Homer Howard Field.

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

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appropriation, and when the contractor came to obtain his pay. he was con-
fronted with the objection that the changes were not authorized. He was
subjected to lawsuits by subcontractors and for material furnished, and finan-
cially ruined.

Finally the legislature in 1878 made an appropriation that enabled him
to extricate himself from debt. The ninety-six acres on which the insti-
tution stands \\a- purchased by the citizens and donated to the state as an
inducement to locate the institution at this point, and no finer site could
have been selected. A more complete history of the institution will be
found under the head of Tin. [owa School for the Deaf.

The firsi street railway was licensed early in 'li'.t mid the track finished
from First streel wesi on Broadway to the river by the firsi of December,
where it connected with the ferry. It remained and was operated here
until the tii-eat bridge was completed, when it was changed to run to the
transfer grounds along Union avenue. The car- wen. -mall and drawn by

Masonry was in a flourishing c lition at this time. Excelsior Lodge

was institute,! in the winter of '68-9, and Star Chapter about the same time.

In December, 1869, Ivanhoe Commandery of Knignts Templar was

The great social event of the winter was the opening of the Ogden
Hoiw. It was finished and on the 22d of December opened with a banquet
attended by nearly a thousand guests. It was the fines! hotel at that time
between Chicago and San Francisco. After a bounteous supper, toasts and
responses, dancing, in which between four and five hundred couples of the
elite of all nearby cities participated, was conducted in three different halls,
and the like has not been seen here since.

On the 4th of December the fourth railroad, being that of the I
Burlington & Missouri Liver, entered the city by forming a junction with
the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph at Pacific Junction and running in on its

The Daily Times office at this time was located in one of the small
buildings near where McGee's real estate office now is. and two of the printers
employed there had a quarrel. The name of one was Austin, and the other
Bell. It appeared that Austin, being drunk, was renewing a quarrel that
had been patched up, and he was approaching Bell, when the latter shot


Austin straight in the forehead. This was on the sidewalk. Austin fell
and was carried into an adjoining room, where he lay in a comatose state,
breathing heavily. Doctors were called and tiny probed the wound, endeav-
oring to locate the bullet, without success. To the surprise of all, he rallied,
went about and conversed with friends, apparently without suffering until
the fifth day after the shooting, when he rapidly sank, and died June 25.
Bell was tried at the July term of the district court, and was convicted of
manslaughter and sentenced to six years, but was pardoned after serving

During the trial, the defense tried to make it appear that the probing
by the doctors was as likely to have caused his death as the shooting. Experts
were examined, among them Dr. Malcom. On his coining out of the court
room he was asked what they were trying to prove by him. He replied:
'•They are trying to prove he was killed in the post mortem examination."

The first Unitarian church was organized this year, with Rev. Mr. Cham-
berlain as pastor. The brick carpenter shop of G. F. Smith was purchased
and fitted up into a very neat chapel and flourished for a year or two, but
interest lagged and it finally died out. and the place was sold, and a marble
works installed in its place.

In August the Iowa Editorial Association visited Council Bluffs and was
entertained with a banquet at the expense of the city. The bill being some-
thing like a thousand dollars, caused considerable kicking among the rank
and file of the people.

The railroad lines between Kansas City and Council Bluffs were consol-
idated under one corporation, thereafter known as the Kansas City, St. Joseph
& Council Bluffs Railroad Company. George L. Bradbury had charge of
the interests of the new corporation at this end of the line.

The census taken under the auspices of the United States gave us 10,020

The building of the bridge over the Missouri was commenced. The
process was -inking immense iron cylinders through sand and mud to the
bed rock. The-e were set in pairs, each pair, when joined, thoroughly
braced and filled with concrete, formed a pier. Upon eleven of these rested
the superstructure, which was entirely of iron, the only wood being the ties.
The work was commenced under the immediate supervision of General Toney

In the meantime, while congress was in session, a bill passed the house
providing for the charter of a company to build a railroad bridge to take
the place of the one begun by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The
Council Bluffs people took the alarm, seeing in it a design to have the term-
inus on the west side. An immense mass meeting was held and resolutions
passed denouncing the scheme, and Colonel Sapp was authorized to convey
the same to Washington with a view to have its passage arrested in the

