John Baptiste Beno was born in 1843 in Alsace, France. In 1850 his family came to America and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1861 John moved to Council Bluffs and lived with a brother who had moved here before him. Over the following years he finished school and worked in various businesses around town. In 1869 he opened a dry goods store with J. L. Forman. They ran a successful business until John ended the partnership in 1879.
In 1872 John married Elizabeth R. Robertson. They had five children; John, Donald, Catherine, Elizabeth and Grover. In 1879 John and Elizabeth moved to Portland, Oregon to be closer to John’s family, but by the fall of 1880 they were back in Council Bluffs.
John immediately opened J. B. Beno & Co at 18 Main Street. In 1900 he moved his business to 508-510 West Broadway. Beno’s would stay in this location until 1981.
In 1902 John Beno sold the interest in his highly successful business to his nephews. One of the reasons for this decision was his declining health. John lived out the rest of his life in semi-retirement at his home on Frank Street.
The Beno’s Department store remained in the family until it closed it’s doors in 1987. In 1981 Beno’s moved to the Midlands Mall and the building at 508 Broadway remained empty. There were several attempts to remodel and repurpose the building but none proved successful. The Beno’s and Wickham buildings were demolished in 1989.
John Baptiste Beno passed away June 13, 1907 at the age of 64. “He was loyal in friendship and in his home was a loving and indulgent husband and father.”
Elizabeth Beno died in 1921 at the age of 71. They are both buried in Fairview Cemetery.