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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (Nov. 29, 1908)
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f ART III.
PACES 1 TO 4.
VOL. XXXVIII NO. 24.
OMAHA, SUNDAY MOHNINO, NOVEMBER '29, 1908.
SINGLE COPY FIVE CENTS.
WORK OF WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION IN OMAHA
THE OMAHA DEC
Best & West
How a Great Charity Has Been Built Up and Sustained by the Unremitting Efforts of Some Enegretic Women Whom Adversity Has Never Daunted in Their Undertakings
WENTY-F1VE years come Friday, December 4, the first or
ganized charity la Omaha came Into being and on the sixth
day of the present week, that charity, the Women's Chris
tian association, will celebrate its sliver Jubilee. .The his
tory of this Institution, its memories of days and erents
passed, are dearest to the members of the association, and particu
larly so to the women who have with abiding seal and enthusiasm
worked for all this quarter century; but because they have worked so
long, so hard and so successfully, the story of their labor and achieve
ment belongs In a measure to the city of Omaha, and In their success
all Its citizens may and do feel proud.
A lale of long continued, well directed benevolence Is a pleasant
thing to hesr, a pleasure to recount. None but he In whom the milk
of human kindliness has soured completely, he in whom "there Is
no more mercy than milk In a male tiger," can feel otherwise than
glad when he comes to think of the well nigh countless deeds of
ministry and mercy which have come to pass In twenty-five years of
human life, of human suffering and misery. Particularly to those
whese tally routine bring them In frequent contact with the seamy
side, with thieves and "hop" or "coke" fiends, with "stickup" men
or shoplifters, with all the men and women who have made shipwreck
of their lives, to one who sees overmuch of this phase of human
exigence, a chapter like the history of the Women's Christian asso
ciation gives new zest and inspiration to the reading of the book of
It was In the parlors of the First Methodist Episcopal church
that a great work had, like most great works, its seemingly small
beginning. As the fifth annual report of the association says In re
counting the history of the charity's Inception, there was little but
seal with which to begin: "At our first meeting one woman promised
to give 5 with which to pay the rent of three rooms In the city hall
building. With this small amount of money, but with a larger
amount of faith, we commenced our work In this apology for a home.
Efficient committees were appointed In every ward In the city, and
all cases of need were thoroughly Investigated before help was given.
The dispensing or public charities has been from the beginning a
prominent feature of our work there being then no organised
charity In the city. However, since the organization of the Bureau
of Charities last winter (1888), the work of the relief department
has been dropped in a measure, although that work will ever remain
prominent In the labors of the association."
Two Serve Long Time
Mrs. P. L. Perine was then president of the association and Mrs.
George Tiluen one of the trustees. The latter is now president. She
and Mrs. Perine, who served as the executive head until illness
necv.sslta.ed her resignation, have been officers of the association
all through its existence. It is worthy of note that three of the early
prominent workers in the charity have celebrated their golden wed
dings, these three being Mrs. Perine, Mrs. J. J. McLaln and Mrs.
'O. W. Clark.
By force of circumstances and Its own desire the association,
whkh started to administer outdoor relief only, came to broaden Its
activities and the Old People's Home was Instituted. Old women
were at first solely received there. Speaking of them In her annual
report of 1889. Mrs. Perine said: "I speak first of our Christian
association home on Burt street. The elderly women there are now
In a comfortable condition; and did we need any reward for our work
and anxiety, we surely have it as they press our hands and say, with
tearful earnestness. 'I thank God for what you have done for u.'
Dear old friends! May we never grow weary while we have the
power to brighten the dismal pathway now so wearily trodden by
faltering footsteps. ' - ' ' " ."
"Little children, too, claim a large share of our sympathy In that
home so amall yet so full. . Dear little things! whose lives have
kftwn nothing of a home where love is the ruling power. WTt is
saddei tl rn a Joyless childhood? Let us take them into our hearts
as veil as into the home, and give them an experience which shall
heln Uiem through the early years, when temptations are strong and
the little hearts are weak to resist"
By this time the Women's Christian association was also con
duc ng a home for young jromen, which supplied the necessity later
filled by the Young Women's Christian association. Of this work,
Mrs. Ferir.e reported:
"" ho Young Women's home Is a delight to us all; so many dear
girls tiere sheltered from the intrigues of strangers, and a home
where they may come when the wearisome day and the monotonous
tread rre over a home of brightness, warmth and genial comfort,
with g od books, music and all that Is attractive.
"Our Woman's exchange, though only of recent organization,
has already through the go6d management and perseverance of Its
committee, become one of the most successful departments of our
work. It helps people to help themselves, and opens avenues for
irany branches of art and Industry to become a medium of support to
our burdened women who might shrink from coming in contact with
the heartless public."
