This month I’m going to rely on others to tell the story of John Bennett. Because they tell it much better than I can.
First check out this article by Mary Lou McGinn from a 2013 edition of the Nonpareil. Mary Lou has been writing a wonderful series on the historic homes of Council Bluffs. We’re fortunate that John Bennett’s home still stands on the corner of Willow Avenue and Bluff Street.
Then there is John Bennett’s obituary in the December 19th, 1909 edition of the Daily Nonpareil which is a nice tribute to the life of Mr. Bennett. Below is a transcription:
John Bennett, for more than half a century prominent in Council Bluffs as a business man, banker and public official, died suddenly of heart trouble about 8:30 o’clock yesterday morning at his home, corner of Bluff street and Willow avenue.
Mr. Bennett’s death was a great shock to his family and friends. He had been in excellent health up to a day before his death, and the serious nature of his illness was not suspected until yesterday morning. On Friday he complained of pains in the chest and consulted his family physician, Dr. P. J. Montgomery, whose treatment relieved the trouble. He rested quite well Friday night, but soon after arising yesterday he experienced a recurrence of the attack, and went again to Dr. Montgomery’s office, about two blocks distant from his home. His condition became alarming after he reached the doctor’s office. Dr. Montgomery administered stimulants, and went home with Mr. Bennett, who grew rapidly worse and expired soon after reaching home.
Held in High Esteem.
John Bennett was a notable figure in Council Bluffs by reason of his long residence, his prominence as a business man and the great regard in which he was universally held by all who knew him. He was born in Allegheny City, Pa., on July 16, 1831.
The death of both his parents left Mr. Bennett an orphan at the age of five years, and from 1839 to 1851 he was reared in Cincinnati, O. During this period he received his schooling, but at the age of twelve began life on his own account. For a number of years he was employed in a hardware store in Cincinnati. From there he went to western Missouri, where he lived for two years. In April 1853, he came to Council Bluffs and this city was his home from that time until his death, a period of nearly fifty-seven years.
After employment as a clerk for a number of years, Mr. Bennett in 1857 embarked in business and established a lumber yard at the corner of Broadway and Fourth streets. Five years later he returned to clerking, but in 1867 opened a grocery store which he conducted successfully until 1871.
In Office Fourteen Years
In January, 1871, Mr. Bennett was elected county auditor, and administered the business of that office with such marked efficiency that he was re-elected several times, continuing in the office for a period of ten years, when he was elected county treasurer and held that position for four years, making a continuous public service of fourteen years.
Upon retiring from the treasurership in 1888, Mr. Bennett was elected cashier of the State Savings bank, of which he was one of the organizers, and he held that position during the remainder of his life. He was devoted to his work to an unusual degree, and gave the affairs of the bank his constant personal attention.
On Friday he was at his office during the regular banking hours and transacted a number of important matters of business during the day, displaying his usual energy and acumen and entering into consultation with his assistant, Hubert L. Tinley, with his accustomed vigor.
Mr. Bennett was married in Bentonsport, Ia., 1868, to Miss Charlotte Dunning. His wife and two daughters, Mrs. L. Zurmuehlen, jr., and Mrs Fred D. Empkle, both of this city, survive him.
The funeral will be held at 2:30 o’clock Monday afternoon from the residence. Burial will take place in Fairview cemetery. Rev. Mr. Mackey of Omaha will officiate at the house and the service at the grave will be in charge of Bluff City lodge No. 71, A. F. and A. M.