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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (Aug. 8, 1909)
PAGES 1 TO 4.
A PAPER rOR TUE HOME
BEST IN THE WWT
VOL. XXXIX NO. 8.
OMAHA, SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 8, 1909.
SINGLE fOrY FIVE CENTS.
BUILDING A BEAUTIFUL CHURCH FROM SCRAP MATERIAL
Energetic Pastor of the First German Presbyterian Congregation of Omaha Has Accomplished an Undertaking that Would Discourage Anybody but a Most Enthusiastic and Indefatigable Optimist
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FIRST GERMAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. WHICH THE PASTOR, REV. SCHWARTZ, IS BUILDING FROM "JUNK."
WORKMEN WHO ARE HELPING REV. SCHWARTZ BUILD HIS CHURCH.
WHEN the grey stone building of the First German
Presbyterian church Is completed at Twentieth and
Willis avenue It will present to the world an appear
ance of stable and dignified beauty. Very few Of the
people who pass It will fall to notice it as a handsome
edifice, but almost no one will realize that It will be In fact an
architectural anomaly, a new building built of Junk. It will represent
what a few earnest and hard working men can accomplish under
the leadership of a preacher with an inspiration. Rev. Julius F.
Schwarts determined when he first came to Omaha three years ago
that his congregation should have a new church. The fact that the
members numbered only sixty and the whole property of the corpora
tion was about S 5,000 troubled him not at all, and he began to build
a church with as much faith as if he had the riches of Solomon.
His plan was to gather everywhere, whenever he could, all the old
but strong timbers, all the Iron Junk available for structural use,
all the loose and Irregular stone and all the generally discarded
building materials that could be found In Omaha, and from them
to build a church. It was not to be a mean and ugly bouse of
worship, but a well equipped, well arranged, ample meeting place
for his people. He has now extended It to include an eleven-room
bouse for his own family, and the whole property would have cost
130,000 if It had been built by contract. As built by Rev. Mr.
Schwartz and his fellow laborers It will cost less than $15,000. The
other $15,000 has been saved to his people by the perseverance,
energy and Ingenuity of the pastor.
The first charge that Mr. Schwartz took when he left the theo
logical seminary was at Connersvllle, Ind. For six years he remained
there, and was called to Omaha three years ago on a recommendation
from one of his instructors in the theological school.
At that time, two and one-half years ago, the First German
Presbyterian was in the frame church in which they are still holding
services at 815 North Eighteenth street. As soon as the new pastor
came he announced that the church was too small and in the wrong
location. Most of the members live north of Cuming street, and
he wished the church to be nearer to them. To build a church
with a membership of sixty seemed out of the question, to all but
the pastor. He thought he knew a way, and he set about it with
almost no support, at first, from the others.
For a year he sought for a suitable location, and finally pur
chased the lot the new church is on for $1,800. When he bought
this tract the fund which he drew from amounted to $57. His first
move was to sell the old church for $1,850. As soon as the lot was
paid for he shouldered a spade and replacing his ministerial dignity
with a grim and effective energy he began to dig. The first thing
that a church needed was a foundation. He had no money, but he
could make the foundation himself, and that would be one step
That was last November. He asked for contributions from
friends outside of Omaha, and waited for his own people to con
tribute voluntarily. The dollars came slowly, but they came with
sufficient steadiness to assure him that ne could make a few pur
chases for a start. While walking on Douglas street one day he
saw that in repairing the street the old curbs were being taken up.
"These are good stone blocks," said the pastor-builder, and he bar
gained with the contractor to take them off his hands. That stone
went Into the foundation.
His next lot of material came when the wall that supported
the yard of the old Rosewater residence on Douglas street was to
be torn down. Men hired by Mr. Schwarts did the work -and the
brick and stone was- taken out and put into the walls that were
gradually rising on the church site. v Some of his congregation began
to contribute two or three days' work with teams in gathering
The south steps from the old high school building followed
and these made the "water table" on both sides of the church part
of the building. The parsonage end was being added to from the
stone that could be picked up around stone yards for small expenses
and converted into suitable blocks.
An opportunity came to the builders when the driveway was
constructed leading down to the Union station on the north side.
Here was bought 15,000 feet of lumber that had been used in
scaffolding and a carload of fine red sandstone was purchased for
$20. When, a few weeks later, a contractor offered Mr. Schwartz
$70 for that same carload of red stone because he needed it to fill
a contract In a hurry, the minister gave up his material and added
$50 clear. to the fund. This was the only enterprise for profit that
was entered Into for the benefit of the cause, except a little deal In
lead pipe which the minister had with a prominent fraternal order.
He bought some old lead from the lodge for $1.50 and sold it for
$15 to a Junk dealer.
All winter long he has been haunting the repair gangs about
the streets, visiting stone yards and Junk heaps and adding to the
pile of materials that is being made into a building by his men.