Senator Harlan caused the bill to be amended providing that the bridge
corporation might borrow money on the bridge bonds, providing that mort-
gages on the bridge should not attach to the main line, but providing that


the Union Pacific should still operate the road in conjunction with the
bridge as one continuous line. Work had been suspended for a time, hut was
resumed and completed under supervision of T. E. Sickels, general super-
intendent of the Union Pacific according to plans devised by General Dodge
before his resignation as chief engineer of the road. The approach to the
bridge required an immense fill, which was made by taking earth from the
bluff south of the city. This involved the laying a track and running trains
of dumping cars loaded by .-team shovel continuously for over a year.

The entire structure was regarded as of sufficient strength to withstand
the action of wind, water or ice. yet on the 28th day of August, LS77. an
electric storm wrenched two spans from the east end of the bridge and hurled
them into the river. In the meantime traffic arrangements were made by
which the business of the Union Pacific Railroad was transferred to the
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy route and the Burlington & Missouri of

The Oild Fellow- Grand Lodge of Iowa was held at Council Bluff< this
year, the session commencing October 26 and Lasting two days, and on
the evening of the second day the fraternity gave their visiting brothers a
grand banquet.

The high school building was completed this year so that it could be
used by the 18th of November, and on that day it was formally dedicated
by its being occupied, and by appropriate ceremonies, in which Governor
Merril and State Superintendent Kissel! took part and delivered addresses.

At the annual commencement of the high school on the 14th of June
the following young ladies graduated: Hattie William-. Mary Warren.
Lizzie Oliver, Ida Kirkpatrick, fngaletta Smith ami Verna Reynolds. These
were the firs! of many that have gone out of it- wall- to fill places of honor,
and to adorn home- all over our country from the Atlantic even to the Pacific.
Of these above named all are living hut one. Mis.- Reynolds, she chase the
profession of teaching and continued to follow it until called to higher work

Realizing the importance of manufacturing in advancing the interests
of tin' community, a number of our influential citizen-, on the 1-t of Novem-
ber, formed an association for the purpose of promoting such industries.
Genera] G. M. Dodge was made president, G. W. Lininger, vice-president, S.
Parnsworth and E. 1.. Shugart, secretaries, and II. ('. Nutt. treasurer. The
business of manufacturing agricultural implements was commenced on
North Main street and prospered for a time, and the company built a large
power building near the Rock Island freight depot into which the business
was moved.

The Patron- of Husbandry also organized a grange during the same
month, the leading members of which were I). P.. Clark. Weoster Fay. L.
W. Babbitt, II. C. Raymond, II. A. Terry and J. A. Sylvester. They held
their meetings in one of the buildings on Pearl street, between Broadway and
First avenue.

During this year the three-story building known as the Brown block,



running through from Main to Pearl street, was built; also the ('enter street
four-room schoolhouse.

Just at the close of the year 71 death claimed two of our prominent
citizen-, Sylvanus Dodge, the venerable father of General and N. P. Dodge,
on December 24, and Major McPherson, U. S. attorney for this judicial
district, I >ecember 29.

At the fall election John Bereshinn, republican, was elected to the legis-
lature, and George Doughty, democrat, was elected sheriff over Philip
Armour, republican, while J. \V. Chapman, republican, was re-elected
county treasurer over Vigo Badolett. democrat. During this summer we
were witness tn a phenomenon that at the time baffled the wisest. There was,
and .-till is, a little lake called Spoon lake near the Union Pacific transfer,
where the hoy- were in the habit of catching minnows for fishing. Imagine
their surprise, mi going there to catch some for bait, to find the lake literally
alive with fish weighing from one to twenty pounds. The new.- spread and
people came and took them out by wagon load- with pitchforks.' In a day
or two they disappeared as mysteriously a.- they came. None have appeared


