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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.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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The entrance to Linwood prior to the construction of the Eighmey gates. Image courtesy: Joe Jacobsmeier
Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque

LINWOOD CEMETERY. In 1833 the first cemetery for the city of Dubuque was located in what later became JACKSON PARK. (1) At the time, the site was called the City Cemetery. As a result of the survey of 1836, it was discovered that burials were being made in what would be the right-of-way of Main, 15th, 16th, and Iowa STREETS. (2) The graveyard was surveyed in 1852 with proper lines established and graves in the right-of-ways were removed. (3)

As the community grew, residents in the area did not like the cemetery near their homes and the site was quickly becoming too small. City planners also wished to extend Iowa Street to 17th Street. In 1851 the city condemned the cemetery and would not allow more graves to be dug. (4) In 1851 ten acres in a site called Cherry Hill northeast of the city were purchased. In 1853 another ten acres adjoining the property were given by Lucius Hart LANGWORTHY. (5)

The cemetery at Cherry Hill consisted of twenty acres, about one-half of which was laid out into lots. It was not well drained, because a circular tract in the middle was lower than the surroundings. It was thought best to buy another 20-acre tract lying immediately west and contiguous to the old yard. (6) Arrangements were made that 70 per cent of the proceeds of the sale of lots should be paid to the owner of the land; the other 30 per cent were deposited to the treasury to be used in laying out the ground, fencing it, etc. The cemetery then consisted of forty acres in a regular square, beautifully situated and commanding a view both of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER and the city. The price of the lots was fixed at sums varying from $5 to $25 each. About four acres were set apart for a potter's field. (7) The cemetery, named "Linwood" by the city council, became the first city-owned cemetery in the Midwest. (8)

In April 1865, the process of re-interring sixty graves from Jackson Square began with most of the work done in 1867. (9) Although technically under the care of the City, Linwood was a scene of disorganization. There were no carriage roads or footpaths; thickets were allowed to grow.

The sad state of affairs at the city cemetery led nineteen prominent citizens to establish the Linwood Cemetery Association on August 28, 1875. (10) Shares of stock were sold at $100 each the first year and then on an installment basis of ten dollars per year. (10) According to the articles of incorporation, the investors were to receive 6% on their investment with surplus funds raised from the sale of lots going for maintenance of the property. (11) This group called for a citywide vote in October 1875, to determine whether they should take over the care of the grounds. (12) The City, by a vote of 697 to 308, was removed from the cemetery business. (13)

In 1875 Alexander LEVI established "The Alexander Levi Cemetery" reserved for Jewish burials on land adjacent to Linwood. (14) The same year the Levi interest in Linwood was transferred to the cemetery association for $3,000. The Levi lands had been purchased in May 1863. The first lot was sold in August 1863 and the last in August 1875. In all, 492 lots were sold realizing $9,000 of which 75% went to James Levi and the balance to the city. (15)

Using their capital, the Association purchased about 105 acres, including the cemetery, for $8,676. (16) Roadways were laid out by Earvshaw and Strauch, landscape architects of Cincinnati, Ohio. (17) Owners of lots in the old cemetery were asked to give from $15.00 to $20.00 depending upon the care needed for the Association to provide perpetual care to the graves. (18) In May of 1876 families came to Linwood to move their deceased relatives to more "eligible lots" from lower ground. (19)

In October 1876 the Dubuque Herald ran an article stating that it was understood that the Association had a letter from an individual promising a flowing well of one hundred gallons per minute. The cost was $2,000 with the promise of "No Water, No Pay." The article stated, however, that the association had spent all of its money and any such project would depend on community donations. (20) By December 1876 the financial picture had improved. The board had entered into a contract for an artesian well on the lot east of the soldiers' ground and drilling had reached a depth of 154 feet. (21) There apparently was no success because in April 1877 a contract was signed with a W. English for the same services. (22) In December of that year the drill, at 885 feet, struck the Potsdam sandstone layer from which flowing water was usually found. (23) By January 1, 1878 the level of water in the artesian well had risen fifty feet. (24) In April with the drilling having reached 1,430 feet, the water was still twenty-six feet below the surface. Citizens were asked to make contributions so that the work could continue. (25) Work continued past July 29, 1878 when the depth of the well had reached 1641.5 feet. (26) In May 1879 people were finally able to drink from the well. Reports found the water was warmer than expected with a "sulphurry taste" and a strong color. (27) In September 1891 it was reported that a flow of 100 gallons per minute had been reached and drilling was stopped. (28)

