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Please add profiles for those who were born, lived or died in Dubuque County, Iowa.

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Dubuque County is named for French trader Julien Dubuque, the first European settler of Iowa, and an early lead mining pioneer in what is now Dubuque County. Dubuque was French Canadian, and had (by most accounts) a friendly relationship with the local Fox tribe of Native Americans. He and other early pioneers established a lucrative mining and trading industry in the area. When lead deposits began becoming exhausted, the pioneers developed boat building, lumber yards, milling, brewing, and machinery manufacturing to take its place.

The establishment of the City of Dubuque in 1833 led to large-scale settlement of the surrounding area. This was greatly encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, which sent priests, bishops, and nuns to establish churches in the unpopulated countryside. Primarily, Irish and German (many of whom were Catholic) immigrants came to the region. It was chartered as the first city in Iowa.

At an extra session of the Sixth Legislative Assembly of Michigan Territory held in September, 1834, the Iowa District was divided into two counties by running a line due west from the lower end of Rock Island in the Mississippi River. The territory north of this line (which started just south of the present-day Davenport) was named Dubuque County, and all south of it was Demoine County [sic]. Thus, at that time Dubuque County nominally included not only much of what is now the state of Minnesota but portions of what are now North Dakota and South Dakota.

Dubuque County became part of Wisconsin Territory once it was split off from Michigan Territory on July 3, 1836. A massive reorganization and reduction of the county's size was executed on December 21, 1837, when its original area was separated into 13 named new counties and a "non-county area". The land in present day Minnesota and the Dakotas was transferred to the newly created Fayette County in this action. Dubuque County became a part of Iowa Territory upon its creation on July 4, 1838.

In the 1980s, the farm crisis set in, and devastated large sections of the Midwest, including Dubuque County. Since the area was heavily dependent on agriculture-related industries like Deere and Company and the Dubuque Packing Company, unemployment soared. In one month of 1982, Dubuque County had 23% unemployment, the highest in the nation. The county experienced huge population losses during this time, as workers left the area. It would not fully recover from this until the late 1990s, when the economy diversified, shifting away from manufacturing, and toward various service-related establishments.

Adjacent Counties


  • Asbury
  • Balltown
  • Bankston
  • Bernard
  • Cascade
  • Centralia
  • Dubuque (County Seat)
  • Durango
  • Dyersville
  • Epworth
  • Farley
  • Graf
  • Holy Cross
  • Luxemburg
  • New Vienna
  • Peosta
  • Rickardsville
  • Sageville
  • Sherrill
  • Worthington
  • Zwingle

Other Townships & Communities: Cascade, Center, Concord, Dodge, Fillmore, Iowa, Jefferson, Key West, Liberty, Mosalem, New Wine, Peru, Prairie Creek, Table Mound, Taylor, Vernon, Washington, Washington Mills and Whitewater



Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge (part)

Upper Miss. R. National Wildlife Refuge (part)

National Register of Historic Places

IA Gen Web

Genealogy Trails

Roots Web


The History of Dubuque County, Iowa - ISU Digital Collections