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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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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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Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=huppe&id=I46730

Lucius Hart Langworthy. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

LANGWORTHY, Lucius Hart. (Hopkinton, NY, Feb.,l807--Dubuque, IA, June 30, 1865). Lucius was the second oldest Langworthy brother. He attended school at an academy in Illinois and then taught school for two years. (1) In 1827, he joined his brother James LANGWORTHY as a miner in Galena. They bought an interest in the Galena mines two years later.

At this time, James and Lucius attempted to gain control of the LEAD mines developed by Julien DUBUQUE. Following the unsuccessful attempt of James to get the MESQUAKIE chiefs to let him work the mines, both brothers spoke to others of the potential and in 1830 took a party of miners with them across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to the Dubuque mines which were then called the "New Mines." (2) On June 17, 1830 these miners made the first laws in what is now Iowa and organized a government. (3)

Since the land in present-day Iowa was still considered property of the Native Americans, federal troops evicted the miners twice. Not deterred, they returned to become prominent citizens. Langworthy, one of Iowa's first settlers, in an article entitled" A Vision" first used the word "Iowa" to name the new territory west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

Langworthy constructed the first frame house and first school in Iowa and served in the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin that met at Burlington. He was appointed Dubuque's first sheriff in 1834 and owned an interest in the DUBUQUE VISITOR and a steamboat, the "Heroine." Greatly interested in RAILROADS, Langworthy worked with others including John PLUMBE, Jr. to generate interest in a railroad line to the Pacific coast. He was one of the delegates who traveled to Washington, D. C. to obtain a grant for the Pacific Railroad, a line in which he was an original incorporator. In 1855 he was a director of the DUBUQUE AND SIOUX CITY RAILROAD and later served as president of the DUBUQUE WESTERN RAILROAD. He was one of the first directors of the MINERS' BANK. (4)

Langworthy and his brother James were partners in their MINING activities and very successful when their brothers Edward LANGWORTHY and Solon LANGWORTHY joined them. Involved in many businesses, J. L. Langworthy and Bros. in 1854 paid one-twelfth of all the tax collected in Dubuque.

Lucius' interest in education can be seen from his past as a teacher in Illinois before coming to the future state of Iowa. In 1853 when Catherine Beecher had her DUBUQUE FEMALE SEMINARY constructed in Dubuque, Lucius donated the land and several thousand dollars to the project. (5) He was also a writer. "Sketches of the Early Settlement of the West," written around 1860 was one of the first histories of Dubuque.

In 1850 Lucius had an Italinate/Colonial Revival style home built on the corner of Hill and Langworthy STREETS facing Langworthy. The two-story red brick home had a twenty-five acre orchard and vegetable garden. His widow lived there until her death in 1899. Their silver set was donated to the HAM HOUSE. In 1929, Titus SCHMID purchased the home and began extensive remodeling. The new home does not resemble the original and it now faces Hill Street. (6)



1. Moeller, Hubert. "The Langworthy Brothers and Dr. Ross," The Des Moines Register, November 20, 1933.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Gibson, Michael D. "Dubuque's First Family: The Langworthys," Julien's Journal, July 2013, p. 47

6. Ibid.

Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren. The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008