Ti'e Old People's home Is unique among Institutions of the kind,
beratts" the title "home" Is not In this case a misnomer. It Is not
sn ers- tafk to prevent a large Institution, in which methodical sys
. ten- m-st needs be followed, from acquiring an air and atmosphere
so j -Id rnd formal that even the chance visitor feels something of
con trrlnt on entering the doors. Except In military barracks such
severity of aspect is a thing which matrons and superintendents of
bor s and asylums, etc., know that they ahould avoid, but find
ther Helves generally powerless. The reason for this Is not hard to
dlscrvrr Unless such strict and methodical formalities be the cus
tom, things are apt to grow confused, all semblance of discipline Is
lost, cost of operation increases and the whole Institution becomes
Difficulty Skillfully Avoided
This difficulty, peculiar to such Institutions as the Old People's
bor e, has been skillfully avoided In this almost single Instance.
Faitly this has been accomplished through the plain, but not homely
ncr bevere furnishing of the home; partly through the spirit In which
Mrr. Scott, the matron, and the executive board conduct the institu
tion; iart!y through the fact that many of the members of the horns
have paid or had paid by relatives and friends
a life tee wnen me oia roan or oiu wumu
In question became a resident there. . The
first factor is more Important than would appear
at first sight, because to even more than ordi
nary j ersens dois the nature of their physical
environment, the furniture, carpets and pictures,
affect these whjo pass practically every hour of
tht-lr lives within the four walls of a single
building. To such the differences between a
cheery room and a drab surrounding Is of prims
consideration, tor they are by reason of age una
ble to escape. The youth, male or female, con
strained to sleep In a ball bed room need not
sperd all his time there. Bright and cheerful
theaters and cafes or hospitable Young Men's
or Young Women's Christian associations hold
open the door for him or her of an evening, but
for the aged and infirm these attractions might
well not exist at all.
One need not emphasise the fact that kindli
ness and consideration from those In charge of
aa Institution are vital factors In the equation
of the happiness of those living under their dis
pensation. 8 u fflce It to say that at the Old Peo
ple's home this consideration and kindliness Is
meted out to aU alike, whether the old man or
woman be appreciative or not, and whether or
not he or she is an easy person to care for.
The third reason cited la also worthy of note.
os wno nave neon a Die 10 pay uus siuo
life fee ana Justly feel that N they ax not
. . ''K.J - v
MRS. IDA V. TTLDEN.
President Omaha W. C. A.
you think so?" she appealed to her caller. That person agreed with
ease, being a Hawkeye-born. Mrs. Scott, also born across the river,
proved more loysl to Nebraska, however, and protested indignantly
in behalf of the state of her adoption. "Iowa's all right." said she,
"but it Is not any Better not so good. In fact as Nebraska."
Mrs. Parker's lire reaches back over all the Important periods In
American history after the revolutionary war, tor the echoes of the
war of 1811 bad hardly died away when ahe was a child. She wss
a slip of a girl when John Qulncy Adams sat in the Whits House and
20 years of age when Andrew Jackson caused the first panle which
the United States had known. She was a grown woman, a wlfs and
mother of several children when the Mexican war came In 1848. By
1894, when she removed from Ohio to Iowa, the slavery question was
the great and burning Issue and Charlton, near her home, was a
depot for the great "underground railway," the secret relay system
by which escaped slaves were helped to Canada and freedom. In the
state in which she Is probably to end her days, and In Kansas, the
question was beginning to be agitated as to whether they should
come into the union free or slave and bands of Mlssourisns for the ,
one side snd New Englanders for the other were enrout to flgnt
for their conviction.
Comparison of Events
When the fall of Sumter electrified the north, Mrs. Parker was
64, a score of years older than the average longevity. The civil war
Is now forty-three years past and Mrs. Parker Is baler and heartier
than the average man or woman of 85 years. August 17 last her
92d birthday was celebrated at the Old People's home with elaborate
ceremony. Prediction is a vain thing and prophecy a snare and
delusion, but It may safely be said that there seems every likelihood
that Mrs. Parker will tor quite a number of years to come continue
to cheer, the home with her bright mind and youthful spirit.
She may indeed live to see the Old People's home established
In a building better suited to its needs. The present home is a good
one In many ways, but it Is four stories, counting a basement, and
the stairs are a trial to stiff and elderly knee hinges. An elevator
is an Impossibility because of the construction of the building and
would be a considerable expense besides. Some day or other there
will be built a large two-story building and then the Old People's
home will be ideally located, provided that considerable ground sur
rounds the building, the lack of which Is another fault In the present
The membership roll of the early days of the association la
Interesting, not only because of the fact that it reaches back to a by
gone portion of Omaha history, hut many well-known names are
there Inscribed. The life membership In 1889, five years after the
beginning of the work. Included Mesdames Guy C. Barton, Virgil O.
