Council Point
Pottawattamie County, Iowa



     About This Settlement:

Brief Historical Overview
Council Point


Historical Article:
Council Point, Iowa on Missouri River,
Was Primary Shipping, Receiving Point

by Gail G. Holmes


Of Interest:
Quote from Historical Marker at Council Point

Cemetery at Council Point Washed Into the River

Historical Marker at Council Point


Links to Other Research Sites


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View Over the Prairie Towards the Missouri River
From Area of Council Point



migrants to this place, by the Missouri River should land at Council Point, some three miles above Trading Point of Bellevue.  Charles Bird resides there and to him should our friends make application for information immediately on landing. This is the most eligible point on the river for accommodation of emigrants to get removed to their friends in the various settlements in this region, and also the nearest point to this [Kanesville] place.

Feb 21, 1849 To Emigrants:
From the Frontier Guardian, edited by Orson Hyde,
President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and presiding officer over Latter-day Saints in Iowa, 1848 - 1852.
Extracted by Gail Geo. Holmes




Brief Historical Overview

  • Established: 1846 - 1868

  • Founder: Brigham Young

  • Industry: Ferry, Steamboat Landing, Ropewalk, Warehouse

  • Ferries: Middle Mormon Ferry

  • Schools: Council Point School, Mr. Brown teacher, as noted in "Saturday Last," Orson Hyde, ed., in Myrtle Hyde, comp., Conditions, 28.

  • Cemetery: 1846 - Washed away by the Missouri River



Click HERE for a Google map
giving directions to the area of the
historic settlement of Council Point.



Council Point, Iowa on Missouri River, Was Primary Shipping, Receiving Point

West Lewis Township,
Pottawattamie County, Iowa Survey Map 1851
Click on map for greater detail.


Close behind Grand Encampment, Kanesville, and Winter Quarters, Council Point, Iowa was the next largest of Mormon (LDS) refugee communities of 1846-1853 by the Missouri River.  Its name was drawn from a Pottawattamie/Ottawa/Chippewa Indian council held there nine days before arrival June 14, 1846 of the first three Latter-day Saint refugee wagon trains.  The Latter-day Saints had fled mob attacks in west central Illinois and southeastern Iowa.   

There were two good reasons for the largely Pottawattamie Indian council in that location.  Their purpose was to test tribal members willingness to sell southwestern Iowa and move to northeastern Kansas territory.  First good reason for meeting there was the accommodation afforded by the partial remains of the 1843 flood-damaged Fort Croghan.  Second good reason was the continued presence of the Davis Hardin family which had established in 1837 a short-term government farm there for the Indians.

The Pottawattamie, and scattering of Ottawa and Chippewa, members approved at that first of several councils the sale of southwestern Iowa to the American government.  As other parts of the tribe also approved, at their scattered village sites, it was determined these Algonkian1- speaking natives from the Great Lakes area would leave Iowa in 1847 for Kansas.

Council Point and the partial ruins of Fort Croghan were at the southwest edge of what today is Council Bluffs, Iowa.  It is about a quarter mile west of today’s Lake Manawa, itself an 1880s remnant of the Missouri River.

Steamboat Landing by
Brent Fredrickson
Click on artwork for larger version.


The American government built a steamboat landing on the north bank of an elbow the Missouri River poked up to the Hardin farm or original 1837 Indian Farm.  Local historians have called that landing the Hardin Landing.  Some 8,000 European Saints landed there in the Mormon years, and it was then called Emigrant Landing.  Being a steamboat landing, Council Point was subject to contagious diseases.  The Frontier Guardian of May 16, 1849 (p 3 col. 3) reported the death from cholera of widows Bennel, and Gee, and Mrs. Rogers and her son.

Council Point was four miles southwest of Kanesville, renamed Council Bluffs in 1853.  The two communities were linked together by a remarkably modern-style development called Stringtown.  A good road was built between the two large communities.  On the west side of the road at regular intervals were pioneer homes.  On the east side of the road, also at regular intervals, was cropland running up to the bluffs.  On the west side of the road, in equal lots was pasture land.  Beyond those pastures was more crop land. 

A High Council was named at Council Point to manage development, civic, and church affairs.  It was composed of Isaac Morley, George W. Harris, James Allred, Thomas Grover, Phinehas Richards, Herman Hyde, Andrew H. Perkins, Henry W. Miller, Daniel Spencer, Jonathan H. Hale, and John Murdock. 

A warehouse was constructed at which immigrants could store their goods while looking for a place to live.  It must, also, have well served Kanesville merchants who ordered goods from St. Louis and shipped them up to Council Point by steamboat.  When 10,000 Gold Rushers in 1849 crossed the Missouri River at or near Kanesville, steamboats were busy keeping the large mercantile houses at Kanesville supplied.







View Across the Prairie Towards Area
of Emigrant Landing and Reuben W. Allred's Ropewalk

One of the most interesting businesses at Council Point was Reuben W. Allred’s Rope-walk2.  His advertisement in the Frontier Guardian weekly newspaper said in part:  “… prepared to supply merchants, citizens, and emigrants with all kinds of rope and cordage, from a fish line to a cable. Rope of all kinds constantly on hand, and manufactured to order.”  What he didn’t say is that all was made of hemp growing naturally in the area.  And he doesn’t point to the fact that his rope-walk was a long shed under which cable was made to reach twice across the Missouri River. 

