Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, April 14, 1907, HALF-TONE SECTION, Image 17

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    Fhe Omaha Sunday
Alwaye Read
Best ';. West
OMAHA. SINDAV M()lJNL(i. APML 14. I!(i7.
How a Young and Delicate Girl Left the Refined Surroundings of a Cultured Eastern Home tQ Follow Her Husband to the Wild Life of a Frontier Village in Indian Days
THE wives of the Pilgrim fathers who crossed the seas in
the inly dnvs of this country have b.-cn lauded in song
and story for two hundred years for tlKlr bravery. But
there are women living today in Omaha who showed as
strong a courage, as great steadfastness of purpose and
proved themselves just as devoted helpmates to their husbands in
the pioneer days ns the Pilgrim mothers. The women played the
woman's part in life, a part which does not show us bravely in the
printed pages of the history fa country, but which is Just ns great,
at least, as the part played by the men In conquering a wilderness
and converting it to the use of civilized and progressive man. The
rilgrim mothers entrusted themselves to the mercies of the sea and
"ought the new country to the west. The mothers of'the present
generation In Omaha braved the dang rs of the unsettled and Indian
infested plains of the west, made a home for their husbands and for
the families that came later and took part in those g'ntler activities
which discriminate the civilized man from the savage.
Among these women pioneers of Nebraska no name is held in
greater reverence or spoken with greater fondness than that of Mrs.
J. W. Van Nosiratid, v ho, raised in the lap of luxury and refinement
in New York, unacquainted with any but the pleasures of life, sought
with her husband the wilds of the west. Here broad opportunities
were presented iind her great and charitable heart unfolded itself,
perhaps finding Its fullest and richest maturity in the new state o
Nebraska. Both she and Mr. Van Nostrand were very young and
their youth painted everything with a roseate tinge, so they were
able to overlook much sorrow, and revel In much joy.
Mrs. Van N 'Strand, whose maiden name was Virginia C. Stoutcn
borongh. was born In New York City, May 15, 1 S .' 3 . She was the
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Stoutenboronsh and the seventh
of twelve children. 1'inm a small child she was religiously inclined,
spent a great deal of time reading the best literature and took her
education as one of the pleasures of life, and not as an irksome duty
imposed upon a young girl, iter parents being people of wealth,
Indulged her literary tastes and educated her In two private schools.
First she attended Mrs. Muligan's school and later Prof. Tappan8
school, both In New York. She proved exceptionally . bright in
mathematics, and later in life had various opportunities to make
use of this particular talent, but always being quite delicate in health
the was not able to confine herself to teaching, which was a great
disappointment to her. She was a born leader, and always found It
easy os well as a pleasure to impart her knowledge to others. She
was married to Mr. .1. W. Van Nostrand on October 17, 1 8iG, at
Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, New York. Here they remained for two
years before thev ventured to the plains of the west. They left
New York on March :il. 157, by steamer, arriving in Baltimore the
next morning. From there they went by rail to St. Ixnils and from
St. Louis by boat to Omaha.
Incidents of Journey Up River
It took them two weeks to come from St. Louis to Omaha, and
the impressive incident of that trip was the fact that her case of
Jewels was stolen, thieves breaking Into her trunk to secure them.
They must have become accustomed to all manner of strange hap
penings or the carelessness of youth was prevalent, as this hole In
the trunk meant very littlo to this happy couple, who were drifting
to an unknown country on the wings of love, until two weeks later
she woke up to the realization that she was minus some very valu
able Jewelry. This did not mar their happiness for long, all mis
fortunes could only at best cast momentary gloom over this enthusi
astic couple. They might have been inclined to be more pessimistic
If while they were sparring all the day and tied up at shore all night
they could have had a glance at our modern times, when the same
trip can be made In two days. On this boat they made the acquaint
ance of Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Millard. Their son, Mr. Fred Millard,
was then but a small baby. Captain and Mrs. Rust in were also on
board on their way to Sioux City, but afterwards located in Omaha.
Tht'Be people became life long friends of Mr. and Mrs. Van Nostrand.