Bogue, Samuel Brown, H. C. Cady, R. H. Clarkson, Frank Colpetser,
Thomas Crelgh, O. F. Davis, M. A. Detwiller, P. H. Hlmebaugh. N.
Merriam, J. H. Millard, Exra Millard, W. V. Morse. C. Oskamp, A. J.
Poppleton, E. H. Sherwood, E. L. Stone. A. P. Wood, Clark Wood
man and Mrs. James Woolworth.
Mrs. Byron Reed and Mrs. John M. Thurston, first wife of the
former senator, were honorary members, while the active member
ship list was as follows: Mesdames P. H. Allen. W. N. Babcock,
L. L. Bolts. R. P. Bosworth. D. J. Collins, A. Carlisle, H. M. Clayton,
George Darrow, 8. J. Ferris. C. J. Fisher, William Flemrng, Charles
Gardner, T. S. Grlgor, W. Hanchett. J. A. Haines, James A. Haynes.
L. S. Haller. John L. Heth. R. D. Hills. A. P. Hopkins, Philip Igoe,
J. B. Jardlne, George A. Joslyn, George A. Joplin, F. B. Johnson, L.
B. Knight, George Little, Horace Ludlngton, George L. Lyman, 3. 3.
McLaln, J. H. Miller," Thomas McCague, James H. McConnell, P. L.
Perine, O. H. Pratt, A. Roberts, Robert Rlngwalt, Robert L. Rey
nolds, J. A. Robinson, A. S. Stlger, C. E. SUlsbee, A. B. Somen, R.
M. Stone, W. B. Taylor, Cadet Taylor", George Tllden, 8. R. Towns,
John M. Thurston, H. Van Gelaen, W. J. Welshans, James Woolworth,
E. B. Wood and Wilbur.
entirely charges upon the bounty of others and that their personal
pride need suffer no sting because they are living in the home.
Pride of thla sort is of the kind which is most desirable, for unless
It be carried too far, it Is nothing else than proper self-respect. It
Is a fact that the amsll sum named, will not do much more than pay
the cost to the home of the one person's keep for a single year, but
this is beside the point, for it Is the principle which is Involved and
not. the actual figures.
It is sn unfortunate fact that the words "one big family," have
grown to be a cant phrase, so much so that It is almost a Joke now
adays. In much the same fashion that maudlin usage of the sentiment
of devotion to one's maternal ancestor has caused the phrase, "good
to his mother," to become the butt of near-humorists. For were
the "big family" phrase not worn threadbare it would more aptly
than any other combination of words describe the Old People's home.
It Is true that as In other families some of the component mem
bers are easier to serve and aid than otters; some cheerful snd
appreciative in all circumstances; some grumpy and growl y occa
sionally. But of the latter, the matron will teU you there are but
few, and these not complaining all the time by any means. In fact,
some naturally cross-grained elderly personages hsve notably grown
better natured since they came to live and move and have their being
at the home. ,
The oldest resident of the institution happens to be the one
farthest from the occasionally grumpy class. Mrs. Lucy Parker, a
young old woman of 92 summers and winters, Is the cheeriest soul In
the home, not even excepting the matron, Mrs. Scott, whose face Is
significant of a kind and thoughtful nature. All who have met Mrs.
Parker once at the home ask for her when chance or design leads
their footsteps thither a second time. Mrs. Parker, In fact, has
callers numerous enough to make Jealous even a debutante, one of
the Just-out, on-a-mad-hunt-for-a-good-time kind.
Thanksgiving day as one caller, a young man, left Mrs. Parker's
presence, other callers were announced.
"Yon are a regular belle, aren't yout" suggested the departing
"Yon ought to be ashamed to say flattering things to one's
face," retorted Mrs. Parker with spirit, and the other left abashed.
Mrs. Parker first saw the light of day in county,
near New Albany, N. Y. She was born in 1817, when James Monroe
was president and "the era of good feeling" was on. It Is not likely
that this fact has anything to do with the sunniness of her disposi
tion, but It may be said that she has remained true to the good omen
of hei birth time all her life.
