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

STOUT, Frank D.

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/133538594:60525?tid=&pid=&queryId=2c880d56-bbd6-4989-9b33-9165e914bc7b&_phsrc=fKS27505&_phstart=successSource

Photo courtesy: Stout Island Lodge. Online: http://www.stoutsislandlodge.com/about-us/history/

STOUT, Frank D. (Dubuque, IA, Mar. 24, 1854--Rice Lake, WI, Oct. 11, 1927). The donor of the land for the CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY, Stout proved to be as successful in business as his father, Henry L. STOUT. In 1868 Frank began work as a clerk in the KNAPP, STOUT AND COMPANY and was promoted to salesman by 1881. Between 1884 and 1900, Stout served the company as an assistant treasurer and managed the Dubuque branch of the company. When his father died in 1900, Stout became the company president.

Stout shared his father's interest in other fields of business. Between 1888 and 1905, he served as a director, vice-president, and president of the IOWA TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK. In 1890 he served as treasurer of the Julien Hotel Company and remained president of the company until 1900. He also held a business interest in the WALES HOTEL Company and the BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING. (1)

One of Stout's most important business ventures involved the STAR ELECTRIC COMPANY. Stout was credited with the merger of the electric, street railway, and power companies in the early 1900s. With his father, Stout purchased NUTWOOD and developed the HIGHLAND STOCK FARM and NUTWOOD PARK. He was also a major landowner in Butler County. On November 11, 1891 he sold Stout's Central Iowa Stock Farm and all the stock on the land near Allison, Iowa. The farm comprised three sections and was enclosed in sixteen miles of fencing. The livestock included 650 shorthorn cattle, 350 Berkshire hogs, and 200 Shropshire sheep. (2) So interested were some businessmen around Dubuque that a special train was scheduled to leave Dubuque at 4:00 a.m. to arrive in Allison in time for the sale. (3) In December 1891 Stout was elected chairman of the executive committee of the Iowa Trotting Horse Breeders' Association. (4)

With the closing of the Dubuque branch of the Knapp, Stout and Company, Stout gradually sold his business interests in Dubuque. He was left in 1908 with his only investment in Dubuque--an interest in the Iowa Trust and Savings Bank. In 1914 he was elected president of the UNION ELECTRIC COMPANY. (5) His interest in Iowa Trust and Savings Bank the was sold in 1916, after Stout had moved to Chicago where he served as president of a bank.

The only time he returned to Dubuque was to donate the land for the library. According to information used in an article by Susan Hendricks for the JULIEN'S JOURNAL Frank D. Stout was a director of the Young Men's Library Association during this time and “for the consideration of one dollar and to perpetuate the memory of my father, Henry L. Stout, deceased, I . . . . hereby convey to the City of Dubuque . . .” and with this “the splendid and spacious site with an area of 158 feet on Bluff and 76 feet on Eleventh Street was obtained.” The special election for voters to approve the tax was held on November 26, 1900. The total vote was 3,238 and was approved by about 73% of the voters. Interestingly, while still two decades from winning the right to vote, Dubuque women participated in this election and supported the library by thirty to one! Twelve hundred twenty-four women voted for the library proposal and only 47 opposed." (6)

In addition to the library, Stout's legacy to Dubuque was his immense home at 1105 Locust Street. Built in 1890, the STOUT HOUSE was designed in RICHARDSONIAN ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE and cost $75,000 to construct. A frugal businessman, Stout had the rooms on the main floor paneled in beautiful wood including maple, oak, mahogany, and rosewood to encourage potential customers to employ his company.

Frank Stout lived in Chicago most of his working life with a permanent home at 3150 Lakeshore Drive. He served as chief executive of the C. & O. Lumber Company; director of the Illinois Merchants’ Trust Company; president of the Missouri Southern Railroad; director of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad; a director in the Texas Corporation, an oil firm; and held directories in the Drake and Blackstone hotels in Chicago and three lumber companies on the Pacific coast. (7)

In 1903, when his company built a special railway station near an island near Birchwood, Wisconsin, Frank Stout moved his family and his servants from Chicago for the summer months. Modeled after the famous Adirondack camps, the lodge was built with four-inch thick plank floors and carved beams imported from Germany. Cabins were erected for his children and other buildings included a three-launch boathouse, servant and guest quarters, and a recreation hall. (8)

In 1912, Stout realized that the original design to leave the bark on the logs used for construction of his retreat was a mistake – they had become bug infested. He burned down that building, imported a trainload of cedar logs from Idaho and rebuilt the entire complex as it is seen today. In all, it is documented that he spent over $1.5 million – in 1915 dollars – to create his island sanctuary. Over the years Stout also purchased acreage on the mainland and built the Big Farm (whose main barns and home is located just north of our parking lot) and the Tagalong Golf Course which was modeled after the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland and is still available for play. (9)

After a year of heart trouble, Stout died in 1927 in Rice Lake on his way to his beloved Island of Happy Days. When he died, he was considered one of the ten wealthiest men in Chicago with an estate valued over $10 million. (10) His widow, Clara Stout, maintained the Island, but visited infrequently until her death in 1948. (11)

For the next decades the island was, by turns, left vacant, a YoungLife camp, run as a resort for a while, and went into the hands of the government after a Savings and Loan debacle with the then owner imprisoned for embezzlement. It was purchased by the current owners at that point and turned into the resort. Stout’s Island Lodge is listed on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES. (12)



1. "Altman Is Elected President of U. E. Co." Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, December 16, 1915, p. 5

2. "Mammoth Stock Farm Sale," Dubuque Daily Herald, October 25, 1891, p. 8

3. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, November 6, 1891, p. 4

4. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, December 20, 1891, p. 9

5. "Re-elected President," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, December 11, 1908, p. 9

6. Hendricks, Susan. Julien's Journal

7. Stout Island Lodge. Online: http://www.stoutsislandlodge.com/about-us/history/

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. "Frank D. Stout Family Records, 1875-1944." Online: http://www.worldcat.org/title/frank-d-stout-family-records-1875-1944/oclc/618720318

11. Stout Island Lodge

12. Ibid.