Early in the afternoon of April 19. 1857, Mr. and Mrs. Van
Nostrand and party of seven others, Including their maid, landed In
Omaha. These poor chllftrcn, eo unsophisticated and ignorant of
what the unknown shore held for them, were greeted by a scene
never to be forgotten. It was a cold, blustering day, the ground was
covered with snow and the first to greet them was a band of Indians
In blankets and gay colored feathers Mrs. Van Nostrand never
having had any experience with Indians and thinking their main
occupation In life was to secure the scalps of white people, looked
at them with terror, never expecting to be able to climb the hill
to her destination alive. No sidewalks, no paved streets, mud and
slush ankle deep, and only a few buildings scattered here and there,
gave the settlement a very crude and primitive appearance, and
It is not to be wondered at If they were dismayed in comparing their
new surroundings with the thriving city they had Just left.
Housekeeping in Early Omaha
On arriving at the hotel, which was located at the corner of
Fifteenth and Harney streets, kept by George & Mills, they were
abashed to find that they could only procure one room for a party
of nine. This was no stumbling, block, however, they readily took
It and adapted themselves to circumstances. Mrs. Van Nostrand's
mother had very opportunely tucked in the trunk headed for what
seemed to many the mythical west, a large piece of unbleached
muslin, which was ingeniously draped by Mrs. Van Nostrand and
served as a partition. Here they lived for seven weeks, waiting for
the house they were to live in to be vacated. During the time many
varied experiences were realized by this delicate but ambitious girl.
It remained very cold for three months after their arrival, and up
to the Fourth of July it was necessary to have fire night and morn
ing. The next day after their being Installed In the one room of this
hotel Mrs. Van Nostrand found herself plunged Into the realistic
practice of domestic life, and with the desire to make the first meal
that she ever cooked In her life a success she started out to find
something that looked palatable. After a thorough search she re
turned with some beef, a can of peaches, a pound of onions and no
butter. Her dishes had not arrived, and the only thing available was
an old wooden box for a table and silver In abundance. But sur
render waa not thought of by this Inventive little woman, and spot
less white linen covered these rough boards, beautiful silver was
arranged and an old yellow mixing bowl served for the meat, as no
platter was available. Such was the characteristic of Mrs. Van
Nostrand, all through life every obstacle thai she met was a diffi
culty to be Burmounted, not to be Ignored or slid over.
Mr. and Mrs. Van Nostrand finally got possession of their new
house, they lived at Fifteenth and Harney streets, directly back
of the Paxton hotel of today. They had for their neighbors Mr. and
Mrs. Alexander McAusland und across the street from them was the
residence of Mr. V. IV Brown, one of the first settlers of Omaha
and who established and maintained the ferry between Council Bluffs
and Omaha. At this time Mr. Van Nostrand was promlneut in poli
tics and Mrs. Van Nostrand in church and charity. At this early time
there were plenty of doctors, but no trained uurses, and to the calls
of the sick and dying no one was more responsive than Mrs. Van
Nostrand. Sht was gifted with the love of doing good for the pleas
ure It gave others, rich and poor were administered to alike and
her noble, generous nature is echoed today by those who knew her
best and have watched her busy life up to the present time.
At Work for the Church
It was not her disposition to theorize when there was work to
do. From the second day of her arrival in Omaha Mrs. Van Nostrand
took an active Interest la the Episcopal church, which was then in
a large upper room in the Pioneer block on Farnaui street. She at
tended the services regularly and within a very short time was
canvaaaing for scholars so as to start a Sunday school, and in this
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she was very successful, and today has the distinction of establishing
the first Sunday school In the Episcopal church of Omaha. The
church was not supplied with all of the appliances of Instruction
and even the room where the services and Sunday school were held
was crude In Its construction. The devout were obliged to sit on
boards supported by chairs and kneel on a dirty floor, with the click
of billiard balls ringing In their ears from a nearby room. But this
did not prove a handicap and In May, 1858, In this same room Mrs.
Van Nostrand, Miss Monell, afterwards the wife of Senator Hitch
cock, and Miss Emma Horaan, now the wife of Mr. Elmer Thayer
of Colorado, met as teachers for the new Sunday school. They set
to work diligently to teach these children to lead a Christian life.
They taught them the creed, the Lord's prayer and the ten com
mandants and such other parts of the church catechism as was
necessary to accomplish their aim. For music, no hymn books were
available, so the prayer book was used as a substitute. Mrs. Van
Nostrand never prided herself on her ability as a singer, but giving
vocal instructions came as one of the numberless duties Imposed
upon her, and she tuned her notes to harmonize with the occasion
and more than succeeded.
A very ludicrous Incident arose in the early history of this
little church, when In August of ls."7. it was made known that Rt.