Another phenomenon of a different kind appeared in the person of a
crank called Potter Christ, which he had tattooed on hi- forehead. He would
occasionally preach to crowds, and finally made preparation to ascend to heaven.
One morning he appeared near the Methodist church on Upper Broadway
arrayed in a white robe, riding a mule and carrying a cross, and as he rode
down the street, strange as it may seem, he wa- followed by quite a number
of disciples. This pageant was preparatory to hi- going on a forty-day fast,
after which he was to ascend to heaven. One thing is certain, he disap-
peared. An unbeliever reported that while in the wilderness fasting he
was found sucking a cow; and another reported that he was caught up en-
circled by an immense flock of blackbirds. Although the truthfulness of
these statement- is doubted, there seems to he no authentic record of his
ending. Pathetic as his case appears, the old nursery rhyme seems appro-
priate :

"Where he's gone or how he fares
Xo one knows and no one cares."


Council Bluffs was now approaching a very critical period in its history.
The Union Pacific bridge was completed, and the company ignored Council
Bluffs, even to the extent of calling their temporary platforms "Lake Station,"
and with a switch engine transferring freight and passengers over to meet
the trains on this side. The condition was this:

An active enterprising city was endeavoring by liberal offers to seduce
the railroad company to make their terminus on the west side of the river
in violation of the plain provision of its charter, and the railroad company
appeared willing to be seduced, and it became evident that we must contend


for our rights. But now the question was how to commence. Fortunately,
we had men equal to the occasion. Colonel Sapp and Judge Larimer took
the matter in hand, and with the assistance of Hon. George W. McCrary,
the member of congress from the Keokuk district; an act was procured con-
ferring jurisdiction upon the circuit court of law in mandamus in cases con-
cerning the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This passed and became the
law on .March 3, 1873.

This was the first step, and the next was to start the legal machinery to
put the law into effect. A grocery firm (Hall it Morse) were shipping goods
west and had been compelled to deliver their freight to the railroad company
in Omaha. They were advised, and tendered their freight to the company
on this side, and on refusal on the pari of the railroad company to receive it,
a writ of mandamus was issued and the cause brought before Judge John F.
Dillon, then of the circuit court at Des Moines, and after a full hearing the
court decided adversely to the railroad company. In presenting the case,
Colonel Sapp and Judge Larimer were assisted by Hon. John N. Roger-.
of Davenport. The company appealed to the supreme court, and that august
body affirmed the decision of the court below, thereby settling in our favor

the vexed question for all time.

To the honor of Colonel Sapp and Judge Larimer, neither of whom are
living, be it said that they rendered this service without a dollar of remun-
eration. However, the city voted to pay Hon. John X. Rogers five hundred
dollars for his services.

Still the company continued to designate the terminus as Lake Station
until, during the meeting of the next legislature. Mr. Pusey, our state senator,
procured the passage of an act requiring conductor- or brakemen on all
passenger trains within the state on entering any city or town to plainly
and distinctly announce the name thereof, and fixing a penalty of fifty dol-
lars fine for neglecting to make such announcement. This had the effect
of abating this piece of impertinence.

After this the company complied with the order- of the court and pro-
ceeded to erect the depot that still .-land- on the ground purchased several
years lief ore.

During ks7-J-:i Council Bluffs was made (he headquarters of the sharpest
gang of bunco men that ever infested a city. It was completely organized
and each member assigned hi- place, which was mostly on incoming train.-.
and focusing at the transfer depot, with headquarters at a hotel on West
Broadway, kept by a German named Gerspacher. Every scheme known to
the craft was worked upon the unwary and their tricks were made to appear
so simple that Old 'Squire Burke, the police judge, once declared that a man

was a if he wouldn't bet on them. They were men of good address

and had numbers of friend-, gave liberally to any benevolent scheme, but
finally carried their game- so far that the legislatures of Iowa and Nebraska
enacted law- with, penalties so severe that the business became unprofitable,
and they scattered to more congenial clime-.

At the spring election Dr. X. D. Lawrence and Sam Haas were the can-
didate.- for mayor, and after a pretty lively campaign the former wa- elected.


On the 5th of August the First National Bank was robbed of $20,000
in broad daylight and no clue was obtained to the perpetrator.

