Homer Howard Field.

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) online

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" 'Every plant which my Father has not planted shall be rooted up.' "


"Tall oaks from little acorns grow."

The little acorn from which the Women's Christian Association Hos-
pital has grown, was planted by five Christian women calling themselves the
"Faith Band," and consecrating themselves to any Christian work into which
the Heavenly Father might lead them.


The first meeting of the Faith Band occurred in the parlors of the First
Baptist church in May, 1884, after the close of a district convention of the
Young Men's Christian Association, and in the following month the organi-
zation now known as the Women's Christian Association of Council Bluffs
was projected into being, growing into completeness as the months passed by.
It began with prayers and this has been always its resource and its recourse.

The first definite object mentioned after permanent organization was
effected, was a cottage hospital, but lacking unity of purpose and perhaps
faith to ask the needed help for such an undertaking, the project was tem^
porarily abandoned, and evangelistic and charitable work among the poor of
the city was substituted. This was for two years carried on with much benefit
to the donors as well as the recipient-. Among the members of the Faith
Band was Mrs. Dr. Green, always full of love for her kind and devotion to
her Savior, and has passed to her reward.

Miss Laura Cole was an early member who served for two years as
treasurer. She too has been called to the higher life.

In the autumn of '84 and '85 systematic visits among the poor and the
dispensing of charity was carried on and brought new revelations of human
life to many who had heretofore seen only its sunny side. On Christmas
day of 1884 an entertainment was given at the Baptist church through means
of which about three hundred women and children were presented with
clothing, books and toys. Some of the Sunday schools that year gave,
instead of receiving presents, exemplifying tin- truth that it is more blessed
to give than to receive.

The result of this entertainment was a central mission Sunday school
that for nearly a year distributed weekly to the most ignorant and neglected
of the city the bread of life.

Out of this grew a sewing school for poor girls where they were not
only taught the art of making garments, bul also provided with wholesome

This was in operation for three years until it gave way to the larger work
of the hospital.

In August, 1886, the plan of opening a cottage hospital again engaged
the attention of the association, but it was not until November of that year
that decisive action was taken which resulted in the renting of a small cot-
tage in the northern pari of the city and opening it for hospital purposes.
This was named the Cottage Home Hospital.

At this time the association was given the collection from the union
Thanksgiving service, a custom which has since that time been yearly observed,
and for which the members feel grateful not only to the pastors but also to
the public. As the work became better known, donations came from various
60urces from the charitably inclined, donations of fruit, vegetables, furniture,
etc. In this the Sunday schools and the public schools as well as individuals
and churches have nobly borne a part. Their names cannot be given in this
history, but their gifts are recorded. The hospital, while it never refused to
shelter the impecunious, was not designed to be exclusively a charitable insti-


tution, but requires those who are able to pay for their accommodation to do

In April, 1887, basket donations were solicited from ladies of means in
the city, to the value of two or three dollars each, to supply the larder of the
hospital, which has ever since proved an efficient aid to supplying the table.
Mention should be made of Mrs. 0. M. Brown, who became a member this
year, and until her decease was a faithful and untiring worker. In June,
1890, she too passed within the veil.

In the autumn of '87, finding the cottage too small the association leased
the brick residence known as the McMahon place, situated on (he corner of
Sixth avenue and Ninth street, and moved all their appurtenances into these
more commodious quarters, and three years later the property was purchased
for the sum of $4,200 and remodeled to suit the purpose for which it was
intended. A steam heating plant was introduced which, with other improve-
ments and repairs made, cost the sum of $2,634, making the debt at that
time $6,834.

The society was incorporated under the laws of Iowa on the 20th day of
July, 1886 by the following named persons signing the articles of incorpora-
tion: viz., Josephine Allen, Mary G. Green. Laura M. Cole, Perris Stacy, Caro-
line A. Day, Helen E. Sealy, Angela Shugart, Anna B. Phelps and Angeline
H. Peak.

