Julien Dubuque was born on January 10, 1762 at Trios Rivieres near Quebec, Canada. In 1788, he established a trading post and lead mining smelter at the mouth of Catfish Creek. He was active in fur trading and lead mining with the Mesquakie (Sac & Fox) tribe who lived nearby. According to the legend, Dubuque married Potosa, daughter of Chief Peosta. Julien Dubuque died on March 24, 1810 and was buried by the Mesquakie (or Meskwaki) with tribal honors overlooking Catfish Creek and the Mines of Spain. In 1897, the Old Settlers Association erected the 25 foot tall limestone monument that exists today known as the Julien Dubuque Monument.
Dubuque's right to the land was originally obtained from the Mesquakie in an agreement dated September 22, 1788 and singed at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. On November 10, 1796, Julien Dubuque obtained an official land grant from the Spanish Governor, Baron de Carondelet in St. Louis. The Spanish grant included 73,324 acres of land. It stretched for eleven miles notrh and south of Catfish Creek and nine miles west. This area shown on early 18th Century maps as "Lead Mines" (mine de plomb) became known as the "Mines of Spain".
MESQUAKIE TREATY WITH JULIEN DUBUQUE
Copy of the council held by the Foxes (Mesquakie), that is to say, the chiefs and the
braves of five villages, with the approbation of the rest of their people, explained to them by Mr. Quinantotaye, their agent, in their presence and in ours, we the undersigned - To wit: - That the Foxes (Mesquakie) permit Mr. Julien Dubuque, called by them the Little Night to work the mine until it shall please him to withdraw from it, without specifying to him any further limit of time, who sell and abandon to him the hole ridge and content of the lode found by the wife of Peosta (Pesota?), so that no white man or Indian may be able to lay claim (to it?_ without the consent of Jr. Julien Dubuque, and if in case (he) finds nothing it, he shall undertake to search where it shall seem good to him, and to work peacefully, without anyone being able to disturb him, or bringing any prejudice to his workings. Thus we, chiefs and braves by the voice of all out villages, we have agreed with Julien Dubuque, selling and delivering to him from this day as mentioned above, in the presence of the Frenchmen who are here present, who are the witness of this instrument, at Prairie Du Chien in full council, the 22nd of September 1788.
Blondau . Bazil + Teser(?) witness - Ala + Austin . Blondeau
Of + Quisneau His signet - Anloque (Antaya??) - Joseph Fontigny witness
JULIEN DUBUQUE'S PETITION TO THE SPANISH GOVERNOR
To his Excellency the Baron De Carondelet, Your Excellency's very humble petitioner named Julien Dubuque, having made a settlement on the frontier of your Government, in the midst of the Indian Nations, who are inhabitants of the country, has bought a tract of land from these Indians with the mines it contains, and by his perseverance, has surmounted obstacles, as expensive as they were dangerous and, after many voyages, Has come to be the peaceable possessor of a tract of land on the west bank of the Mississippi, to which he has given the name "Mines of Spain", in memory of the Government to which he belongs, and, as the place of settlement is but a point, and the different mines which he works are apart and a distance of more than three leagues from each other, the very humble petitioner prays your Excellency to have the goodness to assure him the quiet enjoyment of his mines and lands, that is to say: from the hills above the little river Maquantuitois (Little Maquoketa) to the hills of the river Mesqualbysnonques "Tete de Morts", which forms about seven leagues on the west bank of the Mississippi by three leagues in depth, and to grant him the peaceable possession thereof. Which the very humble petitioner ventures to hope that your goodness will be pleased to grant him his request.
Dubuque with Mesquakie, National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Captain William D. Bowell Sr. River Library.
Remains of original Dubuque burial site, Photo contributed by Center for Dubuque History, Loras College.
An artist's depiction of Julien Dubuque and Potosa; burial vault possibly erected by the Mesquakie; and the monument built in 1897 by the Old Settlers' Association. National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Captain William D. Bowell Sr. River library.