One of his biggest and most profitable finds was a pair of iron pillars
In excellent condition which he bought from the street railway com
pany for their price as old Iron. The street railway company also
furnished him with the most novel use of old material in the whole
building, which is the making of rafters out of old steel rails. The
rails are more than strong enough and were bought for the price
The church, which consists of a basement, with a beautiful
fireplace, and an auditorium which will seat 300, measures 44x73
feet. The roof extends back over the parsonage, making it a full
three stories high, with one room in the attic. The house part is
14x50 feet in ground dimensions and has eleven fine rooms.
On the front of the church will be a tower which will be Just
as high and substantial as It can be made from what is left of the
stone after the rest of the structure is finished.
The plans for all of it were sketched by Rev. Mr. Schwarts
and made exact by an architect. There are no specifications in use.
The plans are followed not by getting material to fit them, but by
conforming them as nearly as possible to material that can be
The church probably will be done by Thanksgiving. The work
goes' slowly, because Mr. Schwartz cannot afford to put on a large
force of men. He has ten now and they make progress, but twice
as many could be put to work if funds were available. His foreman,
Fred Slather, is a German stonemason. The wages of the men are
the one debt which Mr. Schwartz does not intend to neglect, and
his men are paid every Saturday as if they were working for a
wealthy contractor who had thousands to back his operations. , To
do this the builder has had to rely upon the kindness of his other
creditors, who have helped the cause by not pressing their claims.
The $6,000 that has already been put into the work was
gathered mostly from the contributions of friends all over the
country. Other pastors have taken up benefit collections, a friend
In Indiana sent $200, and the congregation has contributed far
beyond what might be expected from their means. Mr. Schwartz
made a house to house campaign of four days down in Riley, Kan.,
and raised $200 In that way. One of the church trustees, who de
clared when the project was begun that he would not do anything
to aid it, has already given $100, and others have given $100 and
$200 contributions. Churches have promised contributions that will
probably average $2 5 each and several hundred dollars more is
expected from that source.
"If I Just had $6,000 more I could finish it," says the minister,
and he seems not to lack faith that the $6,000 will come as it Is
The biggest addition to the fund that has come so far was the
$2,600 got from selling the old parsonage, which the pastor advised
as soon as he saw the possibility of making a home for himself as
a part of the new building. It is believed that enough more can
easily be raised to put on a roof so that services can be held In
the basement, and after that the money will come in faster. In
the meantime the minister is watching everywhere for anything
that will make his church more commodious or his home mora
"The reason for my doing all this," said Rev. Mr. Schwartz, at
he laid aside the tools with which he was heping the workmen, "is
that I believe that right here is the best field for work among tho
Germans that there is in all the northwest. My life occupation ia
missionary work among my German people, and the only reason
why I want to stay here and put up this big church for my small
congregation is because from here I can reach so many Germans. I
was born an American, but came from German parents, and am
thoroughly German In thought and feeling. When I decided to
become a minister I saw that the' greatest need was among my own
people, so I studied at a German seminary. My position makes It
possible for me to reach many who are In need of help, and many
who are strangers, and I want to stay here and make my work
effective In helping the German citizens in this country."
It is because of this sincere desire to be of help to his church
that Mr. Schwartz has labored with his hands and brain to build
the new church. It has arisen out of what seemed to be insurmount
able difficulties. Not only the cornerstone, but every stone In !t was
once refused by the builders, but when It Is finished there will be no
fault found with Its smooth grey walls, its modern equipment ana
its generous dimensions.
Long Service on Omaha Police Rewarded by Honorable Retirement
UPON the first day of August, 1809, Michael Whelan, sergeant
of the Omaha metropolitan police force, retired from ac
tive service as a member of the department and was
placed on the pension provided for those who have served
Mr. Whelan first became a member of the force in 1882, when
Omaha was far from being the metropolitan city it is today. He has
tueu the town grow and has kept pace with it and his acquaintance
ship has been as wide as that of any man who lives In Omaha.
As a police officer his career has been out of the ordinary, even
on a force which boasts some of the most clever and astute criminal
catchers in the United States. They are criminologists In a prac
tical sense. They spin no fine theories, but they know the ways of
law-breakers through long years of dealing with them, and they get
results. The records of the Omaha police force, in respect to the
number of Important catches made, will compare favorably with that
of any city in the United States, regardless of size, and it has been
amorfg such men as these that Whelan has stood out, recognized as
one of those who could be depended on In any emergency.
Mr. Whelan has a number of characteristics which made htm a
success as an officer of the law. First of all has been his absolute
fearlessness. During all the years he has been dealing with law
breakers, some of them the most desperate and reckless criminals of
the country, never once has there been a time when he gave the
slightest Inclination that he thought of danger to himself or paused
to consider whether or not he should take the risk that presented
Another trait which he, has always exhibited has been good Judg
ment and tact, which, combined with his courage, has made him the
efficient officer he has been.