Leaves New Home in Infancy
Her residence in the Empire state waa not long continued, for
when she was 2 years old her parents moved in the dead of winter
to the vicinity of Zanesrllle, O. They made the trip by wagon
through country still thoroughly wild. Some parts of the Pennsyl
vania mountains which they traversed are not even yet free from
wolves and bear, and In 1820 Pittsburg was still an outpost of
civilization. It may seem something of an ordeal to expose a child
of 2 years to the rigor of a winter In a covered wagon, but Mrs.
Parker endured little more on that trip than did the children of most
men and women of that day. Bometblng of a selective process re
sulted, too, from these hardships, and the hardier children lived
and the weaker went to early graves. Read the old family Bibles
if this statement Is not believed and one will find there that while
our great grandparents had many children a dozen waa the aver
age all did not grow to adult years. It Is no wonder then that
those who survived, being the hardier ones, have often lived to a
green old age as has Mrs. Parker.
Pioneer life seems to have been her destiny in life. "We came
to Iowa In 1854," said Mrs. Parker, "and settled near Charlton and
there I lived until seventeen years ago, when I went to Oregon for
some years. Iowa was then In its infancy, you know. My brother
remained In Chariton, and I mean to write him a letter Thanksgiving,
though I am not sure that he Is alive yet. I have not heard from
him In some time." This thought caused the first expression other
than cheerful to flit across the old woman's face. She quickly re
covered herself and went on:
'-Iowa's a great state. It's the best state In the country. Don't
. :i , 'f'.i r;'y,'-'.'"'- ; - -rW'- '
FIRST BOaCB Or THE W. C A. IN OMAH
Banner Year Was 1903
In an Institutional way the most eventful year In the history of
the Women's Christian association was that of 190S, for during that
twelve months' period the removal took place of the Old People's
home from the Burt street building to a new and commodious build
ing in Kountze place. December 8 of that year the association cele
brated Its twenlteth anniversary and the Inauguration of a period of
larger benevolence by an elaborate program preceded by a luncheon
In the parlors of the First Methodist Episcopal church, at which the
ministers of the city and their wives were guests. The program In
cluded two interesting historical sketches of the association's work,
one by Mrs. Perine, for upwards of a decade the chairman of the
borne committee, as well as former president, and the other by Mrs.
William Fleming, whose mother, the late Mrs. W. V. Doollttle, had
been the beloved second president of the association.
This was a significant annual meeting, too, because during the
preceding year the articles of Incorporation had been so amended
as to admit men as well as women, and the name accordingly changed
from "The Old Ladles' Home" to "The Old People's Home."
At the head of the association at th present time Is a womsn
whose record for public usefulness In Omaha ts unexcelled. On Mrs.
George Tilden has rested through these years most of the work of
the financing of the association, aside from active labors on her part
in active benevolent direction, and to her goes much of the credit for
th,e present large size and efficiency of the work. Likewise active for
five and twenty years In the association Is the first vice president,
Mrs. G. W. Clark.' Mrs. 8. R. Wilcox Is now second vice president,
and the other officers are as follows:.
Recording Secretary Mrs. John W. Gill.
Corresponding Secretary Mildred Merriam.
Treasurer Mrs. Clinton Miller.
Trustees Mesdames F. H. Cole. Edward Johnson. Cadet Taylor,
A. K. Cault. W. B. Taylor, Charles Van Court, Jeff W. Bedford, C.
M. Fowler, Andrew Traynor, J. J. McLaln, M. A Elliott. L. L Bolts,
L. O. Connor and P. L. Perine.
Any and all of these good women can tell the inquirer some
interesting events which have come within their experience In benevo
lent work. Like all other organized charity workers of recent years
they have had to exercise care lest kindliness be
imposed upon and care lest those capable of self
support too willingly permit themselves to be
pauperized. They have heard untrue tales
which are pathetle enough in recital to wring
tears from a statue of lago and have been the
targets at which the shafts of the most elaborate
deceit have been aimed. They have seen those
too proud to receive aid which circumstances
necessitated that they should receive and have
seen pain at the suffering of chick and child to
humble the haughtiest spirit. ,
They .have discovered what every charity
worker flndB: That alms are sometimes given
out of sll proportion to Income; that those In
pinched circumstances sre occasionally the most
liberal of purse, but they have also learned that
the reverse is far from an Invariable habit and
that some of the biggest-hearted, most free
handed men and women in Omaha are of Its
Chariteble workers come snd go. As the
years elapse the names of thoe now most active
will perforce vanish from the roll of members
of the Women's Christian association. But It
must be a source of pleasure to those now
prosecuting a good work, and a great work, that
the fruit of their labors will not perish with
tbem; that an Institution like this will not die
and that In time tar to come the work will be
carried on as zealously and as affective! m U
in this year of grace 1101.
old people's nam ON wirt street.