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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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DUBUQUE CATHOLIC BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. The Dubuque Catholic Benevolent Society was established on January 1, 1872, with a limited membership. John O'Neill was the president. In 1873 an injunction was served on the society restraining it from putting on record its action in adopting a resolution expelling members without trial or appeal, who failed to attend to their church duties at least once a year, and also restraining the society from carrying the resolution into effect by making it an amendment to the constitution. This legal proceeding was made by the minority opposition to the resolution on its passage. (1)

In February 1892 it was decided to abolish the rule that members had to attend funerals of members in full regalia or be assessed a fine of $2.00. The feeling was the rule was a hardship to the living while of no benefit to the dead. It was also decided to hire nurses to attend the sick rather than assign members for this service. (2)

The Society was dealt a blow in November 1895 from Archbishop John HENNESSY. Not only would it not be able to attend a funeral in the regalia of the order, it had to drop the word "Catholic" from its name and never enter a church as a society. It had held a picnic on Sunday, August 15th, the day of celebration of the feast of immaculate conception. This was in violation of a edict from the Council of Baltimore against picnics on holy days. This had been relayed to the society on the morning of August 15th after plans had already been made and expenses paid. The suggestion was made by some local people that the organization be converted to a fraternal insurance organization. (3)

The object of the Society was social and in 1899 there were 175 members. In that year the officers were D. Riorden, President; Joseph Rowan, VicePresident; Patrick J. QUIGLEY, Treasurer; M. J. Farley and F. McGinnes, Secretaries ; M. F. Carey, Marshal, and Father Murphy, Spiritual Director.

Meetings were held weekly, on Sunday afternoon, in Mulligan's Hall, and the treasury in 1899 contained a relief fund of an estimated $800.

In March 1916 the Dubuque Catholic Benevolent Society was dissolved. (4)



1. "Catholic Benevolent Society Enjoined," The Dubuque Herald, July 22, 1873, p. 4

2. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, February 17, 1892, p. 4

3. "Under the Ban," Dubuque Daily Herald, November 26, 1895, p. 8

4. "Notice of Dissolution," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 13, 1916, p. 4