left by his wife at her death.

Organizing the effort to build and maintain the home fell to a group of local ladies who formed a corporation with fifty thousand dollars in capital. Additional funds were received annually through a Charity Ball, the only time when Dubuque residents were asked to contribute to the maintenance of the home. The direction of the Home was provided through a life-membership board of directors from whom officers were elected.

Image courtesy: Paul Hemmer

Members of the board included Mrs. B. E. Agard, Mrs. H. B. Baker, Mrs. W. W. Carr, Mrs. J. W. Conchar, Mrs. L. A. Cummings, Mrs. George H. Fiv, Mrs. S. H. Guilbert, Mrs. John T. Hancock, Mrs. M. R. Hervey, Mrs. W. P. Large, Mrs. S. M. Langworthy, Mrs. A. B. Lewis, Mrs. J. H. Lull, Mrs. M.J. Nicholson, Mrs. A. H. Peaslee, Mrs. H. Poole, Mrs. B. B. Richards, Mrs. J. H. Tice, Mrs. George L. Torbert, Mrs. Mary Westphal, Mrs. L. C. Bissell, Mrs. J. B. Powers, Mrs. T. W. Ruete, Mrs. W. H. Torbert, and Mrs. A. J. Van Duzee.

In 1877 canvassers for the Home were contacting local people for any contributions they wished to make. A two-horse wagon was loaded with shoes, dry goods, and clothing and taken to the residents. (4)

To raise additional funds, a charity ball was held in November 1880. (5) Tickets priced at $2.00 for a single or $4.00 for a couple were quickly sold with $300 being raised within the first hours of the tickets being available. (6)

Entertainment for those living in the home included, in May 1894, the donation by the DUBUQUE LIGHT AND TRACTION COMPANY of their park's merry-go-round and cars for a day's outing. (7) Crowded conditions led to the construction of an addition onto the main building in 1894 using funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Griffith. This led, however, to a lack of funds for supplies leading to many donations of beds. (8)

In 1900 records of the Home indicated that it had cared for an average of thirty-five people. Four adults and thirty-five children were admitted. Thirty children had left the Home. Many were admitted for temporary shelter that turned into several months. (9)

The Home was renamed MOUNT PLEASANT HOME on January 2, 1914. (10)



1. "Moved Away," The Daily Herald, December 29, 1874, p, 4

2. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, October 20, 1875, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18751020&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Home for the Friendless," Dubuque Herald, March 16, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18760316&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, December 25, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18771225&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

5. "Charity Ball," Dubuque Herald, November 10, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18801110&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, November 13, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18801113&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, May 12, 1894, p. 4

8. "Home for the Friendless," Dubuque Daily Herald, July 8, 1894l, p. 4

9. "Home for Friendless," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, October 27, 1901, p. 2

10. "Change Name Home of Friendless," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 4, 1914, p. 19