The officers elected for the first year were as follows: President, Josephine
Allen; vice-presidents, Mary G. Green, Helen E. Sealy, Perris Stacy, Caroline
A. Day and Amelia Bloomer; recording secretary, Mary G. Green; corre-
sponding secretary, Helen Montgomery ; treasurer, Lydia B. Atkins ; trustees,
Anna B. Phelps, Angela R. Shugart, Sarah E. Tulleys, Mattie E. Gaylord,
Laura M. Cole, Minta Gaines and Angeline H. Peak.

In 1898 the association received a substantial donation from the late
Mrs. Sarah J. Ballard, being $10,000 in money and property, which was
sold for $10,115. This enabled them to add largely to their facilities for
carrying on the good work, and in recognition, the board has endowed a room
and two beds in perpetuity, preference to be given to old ladies without means.

In June, 1905 the association accepted a loan of Mr. J. D. Edmondson
of $40,000, at five per cent interest during his lifetime and at his death the prin-
cipal is to become the property of the association, thus making it largely a dona-
tion. By this agreement, while the property remains in possession of the
association, it will be hereafter known as the Jennie Edmondson Memorial
Hospital, and two rooms are endowed, and a tablet placed to perpetuate the
memory of the first wife of the benefactor.

On receipt of this assistance the board proceeded to look up a suitable
location and decided on a beautiful location on East Pierce street known as
the Bock property, and having agreed upon the plans, commenced active
operation on the new building, which was rapidly pushed to completion, and
on the 12th of February, 1907, possession was taken, since which time the
association finds its self installed in a beautiful three-story fire-proof build-
ing with sixty-two rooms exclusive of bath and store rooms, with all the modern


appliances required for conducting the same, and in which lighting, heating
and ventilation have received the fullest consideration.

A training school for nurses has also been established in which thirty-
seven have been graduated.

The salaried employes, including superintendent, number thirteen. The
building has a capacity for comfortably caring for seventy-five patients and
in case it became necessary, could care for one hundred.

The directors for 1907 are: President, Mrs. R. M. Sprague; vice-presi-
dent, Mrs. Clem Kimball ; recording secretary, Mrs. M. C. Gaines ; correspond-,
ing secretary, Mrs. Mary E. Thomas; auditors, Mrs. 0. H. Lucas and Mrs.
J. B. Atkins, Mrs. M. F. Rohrer, Mis. W. W. Wallace, Mrs. G. H. Richmond
and Mrs. J. H. Carse.

The grounds are large and so situated as not to be in danger of being
crowded in the future and with abundance of room that may be needed
for enlargement of present buildings, or building additional ones.

Inaugurated in 1882; incorporated in 1883.

Those who are skeptical as to the Bible story of the prophet being fed
by ravens, should visit the abore named institution.

In the fall of 1882 Rev. J. G. Lemen, then pastor of the First Baptist
church of Council Bluffs, organized a department in connection with his
church work to give aid to the poor of the city.

It soon became known, and children were brought to him even as they
were to another person some nineteen centuries ago, and if he did not claim
to bless, he fed and clothed them.

Himself poor, he struggled on often far into the night, but always found
a way to meet the emergency. Children continued to come, and the work grew
until it encroached upon the time he owed to his pastoral duties. At this
point, he claimed, God's hand appeared, and the decision was made for him,
not by him. He gave up his pastoral work and devoted his whole time, and
that of his family, to the work of saving destitute and afflicted children. His *
house being too small he rented others, having faith that the Lord would put
it into the hearts of the people to sustain him.

At times he did not know where the next day's food was to come from,
but it came. More room was needed as the children continued to come, more
houses were rented and help employed and the money came to pay for them.
Hundreds of our citizens had no conception of what he was accomplishing, so
quietly was the work progressing. A chapel was needed and piny grounds,
these also were provided as well as schools, and the ravens continued to come.
If a child was feeble or crippled it had special care.

Year after year it continued to grow, but the constant strain was wear-
ing the faithful pair away. On September 10, 1902, Mrs. Florence J. Lemen,
the devoted wife, passed away, but the founder worked on, makinc improve-
ments and adding to and enlarging its grounds for two years more, when his
Father called him October 6, 1904.