The well worked perfectly until around 1900 when several manufacturing companies sank deep wells. This caused the well at Linwood to fail. A new well was sunk nearer to the gate, but this too failed when the WATER DEPARTMENT sank its wells at EAGLE POINT. A small pump was installed without success. In 1901 the well was deepened and a large pump was installed solving the problems. (29)

In 1877, the Association announced that it spent $30,000 on cleaning up the grounds, building a fence and constructing a mile of macadamized road within the cemetery. (30) Lots cost between ten and thirty cents per square foot including perpetual care. This was said that charges made by Linwood were from fifty to seventy-five percent cheaper than in well established cemeteries in other parts of the country. (31) Metal monuments were beginning to be requested as grave markers. (32)

Access to Linwood in 1877 was considered a problem since the cemetery was considered "two miles from the principal part of the city." To accommodate people, the streetcar company purchased a band wagon from the CONNOLLY CARRIAGE MANUFACTORY which could seat from 14 to 16 people. The wagon would be operated from the levee to the cemetery for the price of two streetcar tickets. (33)

In 1879 the Dubuque Veterans Society announced that steps would be taken to have a soldier's monument erected in the cemetery. In July, a total of $300 had been collected toward the expected cost of $10,000. (34)

In September 1880 the Dubuque Herald suggested that some enterprising individual test the waters from the Linwood well to determine their medicinal value. "What is the use of going to Colfax (Iowa), when we may have plenty of water at our doors that will cure all the ills that flesh is heir to?" (35)

In 1886 many complaints were written to cemetery officials about not having more entrances to the grounds. Until that year there had always been two, but one was closed due to vandals. It was a common theme that there should be a second entrance in the southwestern corner of the cemetery. (36) The one remaining was the entrance used in 2017.

The home was constructed for the use of the caretaker of Linwood Cemetery.
Many people have studied the GRAVESTONE ART found in Linwood.

By 1907 the cemetery grounds expanded to 147 acres, and adult graves (lined in brick) sold for fifteen dollars. Previously graves had been priced by length and were eight to twenty dollars. Grass clipping cost two cents; water hydrants for the use of the lot owner were available at two dollars.

Originally Linwood was known as the Protestant Cemetery. Today, with over sixty thousand persons buried there, the cemetery serves the needs of all faiths.


Linwood is unique because the city's CIVIL WAR Soldiers' Monument. In 1884 A 24 foot high, granite monument was subscribed commemorating the soldiers and sailors who had served in the Civil War from this area. On November 5th of that year over 10,000 people assembled for its dedication. The unveiling was done by Miss Fanny Hayden. Rev. James Hill, of the Twenty-first infantry, was chaplain, Andrew Young MCDONALD, a twice wounded Civil War Veteran was the speaker of the day. The monument, topped with the statue of a tired, thoughtful union infantryman, carries the names of the battles in which veterans fought: Antietam, Gettysburg, Atlanta, Vicksburg, Appomattox, and Mobile Bay, Shiloh and Wilson’s Creek. Below that is carried the famous phrase from Theodore O’Hara’s poem: “…on fame’s eternal camping ground their silent tents are spread.” Surrounding it are graves of those who fought in wars including: WORLD WAR I, WORLD WAR II, Civil War, SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR, KOREAN CONFLICT, VIETNAM WAR, and one from the BLACK HAWK WAR. (37) Another memorial is the elaborate gateway at the entrance to the cemetery. Dedicated on May 30, 1948, the gateway was constructed through the bequest of Mrs. Augusta Clapp in memory of her father, Charles H. EIGHMEY, former president of the FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE. (38)

The 1970s were a time of increased change for Linwood. As it celebrated its 100th anniversary, Linwood became a member of the National Association of Cemeteries, the governing body of all cemeteries across the United States. It also joined the National Lot Exchange. This allowed people who owned a lot in Linwood to transfer ownership to another cemetery if they moved. Linwood also became a complete service cemetery offering for sale monuments, markers, and benches. In 1976 Linwood revived a formal Memorial Day ceremony--a practice that had been discontinued for unknown reasons forty years ago. (39) Linwood also erected a 100 foot flag pole, donated by the Egelhof-Casper Funeral Home at the entrance to the cemetery.

