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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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LESURE LUMBER COMPANY. Organized in 1889 as the Charley Clark Mill, the mill was part of the KNAPP, STOUT AND COMPANY. On January 6, 1890, Knapp-Stout sold the mill to two of its salesmen, C. J. Lesure and J. J. Van Villet. The business was improved and became known as the Lesure Lumber Company. (1)

The 1890-91 Dubuque City Directory listed it as the Lesure Lumber Company and located it at the foot of 7th Street. The company maintained lumberyards containing seven million feet of lumber and a physical plant covering fifteen acres.

On June 9, 1894 fire destroyed the company. The largest fire in the history of the city to that time spread as fire companies from Dubuque, East Dubuque, and Galena made every effort to contain the blaze. Requests for reinforcements to arrive by train went to Cedar Rapids, La Crosse, Clinton, and Freeport. (2)

The fire blackened the SHOT TOWER, leveled the KNAPP, STOUT AND COMPANY lumber yards, destroyed two saw mills, a pickling factory, stables, coal yards, railroad out-buildings, another small lumber company and a paper mill. Sixty million board feet of lumber fed the flames that reached from the river nearly to the DUBUQUE COUNTY COURTHOUSE and from 5th Street to 14th. The cost was estimated at $165,000 (3) In July the CHICAGO GREAT WESTERN RAILROAD was sued for $500,000 after reports of sparks from a freight train being seen minutes before the fire was reported. (4) The company rebuilt and in 1895 the company constructed a mill near West Duluth, Michigan with a capacity of 15 million feet. (5)

On March 28, 1895 news of the sale of the Lesure company's interests except for its real estate in Dubuque was announced. (6) The purchasing company, Engler and Frudden Lumber Company, had been recently organized and had as its officers E. A. Engler, president; F. A. Rumpf, vice president; and A. F. Frudden, secretary-treasurer. The organization did not dissolve Mr. Engler's business association with the CARR, RYDER, AND ENGLER COMPANY and it was not associated with the FRUDDEN LUMBER COMPANY. F. A. Rumpf also maintained his interest in the Lesure company which maintained its control over the saw mill that had been completed in Duluth and had an annual capacity of 20 million feet of lumber. (7) According to news statements, the purchase included the planing mill, sheds, and horses. The new company would complete the mill and sheds and would conduct a wholesale and retail lumber business. Logs would be sawed at Stillwater, Minnesota and the lumber piled in Dubuque where factory operations would be confined to the planing mill. (8)



1. Kerker, Renae. "The Sage of the Sawdust: The Life of Henry L. Stout," Unpublished thesis, December 1, 1979, p. 4

2. McCormick, John. "How Big Was the 1894 Fire? It Was So Big That..." Telegraph Herald, Nov. 14, 1979, p. 5. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=nOhFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Uv4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=6738,2018011&dq=standard+lumber+company+dubuque&hl=en

3. "The Losses Complete," Dubuque Daily Herald, June 12, 1894, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18940612&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "The Lumber Yard Fire," Dubuque Daily Herald, July 9, 1894, p. 4

5. Hotchkiss, George Woodward. History of the Lumber and Forest Industry of the Northwest, G. W. Hotchkiss and Company, 1898, p. 577. Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=U5c4AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA577&lpg=PA577&dq=LESURE+LUMBER+COMPANY&source=bl&ots=JrNpOo85Ye&sig=nltzW5o8oCyq3dk2ZLCSZOGAsHo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6tJrU4K4MpSvsASho4D4Bg&ved=0CE8Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=LESURE%20LUMBER%20COMPANY&f=false

6. "Lumber Company Changes Hands," Dubuque Daily Herald, March 29, 1895, p. 8. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18950329&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "Lesure Co.'s New Mill," Dubuque Daily Herald, March 26, 1895, p. 8

8. "Lumber Company Changes Hands," Dubuque Herald, March 29, 1895, p. 8