Then people wondered what would become of it.

The ravens came in flocks.

H. R. Lemen, son of the founder, took up the orphan's burden where
the father had laid it down. Large, substantial buildings with all modern
improvements have supplanted the old frames, a department has been added
for aged and dependent women, also for deformed and afflicted children.
Ample playgrounds for both sexes provided. The grounds adorned with trees
and flowers, and in all its arrangements it will compare favorably with any
of the benevolent institutions of the state.

Its property is valued at $275,000. Five thousand helpless children
have passed through it to comfortable homes.

And still the ravens come.


Dr. G. W. Pangle, Founder.

After practicing medicine thirty years in this city, in 1900 he founded
the above named institution at No. 723 First avenue, where he makes a spe-
cialty of treating women, and providing homes for infants born within the
institution. It is not conducted strictly as a benevolent institution, as all pa-
tients that are able are expected to pay for treatment and care, the same as is
customary in general hospitals. The great increase in his practice required more
room and greater facilities and during this year he purchased the entire block
known as the Foster Flats, where he is prepared to receive all of the afflicted
that apply.


It is doubtful if any city of its size is better provided with benevolent
institutions than Council Bluffs. All of these have started from small begin-
nings. Among these is the St. Bernard's Hospital.

In the fall of 1887 two Sisters of Mercy arrived in Council Bluffs to
establish an institution for the relief of suffering and helpless humanity, and
as a result of their efforts St. Bernard's Hospital was founded on September
24, 1887, having procured the Hanthorn residence on Fourth street. In a
short time this building was too small and in May, 1888, they bought the
beautiful residence of Conrad Giese. This was a two-story house of seventeen
rooms which were used for hospital purposes until 1890, when the east wing
of the building was constructed for an insane ward. From this time on the
institution has experienced a constant growth until at this time there are
insane patients from several Iowa counties and private patients from nearly
every state in the Union.

In the year 1896 the sisters erected an additional wing. This is one
hundred by sixty feet, three stories high with finished basement, and fur-
nishes the equipment of a complete hospital service. The rooms and wards
are all high, light and perfectly heated and ventilated, and are arranged
according to the most approved plans of hospital architecture.


This is situated on a commanding eminence overlooking a large part
of the city, but not so high as to render it difficult of access. St. Bernard's
Hospital is now devoted exclusively to the care of the insane and nervous
patients and has the capacity for the comfortable care of two hundred and fifty.

Just across Frank, and fronting on Harmony street, stands the Mercy
Hospital. Although entirely detached, it is under the same management and
warmed and ventilated from the same plant. It is four stories high and has
all the modern appliances for heating, lighting and ventilating and is abso-
lutely fire-proof and provided with fire escapes from every floor. All the rooms"
are light and airy, and finished in hard maple except operating rooms and
lavatories which are of white tile.

This was built during 1901-02, and on the 19th of January, 1903,
twenty-four convalescents were removed from St. Bernard's Hospital to Mercy,
and the first meals were served in the new building. The first mass was said
on January 23, and the public opening was held on May 24, 1903.

The building contains one hundred and eighteen rooms and will accommo-
date one hundred and fifty patients.

In connection with the hospital there is a training school for nurses,
where young ladies can pursue their course of studies with assurance of
good instruction and opportunity to acquire experience which is so necessary
to all well trained nurses.


The sisters also purchased the Wheeler residence on the corner of Har-
mony and Baughn streets, and fitted it up for a home for young ladies who
find it necessary to be employed away from home, and as a refuge for respect-
able young women who are seeking employment. It is a three-story structure
and thoroughly equipped for the care of girls. It is in every respeci a home
with all its comforts and protection. The ourses al Mercj Hospital have their
quarters at the home and at the present date it accommodates fifty boarders.

In August, 1905, the Sisters of Mercy purchased the Gilbert property on
Upper Broadway consisting of about ten acres of lawn and forest in order to
establish a home for the aged where they may retire in quiet after becoming
too old and infirm to continue the struggle and storms of the outside world
and end their days in peace.

