Homer Howard Field.

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

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in the bluff.-, heavily timbered, as well as bottom land. lie died in 1852
of cholera. His widow. Mrs. Maria Mynster, managed the estate for many
years, living at the corner of Fir.-t street and what is now Pierce, later built
a tine residence on Scott street and Washington avenue, but finally moved to
a home with her -on. by the bin spring, where -be died in May, 1892.

For these facts we are indebted to W. A. Mynster, the son above referred
to. who at this writina is president of the- bar association of the county. He
fully believe< that -pot by the spring to be the original Council Bluffs, as he
occasionally finds evidence of former presence of white men and Indians, of
pottery and stone implements that must have belonged to inhabitants of pre-
historic times.

Dustin Amy wa.- another refugee from Nauvoo. He placed his family
and outfit with David DeVol and family for the pilgrimage across the state
while lie came around by St. Louis, where be laid in a stock of stoves and
tinware and opened up and carried on the business for a while, but finally



r OR, LtU:



went on to Utah. His wife declined going farther and the family remained
here, she opening a boarding house, and their son Royal succeeded him in
the business which, though only eighteen year- old, he conducted successfully
for more than a half century, while his mother, by industry and good in-
vestment, became quite wealthy, and later, when her husband became feeble;
she went and brought him back and cared fur him until his death in 1868.

David DeVol, before mentioned, who came at the same time, clerked in
stores, held several public otlices and reared a line family. 1 1 i~ son. Paul
Colman, built up a large business in the hardware, -love and tin business,
which he conducted until his death, when it became incorporated a- the P.
('. DeVol Company, with his son as manager, thus perpetuating the name.
The pioneer. Mrs. DeVol, died October 28. 1894. .Mr. DeVol died July 6,
1901, aged ninety-six year-. Two daughters at this time survive them. Miss
Mary, who has lived at the homestead on First street for sixty year-, and Mr.-.
W. R. Vaughan, of St. Louis.

These great movements of men wore a groove that was soon to be fol-
lowed by the pony express, the stage coach, the telegraph, and finally the
Union Pacific Railroad. The same cause that has always impelled mankind
to follow the sun was more active than ever before, and no such body of
men — men consisting of those of all occupations, trade.- ami professions —
ever moved with .such irresistible force to capture such a prize as the host
that launched itself upon the frontier for the conquest of California.

All young or middle aged men, very few women and no children. In
their rough clothing you could not distinguish a senator from the backwoods-
man, but all had a keen sense of honor, and thieving and petty crimes were
almost unknown, and a woman was safer in that rough crowd than in New
York city to-day with its thousands of police.

Following these grand movements, however, came the jackalls to prey
upon the mass until it becomes necessary to crush them without tine process
of law.


Before the supremacy of the Mormons was ended, the Gentiles (as all
others were called) were pouring in. In November, 1851, Rev. G. G. Rice
started a little church of eight member-, also a Sunday School in a log house
on Broadway, a little west of the intersection of Glenn avenue. This was Con-
gregational and has grown to be a large and influential society Mr. Rice
at eighty-six is still with us although not engaged in the ministry. Rev.
Moses Shinn, of the Methodist persuasion, used to preach and some claimed
that lie was as learned in full deck poker as in theology, but this was prob-
ably a joke.

At this time Kanesville contained over seven thousand population, in-
cluding its suburb of Carterville, which was east of the Mosquito creek and
extended from that stream to the top of the hill in a southerly direction.

In '52 matters had reached a point where it seemed desirable to have a
city organization, and early in 1853 a charter was granted for the city of
Council Bluffs, and Kanesville disappeared. In April of that year the first ,


charter election was held, which resulted in the election of Cornelius Voorhis
for mayor; W. H. Robinson, recorder; M. W. Robinson, marshal; S. S. Bay-
liss, G." G. Rice, S. T. Carey, L. 0. Littlefield, L. M. Klein, J. E. Johnson,
J. K. Cook and J. B. Stutsman, for aldermen; R. L. Douglas, attorney; Sam-
uel Jacob, engineer, and David DeVol, assessor, and the frontier camp be-
came a city.

Up to this time the city was mostly along Indian Creek valley. What
is Broadway was an irregular trail and the principal business within two
squares of the corners of Broadway and Hyde (now Fir?t ) street.

