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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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Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

PEASLEE AND COMPANY. The company located at White and Fifth STREETS was formed in 1866 by Amos H. PEASLEE and Mr. Conygham. (1) The building was described as being 50' by 100' and two stories tall. The company produced twenty-five barrels of Stock Ale and Olde English Porter daily.

In 1870 demand for the company's products led the partners to look for larger space. (2) They bought the CONTINENTAL HOTEL at 4th and Iowa for $10,000 and converted it into a brewery. Into this 113' by 128' and four stories tall building, the partners spent over $25,000 on equipment including a Bandelot Patent Cooler which allowed them to make beer all year. This was the third brewery in the United States to have this advanced equipment. In 1870 the brewery produced 1,800 barrels of ale according to the "Iowa Industry Census." As time passed, lager beer gained favor; the market for the darker and heavier ales declined.

The old Peaslee brewery building on White sat vacant until August 1878 when it was converted into a flouring mill for HAMMEL AND WIENER. (3)

Photo courtesy: Potosi Brewing Company

The Peaslee Company was one of the first brewers in Iowa to use embossed bottles to promote their business and products. (4) Their advertisements brought sales from as far west as the Dakotas, Colorado and New Mexico. The majority of their sales, however, was made in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The bottles used were quart-size with a large blob-top. Some were made of amber glass so dense they appeared black. (5)

Photo courtesy: Potosi Brewing Company
Advertisement from the Dubuque Trade Journal of Sept. 20, 1882 Photo Courtesy: Bob Reding
Business card holder. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Peaslee Ale bottle circa 1866. Later bottles had paper labels.

In 1890 Peaslee's son, E. C. Peaslee, took over the company and renamed it the Peaslee Ale Company. He ran the company until 1902 when he took in Mr. Breda as a partner. (6) The name of the company then became the PEASLEE, BREDE COMPANY. The Peaslee, Brede Company included the operation of the brewery, a brewing agency, a saloon, and a wholesale cigar trade. Brede retired in 1905 to devote more time to the BREDE, LANG AND COMPANY and the name became Peaslee Company. (7) At the time of his death, the brewery was producing 5,000 barrels of ale annually. (8)

Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Photo courtesy: National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

The firm did not join in the consolidation that created the DUBUQUE BREWING AND MALTING COMPANY. In 1907 E. C. Peaslee sold his share of the company and bought an interest in the New Vienna Brewing Company in New Vienna, Iowa. The Dubuque company closed the same year. The building, land and machinery were purchased in 1908 by Joseph J. NAGLE for $12,000. (9)

In 1910 a portion of the former brewery was leased to H.A. Hill of Georgia for the manufacture of ginger ale and "coco cola"(sic). (10) In 1932 vegetables dug by unemployed men were taken to the former brewery which had been transformed into a food distribution station during the GREAT DEPRESSION.

Cigar cutter
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Photo Courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Letterhead. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Photo courtesy: Potosi Brewing Company
Peaslee cards. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey



1. Oldt, Franklin T. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880. p. 655-656

2. Ibid.

3. "New Flouring Mill," Dubuque Herald, August 24, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18780824&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. Burggraaf, Mike and Southard, Tom. The Antique Bottles of Iowa. Northfield, OH: Ohio Wholesale Copy Service, 1998

5. Carlson, Randy. The Breweries of Iowa. Arrow Printing: Bemidji, Minnesota, p. 33

6. "The Firm Incorporates," Telegraph Herald, August 5, 1902, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_GpBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NKkMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2561,5024922&dq=peaslee+and+company+dubuque&hl=en

7. "Articles Have Been Amended," Telegraph Herald, July 10, 1905, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2CJFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=O7sMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4006,4767428&dq=peaslee+and+company+dubuque&hl=en

8. "Dubuque County Before 1880," Telegraph-Herald, October 22, 1933, p. 19

9. "J. J. Nagle Buys Peaslee Brewery," Telegraph-Herald, June 5, 1908, p. 10

10. "Will Make Coco Cola in Dubuque," Telegraph Herald, April 26, 1910, p. 24. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=w25CAAAAIBAJ&sjid=86oMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3732,1521922&dq=peaslee+and+company+dubuque&hl=en