In 1979 Linwood began its Avenue of Flags consisting of twenty-five flags beginning at the entrance to the cemetery. By 2009 this number had grown to over 700 and they were flown during Memorial Day, Flag Day, and the Fourth of July. (40)

Photo courtesy: Linwood Cemetery

The Alice and Ralph H. Mueller Memorial Chapel was completed in October, 1987. Located near the entrance of the cemetery, the 70-seat chapel was constructed with a bequest from Ralph H. Mueller, a local contractor. (41)

In 2001 the Linwood Cemetery Association began the construction of a MAUSOLEUM. The building would contain 240 burial vaults and a columbarium with 112 niches for cremains. (42)

By 2019 there were an estimated 65,000 people buried in Linwood. The largest cemetery in the area with 145 acres, Linwood requires 120 hours per week to mow the entire property. The cemetery, however, was involved in a financial struggle due to changing burial habits with a loss of revenue while maintenance costs continue to rise. From the sale of a cemetery plot, an estimated 20% is put into a perpetual care fund. From 2013 through 2019, however, Linwood experienced an estimated 15% decline in annual revenue leaving less money for maintenance. Much of the decrease was due to the increasing number of people choosing cremation creating a 50% decline in cemetery revenue. (43)

Expectations of the community regarding the maintenance of the cemetery caused changing any practices, such as less frequent mowing, to be met with opposition. When leaks were discovered in a water line used to water flowers near graves was found to have leaks, it was turned off. Meeting continued demand for water, Linwood officials opened its chapel for those who needed water. To reduce costs, machinery such as mowers have not been maintained as frequently. A walking trail with a paid membership was tried unsuccessfully. In 2019 the possibility of holding fundraising events was considered.

If Linwood was unable to pay for maintenance, it might be forced to turn over the ownership to the city or state. (44)

Dubuque history was presented at Linwood through "walks." In 2004 actors and actresses represented four famous Dubuque residents. (45)

Among the estimated sixty thousand people buried in Linwood are John Francis RAGUE, David B. HENDERSON, John Taylor ADAMS, Stephen HEMPSTEAD, George W. HEALEY, William Boyd ALLISON, and Mathias HAM. On October 1, 2016 local residents and political leaders assembled to note the unveiling of a memorial to Ralph MONTGOMERY. His is the only known monument not to mark the actual site of a burial. (46)

On July 9, 2020 it was announced by the Linwood Cemetery board of directors that a state agency would soon assume control of the property given its dire financial condition. The cemetery entered into receivership through the Iowa Insurance Division which would assist the cemetery with its finances and ensure its continued operation. (47) The City of Dubuque and Dubuque County then became involved in ongoing litigation with the state to determine how the cemetery should be funded and who would be responsible for its operations. Progress on that litigation nearly stopped in the past few months after county officials failed to follow a court order issued in July.

In June, 2022 Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen and the City of Dubuque filed a joint motion asking Iowa District Court of Dubuque County to require that the county appoint trustees for Julien Township. Julien Township includes an eastern portion of the city of Dubuque, but because no residents in the township live outside of city limits, it has not had a board of trustees for decades Dubuque City Attorney Crenna Brumwell said the request to assign trustees for the township was made because Linwood lay both in Julien Township and Dubuque Township and together covered most of Dubuque, Asbury and Sageville, as well as some nearby unincorporated areas. Under Iowa law, townships can implement a special cemetery levy to fund the ongoing maintenance and operations of cemeteries in their jurisdiction. If Linwood Cemetery were to be funded by such a levy, both townships would need to have appointed trustees to issue the levies.

On July 8, Iowa District Court Judge Monica Zrinyi Ackley granted Ommen and the city’s request and ordered the county to assign trustees for Julien Township, with a 45-day deadline. The county had to follow the court order and appoint the trustees in order for the lawsuit to move forward.

As of the end of January, 2023 the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors still had not assigned trustees to the township. Supervisor Ann McDonough said she was not informed of the court order in July by then-County Attorney C.J. May III. County Supervisor Harley Pothoff said he also only recently learned about the court order.

