This small, unincorporated village sits atop the highest point in Dubuque County. It was known as King for most of its existence, but sometime recently St. Catherine became the preferred name. I don’t know when or why.

The village was named for Judge John King, the editor of the first newspaper in Iowa, the Dubuque Visitor, which published its first issue in 1836, which was also happened to be the year the first settlers arrived. The early arrivals were primarily immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg; dairy farming was a common occupation. King had a peak population of 25, just enough people for a major league baseball team, before fading into obscurity. Several of the town’s original buildings were moved to the property of a local farmer.


St. Catherine Church

St. Catherine Church

The land for St. Catherine Catholic Church (5180 St. Catherine Rd.; 563.583.0092) was donated by the town’s namesake, Judge King. The inaugural mass was held in a log building on Christmas Eve, 1852. The parish was split between German and Irish immigrants who fought over the name: Irish parishioners wanted St. Bridgit, while Germans wanted a German saint. The church even had separate trustees for German and Irish members and separate sections in the cemetery. Bishop Loras found middle ground when he named the church after St. Catherine of Alexandria. The current Gothic Revival brick church was completed in 1887.

Heading upriver? Check out Dubuque.

Heading downriver? Check out St. Donatus.

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