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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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Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=huppe&id=I57364

Solon Langworthy

LANGWORTHY, Solon. (Rutland, NY, Jan. 29, 1814--Dubuque, IA, June 7,1886). The fourth Langworthy brother to come to Dubuque, Solon arrived in 1834. He came close in 1828 when he came to the LEAD mines of Galena, but returned home to his parent's home in Diamond Grove, Illinois. He was working on a farm in St. Charles, Illinois in July 1832 when he joined volunteers to help fight the BLACK HAWK WAR. Following his discharge from service, he again traveled to Galena and then finally to Dubuque. (1)

He is believed to be the first man to plow land in Iowa ... sixty acres for his brother Lucius in Couler Hollow north of town. (2) His purchase of two mineral lots, one in 1834 and another in 1835, also proved profitable.

In 1836 Langworthy entered into a partnership with Orrin SMITH. Profits from MINING were invested in the steamer "Brazil," built in 1837 and believed to be one of the first to enter the Upper Mississippi. Unfortunately this boat made very few successful trips between Dubuque and Cincinnati before it crashed into a rock and sank, a totally uninsured wreck. (3)

By 1854 Lucius Hart LANGWORTHY, James LANGWORTHY, Edward LANGWORTHY, and Solon owned one-twelfth of all the real estate in Dubuque. (4) They did a large banking business in Dubuque in 1855 under the name of J. L. LANGWORTHY & BROS. The firm offered to enter land for anyone in the Dubuque, Decorah, Brownsville and Winona land offices on time. They also received deposits and sold exchange on the East. (5) In 1864 the brothers divided 120 acres purchased in 1830 for $500. The tract extended from Tenth to Eighteenth streets and from Iowa to the river. (6) This partnership continued until their retirements in 1862.

The Langworthy estate once reached from present day Third Street to Delhi and from Dodge beyond University Avenue. Upon this land stood four mansion houses arranged in an "L" pattern. James Langworthy's home was at the corner of present-day James Street and Langworthy Avenue, to Lucius Langworthy's home at Hill and Langworthy, Edward Langworthy's (OCTAGON STYLE ARCHITECTURE) at the corner of Alpine and West Third. Solon's home was a short distance south of Edward's on Alpine. (7)


Solon was the only brother never to hold public office. He was, however, the only Langworthy to have a town named in his honor--Solon, Iowa. (8)

Solon served in the CIVIL WAR, was captured by confederate cavalry and released as an exchange prisoner. Dubuque Herald, January 13, 1863. Image courtesy: Diane Harris



1. "Four Langworthy Brothers Played Major Roles in Early Years Here," Telegraph-Herald, September 15, 1946, p. 49

2. Gibson, Michael D. "Part II--Dubuque's First Family: The Langworthys," Julien's Journal, August 2013, p. 40

3. "Four Langworthy Brothers..."

4. Oldt, Franklin T., History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911, p. 498

5. Ibid., p. 112

6. Ibid. p. 163

7. "Four Langworthy Brothers..."

8. Gibson, P. 41

Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren. The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008