Rev. H. V. Lee, bishop of Iowa, was to make Omaha a visitation.
A real live bishop was a new sight to many of the citizens, and of
course it was their ile.iire to make as good an Impression as possi
ble with the few facilities available. A little band of women with
Mrs. Van Nostrand as leader set to work and accomplished marvel
ous feats out of what would seem to many impossible material. Tho
first thing they did was to scour the rooms, making cleanliness, free
of all adornments, an accepted background. They next procured a
large drygoods box, covered it with a fair linen cloth which was
used as an improvised altar; a bench covered with a blanket was
to do duty as an altar rail; a silver cup to be used in place of a
flagon. At the last minute It seemed the plans of the congregation
were to be defeated. They had no patten! This wns a most start
ling discovery and some of the good women sat down and just had
a "good cry." But Mrs. Van Nostrand knew no defeat. She had
overcome too many obstacles In her life to retreat before such prob
lems. She sat down and thought while others indulged in tears.
Suddenly she gave a happy cry. "I have it," she said. "What?"
asked one of the women less distressed than the others. "The pat
ten." she said. She hurried to her home and returned in a short
time with a silver butter dish, one of her wedding presents that Bhe
had brought over with her on the boat from New York. Tears were
quickly dried. It served very successfully and also for baptismal
purposes; In Ysct they continued to use It until they occupied their
new church on lower Farnam street. Only one more difficulty
presented itself, and that was to find a suitable chair for the bishop,
as he was a very larg. man. This was finally secured from Colonel
J. A. Parker, Jr., and from that time preparations for the august
bishop went on to a happy conclusion.
Charity Work Occupies Her
There was no orgauUed charity at this time, every one
worked blindly, but all worked as brothers and sisters,
ready to answer any or all calls. Mrs. Van Nostrand did not
restrict herself wholly to this kind of work. In the year 1881 a
number of women expressed to each other the desire to provide
for themselves facilities for instruction and training In the princi
ples and practices of art. They had already attained some proficiency
In drawing and painting in oils and water colors. In the month of
November they resolved to invite such of their friends and neighbors
as they supposed might be In sympathy with their aim to meet for
consultation. They were assembled at the homo of Mrs. Van
Nostrand. Anions those present were Mrs. Frank Colpetzer, Mrs.
Mary S. DuBois, Mrs. Robert Doherty, Mrs. G. I. Gilbert, Mrs. R. C.
Moore and Mrs. Hume. At this meeting of the permanent organiza
tion Mrs. Van Nostrand was elected president, Mrs. Robert Doherty
vice president, Mrs. George I. Gilbert treasurer and Mrs. Jewell
secretary. This organization grew very rapidly. They had over
seventy-five members the first year. The Creche or day nursery for
tho care of children of women who are compelled to go out from
home to work was the outgrowth of a suggestion made by Mrs. O. C.
Dlnsmoor to a society of women called the "Unity club." Mrs. Van
Nostrand has been vice president for this widely beneficial society
for nearly eighteen years. This society has been In existence for over
twenty years and holds the remarkable record of never having had
a death In It. Other notable organizations of which Mrs. Van Nostrand
has either been one of tho originators, charter member of or Is
actively associated with are the Tenth Street Mission and the Wo
man's auxiliary, she was secretary of Merciful Savior for three or
four years, started tho Woman's auxiliary of St. Barnabas' church,
In which she is natively connected now. Such has been the busy
life of this noble woman. Today Mr. and Mrs. Van Nostrand are
enjoying the happiness of good health and the golden fruits of their
countless good deeds. They were never blessed with any children,
but Mrs. Van Nostrand has been god-mother to about fifty. All
of the neighborly kindness scattered by Mrs. Van Nostrand as freely
as sunshine to the sick and sad has linked to her eternal friendships,
but has preserved the modesty, simplicity and gentle nature that
has characterized her life, and precious memories that bind the heart
to the past rtlust brighten tho whole vista of a fifty years' residence
in Omaha.
France and Work the Y. M. C. A. is Doing There
-a r Y VISITATION of France was scattered
l through a comparatively long period of
jy I time, but included only four cities
Paris, Nancy, Bordeaux and Marseilles.
