Our Iowan Connection

Filed under: Agriculture,Family History,Family Places,Kudos — Chamberlain @ 3:22 pm
No. 129

Kudos from the Clan to Calvin and Barbara Gatch. The Gatch-Schrup Farm (Mosalem Township, Dubuque County, Iowa) has recently been honored by an official listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to the distinction of this listing, this farmstead has fascinating historical links to the Chambers-Mullamphy-Walsh family. But first, to get oriented, here is a map of the Dubuque Iowa vicinity:



Most of us are aware of land holdings of the Chambers and Walsh ancestors, including ranches in Texas (San Angelo) and in California (Colusa County – see the biographical essay on Richard Walsh in our Library). But probably unknown to most of us, the family had land holdings in Iowa also. The following excerpts are from the descriptive narrative submitted to the National Register. They not only describe the architecture of the farmstead, but also reveal that St Louisans John Mullanphy and Auguste Chouteau had been early owners of this very same farm which now belongs to Barbara and Calvin.


Architectural classification: Stone Limestone, Luxembourg
Period of Significance: 1854 – 1885

Narrative Description:

The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup Farmstead Historic District is located at 10086 Lake Eleanor Road in the South West ¼ of Section 7, Mosalem Township, Dubuque County, in eastern Iowa. The rectangular farmstead district is approximately 3 acres.

The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup Farmstead Historic District includes the original farm house, stone barn and stone well-house, all of which share many typical mid-nineteenth century Luxembourgian vernacular characteristics. Each is constructed from both field stones and cut stones. Each mirrors the spare, simple and graceful design of farm buildings of Luxembourgian influence. The farmstead district includes the current windbreak and stone retaining walls on the north side of the well house and the south side of the house. The Farmstead Historic District also includes the land set aside for the vegetable garden and the family orchard.

Contributing buildings include three stone structures: the house, barn and well-house. One non-contributing structure is a small storage shed at the southeast corner of the house.

The farmstead district is part of the original farm of 193 acres settled by John and Marie (Palen) Schrup. The farmstead district is located within the original Julien Dubuque land claim, negotiated with the Mesquakie Tribe by Julien Dubuque in 1788 and confirmed in 1796 by Governor Baron Francisco Carondelet for the Spanish government. Julien Dubuque sold title to this land to Auguste Chouteau of St. Louis in 1804, who in turn sold half-interest to John Mullanphy, the great-great-great-great grandfather of one of the current owners and occupants, Calvin F. Gatch, Jr.

The heirs of Chouteau and Mullanphy lost their claim to the land in 1853 as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Julien Dubuque did not possess fee simple, but merely the right to mine the lead. There is a vertical lead mine shaft located within a quarter of a mile of the farmstead district, and the 1858 Mineral Map of Dubuque and Vicinity indicates the presence at that time of a lead furnace just north of the farmstead district.

However, the Luxembourgers who started migrating to Dubuque and Jackson County in the 1850’s were drawn not so much by the opportunity to mine lead as by the opportunity to build lives akin to the ones they had left behind in Luxembourg. Many settled in the nearby town of St. Donatus and some settled on farms in Dubuque County’s Mosalem Township and Jackson County’s Tete des Morts Township.

The distinct architectural styles of the Iowa Luxembourgian houses and barns and the strong religious ties with the Catholic Church make clear the extent to which the early Luxembourg settlers clung to their cultural and religious traditions.

As agriculture and rural life has changed in the 150 years since the early Luxembourgian settlers arrived, old limestone houses, barns and well-houses are simply not practical. Although there are scattered buildings still standing, there are few farmsteads intact. Most of the original Luxembourgian buildings have been torn down to make room for more modern farm houses and barns. The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup farmstead is one of the few remaining farmsteads that represent the Luxembourgian settlement of the second half of the 19th century.

The farmstead district is located on one of the highest spots of the original 193-acre farm with a view of the countryside to the ridge-tops several miles to the south and west. The principal farming activity has always revolved around dairy cows. The rock barn and well-house allowed early settlers to milk a few cows and store the cream in the well-house until it could be delivered to the creamery.

The farmstead stone house, barn, and well-house are architecturally significant because they compose one of few well-preserved Dubuque County Luxembourgian immigrant farmsteads settled in the mid-nineteenth century.



It is amazing to learn that this farm belonged to Auguste Chouteau (a Walsh ancestor of Mary Corley Dunn) and then to John Mullanphy (Chambers ancestor) some 200 years ago. Here are some photos of this beautiful site:


Scenic view of surroundings from farmstead’s high ground

Stone barn and outbuilding

Main dwelling – note: green thumbs have been here…

Patio and flower beds complement rock construction

Kitchen/Dining Area

Original joists and wooden lintels

Library/Music Room

Another view of surrounding countryside




What a beautiful relic of the family past. To end, here is a map showing just where Luxembourg is located – something I couldn’t recall.

Congratulations Barb and Cal – the immense time and effort you’ve devoted to this ancestral farmstead is clearly evident.



  1. I’m not surprised by Cal’s inventiveness with this homestead – it’s another example of his inspiring nature with the natural and hard-work farming world, and our various family histories. I appreciate his influence from afar. It’s clearly a beautiful result.

    I still value his effort when he labored as a teacher through my difficult 6th grade experience at Barat Hall in St. Louis long ago. He was a demanding guy, and made me think far beyond the usual boundaries with his frustration at my slow progress that year. Later I found out how much he really cared about each one of us.

    Calvin, I’m a fan. Nice to see what you’ve done with everything.


    Comment by Stan Mulvihill — July 26, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  2. I’m 81 yrs. old, married to Celeste, enjoying life along the Mississippi, near LeClaire, Iowa. Only recently our family has become engaged in ancestral research, including a 2010 trip to Lux. where we saw the homes of our ancestors. Both of us are 50/50 Lux/German! I knew my grandfather Geo, Schrup and his wife Katherine. I remember staying overnight in their home at 1743 White St. Dbq. I knew my wifes grandparents, Dr. Pierre Sartor and his wife. Mary (Winandy) Sartor who lived in Titonka, Ia. Pierre came to the US from Lux. about 1896. We are excited to find that there is still an existing Schrup homestead, and hope to visit sometime. Our son, Bob, lives in LaCrosse and has done the heavy research into our families histories, mostly on the Sartor side. Recently, more on the Schrup side. My mother’s twin brother Anthony was Postmaster in Dbq. for many years and raised a large family. However, I believe that none of his family is in the area. There are Schrups still in Dbq. but they are not descendants of Geo. We would welcome any further info.

    Comment by John Roth — December 27, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

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