He was an attorney, a captain in the Civil War, a state senator, district and state supreme court judge and member of Congress. But he is perhaps best remembered locally for his collaboration with H. H. Field in writing “The History of Pottawattamie County,” published in 1907.
Honorable Joseph Rae Reed was a descendant of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who were among the early settlers in Pennsylvania. His great-grandfather, Joseph Reed, was a colonel in the Revolutionary War. While serving as a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, he introduced measures for the manumission of the slaves in that state. The measure, which related to the act of a slave-owner freeing his or her slaves, was adopted c. 1793-94. In his private life he was a farmer, land-owner and miller.
Joseph R. Reed was born on the old homestead in Ashland County, Ohio, in 1835. He received his education there and at the Vermillion Institute at Hayesville, Ohio. He moved to Adel, Iowa, in 1857, where he taught school and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1859 and practiced law in Adel until the outbreak of the Civil War.
He enlisted in July of 1861 as first lieutenant in the Second Iowa Battery of Light Artillery. He commanded the battery in all of its engagements after Dec. 1, 1862, including the siege of Vicksburg where the flag of the Second Iowa Battery was for many days the colors nearest to the Confederate works (Field and Reed 1907). In 1864, he was promoted to captain of the battery and served until July of 1865.
After the war, he practiced law in Adel. He was elected a state senator in 1865 and served in the Eleventh and Twelfth General Assemblies. He moved to Council Bluffs in the summer of 1869.
In September of 1872, he was appointed to fill the vacancy on the bench of the Third Judicial District and was elected to three successive terms, serving until 1884, when he was elected to the Supreme Court of Iowa. (The judicial districts have been reorganized and renumbered several times, to reflect changes in population and methods of travel. Council Bluffs is now in the Fourth Judicial District.)
After serving for five years on the Iowa Supreme Court, he was elected to the U.S. Congress. In 1891, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Private Land Claims by President Benjamin Harrison This court had jurisdiction of claims of lands received under grants from Spain and Mexico in the territory acquired by the United States from Mexico under the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty of 1848 and the Gadsden purchase in 1853. After his retirement from that post, around 1900, Reed resumed the private practice of law in Council Bluffs. In 1901, he was elected president of the Commercial Bank of Council Bluffs (Field and Reed 1907).
In 1893-94, Reed was president of the U.S. Masonic Benevolent Association. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church.
In November of 1865, Judge Reed was married to Jennett E. Dinsmore of Ashland County, Ohio. Mrs. Reed died on July 27, 1887.
In 1893, he married Edith M. Evans, of Malvern, Ohio. The Reeds were the parents of two sons, Joseph Rea and Benjamin, who died as infants, and a daughter, Rosannah. The Reed family is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
Judge Reed lived at this residence, 407 Glen Ave., from 1883 until 1905. By 1906, Edward P. Schoentgen, the vice president of wholesale grocers, Groneweg & Schoentgen, lived at this address. Schoentgen entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1895, where he studied to be an architect, and then studied in Paris for two years. In 1899, he opened an office in Council Bluffs. About 1909, he entered the grocery business as part of his family’s wholesale grocery company, Groneweg & Schoentgen. He lived at 407 Glen Ave. until 1922.
Records at the assessor’s office list 1871 as the construction date of this house. Reed purchased the property in 1883 for $350, which suggests that there was no house or a very small house on the property before 1883. When Reed sold the property to Schoentgen 22 years later, the price had increased to $4,850, indicating that Reed had built or greatly enlarged the house. The current owners believe that the original house was much smaller, and that the shed and the kitchen at the rear of the house were the original house, with Judge Reed adding the more elaborate and larger front of the house.
The Italianate/Queen Anne house is potentially individually eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the nomination of the Park/Glen Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination continues: “Stylish two-story house has complex cross-gabled roof with low-pitched hipped roof on rounded two-story bay window on side of house. The façade is a squat front-gabled that features a decorative wood gable screen, modillion blocks under the eaves, and an unusual paired casement window with decorative wood panels below on the front gable end. The wrap-around porch features chamfered posts and brackets. The bay window section of the house features modillion blocks under the eave overhang and decorative wood panels under the windows. Other features of note include pedimented gabled wall dormers on the front and side.” Other features are the brick foundation and wood-lapped siding.
The house at 410 Park Avenue was the Reed’s carriage house.
– 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. Mary Lou McGinn can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.