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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MULGREW, Thomas James

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Mulgrew was a director of the Dubuque Tri-State Fair Association in 1904. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

MULGREW, Thomas James. (Dubuque, IA, May 8, 1867--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 24, 1954). A son of John and Louisa (Boxleiter) Mulgrew, Thomas attended the public schools and BAYLESS BUSINESS COLLEGE before beginning his business career as a bell boy in the JULIEN HOTEL. He had several jobs eventually becoming associated for eight years with the Hansen & Lincoln Company as manager of their coal business.

In 1893, Ernest M. DICKEY who operated the DIAMOND JO LINE, offered Mulgrew the opportunity to own his own coal company. Using borrowed money, Mulgrew formed the THOMAS J. MULGREW COMPANY, dealers in building material, wood, and coal. Needing additional operating capital, he formed a partnership with John Phillips that became the Mulgrew and Phillips Company. Mulgrew bought the Phillips interest in the company in 1900 and operated the firm under his own name. He expanded into the ice business in the late 1890s and built an ice manufacturing plant in 1915.

Deck of advertising playing cards. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The Thomas J. Mulgrew Company, incorporated in 1904, retained coal as an important part of the business, but added the oil business in 1906. He later expanded into roofing and building supplies along with petroleum products. He was perhaps the first person to use gasoline engines instead of steam on dragline operations. Mulgrew established the MULGREW-BOYCE COMPANY contracting business in 1906 and by 1910 was a partner in MULGREW & SONS COMPANY, contractors. This was liquidated at the start of WORLD WAR II. (1)

In 1908 Mulgrew relinquished active management of his company as James J. Lenehan became general manager. (2) The Mulgrew Company entered the coal-stripping business between 1931 and 1934 with additional yards being opened in Mason City and Waterloo where the company also operated a sand and gravel pit. Further diversification included his ownership of Iowa farm land and a large cotton plantation near Scott, Mississippi. This was used as a winter home until the land was sold to an English syndicate in 1920. (3)

From 1907 to 1913 Mulgrew served on the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT school board including a term as its president in 1912. Appointed to two terms on the advisory board of the Inland Waterways Corporation, Mulgrew oversaw the development of the nine-foot CHANNEL in the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. He served ten years as a director of the DUBUQUE NATIONAL BANK, director of the DUBUQUE ART MANUFACTURING COMPANY, and president of the Tri-State Fair Association. He is also the treasurer and a director of the Dubuque Art Manufacturing Company and a director of the Dubuque Industrial Association. In 1912 he was president of the NUTWOOD DRIVING CLUB. (4)

On September 9, 1891, he married Miss Mary C. Cosley, daughter of Amab and Caroline Cosley, who were among the early pioneers of Dubuque county. Their children included: Myrtle V., Russel J., Carl George and Kathleen.



1. "Death Takes T. Mulgrew, 87 Years Old," Telegraph-Herald, August 24, 1954, p. 1

2. "James J. Lenehan Leaves the I. C." Telegraph-Herald, November 12, 1908, p. 14

3. "Death Takes..."

4. "Men Who Have Made Dubuque Driving Club," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 30, 1912, p. 18

The Irish in Iowa. Online: http://www.celticcousins.net/irishiniowa/cavanbios.htm#mulgrew