THE CHRISTIAN HOME ORPHANAGE.
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.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN SANITARIUM AND MATERNITY
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
ST. BERNARD'S HOSPITAL.
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.
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.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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
ST. MARY'S HOME FOR YOUNG LADIES.
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.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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
Like nearly all benevolent institutions it commences in weakness
and trusting in the generosity of their fellow-citizens for
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.
THE IOWA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF.
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.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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
This unfortunate condition continued for several years, under
the strain of which Mr. Ijams' health failed, compelling his
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
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
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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
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
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
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
utilized, temporary schoolhouses built, until in 1906 the
ruins were replaced by better and more commodious buildings
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.
Postoffice at Council Bluffs
(click on image for larger size)
THE WESTERN IOWA COLLEGE.
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
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.
OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
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-
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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.
|West Council Bluffs
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
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.