Betsey and Laban Childs – Early Citizens of Council Bluffs

Laban and Betsey Childs arrived in Council Bluffs in 1856 from Vermont. Laban was a tavern keeper in Wilmington, Vermont and built the first hotel there. He and Betsey were married in August of 1837.

They had two children Francis and Ellen. Ellen died at a young age sometime in the 1860s. It was this sad event that turned to the couple to spiritualism.

From the American Nonconformist and Kansas Industrial Liberator:
“He had lost a little daughter while a mere child, and one day some months after its death with his wife he visited the artist to sit for a picture. The negative was taken. The artist was bothered, he set aside the first for some unaccountable reason, and took another; this time ’twas worse and seeing the embarrassment of the young man Mr. C. asked to see the negative, and after seeing it he refused its return, for there, plain as his own face, was the form of the little daughter climbing on his knee as she formerly did. The artist was so disturbed in mind over it that he knew not what to do, and in a short time sold out and went west, but that picture was a starter of Mr. and Mrs Childs, and from that time to his death was he a firm apostle of that belief.”

Mr. and Mrs. Childs were farmers in York Township. By 1870 Laban was retired and the couple were living in Council Bluffs at 525 7th Avenue.

In 1883 Laban fell from a cherry tree in his yard and dislocated his shoulder.

In their retirement Betsey and Laban traveled back east to visit friends and spent time in California. The couple bought property in Los Angeles and saw the construction of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

In March 1889 Laban was trimming trees on his property when once again he fell. Unfortunately this fall proved fatal and he died on March 17, 1889 at the age of 74.

Betsey Childs continued to live at 525 7th Avenue until her death on December 1, 1899 at the age of 79.

Betsey and Laban are buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.