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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.


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Front of trade card
Back of trade card

W. H. TORBERT. According to "The Industries of Dubuque," this was the oldest and most extensive wholesale drug house in the State of Iowa. It was established by Dr. Timothy Mason, who was in the drug business as well as being a physician. After a successful career of twenty-one years, the drug business was sold to P. C. Sampson in 1857, and finally, in 1868, the proprietorship succeeded to Williard H. TORBERT.

His store, a large three-story brick structure, did a large business as a wholesale dealer in drugs, druggists' supplies, medicines, and paints and oils which he sold to dealers in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and the Dakotas. He also carried a large stock and complete lines of wines and spirits for medicinal use.

A specialty of the business was window glass.

In connection with his store he had a large and extensive warehouse on Iowa Street, with convenient side tracks to facilitate the handling of his immense consignments of goods. His business employed seventeen persons.

The 1874-1875 through 1899-1900 Dubuque City Directory stated that this business was located at 756 Main.



The Industries of Dubuque: Her Relations as a Trade Center, Dubuque: J. M. Elster and Company, Publishers, 1887, p. 54