Dragotto said his office reached out to May on several occasions to ask for direction on appointing trustees for Julien Township, but the auditor’s office never received a response. Emails that McDonough shared with the Telegraph Herald showed that Brumwell reached out to May to inquire about the status of the court order on Oct. 24.

May declined to comment. May ran for reelection last year but was bested by attorney Sam Wooden in the Democratic primary in June. Republican Scott Nelson won the November election to become the new Dubuque County attorney. Dragotto said Nelson had been made aware of the court order since taking office in January. Nelson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

On January 18th, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird submitted a request for a status hearing to discuss why the court order to the county was not followed within the 45-day deadline. (48)



1. Kruse, Len. My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 2000, p. 63

2. Ibid., p. 64

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880 http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-10-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml

6. Ibid, p. 17

7. Ibid.

8. Nevans-Pederson, Mary,"Linwood Breaks Ground on Facility," Telegraph Herald, October 5, 2001, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=m41dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iFwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5018,566296&dq=linwood+cemetery&hl=en

9. Kruse, p. 64

10. "Linwood Cemetery," Dubuque Herald, June 24, 1877, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-ZZCAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OasMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2321,5446500&dq=linwood+cemetery&hl=en

11. Kruse, p. 64

12. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, September 22, 1875, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18750922&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

13. Kruse, p. 64

14. Ibid., p. 66

15. "Linwood Cemetery," Dubuque Herald, August 25, 1875, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18750825&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

16. Marner, Lari,"Linwood Cemetery Nears its Centennial Year," Telegraph Herald, October 21, 1974, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9QVRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Gr8MAAAAIBAJ&pg=7303,3197166&dq=linwood+cemetery&hl=en

17. "Linwood Cemetery..."

18. "Municipal," Dubuque Herald, April 7, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18760407&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

19. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, May 12, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18760512&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

20. "Linwood Cemetery," Dubuque Herald, October 8, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18761008&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

21. "Linwood Cemetery," Dubuque Herald, December 12, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18761212&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

22. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, April 27, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18770427&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

23. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, December 30, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18771230&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

24. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, January 1, 1878, p. 8. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18780101&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

25. "The Artesian Well," Dubuque Herald, April 25, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18780425&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

26. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald July 30, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18780730&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

27. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, May 31, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790531&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

28. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 25, 1891, p. 4.

29. "New Pumping Station," The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 30, 1901, p. 8

30. "Linwood Cemetery..." October 8, 1876

31. Ibid.

32. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, March 1, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18770301&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

33. "A Much Needed Enterprise," Dubuque Herald, March 10, 1877, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18770310&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

34. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, July 19, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790719&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

35. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, September 3, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800903&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

36. "A Loud Complaint About Linwood Cemetery," The Herald, June 6 1886, p. 8

37. "Linwood Cemetery," Linwood Legacies. Online: http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/civil-war-veteran-section.html

38. Kruse, p. 66

39. Tighe, Mike. "Formal Memorial Day Service Returns to Linwood Cemetery," Telegraph Herald, May 27, 1976, p. 23. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-YNSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=778MAAAAIBAJ&pg=6892,3832899&dq=linwood+cemetery+dubuque&hl=en

40. Norvell, Kim. "Honoring Freedom's Defenders," Telegraph Herald, May 26, 2009, p. 1. 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=12872CF40E177BA0&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

41. Kruse, p. 67

42. Nevans-Pederson, Mary.

43. Kruse, John, "An Uncertain Future," Telegraph Herald, December 15, 2019, p. 1A

44. Ibid. p. 2A

45. Hogstrom, Erik. "Ghostly Walk Plans to Retell Much of Dubuque's History," Telegraph Herald, September 24, 2004, p. 7A. 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=10556BC2952FDA05&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

46. Goldstein, Bennett. "Ex-slave Who Won Freedom Honored at Dubuque Cemetery," THonline: http://www.thonline.com/news/tri-state/article_7eba22b5-1050-51a7-84ce-6dcf48bb53b3.html

47. Mehl, Annie, "Cemetery Board Turning Over Struggling Linwood to State," Telegraph Herald, July 9, 2020, p. 1A

48. Kruse, John, "Lindwood Cemetery Funding, Future Unclear," Telegraph Herald, February 1, 2023, p. 1A