Latham Park Discover Sioux City's Best Kept Secret
History of the Latham Family & Park
Benjamin Tuets Latham, born October 27, 1832, in Maine, migrated west in a wagon train in the summer of 1853. Only 20 years old, he was not yet ready to put down roots in Iowa, as did the rest of his party. After many years of sampling the soils in several states, he finally returned to settle on a 100 acre farm south of Moville in 1881. Upon retiring from his farming and bookkeeping pursuits in 1899, he moved his family to 1806 S. Lemon St. in Sioux City.
Elizabeth Bathsheba Cary was born in New York State on September 4, 1835, into a family heritage which recounted a 1648 immigration to Plymouth Colony from England. She married Benjamin Latham on Christmas Day, 1855, in Montgomery, Ohio.
To this union were born three sons: Elbert Cary Latham on November 15, 1857, in Summit, Iowa; Leslie Twitchell Latham on August 18, 1862, also in Summit; and Willis Anderson Latham on July 7, 1865, in Dayton, Ohio. Willis died at age 2 years, 1 month, 14 days, in Port Huron Michigan, and was buried in Maineville, Ohio.
We can only imagine then, what a blessing was felt with the birth of a daughter, Clara, on February 5, 1870, in Detroit, Michigan.
Upon the move to Sioux City in 1899, the family joined Morningside Presbyterian Church.
As adults, Elbert and Leslie Latham were skilled carpenters. It was they who built the final Latham family home on eight lots at 1915 S. Lemon St. The land had been platted in 1888 by Daniel T. Hedges, a prominent "Morning Side" developer and financier. Benjamin and Elizabeth celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, Christmas 1915, in the new home. The entire Latham family moved into the house in 1916.
Elizabeth Latham enjoyed her new home for only two years, departing this life on December 13, 1917, at the old Lutheran Hospital. Benjamin Latham died in his own bed on March 1, 1924, soon followed by sons Elbert on August 15, 1927, and Leslie on April 24, 1928. Benjamin and Elizabeth Latham were buried in Maineville, Ohio, alongside young Willis.
Clara Latham purchased the additional lots surrounding the Latham home on April 6, 1933. Thus, the Latham house and grounds comprised a total of just over .94 acre at the time of Clara's death on January 25, 1937. She died in the house and is buried in a family plot in Sioux City's Graceland Park Cemetery with brothers Elbert and Leslie.
Under the terms of Clara's will, the property reverted to a trust, now managed by Security National Bank of Sioux City. The Trustee was charged with the perpetual maintenance of the house and grounds for the use of, and enjoyment by, the general public.
Now, we describe Clara Latham's home as a "prairie farm house" in its architectural style. The upper floor provides living quarters for the park's resident caretaker. The three main floor rooms are used for meetings and receptions. The grounds, with their appurtenant decorative structures, are the site of frequent weddings, picnics, church services, reunions and photo shoots. But most often, the Park simply provides a setting for individuals to enjoy its quiet beauty.
The Clarence and Ruth Larson family enjoy a beautiful summer day in Latham Park, August 30, 1942.