Canadian-born pioneer in Iowa; negotiated agreement with Fox Indians for right to work lead mines in Iowa area; first white settler near what is now Dubuque, Iowa.
Autograph Document Signed, one page, 3 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches, May 18, 1798. In French. Dubuque signs a three-line promissory note “good for 100 livres…which I will pay to the order of St. Benois…for value received…for arrears.” Fine condition.
Julien Dubuque, the first white settler in Iowa, left his native Quebec shortly after his twenty-first birthday to seek his fortune on the frontier. Settling first in Prairie du Chien, he learned that a village of Fox Indians, who lived on the west side of the Mississippi at the mouth of Catfish Creek, controlled rich lodes of lead. Ingratiating himself with the tribe, he obtained sole authority from them to operate the mine; and in early 1789, he constructed the first buildings on the site of future Dubuque, Iowa. Exploiting the Indian trade as well as mining lead, Dubuque developed a thriving trade with St. Louis, where he exchanged his lead and furs for goods to be used in his trading post. To insure his claims, he secured from the Spanish authorities in New Orleans a grant of the lands which surrounded his mines, and he cultivated close ties with Rene Auguste Chouteau and other merchants of St. Louis. Although his enterprises continued to grow in the first decade of the nineteenth century and he settled large numbers of French Canadian overseers, bargemen and smelters at Dubuque, he was a poor businessman; and by the time of his death in 1810, he was deeply in debt to Chouteau.
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