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The 1878 History of Benton County, Iowa
page 199
Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County

The Iowa Institution for the Deaf and Dumb was established at Iowa City by an act of the General Assembly, approved January 24, 1855. The number of deaf mutes then in the State was 301; the number attending the Institution, 50. The first Board of Trustees were: Hon. Samuel J. Kirkwood, Hon. E. Sells, W. Penn Clarke, J. P. Wood, H. D. Downey, William Crum, W. E. Ijams, Principal. On the resignation of Mr. Ijams, in 1862, the Board appointed in his stead Mr. Benjamin Talbot, for nine years a teacher in the Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. Mr. Talbot was ardently devoted to the interests of the institution and a faithful worker for the unfortunate class under his charge.

A strong effort was made, in 1866, to remove this important institution to Des Moines, but it was located permanently at Council Bluffs, and a building rented for its use. In 1868, Commissioners were appointed to locate a site for, and to superintend the erection of, a new building, for which the Legislature appropriated $125,000 to commence the work of construction. The Commissioners selected ninety acres of land about two miles south of the city of Council Bluffs. The main building and one wing were completed October 1, 1870, and immediately occupied by the Institution. February 25, 1877, the main building and east wing were destroyed by fire; and August 6 following, the roof of the new west wing was blown off and the walls partially demolished by a tornado. At the time of the fire, about one hundred and fifty pupils were in attendance. After the fire, half the classes were dismissed and the number of scholars reduced to about seventy, and in a week or two the school was in running order.

The Legislative Committee which visited this Institution in the Winter of 1857-8 was not well pleased with the condition of affairs, and reported that the building (west wing) was a disgrace to the State and a monument of unskillful workmanship, and intimated rather strongly that some reforms in management were very essential.

Trustees, 1877-9. Thomas Officer, President; N. P. Dodge, Treasurer; Paul Lange, William Orr, J. W. Cattell.

Superintendent, Benjamin Talbot, M. A.; Teachers, Edwin Southwick, Conrad S. Zorbaugh, John A. Gillespie, John A. Kennedy, Ellen J. Israel, Ella J. Brown, Mrs. H. R. Gillespie; Physician, H. W. Hart, M. D., Steward, N. A. Taylor; Matron, Mary B. Swan.

Transcribed, 2006, by Tierney Ratti.

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