At the spring election of 1874 W. C. James was elected mayor, H. H.
Field, R. L. Douglass, J. B. Lewis, John Hawthorn, E. L. Shugart, W. A.
Wood, George Tabor and Horace Everett constituted the council, and Henry
A. Jackson was city marshal.

During the summer of "74 John W. Ross retired from the management
of the Ogden House, and by an agreement Mr. Baughn, one of the pro-
prietors, took control, and was running it successfully, when, on the night
of the 13th of October, it took tire from some unknown cause and, owing
to lack of water and bursting of hose, it was burned to the ground.

At the regular election held October !•'!. 1N74. K. 'I'. Bryant was elected
clerk of the district court, M. Flamont, county auditor, and J. 1'. Bolden
and Robert Kirkwood, supervisors.

In March, L875, one of the pioneer physicians, Dr. P. J. McMahon, died.
He was universally loved. Although rough spoken, he was the kindest of
men. When he realized that his end had come, he left orders that all the
livery carriages in the city be hired so that hi- poor patients might ride at
his funeral, while his favorite, though retired, old horse, Jerry, followed the
hearse. lb- also made provision for Jerry having the best of care without
work while he lived. His funeral was the largest that had ever occurred
here up to that time. The Masonic services at the grave were rendered by
N. F. Story, the worshipful master of Excelsior Lodge.

At the city election of 1875, C. B. Jacquemin was elected mayor, W. P.
Wightman, F. (.). Gleason, Peter Bechtel and Henry Metcalf were elected

With the settlement of the Union Pacific terminal question, people began
to make improvements. Horace Everett erected the brick block on the
corner of Pearl and Broadway, Keller and 1 Jennet the one on the corner of
Broadway and Fourth, and Mr. Whitney the one occupied by the Metcalf
Brothers, and a large number of dwellings were also built. The city was
visited by two destructive fires, one of which was the Transfer Hotel, being
the frame erected before the bridge was completed, and the furniture factory
of John Chase. This was situated about where the new bakery on Mynster
street now stands.


As the time for spring election approached many of the leading citizens
believing it for the best interests of the city to have a non-partisan election,
a mass meeting was called and a most excellent ticket nominated, with E.
L. Shugart at the head for mayor. Both the democratic and republican
papers supported it, and utterly refused to announce any other candidate.

A large element that had not participated in the mass convention were
dissatisfied. They wanted a good old-fashioned election, but how to effect
a breach was the question. With both papers and the leaders of both parties
committed it seemed hopeless for any one to run independently. This sit-
uation continued until within forty-eight hours of the time for opening the


polls, when J. H. Keatley consented to run providing requested to by three
hundred voters. Immediately petitions were put in circulation, and the num-
ber and more, too, of signatures obtained. Tickets were gotten printed some-
how, although neither of our offices Avould print them. The thing went like
wildfire, and there has never been such an election here since. It was not
that the ticket was objectionable, but -imply a rebuke to the promoters for
ignoring the boys. The ticket was badly beaten and Keatty elected by a
large majority. The aldermen elected at the same time were Lewis Hammer,
M. Keating, C. R. Scott and W. C. James. E. W. Jackson was elected city
marshal and (J. A. Holme- was elected city attorney by the council.

During the summer W. F. Sapp was nominated for congress by the
republicans a- against L. R. Bolter, of Harrison county. Near the close of
tbe campaign reports of gross immorality were sprung upon Mr. Bolter.
The matter witb which he was charged happened in Michigan previous to
hi.- coming west. Whether true or false, he was defeated.


On several occasions Indian creek had become troublesome, and it became
a serious question how to control it. Mention i- made of it in the part of
tin- history relating to Hazel Hell township, hut owing to the conspicuous
pari it has played, it deserves more than passing notice. When the first
settlers arrived it was an insignificant little stream with an occasional log
thrown aero - it for a foot-bridge. They huilt their cabins along it.- hanks
for convenience of it- water. The territory drained by it i- about three
miles wide by .-i\ mile- long, forming a trough in which, during a heavy
rain, it accumulate- and runs oil' with tremendous force. It originally
meandered, crossing ami recrossing Vine street. Coming down from Frank
Street it approached near to Broadway ami turned northwesterly to a point
near North First street, where a dam was huilt and water taken along what
is now Washington avenue, ami turning around west of where the schoolhouse
now i-. discharged itself on a large overshot wheel driving a mill, from which
Mill street derives it.- nana', while the creek, after crossing Kir-t street, bowed

