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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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Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

MULGREW OIL COMPANY. In May, 1893, Thomas J. Mulgrew purchased a coal yard on the riverfront from the estate of Joseph "Diamond Jo" REYNOLDS for $1,100 and began selling coal for use on ships and in businesses and homes. (1) The THOMAS J. MULGREW COMPANY, added an ice business in 1901 by harvesting and selling ice from the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to supplement the winter's coal business. This business was continued until the last 1950s when refrigeration lessened the need for ice. The company then began selling packaged ice until that division of the company was sold in 1984. The coal business was sold in the late 1950s. The ice business was sold in 1984. (2)

In 1923 Carl and Russell Mulgrew, Thomas' sons, joined the company and in 1927 Mulgrew's began selling oil and petroleum products including kerosene, heating oil and petroleum. The company's first supplier was Skelly Oil. (3) Pure Oil Company became the second supplier in 1949 for three years. Suppliers then became Conoco and then DX from 1975 until 1983. In that year, Mulgrew merged with Arbee Oil Company, the local AMOCO distributor.

In 1959 the name of the company was changed to Mulgrew Oil Company to better identify the focus of the company. After Thomas died in 1954 and Carl in 1955, Carl's wife, Marie, served as the company president until 1983 when Pat Mulgrew took over the leadership. Pat Mulgrew, then a pre-law student at Notre Dame University returned to Dubuque to work in the company. Liking the work, he attended LORAS COLLEGE. (4) Jim Mulgrew, who joined the company in 1987, took over the company when his father retired in 1995.

In 1997, Mulgrew's entered the wholesale side of the oil business to balance its retail business. Mulgrew's purchased an Iowa City petroleum distributor. This added Iowa City, Des Moines, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls markets for wholesale fuel supply and added fourteen retail units, a tank-wagon business as well as LP, bio-diesel, and soy products. In seven years, the company went from selling about 10 million gallons of fuel annually to 80 million gallons. On the retail side of the business, in 2004 the company had a tank truck business supplying fuel to commercial, residential and farm customers and owned and operated three BP-AMOCO retail outlets in Dubuque. (5)

One of the company's biggest challenges was the decision of the city to develop the ICE HARBOR as a tourist center. New zoning restrictions were placed on the area in 2001. In 2003 the company lost space for its bulk plant when the Iowa Department of Transportation purchased some of the property for a new bridge. (6)

In September, 2019 the announcement was made that Tom Flogel, a long-time employee and current president of the company, was the new owner. Flogel had served as president since 2017 and vice-president prior to that. He had also worked with Jim Mulgrew, the fourth-generation owner of the business and his father James Patrick MULGREW. (7)

In 2005 the company merged with Perfection Oil Company and relocated its new headquarters to Tamarack Park. (7)

The 1962 Dubuque City Directory listed 197 Jones.

The 1964 Dubuque City Directory listed 197 Jones and Main.

The 1966 Dubuque City Directory listed Terminal and Water.

The 1968 through 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 85 Terminal for this Conoco representative.



1. Bergstrom, Kathy,"Tapping Into Times," Telegraph Herald, July 11, 1993, p. 10

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Everly, John. "Coal, Ice and Oil Fuel Mulgrew's," Telegraph Herald, August 15, 2004, p. 21

6. Ibid.

7. "Longtime Employee Buys Mulgrew Oil," Telegraph Herald, September 7, 2019, p. 3A

Families in Business. (magazine). Telegraph Herald, July 30, 2010, p. 71