Paris, the largest city on the continent of Eu-
rope, situated on the River Seine, with a popula
tion ot 2,500,000 Inhabitants, Is doubtless the
most beautiful large city in the world. As a gen
eral thing it Is built up solidly, with buildings
quite uniform in size and shape. The city has
numerous squares, about which are remarkable
Btmctuies In size, architecture, elegance and con
venience. Some of these squares have handsome
columns, statuary, etc. Many attractive sniail
parks are found In the city and very large ones
outside. The boulevards are wide, well paved
and are systematically extended through the
whole city for convenience of travel und traffic.
These boulevards are almost constantly alive with
carriages, cabs and omnibuses and their mlewalks
and crobslngs with pedestrians. The electric om
nibus or motor has about driven the horse con
veyances out of business.
The river Seine, running through the city, has
been mude a thing of beauty and service. In the
summer It affords the passengers on its boats cool
and otherwise pleasant transportation. It re
quires weeks to see Paris as it ought to be seen.
I can make but mere mention of some of its nota
ble and wonderful things:
Squares or Places Place de la Concorde, de
la Republique, d -la Bastelle, de la Nation, etc.;
boulevards too numerous to mention. The
Champs Elysee Is pre-eminently the finest; it ex
tends from the Arc de Trlomphe to the Place de la
Concorde. "A large avenue is opened from the
Champs Elysee to the Esplanade des Invalided,
passing over the new bridge Alexander HI. be
tween which two new palaces are erected, one on
each side of the avenue, form one of the principal
attractions of the Champs Elysee." Notable
buildings the Grand Opera house, the largest
theater building in the world; the site cost 420.
000, oi more than $2,000,000; the structure cost
over $7,000,000. It is artistically magnificent
without and exquisite within. Trocadero palace
and gaidens, a most popular resort; the new Ex
position building, the Palace de L' Elysee, the resi
dence of the president of the republic; the Palace
du Luembourg and gardens, the Palais and
Musee du Louvre and picture gallery, the most
important building In Paris. It contains more
pictures proba'iy than any other building in the
world, it is the building In Paris first visited by
tourists; the HoUl de Ville, which tost il,000.-
000; the Pantheon, the Eiffel Tower, 985 feet
high, the highest structure in the world, 430 feet
hlghe. than the Washington monument, the high
est permanent structure In the world.
Churches The Notre Dame, the archbishopric
of Paris; the Madalene, lighted from the roof;
the Church Invalldes, In which Is the tomb of Na
poleon; the Sacre Coeur, on the highest point in
Paris It has been a loDg time building, is of the
Byzantine style and will cost 1,000,000. The bell
to go on it Is the largest In the world that can be
rung. The bell and clapper weigh ulneteen tons.
Parle has also a fine Young Men's Christian
association building, made possible by the gift of
James Stokes of New York City. Paris is a city
given to pleasure more than perhaps any other
city in the world, and In its life and pleasure has
doubtless the lowest standard of personal chastity
or purity of any other large city of Christendom.
I am informed that Paris does not have as wide
and controlling an Influence In France as it once
had. However, there are many good people In
Paris, trying to do all they can for Its highest
Bordeaux, In southwestern France, is a large
city of 260,000 Inhabitants and situated on a river
navigable for the largest ships. It has a fine
wharf, a magnificent bridge and a large shipbuild
ing dock. The chief articles produced iu the neigh
borhood of Bordeaux are wine und asparagus. The
city does a considerable trade in fish, oysters and
vegetable oil, the last article from southern Spain.
Bordeaux is a rich city. It has 4.O0U wine mer
chants, that doubtle.-s do a paying business. It is
a large shipping point by boat and rail. It has
many large buildings, particularly its theater, rail
road station and cathedral. It has fine broad
streets, beautiful squares and parks. Its residence
houses are attractive and convenient. Bordeaux
has many in.-tilutions to take care of the poor and
injured. It is almost wholly Catholic, but has
S.O00 Protestants and a good Young Men's Chris
tian association. '
Marseilles, beautifully situated on the Mediter
ranean sea, in southern Fiance, with a population
of more than SUU.00U inhabitants, Is fhe second
city in blze and importance In the French republic.
Its outer bay does not seem very well protected,
but several smuller inside harbors or docks are
well sheltered and full of vessels. The city and
surroundings are quite hilly. It has large streets
and boulevards, well kept, also large and con
venient squares. Several of these squares and
avenues Hre high up in the city and from them fine
View of the sea- the harbor und the suburbs of
the city can be had. One of the boulevards was
turned Into a street ehow, with attractions of
every sort for making money. Booths with all
manner of things for sale, side shows of many
kinds with displays and curious things to enter
tain and amuse all classes, and daring exploits to
tempt the venuresome. The whole boulevard was
crowded and everything seemed to be patronized
o the full. Near thia boulevard was a very hand
some cathedral, with two towerB. It had a most
commanding front in Itself and in its location.