southward, crossing Vine street, and. after running a short distance, crossed
Second, and struck Bryant street where it is to-day, then turning southwest
passed through the hay market, then turned west, crossing North Main and
pasing in the rear of the Beno and Sapp buildings ami the Opera house,
then turned abruptly north along the ea-l -ide of Sixth .-tree! until it rejoined
the water that had turned the mill and both kept on and spread over where
the Northwestern yards now are. and finally found a sag running south-
westerly, crossed Broadway near where it does at the present time, and con-
tinued south, along which Pete Debolt and .lack Ponder, and later Ross,
and -till later Stewart, erected their slaughter houses.

When there was a downpour in Hazel Hell the water could not get
through the windings rapidly enough and flooding of low grounds was the
result, ami with this problem engineers and city councils have been grappling
for half a. century. What were it- habits previous to the advent of the white


man. we have only tradition, which represented it as gentle, but it seems
to resent his intrusion. The first to incur its displeasure was George Parks,
who started a lumber yard on the northwest corner of Sixth and Broadway.
A heavy rain up at Hazel Dell was the means of scattering that lumber all
over the low ground west of the Illinois Central depot. The next was Old
Bill Powers. He had a beautiful lot with fruit trees in which he took great
pleasure. The creek showed a disposition to encroach on the rear of his lot.
and he got heavy oak posts, set them four feet deep and put on two-inch
plank, only to sec them sailing away the next freshet. But Bill was wealthy,'
and the next year he had stone hauled and had a wall built three feet thick
across the rear of his lot at a. cost of $1,600. Then he felt a kind of sym-
pathy for his less fortunate neighbors, lint another shower fell near the
Hazel Dell church and that wall became a. thine of the past. Then Hell
became morose and commenced suing the city every time it rained. From
Frank street to Benton it ran along the side of Green street. Another of
the showers came, and all that is left of Green street is on Tostevin's map
of 1854.

But matters were .yetting serious. After due consultation with eminent
engineers, it was determined to make a straight ditch. This, it was supposed,
would allow the water to escape so as to prevent overflows. This was done,
hut the creek rose to the occasion and commenced eating off the rear of
the abutting lots, ami a wail went up. and Burning was resorted to for a
square or two, but it made short work of that. The old wooden bridges
that spanned it on First and Bryant street- were replaced by arches of stone
resting on piling at a cost of $6,000. Another shower in Hazel Dell and
those bridges became a memory. Although there is yet some uncertainty
as to its future, the railroad companies seem to be on the right track. Of
the fifty bridges spanning it within the city limits, by far the largest num-
ber are the heavy iron ones to be seen along all roads where they cross small

During the years 1905-6 a dredge was put to enlarging the outlet, and
at the same time material for rilling many low lots was removed, giving it
more waterway, and it is hoped the stream is at last under control.

The spring of 77 was an eventful one. John T. Baldwin and \Y. R.
Vaughan were candidates for mayor. The former had managed to secure
quite a following from among the working men, while Mr. Baldwin was the
regular nominee of the republican party. After a pretty active campaign
Mr. Baldwin was elected. F. A. Burke was elected city recorder over II.
H. Field, the republican nominee, and Henry Dawson. A. C. Graham, W.
S. Pettibone and J. W. Rodifer were elected aldermen.

During this summer the great labor troubles that prevailed in the east
begat a spirit of unrest here. For a time it looked as if it might become
serious. A large number of striking railroad employees went into camp near
the city and became bold in making demands on the mayor and city council
with the result that preparation was made to meet any unlawful demonstra-
tion, and the campers after a few days dispersed.

At the regular election held October 9. 1877. B. F. Clayton and George


Carson were elected as representatives, John Bennett, auditor; Thomas Bow-
man, treasurer; Perry Reel, sheriff; Samuel Denton, surveyor; county super-

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 59)