Thomas and Anna Jefferis – Early Citizens of Council Bluffs
Thomas Jefferis was born in 1828 in Newcastle County, Delaware. He came to Council Bluffs in 1853. He worked here a few years, then in 1857, he returned to Delaware and married Anna Cook. Anna was born in 1839 in Ireland.
The couple immediately returned to Council Bluffs. Thomas took up the dry goods business and with his brothers built a saw mill on some land he owned in what is today Carter Lake. They abandoned this venture some years later.
Thomas Jefferis was one of the first people to take up claims in Nebraska. Thomas’s claim was in an area north of Farnam Street. He also owned 1000 acres in Monona County and platted several additions in Council Bluffs.
In 1868 he traveled west and became part owner of a silver mine in Park City, Utah. Several million dollars’ worth of ore were extracted from this mine.
“He returned to Council Bluffs with another fortune acquired. He had made a great deal of money in his day and through various turns of sudden ill-luck had lost most of it at times. But he never grew discouraged and no matter into what perilous straits he was cast, his determined will and native ingenuity bore him onward into untroubled waters.” Daily Nonpareil January 1, 1895.
Also in 1868 Thomas Jefferis became Dr. Jefferis. He began his practice of Homeopathy. He found success in developing a treatment for diphtheria.
Over 20 years later Finley Burke, who had married Thomas’s daughter, was looking over his father-in-law’s papers and asked about the old saw mill property. Thomas assumed it had been sold for taxes, but luckily it had not. Since this property was now a “cut off island” a legal battle ensued between Nebraska and Iowa over possession of the land. Iowa prevailed and Thomas amassed one last fortune, selling his lots on this “island” for many thousands of dollars.
Thomas and Anna had 10 children, 9 of whom lived to adulthood.
In late December 1894, Thomas suffered a stroke while in Omaha. He died at home on January 6, 1895, his family by his bedside.
Anna lived for a while at the family home at 254 Fletcher Avenue. Sometime after 1904 she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Berta and George Mueller. At the time of her death on May 2, 1917 Anna was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her daughter Vada Porter.
Both Thomas and Anna are buried in Fairview Cemetery.