Lillian and Wallace Benjamin purchased this lot in 1912 from Ernest Hart, Inc. The lot is part of the Bebbington Place subdivision, platted in 1912 by Clara Bebbington Hart. Benjamin (in real estate) first appears in city directories as living at this address by 1914. They sold the property to Ethel Peet in 1918.

Ethel Annette Hovenden was born in 1887 in Westboro, Atchison County, Missouri. She was the daughter of William and Caroline (Ball) Hovenden and had three siblings- Edwin, Flossie and Gladys. Her early education was in local schools, after which she attended Missouri Normal College at Maryville and the Dramatic School of Minneapolis. She was a member of Altrusa Club, Order of Eastern Star, Christian Scientist Church and the Republican Party. She was also a member of the American Bell Association and amassed an extensive bell collection.

Ernest M. Peet was born in Cedar Rapids on July 4, 1881. His parents were Albert and Ella (Zimmerman) Peet. Ernest had two older siblings- Julius and Susannah. He attended Cedar Rapids Business College; worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper for Haskel Coal Co., Cedar Rapids (1904-06); commissary department, civil service, Panama Canal Zone (1907-10); and was vice president of Economy Hog & Cattle Powder Co., Shenandoah (1910-16). He was a member (and director) of the Chamber of Commerce, Tangier Shrine, BPOE and other organizations.

Ernest Peet and Ethel Hovenden were married in Shenandoah in 1915. They were the parents of one daughter, Dorothy.

The name “Peet’s Feed” was well known throughout much of the twentieth century, beginning in 1916, at 511 S. First St. in Council Bluffs. Family history tells the story of Adolph Ruehlman and Ernest M. Peet, two good friends with a common hobby.

“They were both interested in new and improved methods of livestock feeding for quicker maturity, less feeding cost and more profit; they decided that something could be done in supplementing a combination of certain mineral and chemical elements that were gradually becoming deficient” in feed grown on our soil due to “constant take-off or cropping”.

Both had lived on farms and had made a study of farm problems – especially “the practical problems of feeding livestock, hogs, cattle, dairy cows, sheep, horses, mules and poultry”. Ruehlman and Peet farmed extensively together up to the time of Ernest Peet’s death in 1944 at age 63. Adolph Ruehlman was married to Ethel’s sister, Flossie.

A full-page advertisement in the February 11, 1945, edition of The Nonpareil told their story. In summary, the E.M. Peet Manufacturing Company, Inc., was organized and incorporated in Council Bluffs in 1917 by the late E.M. Peet. The general offices and plant were located at 33 S. 25th St. (The first five years they were located at 511 S Main St.)

Peet Products were tested first on the Peet-owned and controlled experimental farms located in widely selected farm sections. No Peet Product was offered for sale until its merits were first proven on their farms.

An office and factory was located in Indianapolis. Warehouses and branch offices were maintained at Oakland and Los Angeles, California; Eugene, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; and Seattle. More than 500 employees and salesmen made up the company family. The ad further states: “Our feeling of pride in this past record clearly indicates the confidence expressed in our products and the responsibility we must assume for the future. We will meet this responsibility with confidence, and suggest that for approval, ask your neighbor. He knows.” Ethel was vice-president of the company. Prior to his death, Ernest was president.

Peet’s Stock & Feed Store operated at the South 25th Street location from the 1920s through the early 1980s. Although the company was sold and the Council Bluffs plant closed in 1987, Peet’s Feed remains alive and well today as a subsidiary of BioZyme, Inc. with products manufactured in Fremont, Nebraska. This year, the company is celebrating 100 years.

Ethel Peet died in 1979 at age 92. At the time of her death, according to her will, she owned farms in Harrison County; Tarkio, Missouri; Atchison County, Missouri; Page County; Montgomery County and stock in oil companies. Besides relatives, beneficiaries were First Church of Christ Scientist, YMCA Endowment Fund, and the Henry Doorly Zoo. The bell collection was given to the Historic General Dodge House. The total estate was valued at more than $5 million

The Peets are buried in Memorial Park Cemetery.

The Foursquare house retains the original narrow-width wood lapped siding, pyramidal hipped roof and a triangular dormer on the front roof slope. The front porch exhibits Colonial Revival stylistic detail in the pedimented roof over the front entry and the full-height classical posts on the front porch. The porch, which was likely open, has been enclosed, and original storm windows were replaced in 1974. The second floor shutters were added later. The National Register nomination of the Park/Glen Avenues Historic District notes that this circa 1914 house retains good integrity.

– 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 article, Wes Peet, Merrill Neary, Arlene Ward and Steve Beck. Mary Lou McGinn can be reached by email at mlmcginn@cox.net.

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