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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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Peosta's gravesite.

PEOSTA. Believed to have been the father of POTOSA, a FOX woman and wife of Julien DUBUQUE, who made several discoveries of LEAD in the area of the MINES OF SPAIN.

Bones believed to be the body of Peosta were discovered in 1897 when the DUBUQUE EARLY SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION began construction of its monument to Julien Dubuque. The workmen found the bones of a short white man, a tall Native American and the skull of a Native American woman. Those directing the work including Richard HERRMANN presumed the bones to be those of Peosta because the Fox chief had asked to be buried with his white friend. The skull was believed to be that of Potosa.

With the completion of the monument, Dubuque's bones were reburied, but the remains of Peosta were wired together and kept in the HERRMANN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. (1) Beginning in 1966 his skeleton was displayed at the HAM HOUSE Museum. The skull of Potosa, perhaps Dubuque's wife, was displayed, but the rest of the bones were in a bushel basket in the basement of Ham House. (2)

Historical society members contacted Native Americans living near Tama, Iowa for suggestions. Tama Chief Lewis Mitchell suggested that Peosta had probably been given full tribal honors at the time of his first burial. It would not be necessary to repeat them. As for the reburial, the Society began the process of obtaining legal authorization to reinter the bodies near the monument. Peosta and Potosa, however, could not be buried together. Tribal custom requires that chiefs be buried separately. (3)

On May 12, 1973, the remains of Peosta were reburied near their original resting place. On August 20, 1973, the headstone, donated by the Light Quarries of Dubuque, was placed on the grave.



1. Dahlinger, Mark. "Peosta's Skull Still Hangs in City Home," Telegraph Herald, August 8, 1954, Dubuque News, p. 1

2. Brimeyer, Jack. "Seek Final Resting Place for Peosta," Telegraph Herald, September 17, 1972, p. 25

3. Ibid.