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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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LEADER OIL COMPANY. Articles of incorporation for the company were filed in February, 1915. The business was capitalized at $50,000 and was scheduled to begin business on February 15, 1915 after $15,000 in stock was sold. Louis Kuehnle was listed as the president with Albert J. HARTIG, vice-president; L. W. Dax, secretary-treasurer; and Anthony F. SCHRUP of the SCHRUP MOTOR COMPANY and W.A. Hoyt, directors. (1)

Work began on the new plant on the Third Street Extension was being completed by May, 1915. Boosting twenty-five years of experience in the petroleum business between the president and secretary-treasurer, the company announced that it would feature "Leader" brand oils, gasoline, and greases. (2)

The Leader Oil Company believed in publicity as early as 1920. In that year, when it had an annual business exceeding one million dollars, it hired George J. Homan, former editor of The Brunswick Record for the BRUNSWICK-BALKE-COLLENDER COMPANY. Homan was to be in charge of the sales and publicity department for the company whose territory reached Freeport and Warren, Illinois; Monroe and Cassville, Wisconsin; and Manchester, Waukon and Olin, Iowa. (3)

Picture 1. Photo courtesy. Telegraph Herald
Picture 2. Photo courtesy. Telegraph Herald

The company quickly proved itself eager to advertise using local firms and individuals to applaud its products. (See Pictures 1 and 2)

Picture 3. Photo courtesy. Telegraph Herald

By 1924 its advertising showed not only the endorsements but its willingness to aggressively price its products. (See Picture 3)

For a new company, it also had the willingness to take on a slow paying customer. In 1924 Leader Oil sought a judgment of $657.56 against the DUBUQUE MOTOR EXPRESS COMPANY for the amount due on its bill. (4)

It was announced on February 3, 1927 that Leader Oil Company with its plant on Third Street Extension and an estimated 40 bulk and service stations in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin had been purchased by the Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation. Officials of Mid-Continent reported that Dubuque would become a division headquarters of the corporation with more than 100 bulk and service stations constructed in the division during the year. (5)

Photo courtesy. Larry Friedman
Stencil. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Photo courtesy. Larry Friedman
Oil can
Letterhead. Courtesy: Bob Reding

The 1916-1917 White's Dubuque County Directory listed the foot of 3rd Street extension as the address.



1. "City in Brief," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 18, 1915, p. 12

2. "Work on Oil Company's Plant," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 5, 1915, p. 12

3. "George Homan Goes With Leader Oil Company," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 11, 1920, p. 14

4. "Judgment Sought by Leader Oil Company," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, August 19, 1924, p. 16

5. "Oil Corporation Buys Leader Plant," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 3, 1927, p. 20