In the summer of '54 the original town of Council Bluffs was surveyed,
platted and recorded by Mr. Thomas Tostevin, who later filled the important
offices of county surveyor, city engineer, county treasurer and mayor of the
city, and died August, 1905, at the age of seventy -six years. In 1853 the
name of the postoffice was changed to conform with that of the city. And
in the same year the United States land office was opened and -peculators
(lucked in armed with sacks of gold and silver, land warrants and revolvers.
H D. Street was the first register and Dr. S. M. Ballard the first receiver.
Both were Whigs and received their appointment from President Fillmore.
Eighty-three thousand land warrants had been issued by the general govern-
ment t<> the soldiers of the Mexican war and thousands of these found their
way t<> this office and were located on the rich Lands of western Iowa. Some
by the soldier-, hut by far the largest part by speculators, into whose hands
they had fallen. Dr. Ballard, who had been living in Iowa City, now moved
to this city and made his home here, although most of his time after his term
of office had expired was spent on his farm, one of the largest ami finest in
Audubon county. With t lie dissolution of the Whig party he promptly
joined the republicans and became one of its pillars. He was a man of com-
manding personality, being -i.\ feet -ix. with a long beard white a- snow, and
would command attention in any assemblage, as was later illustrated at the
republican state cor~3ntion of 1875. When the announcements of candi-
date- were being made, several names had been talked over, but that of Gov.
Kirkwood had not been mentioned. At the proper time he -tipped into the
forum and announced his name. A number of the delegates arose and de-
manded by what authority he made the announcement, and whether he
would accept. Without taking hi- -eat he responded: "In the name of the
great republican party T make tin.- nomination, and in its name and for it
I promise the great war governor will accept." This took the convention by
storm, and he was elected as triumphantly as nominated.

We have seen the county brought to it- present limits; the district court
organized: the United States land office opened; postoffice established; and
the frontier camp of Kanesville transformed into the city of Council Bluff.-.
Many new-comers were constantly arriving and in addition to the merchants
previously named came Cornelius Voorhis, R. P. Snow. Thomas Hinshall,
B. R. Pegram and Patrick Murphy and. a little later. J. L. Forman. But
now tlie out-go of emigrants exceeded the influx, so that the population of
Council Bluff- was less for a few years than was that of Kanesville.


Anion" the arrivals of 1850 were G. A. and William Robinson, who
accepted clerkships in stores, but were destined to be prominent a little later
by the first opening of the Robinson house, which was the leading hotel for
some years, and the other becoming a member of the firm of Babbitt & Rob-
inson. Notwithstanding the resident population was now decreasing in the
city, the country was settling rapidly after opening of the land office, and
the California and Salt Lake travel was coming as well as going, and the
business continued to increase.

On the 8th of October, 1853, a destructive fire occurred that destroyed
half of the business part of the city, and but a small part of the goods were
saved. These buildings were log and were rapidly replaced with frames,
only to be consumed again a year later. This time, however, part of them
were rebuilt with brick, a brickyard having been in operation for some two
years, owned by Benjamin Winchester.


As in most new communities the large majority of the inhabitants were
young or middle aged, and comparatively few had children of school age,
still there were enough to call for the school marm. There is some uncer-
tainty as to who taught the first, but, at all events, a man by the name of
Brown taught in 1853 in the old log court house, which was for some years
afterward used for the same purpose. James B. Rue and his wife, both ex-
cellent teachers, opened a private school on Washington avenue, and a lhtle
later two sisters, the Misses Rockwell, opened a select school.


During the spring of 1854, while the city was full of emigrants, a man
named Samuels was camped in the glen on the ground that is now Glen
avenue. A young man named Muer had made arrangements to go with
him, and while Samuels was sleeping, Muer killed and robbed him. The
emigrants swarmed out like bee.<. captured the murderer, gave him a fair
trial, including the benefit of attorney, jury and clergy, and when he saw his
case was hopeless, he confessed to Elder Shinn, and directed him to where
he had hidden the money. He was then taken back to the spot where he
had committed the murder, a man climbed an elm tree, adjusted a rope
around a limb with the other end around Muer's neck. He was made to
stand on the back of a mule which was led from under, and he died
from slow strangulation. The civil authorities did not interfere and it would
probably have been useless if they had. as the campers were more numerous
than the citizens. Some twenty-five years later, in working the road about
the eastern limit of the city, a plow tore through an old rotten stump and a.
lot of gold coin rolled out and was scrambled for by the laborers. They
would not tell the amount, but this was undoubtedly the money for which
the murder was committed.

