156 Park Avenue – Ohio Knox

by | Historic Homes

Ohio Knox was born in 1842 in Ohio, the first of his family to be born in that state. And so he was given its name.

He enlisted in the Union Army at 19 years of age and served for four years during the Civil War as a member of the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The principal battles in which he took part were Cumberland Gap, Tazewell, Chickasaw Bayou, Fort Hindman, Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Big Black River (where Col. William Kinsman of Council Bluffs was fatally wounded), Vicksburg, Jackson, Alexandria and Mansura.

A 1974 Nonpareil interview with his grandson, William Knox, tells the story of a canteen he carried. A message typed distinctly and shellacked on one side of the canteen reads: “This canteen was carried by Ohio Knox from June 1, 1863, to muster out Oct. 31, 1864. Former canteen shot away in battle at Chickasaw Bluffs, Miss., Dec. 29, 1862…” On the other side of the canteen, a long deep crease evidently marks the track of a mortar shell.

Ohio Knox lived in this home at 156 Park Ave. with his wife, Melvina. Before settling in Council Bluffs, Knox served during the Civil War. He fought in Big Black River – the battle that fatally wounded Col. William Kinsman of Council Bluffs.

Ohio Knox lived in this home at 156 Park Ave. with his wife, Melvina. Before settling in Council Bluffs, Knox served during the Civil War. He fought in Big Black River – the battle that fatally wounded Col. William Kinsman of Council Bluffs.

In 1862, at Chickasaw Bayou in Miss., according to his obituary, Knox was struck by a gunshot in the head and across the shoulder. “In all, seven balls went through his clothing. He was twice knocked down by concussion….The last concussion affected him for nearly forty years”.

Ohio Knox came to Iowa in 1873 and settled in Macedonia where he started a mercantile business that sold supplies and equipment to farmers and to pioneers headed west in wagon trains. He operated the business for 15 years, 12 of which he also served as postmaster. After the construction of the railroads, there was less need for businesses that outfitted people traveling by covered wagon.

In 1874, Ohio married Melvina Losh of Council Bluffs. Her father, an early pioneer, once operated Losh’s Mill at Carson – a landmark of the overland travel days, according to her obituary. In 1888 and 1889, he was in business in Sidney, NE. He returned to Council Bluffs that year and opened a real estate office. Ohio and Melvina had two sons, Painter and Sumner.

Painter Knox joined the firm in 1898. Both were charter members of the Board of Realtors, organized in 1912. Ohio was affiliated with the firm until his death in 1919.

For many years Knox & Co., at 41 Pearl Street, managed Fairview Cemetery where Native Americans, early settlers, and many of the founders of the city are buried. On the high ridge of the cemetery is the Kinsman Monument, erected in honor of Civil War hero Col. W.H. Kinsman surrounded by graves of other Civil War veterans. In 1974, the Fairview Cemetery Association turned over all of its records, assets and liabilities to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Today, the firm is the oldest family-run business and the oldest real estate business in Council Bluffs.

The Ohio and Melvina Knox home at 156 Park Avenue was built in 1895 and is described in the nomination of the Park/Glen Avenues district to the National Register of Historic Places as a Front Gabled Cottage with decorative shingles on the pent gable on the front gable end, and small brackets under the side eaves. The gable-roofed front portico porch is an early 20th century update or addition and shows Craftsman details in the tapered half-height posts on square concrete piers. The porch has a closed concrete railing.

A Victorian post from the original front porch was found during a recent replacement of an early addition on the back of the house.

Source Material

Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.

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