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History of

Pottawattamie County


Volume I


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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 above 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 play 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 stream was wearing the faithful pair away. On September 10, 1902, Mrs. Florence J. Lemen, the devoted wife, passed away, but the founder worked on, making improvements 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 specialty of treating women, and providing homes for infants born within the institution. It is not conducted strictly as a benevolent institution, as all patients 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 beginnings. 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 furnishes 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 absolutely 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 accommodate 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 Harmony 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 respectable young women who are seeking employment. It is a three-story structure and thoroughly equipped for the care of girls. It is in every respect a home with all its comforts and protection. The nurses at Mercy 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 a healthy, well cared for, joyful child. The most pathetic is a neglected, forsaken, helpless and afflicted one, but such there are all around us. In this heaven favored community the latter are 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; historian, Mrs. G. W. Snyder; with the following list of trustees--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 caring 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 little guests, thirty-three of whom are now comfortably domiciled here. No better 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 in 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 establishing the Iowa institution for the education of the deaf and dumb, and approved 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 instruction, 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 assembly in 1857 appropriated $7,000 for its continued support. This was followed by an appropriation of $8,000 annually for the 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 applicants were denied admission. At this time the school numbered fifty-nine pupils.

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 accommodation 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 consisting of Thos. Officer, Caleb Baldwin and E. Honn was created and empowered to select a permanent location, invite plans and receive proposals for the erection 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, bids were asked for and received. The matter was then referred to the general assembly with a recommendation that $300,000 be appropriated 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 succeeded 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 advantage 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 R position to fulfill the mission for which it was erected and maintained. Mr. Rogers resigned in August, 18S3, and was followed by Mr. H. C. Hammond, who was at the time superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Deaf. Mr. Hammond 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 responsible 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, recognized 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 chapel and hospital built, sewerage constructed, and all modern improvements and conveniences provided, and the grounds constantly improved.

After a period of prosperity, on the eleventh day of August, 1892, a fire, the cause of which could not be learned, destroyed a two-story building in the rear of the kitchen, containing the laundry and ironing room, and damaged the engine, dynamo and boilers to the extent of $15,000. This loss was speedily repaired and 'it seemed as though it had suffered enough, but in a little less than ten years it was doomed to pass through the severest ordeal of all. On the 9th of May, 1902, the entire main building and part of the chapel and pupils' dining room were entirely destroyed by fire. It is a matter of congratulation that notwithstanding the great pecuniary loss, not a child was hurt, nor did a pupil lose a meal or an hour's study. The remaining buildings were



utilized, temporary schoolhouses built, until in 1906 the ruins were replaced by better and more commodious buildings than before.

This structure cost $250,000, to which was added a fire-proof hospital, costing $30,000, also a new powerhouse and laundry costing $'60,000. Grounds have been graded and farm buildings erected at a cost of $8,000.

Many people still call this the deaf and dumb asylum and consider it a benevolent institution. This is all wrong. It is simply a large public school, the pupils of which require teachers specially qualified.

Neither are the pupils subjects of charity. They have the same right to a public school education as all others. The course of study is substantially the same as that in our primary, graded, and high schools, to which is added trades adapted to both sexes, the full intent of which is to fit them for independent and intelligent citizenship.

The name as fixed by the general assembly is simply the Iowa School for the Deaf.

The institution as now constituted represents a money value of over a half million dollars.

The number of pupils at this writing (October, 1907) is two hundred and sixty.

Post Office, Council Bluffs Postoffice at Council Bluffs
(click on image for larger size)


This institution was established in 1884 and commenced business in the Shugart block.

It is strictly a business school, its aim being to equip young men and women to fill satisfactorily to themselves and their employers any position of a clerical nature that may be open to them.

The officials and instructors are as follows:

E. P. Miller-President and business manager, instructor in penmanship and correspondence.
Charles Benson- Vice-president, principal of business department and instructor in bookkeeping, banking, commercial law and arithmetic.
Catharine L. Miller-Secretary and treasurer, superintendent of short hand, office practice department.
Alice A. Benson-Principal shorthand department, and instructor in shorthand and touch typewriting.
Mrs. W. L. Baker-Principal normal department, and special instructor in English sciences and didactics.

After some years more room was required for its increasing business and the institution was moved to the Masonic Temple and on completion of the Public Library building the college secured the rooms vacated by that association in the Merriam block, where it is established at the present writing, with ample room for its three hundred students. It became incorporated in 1906, with capital of $10,000.


Next to the home, the public school is the most sacred institution in our land. It is the ground floor on which our children can assemble without money and without price and receive instruction fitting, them for the every-



day duties of life, as well as to prepare such as desire, for the college and university.

The church, the Sunday school and the home are the proper places for religious instruction, and there is no danger of their receiving too much of it there, but here is, and should be, neutral ground on which all can be taught, unvexed by creeds and dogmas that have perplexed older heads for centuries.. Here the young mind can expand, and outgrow bigotry and superstition that in times past have led up to persecution, even to the rack, stake and faggot.

Such is the present condition of our public schools today, and as such we are proud of them.

The following is a list of those of the independent district of Council Bluffs, with number of rooms and seating capacity.

Seating Capacity.
Avenue B
Harrison Street
Eighth Avenue
Pierce Street
Third Street
Washington Avenue
Eighth Street
Twentieth Avenue
Second Avenue
Madison Avenue
Thirty-Second Street
West Council Bluffs
High School

These being filled, as the secretary reports, gives 6,350. This, with the 500 in the two parochial, the commercial, and Christian Home, gives us 6,850, and still many are not attending. Some of which are at work and some playing truant, as the state census of 1906 gives Council Bluffs 8,338 of school age.

These require the services of a superintendent and one hundred and fifty teachers, including specialists and substitutes.

The pay of teachers in the grades is from $40 to $70 per month. High school from $75 to $133. Principals from $80 to $112. Superintendent $2,600 per year.

The board of education is constituted as follows: President, Emmet Tinley, J. P. Hess, F. J. Shugart, N. P. Anderson, J. A. Schoodsack, G. S. Elliott and W. H. Killpack.

Secretary--D. L. Ross.
Treasurer--Geo. S. Davis.


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