For years after this ravine was called by the name of Hang Hollow. .


The second murder was that of Fred Lord by Tom Golden, on account
of difficulty over a load of stone. There were two attachments against the
stone and Lord was hauling it away by virtue of one. when Golden shot him
from ambu-h. This was July 10. 1854. Although arrested he was cleared
in some manner. This was at Trader'- Point, close to the south line of the
county. The murdered man left a young wife and infant daughter who
are both living at this writing.


Judge W. ('. .lames, who was to become prominent later on. came here
in December, 1852, flat broke, having tramped across the western part of the
state and earned his firsl dollar here, cutting up a load of cordwood into
stove wood fur Or. P. .1. McMahon. Like nm^l great men. lie had the good
fortune to be born in Ohio, at Elyria, Lorain county, January 1. 1830, on
a farm where lie worked during boyhood, then worked his way through
Oberlin College, studied law with Wilson and Wade in Cleveland. He bad
also some knowledge of I, rick laying and plastering, which he turned to ac-
count by building a hou-e tor Enos Lowe, which, witli two others, lav claim
to being die first brick building in the city. He entered into polities with
tlie same zeal that characterized all his movements, lie was elected county
judge in the tall of L856; he also was a member of the city council at different
times and finally in 1874 was elected mayor of the city. Politically he was
intenselj democratic. A- a lawyer he did very little al the bar, but was a
shrewd office manager, lie was married in 1857 to Miss Annie Van Amain,
who wa- a gifted singer. By this union they had three children — two daugh-
ters and a son. The -on died in hi- boyhood. The elde.-t daughter inherited
her mother'- musical talent and became proficienl in opera and sang with
success in New York. London and Paris. In 1867 he and Milton Rogers
built the three-story block at the southeast corner of Main and Broadway, long
known as the .lame- block. lie also owned a large farm near what is now
the town of Oakland. lie died on Easter Sunday. 1 SOS. Hi- widow at
tin- time i- living in Chicago.

Contemporaneous with .Indue .lame-, was Frank street. He was of
Quaker .-lock, born -Inly 12. 1819. His parent- moved from Salem. N. J.,
to Salem, Ohio, from there he settled in Knoxville, Tenn.. where the subject
of this sketch was born. From there be came to Springfield, 111., and from
there to Salem, Henry county, in this state. Here he remained until he
came to Council Bluffs, in the meantime having studied law in Mt. Pleasant.

Arriving here, he entered "actively into politics and became county

On the 6th of April. L854, congress passed an act to enable the citizens
of Council Bluffs to acquire title to their lots. It authorized Judge Frank
Street, under rules prescribed by the legislature of Iowa to execute deeds
to bona fide claimants, provided these claim- were made within one year
from tin' passage of the act. On the LOth day of May following the approval
of the president of the act. Judge Street made an entry of two forty-acre


tracts in Section 30, that is known as the Old Town Plat, and also two forties
in Section 31 in Township 75, Range 43 west. He also entered for the
same use at the same time 240 acres in Section 25, and the same number of
acres in Section 36 in Township 75, Range 44. This substantially included
the territory embraced in the Bayliss claim in the Old Town plat, and in
that east of Madison street, so as to include the George Keeline property.

There were many disputes to settle before titles could in all cases be
perfected, and Judge Street employed Thomas Tostevin, a surveyor, to make
an accurate survey of the lands held in trust by him for the claimants as
just described, and plat the respective lines. This was done and Thomas
Tosievin's map has been taken as accurate where a reference is made to that
date. Thomas Tostevin and his brother David were both masters of their
profession and their work ha.s not Keen confined to western Iowa, but has
extended into Nebraska and Dakota, and their work has been considered
authority for a. half century. They held alternately the offices of city
engineer and county surveyor for many years. Thomas also held the office
of mayor of this city during L868-9, and from L866 to 1868 that of county
treasurer. They were natives of the Isle of Guernsey in the English Chan-
nel, came with their parents to Brooklyn, X. Y., and a.- they grew to
manhood drifted west. Both married and reared families. David died in
1898 and Thomas in August. 1905, but was active in his profession until
within a few weeks of his death. But to return to Judge Frank Street, alter
filling the office of county judge he practiced law for several year-, built
up an abstract of titles, was an active republican at the birth of the party
and to the end of his life. Was mayor of city. 1857-8.

