620 East Pierce Street – Elias Quick
Once upon a time there was a town called Quick, located about twelve miles east of Council Bluffs on Highway 6. It was named after its founder, Elias Quick.
Elias Quick was born in Ohio in 1845. According to his obituary, he came to Council Bluffs in 1856. He was 11 years old. At age 16 he went to Denver. He served with the Tyler Rangers, United States Army, during the Indian war in 1864, and returned to Council Bluffs the following year. He joined in business with his father under the name of W.S. Quick & Son. They dealt in groceries and grain, shipping grain down the Missouri river. Their business was located in the 100 block of Broadway.
Elizabeth Thomas was born in 1848 in Wick Glamorganshire, Wales. She came to America with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas, and a brother in 1856. In an interview at age 88 she told the Nonpareil the voyage across the ocean in a small boat took six weeks, during which time her sister was born. The family settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1861 they joined a group of Mormons and set out for Salt Lake City in a covered wagon drawn by oxen. They traveled with about 100 other families.
Traveling up the Missouri in a river boat, they stopped at Florence, where Mr. Thomas purchased “two yoke of oxen, one yoke of cows, a wagon and provisions”. He was the only one among those 100 households to own cows and was considered well-to-do. Many of the families had just hand carts and, according to Elizabeth, “the party had a weary six month trek across the plains and mountains to Utah, for most of the men had to walk every step of the way pushing their carts.” The family found land in the Salt Lake valley disappointing, and the following spring they returned to Council Bluffs. The family home was located at 500 Voorhis; the address was later changed to 121 Union “when the streets changed”.
In 1873 Elizabeth Thomas was married to Elias Quick and they moved to a farm in Hardin Township, near what is now McClelland. In 1881 they opened a general store, a post office and a blacksmith shop. Mr.Quick was appointed postmaster in 1884. He shopped for the store in Council Bluffs once or twice each week. Groceries were purchased from Groneweg & Schoentgen, and hardware from Empkie Shugart Hill. The trip took about three hours with a team.
In 1905 he retired, and he and Elizabeth built their home at 620 East Pierce Street. Eight of their nine children survived, and all were present at the couple’s 56th wedding anniversary in 1929. For several years, Mr. Quick was the only citizen living in Council Bluffs who was in business here in 1866. He was a member of the first volunteer fire department, known as “The Rescue”, organized in 1867.
Elias J. Quick died in 1932, Elizabeth in 1948, both at their home. They are buried in Fairview Cemetery.
Their home at 620 East Pierce Street was built in the Queen Anne style in 1905. The recently painted wood siding is original, as are the columns, railing and spindles on the wrap-around porch. The built-in gutters on the house are original. The red steel roof recently replaced faded asbestos shingles. The windows are original, but the storm windows have been updated. A tall, narrow window at the stair landing on the west side of the house has been removed. The opening is still there, and part of the trim. Replacement of the window is included in the owner’s plans. The small back entry appears on an early fire insurance map. A second-story door above it, however, suggests that the original entry was a bit wider to allow proper placement of the door- possibly with a railing around the roof – providing access to a small walk-out area. To the north, between the alley and East Broadway, was a large livery.
A later owner of the house was Carl Negathon, the first Council Bluffs mail carrier to deliver mail by automobile.
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, McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses, homeowners, family members and individual research.
Preserve Council Bluffs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and preserve the heritage of Council Bluffs through its architecture, sites, and people.
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