Thomas and Elizabeth Officer – Early Citizens of Council Bluffs

Thomas Officer was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania on December 28, 1822. He graduated high school at the top of his class and then attended Princeton theological seminary. Because of his poor eyesight he gave up the ministry. He became an instructor at the Ohio Institute for the Deaf and Dumb in Columbus, Ohio. He then moved to Jacksonville, Illinois where he organized a school for the deaf.

On August 8th, 1848 Thomas married Elizabeth M. Pusey. Elizabeth was also from Washington County, Pennsylvania and was born on June 27, 1824.

Thomas and Elizabeth had three children that survived to adulthood; Charles T. Officer, Julia E. Officer and William P. Officer.

By 1856 Thomas and his family were in Council Bluffs. In 1857 he established the private bank of Officer & Pusey with his brother-in-law W. H. M. Pusey (William Pusey was the brother of Thomas’ wife and the husband of Thomas’ sister). It was one of the few banks to survive several panics through the years.

In 1859 when Abraham Lincoln visited Council Bluffs he was a guest of Thomas and Elizabeth at their home on Willow Avenue.

Thomas Officer served as city councilman and as a member of the school board. He was also the principal owner and builder of the first electric light works in the city. Along with Caleb Baldwin and Grenville Dodge he established Council Bluffs as the site for Iowa School for the Deaf.

Thomas and Elizabeth were founding members of the First Presbyterian Church and were active members all their lives.

In the summer of 1900 Thomas Officer went to Colorado to escape the oppressive heat of Iowa. He was staying in Leadville with his son William. In early September Thomas took ill and he and his son started for home. Thomas’ health deteriorated rapidly. Thomas Officer died a short after arriving home on September 12, 1900. He was 77 years old.

Elizabeth Officer passed away on March 7th, 1910 at the age of 85.

They are both buried at Walnut Hill Cemetery.

Charles T. Officer worked as a teller in his Father’s bank before going into the real estate business. He was a life long resident of Council Bluffs. He married twice. His first wife Margaret Boyle passed away in 1927. He married Edith Brock in 1930. Charles passed away February 16, 1943 at the age of 88 and is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

Julia Officer was an accomplished concert pianist. She never married and passed away on December 2, 1940 at the age of 81. (I have to say that so much more can be written about Julia. Hopefully in the future I can dedicate an entire post just to her!)

William P. Officer married Mary Damon in 1893. They had one son, Frank, who was born in 1894. Mary passed away in 1898 at the age of 31, William passed away in 1905 at the age of 41. Frank Officer was raised by his Uncle Charles.