301 S. Eighth Street – Shepard Farnsworth/Judge John Patrick Tinley

by | Historic Homes

The first owner of this highly ornate 1886 Queen Anne house on South Eighth Street was Shepard Farnsworth, banker; the second was Judge John P. Tinley.

Shepard Farnsworth was born in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1841. His parents were Azel and Ann (Shepard) Farnsworth, natives of Vermont who came to Iowa “at an early age”, according to H. H. Field in his History of Pottawattamie County. Azel Farnsworth was in the real estate business in Muscatine.

Shepard Farnsworth received his early education in the public schools in Muscatine, and attended a college in Davenport. His introduction to the banking business was in Washington, Iowa, where he went to work as errand boy in the only bank in town. He was soon promoted to clerk and then was made teller. By the time he was 25, he had worked his way up until he was made cashier and owned half of the stock.

His time in the Washington Bank was interrupted while he served in the military during the Civil War, becoming a sergeant in the Nineteenth Iowa Regiment under command of Colonel Benjamin Crabbe who eventually became his father-in-law. After his discharge, he returned to the Washington Bank and accepted the position of teller, then cashier.

301 S. 8th, Farnsworth-Tinley

After a few years, Farnsworth went with his brother to McGregor, Iowa, where they established a private bank which they operated for six months. In 1869, Farnsworth came to Council Bluffs. He was 28 years old. Mr. A. L. Deming owned and controlled the First National Bank and Farnsworth purchased a half interest in the stock and was made cashier while Mr. Deming acted as president. Farnsworth continued to work as cashier until he retired in 1892 because of ill health.

While in Washington, Iowa, Shepard Farnsworth married Emma Crabbe of Madison County, Ohio. Her parents were Sarah and Colonel Benjamin Crabbe, a physician, both of Madison County. The Farnsworths had five children. Their son, Thomas, married Cora Keller and was vice president of the Keller-Farnsworth Furniture Company. The Queen Anne house on the corner, next door to the Shepard Farnsworth home, was built in 1904 for Thomas and Cora. Both father and son were successful business men and civic leaders. Shepard Farnsworth died in 1902. Emma continued to live in the house until it was sold in 1920 to Judge John P. Tinley.

Judge John Patrick Tinley was one of the eight children of Mathew and Rose (Dolan) Tinley who came with their families to the United States from Ireland c.1850. (This column, 1 Oct. 2013) They were married in Quincy, IL, in 1865 and came to Council Bluffs in 1869. In 1884 they built the Italianate house at 332 Ninth Avenue. It became the home of Dr. Mary Tinley, who practiced medicine in Council Bluffs for more than 60 years. Another son, General Mathew Tinley, was also a physician and surgeon. His home at 520 Third Street has been demolished.

John P. Tinley was born in Council Bluffs in 1871. After completing his education in the public schools, he studied law in the office of his brother, Emmet, and was admitted to the bar in 1892. That same year, he married Margaret Starr, a native of Ireland. The couple had five children: John, Patricia, Bea, Genevieve, Gertrude and Patricia.

For a year and a half, he practiced law in Council Bluffs, then opened an office in Doon, Iowa – a small town in Lyon County – and remained there for ten years, serving six years as mayor. The family then moved to Seattle, Washington, but stayed for only one year because “The whole family was so homesick for Iowa, the only solution was to come back to Council Bluffs.” In 1926, he and his son, John Jr., became partners in the law firm of Tinley & Tinley. His daughter, Patricia, later joined the firm. He was known for his defense work in major criminal cases.

Prior to his retirement in 1950, Tinley served seven years as judge of the district court and eight years on the municipal court bench, during which time he did special work with juveniles. He was a staunch Democrat and belonged to several civic and church organizations.

In a 1943 Nonpareil interview observing fifty-one years as a lawyer and a judge, Judge Tinley told the story of his dog, Peter, who “went with me about every place except to church. Whenever I entered the courtroom the dog followed, and under the table he would go. One day, as I was trying a case in which a woman witness was reluctant to answer a certain question, after five minutes of getting nowhere Peter came out from under the table, stood in front of her and barked, and she promptly answered the question. The judge called a recess and asked me into his chambers. He insisted that I bring Peter with me, as he was going to admit the dog to the bar.”

Judge Tinley’s hobby was horses. He rode daily, “in fair weather or foul”, until about eight years before his death at age 79. He gave up riding when his horse, Rob Roy, died. The horse was half-brother of the famous racer, Man ‘O War.

The Farnsworths are buried in Fairview Cemetery, the Tinleys in St. Joseph Cemetery.

The Queen Anne house was designed by local architect, S.E. Maxon and built by Vincent Battin. It is noted for its three chimneys and four porches, all highly elaborate with spindles and sawn wood cutouts. There are several gables, one with sunburst trim, and another in front with an overhang and five-spindle trim. The roof has the original iron fencing, cast metal egg-and-dart design trim under the eaves and some of the windows, and outstanding stained, leaded, and etched glass windows and doors. The house has been well maintained in its original condition.

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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