The story of August Beresheim begins with the emigration of his father, John Beresheim, who, according to his obituary, “was born in Bavaria. He came to Council Bluffs as a young man around 1855 and was for a number of years engaged in general merchandising on the northwest corner of First Street and Broadway in company with Ferdinand Weis who, until a few years ago, was one of the leading implement men of the city but who removed to Des Moines.”
His mother was Ernestine Fisher, who was born in Saxony and came to Council Bluffs with her family in 1857. John and Ernestine were married in Council Bluffs and were the parents of two children, Julia (married Frank Keeline) and August. The family home, which no longer exists, was at 241 Frank St., where they lived when John died in 1909 and Ernestine died in 1918. They are buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
H.H. Field tells this story best in his “History of Pottawattamie County,” published in 1907: “Council Bluffs has become a great market for all kinds of agricultural machinery as well as wagons and carriages of every description. Among the first to engage largely in this business were Beresheim and Weis back in the early ‘60s. This was before the Union Pacific railroad was built, and freighting by wagon was the only means of transportation. The Schuttler wagon had achieved an enviable reputation for enduring the long, dry, hot trips without shrinking.
“For shrinkage to occur and wheels shed their tires a hundred miles from any repair shop was a serious proposition, and freighters were not slow to select the article that was proven to be the best, and for years their wagons had the preference. Beresheim and Weis secured the exclusive agency for that wagon for this point and extending to all points from Nebraska to Sioux, inclusive, and reaped a rich profit.”
Beresheim eventually sold out his mercantile interests and was later appointed receiver for the hardware firm of E.J. Hurford. Pending the termination of the receivership, the Pacific National Bank had been established. After closing up the receivership, Beresheim became associated with the bank.
The banking house of Baldwin & Dodge had been established in 1856 by John T. Baldwin and Grenville M. Dodge. When the banking laws were established in 1870, this banking house became the Council Bluffs Savings Bank, and the Pacific National Bank became part of it. N.P. Dodge was the first president and served until 1902, when John Beresheim was appointed to the post and served until his death in 1909. Beresheim was elected state representative from Pottawattamie county and served in the 13th and 14th Iowa General Assemblies.
August Beresheim was born in 1864. He attended schools in Council Bluffs and went to work at the bank at an early age. His obituary states: “Mr. Beresheim has spent practically his entire business life within the four walls of the Council Bluffs Savings Bank. Nearly forty years ago he started working in the collection department there, and worked his way from one department to another until he finally became cashier, and succeeded his father, the late John Beresheim, as president upon his death.”
August Beresheim, besides being active in local business affairs, was a member of the Elks, the Eagles, the Chamber of Commerce and the boat club, and continued as president of the bank until his death in 1916.
He married next-door neighbor Clara Teal, daughter of Stebbins and Theda Teal, in 1890. They had one daughter, Theda. Their house was built next door to the Dodge House in 1899 and stayed in the family until the 1950s when Theda sold it and moved to California. She died in San Diego in 1967 and is buried with her parents in Fairview Cemetery.
The house served as a nursing home for a number of years, and as a dormitory for Iowa Western Community College students. It was restored to its original condition in the late 20th century. Currently owned by the city of Council Bluffs, the house now serves as the orientation center for the Historic General Dodge House and includes a gift shop as well as exhibits in upstairs rooms.
Notable features of the Colonial Revival style house are the Dutch gambrel roof on the front dormer, round posts on a full-length, wrap-around front porch, sidelights at the entrance, decorative details in the lintels above the windows, and sawn wood brackets under the eaves. On the south side are bowed windows on the main floor, decorative shingles – fish scale and blunt end –and a viewing platform (or widows walk) with a wooden railing on the roof.
The Beresheim House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is open to the general public as part of the Dodge House museum.
– 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 – for this story- archives and staff of the
Historic General Dodge House, and R.B. Graeme.
Mary Lou McGinn can be reached by email at email@example.com.