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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.

RHOMBERG, Alphons L.

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/391102:61442?tid=&pid=&queryId=b244e08956c90ca66d94601a7388657f&_phsrc=gtc6549&_phstart=successSource

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Trade card.

RHOMBERG, Alphons L. (Dubuque, IA, Nov. 2, 1857--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 3, 1936). The eldest son of Joseph A. RHOMBERG, Alphonse was educated in Dubuque and Europe where he was a classmate of Arthur Conan Doyle, later the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. (1)

For one year he was in charge of a Park County, Colorado, silver mine before returning to Dubuque. He entered the wine business around 1879 and was said to have several thousand gallons of "pure native juice" in his cellar waiting to be carbonized. (2) He produced an artificial champagne from 1879 to 1881. In 1879 he announced the discovery of a cave large enough to turn a team of horses around outside of Dunleith lined with LEAD. (3) He claimed that he turned down $5,000 for an interest in the claim equivalent to $119,072.62 in 2016.

In 1884 Rhomberg left Dubuque for Texas where he served as secretary and treasurer of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad which was partially owned by his father. (4) Rhomberg remained in Austin, Texas until 1895 buying and selling land. He platted the county seats of Stonewall and Kent counties. For his real estate activities, he was allowed to name the county seat of Stonewall County. He chose Aspermont, the original family name of the Rhombergs. (5)

Rhomberg returned to Dubuque and joined his father in operating the DUBUQUE STREET RAILWAY COMPANY until it was sold. He became one of the organizers of the DUBUQUE-WISCONSIN BRIDGE company in 1900. (6) Rhomberg served as secretary treasurer and was until 1907 the president of the company. In March 1910, Rhomberg became president of the DUBUQUE STAR BREWING COMPANY. He also established RHOMBERG PARK.

Upon his retirement, Rhomberg satisfied two of his primary interests in life--travel and mastering languages. He was able to read the original texts in the Romance languages and traveled widely in South, Central and North America as well as Africa, Europe and India. He was well-known as a supporter of many local charities. (7)



1. "Heart Attack Fatal for Head of Brew Firm," Telegraph Herald, August 4, 1936, p. 1

2. "Caught on the Fly," The Daily Herald, March 11, 1879, p. 4

3. "A Cave Full of Lead," Dubuque Herald, March 5, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790305&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "The Austin and Northwestern Rail Road," Journal of Texas Shortline Railroads and Transportation, August-September, 1998, Vol. 3 Number 2 Special appreciation to: Kathy Korcz

5. "Heart Attack..."

6. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

Goodspeed, Weston Arthur, History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911, p. 534