When the Middle Mormon Ferry was built to transport LDS refugees across the river to Nebraska territory, a plan was devised to make the river do the work.  A dug way3 was cut into the Iowa bank of the Missouri, half a mile south of the present east end of the South Omaha or Highway 92 Bridge.  The dug way was large enough to keep the boat from being rocked by river-flow as it was being loaded.  Workmen crossed over and cut similar dug ways into the Nebraska river bank a half-mile below and a half-mile above the Iowa dug way.  Two cables were stretched from the Iowa dug way.  One went down stream half a mile.  The other went up stream half a mile. Philadelphia lawyer/observer Thomas L. Kane claimed the river was a mile wide at that point.  The Middle Mormon Ferry was attached to the cable as it crossed the river, pushed by the current of the Missouri.

A substantial number of the European Saints landing at Council Point were from Wales, in southwestern England.  A Welsh Tabernacle was built west of Council Point, perhaps a quarter of a mile, for their accommodation.

After Latter-day Saint refugee times, the Missouri River swept away Council Point, but we don’t know when that occurred.  There is a historical marker there, well hidden behind evergreen trees, a few yards east of South 24th Street on Gifford Road, west of Lake Manawa.

By Gail Geo. Holmes

1. Algonkian - A family of North American Indian languages spoken or formerly spoken
   in an area from Labrador to the Carolinas between the Atlantic coast and the Rocky

2. Ropewalk - Is a  long alley or covered pathway where stands of material, such as
   hemp fiber or animal skins are laid and twisted into rope, also a long narrow
   building in which such a pathway is created.

3. Dug way - A way or road dug through a hill, or sunk below the surface of the land. 


Of Interest:

Quote From Historic Marker at Council Point

Latter-day Saints emigrants built Council Point in 1846 as a support town for the Middle Mormon Ferry across the Missouri River.  The community was centered near Gifford Road, just off South 24th Street.

It was at Council Point in 1846 that Brigham Young appointed acting bishops to care for needy Latter-day Saints, especially the families left behind when the Mormon Battalion marched off to New Mexico and California in the Mexican War.

Council Point served as a river port for nearly eight thousand European Latter-day Saints who landed here in the late 1840s and early 1850s on their way to the

 Salt Lake Valley in Utah.  The steamboat dock, known as Emigrant Landing was located on a north elbow of the Missouri, then about two blocks south of here and about four blocks west of modern Lake Manawa.

During the California gold rush, steamboats coming up river from St. Louis landed great quantities of merchandise at Council Point.  Large mercantile and supply houses flourished in Kanesville (now downtown Council Bluffs).

In Reuben Allred’s rope walk, near the landing, workers fashioned local hemp into ropes used to guide the Middle Mormon Ferry across the river west of here.  The north bank of the river at these sites can still be seen by looking west from South 20th Street about three blocks south of Gifford Road.

Hundreds of Welsh emigrants, many of them speaking very little English, met for worship services in the Welsh Tabernacle, located a little to the northwest of Council Point.

Sometime after the last Latter-day Saints left southwest Iowa for the West in 1853, floodwaters washed away Council Point and the Welsh Tabernacle.  Rising water had similarly destroyed Fort Croghan on this site in 1843, only a year after it was built by the United States Dragoons

Cemetery at Council Point Washed Into the River


"At Council Point, west of Manawa, a settlement of Mormons started a cemetery in 1848. A large number of them were buried there while the Mormons occupied this section of the country. After the cemetery was abandoned it was in after years washed into the river, and the exact location of it could hardly be determined at this date.1


The following death information is taken from death and marriage notices from the Frontier Guardian newspaper of the Kanesville area from 1849 - 1852:

Allred, John F. 17 July 1850 at Council Point, of cholera, 23 years old. (Frontier Guardian, 7 August 1850).


Clouson, George, Dr., 8 October 1851, at Council Point, of congestive fever, 50 years and 18 days (Frontier Guardian, 17 October 1851).


Farlin, Orliva, daughter of Orrin D. and Falvilla Farlin, 8 January 1852, at Council Point, 19 months old (Frontiers Guardian, 20 February 1852).


Matthews, George W., infant son of James and Mary Matthews, 24 July 1851, at Council Point, 3 months and 18 days (Frontier Guardian, 8 August 1851).


Muir, James, 15 July 1850, at Council Point, 21 years and 4 months (Frontier Guardian 24 July 1850).


Raymond, Elizabeth, wife of Samuel G. Raymond, 2 November 1850, at Council Point, 40 years, 6 months, and 10 days (Frontier Guardian, 25 December 1850).


Smith, Jane, late from England, 31 December 1850, at Council Point, of acute bronchitis, 21 years old (Frontier Guardian, 8 January 1851). 2

Other deaths are found in the Early Latter-day Saint database. See listing here.


1."Washed into the River," unknown author, Council Point File, Pioneer Research Library, Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters.


2. Death and Marriage Notices from the Frontier Guardian 1849-1852 compiled by Lyndon W. Cook and published by the Center for Research of Mormon Origins, P.O. Box 2125, Orem, Utah 84059






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The Early Latter-day Saint Database is a project of the
Nauvoo Land and Records Office and
The Pioneer Research Group of the "Winter Quarters" Nebraska area.