These two characteristics have made him respected and to this
there has been added the further fact of his fund of Irish humor and
unfailing good nature which has made him loved of all who know
Mr. Whelan has been brave, sometimes to the point of seeming
foolbardiness. He would go into places where many another man
would well hesitate. Many years ago Pat Horrlgan was county
Jailer. "Big" Frank Jones had been arrested on a charge of bur
glary and was also known to be one of the most desperata house
breakers and ' stick-up" men in the country. Taking advantage of
ftJine moment of carelessness, Jones knocked Horrlgan down and
"escaped. A hurry call was sent to the police station for help in cap
turing him and Whelan and Dempsey were sent out. They traced
Jones to a house belonging to a hack driver named Parker, located
in what is now the wholesale section of the city. The house was
searched without success, when It occurred to Whelan to go through
the garret. This had no window ard was absolutely dark. It was
before the day of the electric flash light, which has done sortnuch to
aid the officers In Just such cases, and all Whelan could depend o
for light was the matches he had in his pockets.
Added to this handicap was the further fact that In the struggle
at ihe Jail Horrlgan had lost his revolver, and It was thought that
j ohm naa secured possession oi it and had It on his person. Here
was a situation which might well give pause to the bravest man, for
the advantage was all on the side of the crook who was crouched in
a corner of the garret and who could see and hear the officer before
the latter could possibly locate him. But none of these things
moved Whelan. If the man was there he was going to get him. He
climbed through a little opening and into the dark garret and com
menced the search for Jones. Fortunately for Whelan, Jones did
not have the revolver, else the officer might never have lived to enjoy
the well earned retirement which is now his, but he did not know
this then, although he did know that Jonea would not hesitate to kill
If It would aid his escape.
By the light of a flickering match he found Jones In a corner of
the dark, hot, stuffy garret and he mfcde a Jump for him. The gar
ret bad no floor, there being only the timbers which supported the
lath and plaster ceiling of the room below. The men clinched and
fought and rolled over until they broke through the celling and both
fell, still clinched and fighting, Into the room below, where Sergeant
Dempsey Joined in the fray and Jones was quickly subdued and led
back to Jail. He was afterward tried and was sentenced to fifteen
years in the penitentiary.
This affair with Jones was but an incident in the day's work with
Whelan. Such things happened many times, and the old-timers
Veteran Omaha Policemen Now on Pension
SERGEANT MICHAEL WHELAN.
. - y J
PATROLMAN D. J. RTAN.
around the police station, such men as Captain Mostyn, Lieutenant
Hayes, Desk Sergeants Havey and Marshall and others, can tell
dozens of similar occurrences in Whelan's career.
Sometimes Whelan would take risks which seemed unnecessary.
In the days following the Haymarket riots and bomb-throwing epi
sodes by the anarchists of Chicago Omaha underwent a similar scare,
although it missed the bloody events which have made such a mark
in Chicago history. The outburst of public sentiment there forced
the anarchists to give Chicsgo a wide berth and they scattered over
the country and it was believed that some of them were in Omaha.
Then there came a bomb-throwing scare. Section of gas pipe, with
the ends plugged, were found by the police and on one occasion a
number of small, cartridge-shaped explosives were found, la the
The custom was to throw such things in the river as soon as pos
sible, but these small and apparently harmless bite of metal aroused
Whelan's curiosity. Against the advice of those around the station,
which was then located at Fourteenth and Davenport streets, he took
one of them to the barn for a little investigation. His plan of mak
ing the investigation was to secure a hammer and strike the alleged
bomb a hard blow. An explosion which was heard for blocks fol
lowed. The hammer was blown from Whelan's hand and through
a window. The patroi horses broke their halters and ran panic
stricken from their stalls. The officers In the station came running
expecting to pick up a mangled body, but as the smoke cleared away
Whelan stood smiling without a scratch. He had found out what
the cartridge would do and he was satisfied.
Many of the stories told of Whelan have a humorous turn, for he
dearly loved a practical Joke, and in addition had the rare faculty
of enjoying one even when it was played at his own expense.
Patsy Havey, now desk sergeant, out formerly much with
Whelan in outside work, has a fund of stories of humorous Incidents,
Jokes played by Whelnn and on Whelan, and when so minded he can
spin these yarns by the hour. Havey and Sergeant Sigwart share
the enviable distinction of being; the two arch contiplrators who get
the blame for any practical Jokes which happen while they are
around the station.
On one occasion, about twelve years ago, when the station was
located at Thirteenth and Jackson streets, somebody, and it was al
ways believed these two knew more than they ever told about it,
secured a strong electric battery which they placed In the basement
of the station. The office was surrounded' with a lattice work of
heavy wire similar to that used at present A wire was run through
the floor and the entire cage, with the Iron door, was heavily
charged with the current.
The trap was laid and the Jokers lay In wait for victims. Whelan
was the first man to come In. He walked around to tho door and
attempted to open It as usual. He got a shook which knocked blra
back and gave him a turn and a surprise which dazed hlra. He
thought someone had struck his arm with a club and the things be
aid to the men Inside were forcefu., if not elegant Have wm aw
(Continued on Page Four.).
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