126 Park Avenue – Homer H. Field
H.H. Field was, perhaps, the most versatile of all of the early pioneers. If there was a hat to wear, he wore it. His History of Pottawattamie County, which he began at age 80, is an invaluable source of information for this column. The two-volume history of the early years of Council Bluffs, published in 1907, was written in collaboration with his neighbor, Judge Joseph R. Reed, who lived at 407 Glen Avenue.
Homer H. Field was born in 1825 in Atwater, Ohio, the youngest of six children. His father died when he was three years old; his mother died when he was 11. The only education he received was at the little district school.
He went to Pittsburg at age 16 and learned the trade of chair-making. In 1845 he moved to Cincinnati, and worked at his trade for a year, then served in the Mexican war for a year, then returned to Ohio where he studied violin. He married Sarah Arnold of Covington, KY, in 1850. A year later, he moved to Indianapolis and started a chair factory.
In 1856 he and Sarah moved to Council Bluffs where he served on the city council, was county sheriff, president of the board of education, chief of police, and justice of the peace. He conducted the draft for the Civil War. An accomplished violinist, he organized shows at the local opera houses and performed on Missouri River showboats.
He served as a mortician for Phil McGuire in 1860 when there was no mortician in town. According to Police Department History, McGuire was lynched by the Vigilance Committee. A note pinned to his body read, “Hung for all kinds of rascality”. McGuire had reportedly been caught with stolen mules.
The Field House was built in 1890 – a high-style Queen Anne with Eastlake decorative details including wood appliques. (Note the letter “H” in the front gable.) Other features include wood lapped and decorative shingle siding, asphalt-shingled cross-gabled roof, sunbursts in the gable peaks, brackets on the gable end and porch, turned spindle posts on the porch, turned spindle frieze on the porch, and a canted corner bay window with brackets. The house has been refurbished, including the corbelled brick chimney stacks, with great attention to preserving and restoring the historic details. (National Register of Historic Places nomination)
The Fields lived in the house until 1894 when Sarah died, but Field retained ownership until 1900 when it was sold to Antonia and Max Baumeister, a German immigrant and salesman in a furniture store whose family retained the property for the next 80 years. Their two sons, who, according to the 1910 census, also lived there. One of the sons, Max Baumeister Jr., was first violinist with the Omaha Symphony.
Following Sarah’s death, Field lived with their daughter and son-in-law, Emma and Thomas Cavin, at 150 Park Avenue. He died in 1920 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
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.
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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