The great cathedral, a very showy one, was close
to the harbor or bay. It bad a splendid situation,
that made it appear to the best advantage from
sea or land, but It did not seem to be In a con
venient place for worshipers of the city. At or
near the entrance of one of the smaller docks or
harbors Is a ferry unlike any other In the world
that I have seen. There are Iron or steel towers
at both sides of the entrance. A very long iron or
ste d truss or bridge Is constructed over th" en
tiance and supported by these towers at a great
height so that vessels with the highest masts can
go under It. From this bridge or truss there are
wire ropes or rather iron fastenings that go down
to the flat ferry boat, which was drawn back and
forth over the entrance by power exerted on the
bridge above. The ferry moves along very
smoothlv and quickly, carrying a large number
ot v ail Idea and passengers. Marseilles has a large
traffic In business and passenger travel.
Nancy, In northern France, is a quaint and
homelike old city, with a population of 102,900
inhabitants. It has a large and handsome cathe
dral. The Stanislaus square is very unique and
atti active. It is large and surrounded by many
well constructed public buildings. Many Btreets
enter this square and each street has an iron or
st'.-el ate a rt Ml It ally fashioned and richly painted
will- tilt trimmings. In one corner of the square
is a 'o.inuin fashioned in harmony with the
gates, but more elaborately decorated. In the
center of the square is a statue of Stanislaus. The
city has a very wide and comparatively long
esplanade, with avenues, paved walks, trees and nfs. At the far end of the esplanade from
the center of the city Is a fine stone arch or gate
like the prches In Rome. The whole esplanade is
a bcauti'ul arid charming pla'e.
I arrived at Nancy, France, on October 31,
1906, and left for Belgium on November 3. I
went i i Nancy to attend The national convention
l' the Freni h Young Men's Christian association.
There was a good attendanc e of strong representa
tive association delegates and the convention was
well managed. A good report of well done work
was submitted to the convention by the national
ccinni.'t tee. The convention was marked for lta
earnest prayvr and thorough discussion of all lta
work. There was a close adherence to the Paris
basis. Here, as In Norway, I waa delighted to see
all the delegates participate In the Lord's supper.
The first morning of the convention all the dele
gates went to the Protestant temple. A most
si !i ltuil service was held, Including prayer, sing-in-;
and an earnest sermon. Then all the dele
gates, without exception, partook of the Lord'a
supper It was a blessed occasion, a most fitting
opening of a convention of Christians whose motto
Is John 17:21. Oh, when will this be for all Young
Men's Christian association conventions? Oh,
Lord, hasten the day. I attended all the sessions
of the convention the first day. By request, I ad
dressed the convention for a short time. I pre
eeuted them some of the greeting. I had with me
from various nations of the world. I emphasized
the great importance of the association work and
urged them to stand faithfully upon the Paris
basis and carry out its letter and spirit In their
work, by so doing their true success would be
assured. The next day I attended several of the
sessions of the convention, including a banquet,
which was participated In by many leading citi
zens of Nancy, to interest them in the local as
sociation work. The addresses following the
banquet made a good impression upon all present.
During the convention I had many personal inter
views with the national secretary, Mr. E. Sautter,
and with local secretaries; also with members of
the Fren'h national committee and of local com
mittees. I had a very desirable visit with Mr. M.
Rideaut, special American secretary In Europe. I
. ed the convention very much, which gave
me a "per Insight into the French association
work than I could have secured in almost any
Other v a .
1 reii'.r.ed Paris on December 5, 1906, and
remaine '. there until the 1 1th. During this time
I ) n't iVqucnt interviews with the national secre
tary. .Sir. E. Sautter, and planned with him for
my visits to Bordeaux and Marseilles. France. Mr.
Sautter wrote ah ad to these places about my
coming. He also gave me a place in his office to
do my writing. His assistants were very kind to
me. I also met the general se-retary of the princi
pal French association in Palis. I had also a spe
cial meeting with the president, general secretary
and others of the board of directors of the associa
tion. After this meeting another appointed meet
(Continued on Page Two. J