At present it will accommodate but a limited number of people but the
sisters propose to build an addition this fall.

This place is known as Mt. Loretto. The sisters also intend to open a
seminary for small boys on the grounds near Mt. Loretto. The plans are
out and contracts have been let and they expect to build the coming fall.

The money already invested in the grounds, buildings and equipments
amounts to $250,000.


The most beautiful object in all the world is ;i healthy, well cared for, joy-
ful child. The most pathetic is a negleoted, forsaken, helpless and afflicted
one, but such there are all around us. Id this heaven favored community the
hitler urc but few; there should be none.


In the constant struggle for existence the weakest are trampled down and
unless assisted most perish, and all honor to the noble women who have banded
themselves together in this blessed effort to "rescue the perishing."

This is the mission of the Creche established by a society of ladies under
the style of the Associated Charities of Council Bluffs and incorporated in
January, 1901, with the following list of officers: President, Mrs. Jacob
Simms; vice-president. .Mrs. Lewis Cutler; corresponding secretary, Mrs. C. A.
Wiley; recording secretary. Mrs. F. T. True; treasurer, Miss Maud Smith;
auditor, Mrs. Fred Johnson; assistant auditor. Mrs. W. E. Dawson; attorney,
Miss Caroline Dodge; superintendent of Creche, Mrs. Caroline Johnson; his-
torian, Mrs. G. W. Snyder; with the following list of trustees вАФ Mrs. J. P. Hess,
W. M. Frederick, H. A. Ballinger, W. Runyan, Chas. Parmelee, F. H. Hill,
F. W. Miller, Geo. Phelps, J. P. Greenshields, S. T. McAttee, Horace Everett,
Geo. Allingham, Miss Caroline Dodge, Mrs. N. J. Swanson, Ellen Wyman and
Mrs. Geo. Camp.

The paramount object of this institution is earing for deserted wives and
children, the unfortunate girl and the waif. By taking the children to the
institution and getting employment for parents that will enable them to pay a
small sum for their keeping.

Like nearly all benevolent institutions it commences in weakness and
trusting in the generosity of their fellow-citizens for assistance.

Already substantial aid has been rendered by one of our wealthy citizens
which has enabled them to purchase an ideal place on East Pierce street with
large well shaded grounds which have been put in condition to receive the lit-
tle guests, thirty-three of whom are now comfortably domiciled here. No bet-
ter site could have been selected, and with the assistance already rendered, and
the known generosity of our citizens its success for the future appears assured.


Although the history of the above named institution has no connection
with Pottawattamie county previous to 1866, it seems but proper to start from
its inception and follow it up to the present time. In this we are indebted to the
present superintendent, Mr. Henry W. Rothert.

Shortly after the admission of Iowa as a state small appropriations were
occasionally made by the legislature to pay for scholarships for Iowa children
attending schools hi other states.

It was not until a private school was organized in Iowa City by W. E.
Ijams that a part of the public funds was directed towards establishing an
Iowa institution. This private school received for a time a small pecuniary
assistance from the state until January, 1855, when an act was passed estab-
lishing the Iowa institution for the education of the deaf and dumb, and ap-
proved by the governor.

Under the provisions of this act providing means to support and maintain
this institution the general management was intrusted to a board of trustees
consisting of the governor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruc-
tion, and four others elected by the general assembly.


The board of trustees so appointed and chosen consisted of Hon. James
W. Grimes, governor; Hon. G. W. McCleary, secretary of state; Hon. J. D.
Eads, superintendent of public instruction; John C. Culbertson, Rev. F. A.
Shearer and William Crum.

One of the first official acts of this board was to absorb the private school
of Mr. Ijams with his twenty pupils, appointing him principal, Mrs. Ijams
matron, and Mr. Perry Barns teacher, and the state institution, afterward to
be known as the School for the Deaf, was duly founded.

