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History Comes Alive

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw my great-great grandfather’s name on the list of high school projects on the Shot Tower,” says 25-year-old Sean Bosveld. “We drove by it all the time, and I had no idea there was a family connection.”

Bosveld learned of his link to history when Dubuque’s Central Alternative High School teacher John Adelman handed him a list of research topics. Bosveld picked a topic he recognized, that of his great-great grandfather J.K. Graves. “I knew he built the Fourth Street Elevator,” says Bosveld, “but I had no idea he owned the Shot Tower from 1860 to 1862.” Bosveld also learned that his ancestor was a prominent businessman who was involved in banking and the railroads.  

Bosveld’s research is captured in “The Life and Times of J.K. Graves,” a chapter in The Dubuque Shot Tower, a 2011 compendium of essays on the tower’s history written by Adelman’s students and community experts.

“What are the odds,” laughs Adelman, who taught history for 35 years and edited the book (which also won a Preservation at Its Best award) “that Sean, in his last year of school, would take my history course the year we were working on the Shot Tower? That, as one of the last students to join the project, J.K. Graves would still be available as a topic? It really made history come alive.”

Order a copy of The Dubuque Shot Tower from River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque (563-556-4391) or Amazon.

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