At the city election of 1854-5 J. K. Cook was elected mayor, and J. E.
Johnson, S. T. Cary, W. Hepner, C. Voorhis, L. O. Littlefield, J. B. Stuts-
man and S. S Bayliss, aldermen, and W. D. Brown, city marshal.

In the fall of 1853, following the opening of the U. S. land office,
the first bank was started by Messrs. Green and Ware.

With the inauguration of the Pierce administration, Messrs. Ballard and
Street were retired from the land office and L. W. Babbitt and Dr. Enos
Lowe, democrats, were appointed register and receiver, respectively.

With the first opening of the office, the first entry made was by Joseph
D. Lane, the second by Jacob Bush, and the third by Maria Mynster, which
included Mynster's addition to Council Bluffs.

During these times the receiver was required to make his deposits at
Dubuque and there being no public conveyance, it was quite an under-
taking to remove the treasure across the state.

In conversation with Mr. Lowe many years after, lie related his experi-
ence of one of these trips to the writer. He took a light two-horse rig. hired
two men that he had every confidence in and, all being well armed, started
with their treasure on their three-hundred-mile trip. There were some
twenty-mile reaches without a house, and in making one or two of these
the thought would occur, "Supposing these two should prove treacherous,
what could I do?"' and the thought oppressed me until I pretended to be
sleepy, spread down blankets and laid down with my head on the treasure


chest and feigned sleep, while watching them with my hand on my revolver,
determined to get the first .shot if the emergency should arise. On nearing
a settlement this feeling would vanish, and I would feel ashamed for having
doubted their fidelity. Later, arrangements were made to deposit at St.
Louis, with which we were connected by steamboat. This was more con-
venient for transporting thirty or forty thousand dollar- in gold.

At the regular judicial election in 1853, Samuel H. Riddle was elected
judge of the district court, but he, not being a lawyer, the canvassing board
refused him a certificate of election. Hi> opponent for some reason was also
refused, which created a vacancy. It appearing that Riddle had received
a majority of all the vote- cast, Governor Hemstead appointed him to fill the
vacancy. In 18.34 he was elected for the full term, and served with credit,
his decisions being approved by the people and sustained by the supreme

lb- was a oative if Kentucky, plain ami companionable, was not an
office seeker, bul later, at the request of many citizen-, without regard to
party. In- consented to run for presidenl of the board of education, was
elected by a large majority ami served acceptably.

Anion- the mo-t noted arrival- during the early part of 1854 was that
of Mar-hall Turley. He came from Galesburg, Illinois, became interested in
a tract of land in connection with William Gale and ('lark I-".. Carr, which
they laid out ami platted a- the Galesburg addition to Council Bluffs. He
was an original character, of strong conviction- and one of tin- mo-t pro-
gressive of men. although from hi- deep ami patriarchal appearance lie would
be taken for the reverse. lie was quite an inventor, as well as philosopher,
and a- a public speaker hail few equals, always having a fund of anecdotes
to emphasize In- remarks.

He seemed to care hut little for money and was open and above board
in all hi- transactions, used no secrecy in hi- experiment- and as a conse-
quence ua- cheated out of some valuable patents. He was undoubtedly the
real inventor of the sulky plow, which has worked wonders in farming.
He wa- intensely anti-slavery in his political view-, ami a- a natural result
became a -launch republican a- thai party crystallized. He was also a
stroM- prohibitionist. He was generous to a fault. In 1863, when the Cedar
Rapids ami Missouri River Railroad wa- approaching but -till holding in
uneertaintj 'heir point of striking the river, at last, in July an agent
appeared ami proposed to make this their terminus, and have their car- run-
ning in here by the lir.-t of January. 1S.">7. providing the people would donate
$30,000 cash, the right-of-way from north line of county and depot grounds
in the city. Il had been years since many of US had heard a locomotive
whistle, and although we all knew it wa- coming anyway, enthusiasm was
aroused, a ma— meeting called at Burhop's Hall, the band gol out. and the
hall filled. When the proposal wa- announced. Mr. Turley arose and -aid:
"I will give you eighty acre- for your depot purposes." "Which way do the
two forties lay." the agent asked, "east and west, or north and south'.''" "Take
your choice." -aid Turley. The effect was magical — the res! of the donation
was soon subscribed, and the car- arrived a- promised.