The school grew rapidly, the building became inadequate, and another
one was rented to accommodate the increasing number of pupils. The $10,-
000 appropriated for the equipment and support of the young institution was
exhausted at the end of the biennial period, and the succeeding general as-
sembly in 1857 appropriated $7,000 for its continued support. This was fol-
lowed by an appropriation of $8,000 annually for ihe years 1858 and 1859.
Liberal as these acts of the general assembly might seem to be, yet, under the
most careful management deficiencies at the end of the term appeared and ap-
plicants were denied admission. At this time the school numbered fifty-nine

This unfortunate condition continued for several years, under the strain
of which Mr. Ijams' health failed, compelling his resignation.

At the beginning of the term of 1863 Mr. Benjamin Talbot, a former
teacher in the Ohio School for the Deaf, was placed in charge. Each year
showed an increase in the number of pupils. The necessity for better accom-
modation and larger facilities becoming more and more apparent, on the third
day of April, 1866, the general assembly passed an act by the terms of which
the institution was removed to or near Council Bluffs. A commission consist-
ing of Thos. Officer, Caleb Baldwin and E. Honn was created and empowered
to select a permament location, invite plans and receive proposals for the erec-
tion of the buildings. One hundred and sixty acres were selected, plans were
submitted by different architects and after adopting one that appeared the
most acceptable, hid- were asked for and received. The matter was then re-
ferred to the general assembly with a recommendation that $300,000 be ap-
propriated to carry out the suggestions as made by the commission. This was
approved only to the extent of an appropriation for the erection of the center
and one wing of the main building, and the commission was authorized to
proceed with the erection of the same.

From this time on the institution seemed destined to come up through
tribulation. Defects in plans were encountered and changes were made, faulty
construction was charged, as well as inferior material, time had to be extended,
and it was not until December 1, 1870, that the pupils could enter their new but
not very comfortable home. The center building of five stories and one wing
of four were erected on an appropriation of $125,000.

In 1876 the general assembly provided for the erection and completion
of the other or west wing, but before this was completed a fire on the 25th of
February, 1877, nearly destroyed the center and east wing, and rendered what
had been imperfectly done uninhabitable and useless. Some of the children
were sent to their homes, while some were provided for in an industrial school


building erected in 1868, on the east side of the grounds. The west wing was
being pushed forward with energy when in August a tornado destroyed a
large part of the work done, so that the fall school could admit but a limited
number of pupils.

In the following year Mr. Talbot resigned as superintendent and was suc-
ceeded by Mr. Moses Folsom of Chariton, Iowa. During the two years of Mr.
Folsom's administration the center building was rebuilt and the educational
facilities increased by the addition of a printing office, affording pupils the ad-
vantage of learning this remunerative trade.

Mr. Folsom resigned in 1880 and Rev. Alonzo Rogers, of Glenwood,
Iowa, was appointed to fill the vacancy. During his administration the east
wing was rebuilt, thus completing the main building. Improvement was made
in surroundings and school rooms, thus placing the institution in a position
to fulfill the mission for which it was erected and maintained. Mr. Rogers
resigned in August, 1883, and was followed by Mr. H. C. Hammond, who was
at the time superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Deaf. Mr. Ham-
mond was an executive, as well as teacher, and during his administration a
twenty-room schoolhouse, chapel and dining room were added, and the water
supply improved by sinking an artesian well eleven hundred feet deep. This
affords an ample supply of excellent water and superseded the old arrangement
of cisterns filled by pumping water from Mosquito creek.

After three years' service Mr. Hammond severed his connection with the
school, and was succeeded by Mr. G. L. Wycoff, who had been a teacher of
the deaf in the Iowa and other schools.

Mr. Wycoff filled the position but one year, the position being tendered
and accepted by Mr. Henry W. Rothert, the present incumbent, in 1887. At
this time it was thought best to create a new office, that of principal of the
school, to which Mr. Wycoff was called, and who should be directly responsi-
ble to the board of trustees, while the superintendent was intrusted with the
general management, looking after its material and financial welfare. This
dual arrangement was changed by an act creating the board of control of state
institutions, and providing that there should be but one chief officer, recog-
nized in the person of the superintendent.

Notwithstanding the ordeal the school has passed through by tornado
and fire, its growth has been continuous. Workshops have been added, a

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 59)