In 1853 the greal increase in travel seemed to demand better hotel ac-
commodation- than already existed, and S. S. Bayliss proceeded to build
the Pacific House on the spot now occupied by the John Beno Company's
store. It was a plain three-story brick, with long dining room running back,
and at that time far superior to any of the others here. Its opening on
Christmas with a grand ball at night was quite an event. Additions were
made later, and for a number of years it was the leading bote! west of Des
Moinea and north of St. Joseph.

Besides a number of names already mentioned that arrived in the
spring of 1854, who were destined to become prominent, were those of R. L.
Douglas and A. V. Larimer, both lawyers of ability. Mr. Douglas was a
native of Hagerstown, Maryland, and removed to northern Indiana in his
youth, where he studied law, and after practicing there for a number of
years came here to resume it. became active in public affairs, was a member
of the city council for two term-;, then city attorney two terms and later
judge of the circuit court, took an active part in the organization of the K.
C, St. Jo. & C. B. Railroad, and later in that of the Wabash. Soon after the
close of the war. he went to Florida on account of his health, started an
orange grove, died there in LS77, and his widow moved to Cleveland, Ohio,
where his relatives were . living. Judge Larimer was born in Center
county, Pennsylvania, March 21, 1829. His early education was in the
"little log schoolhouse" during the winter months. Being ambitious, he
secured a scholarship at Alleghany College at Meadville, Pennsylvania. After
studying a year, his means giving out, he returned to the farm and worked
for a time, then went west, and, like Lincoln, engaged in fiatboating for a
time and returned to college, studied law and attended law lectures at the
law school of Judge McCartney at Easton, Pennsylvania, came to Council
Bluffs and became active in public affairs. In the fall of 1854 he became
candidate for prosecuting attorney on the democratic ticket against L. M.
Kline, whig, and was elected. There being a vacancy in the office of county
judge, he was appointed to fill it, holding that position until 1858. In the
latter year he was elected to house of representatives against B. R. Pegram.
He built up a good practice, made good investments and became wealthy.
He was a bachelor, but built a fine residence and for a time occupied it with
his sister. Later on he went to Sioux City and remained there several years,
then to Omaha, where he died in 1905.

The same year J. M. Palmer came from Chester county, Pennsylvania,
engaged in the real estate business, was elected mayor four terms, built a
three-story block of store buildings and a public hall and engaged for a time
in banking, but failed in the crash of 1857. He married Miss Helen M. Day.
of Portage county. Ohio, a niece of H. H. Field. He had one son, Captain
Charles D. Palmer, a graduate of "West Point, who served during the Philip-
pine war and afterward engaged in banking. One daughter, Mrs. Charles
Stilling, died in 1898, one in infancy and one, Mrs. Harriet Fell, is now
living in Omaha. He died in 1892.

During 1854. owing to the increasing travel across the Missouri and the
prospect of the opening up of Nebraska for settlement, it seemed necessary


to improve the means of crossing the river, consequently a company was
formed and a charter obtained for the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry

The incorporators were Dr. Enos Lowe, S. S. Bayliss, Jas. A. Jackson,
General Samuel R. Curtis, Dr. S. M. Ballard, W. \V. Brown, Jesse Williams
and J. II. D. Street. Steam ferry boats were put mi. which continued to run
until the expiration of it- charter, when bridging of the river made it-
renewal unnecessary and it became a thine of the past. On the west
side of the river, on a beautiful plateau, a town was laid out and platted
during the summer of 1854 ami named Omaha, from the Omaha tribe of
Indians that occupied that vicinity hut had sold their lands to the govern-

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 59)