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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 9, 1913)
The Omaha Sunday Bee
PAGES ONE TO TEN
PAGES ONE TO TEN
VOL. XLIl-NO. ;!4.
OMAHA, SlTNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 0, 1SH3.
SINGLE COPY FIV10 OENTS.
odeSt Woman Gives Her Life to the Needy and Helpless
. . - . . . MWl 1 'I.W'iTWa. '
,T MAY or may not be easy to bo at tho
head of a charity Institution when
such a headship pays a -regular salary,
but It is a safe conjecture that a per
son of very limited means who maps
out a policy embodying a life of serv
ice to tue needy and destitute for no consideration
whatever finds tho row not so pleasant as that of
tho paid head of a charity dispensary. Yet In
Omaha there is one woman, Mrs. G. V. Ahlquist,
2740 Meredith avenue, who for twenty-five years has
gone modestly and silently about tho city feeding
the hungry and clothing the naked. Never has the
hour been too lato or night too dark for this heroic
woman to make her way through the blindest alloys
of the. city when once sho heard of a sick human
being in need of a friend.
During the last ten years Mrs. Ahlquist has bad
a noble partner in this work. This is in the person
of Mrs. Rose Elliott) 2518 Decatur street. So well Is
this heroic woman known among tho needy of tho
city, that her telephone Is busy almost from morn
ing till night with the reporting of cases of desti
tution. Always she goes to her phone makes a
record of the case, just as though she had a largo
charitable institution from whose fund she could
draw. Yet she has no such fund. Often she starts
out to minister unto the sick and needy when she
has scarcely more than car fare to tako her to the
place. Yet always before she returns to her home,
she has provided temporarily for those in need.
Scattering the Loaves and Fishes
So it is with Mrs. Ahlquist. Both these noble,
women working with the "loaves and fishes" for
they hWe "fed the multitude" in tho last twenty
five years, yet they scarcely know whence came the
"I have two wealthy women'in the western part
of the city," said Mrs. Ahlquist. "who some times
help me when I am hard pressed to ralso a few
dollars to get the nocesBarles of life for a destitute
Mrs. Ahlquist has burled sixty inmates of the
county hospital whom she thus rescued from a
place in the potter's field west of tho Institution, or
from the! dissecting table of medical schools. Visit
ing tho sick, finding homes for babies, and burying
the dead, have been her occupation for twonty-fivo
; far?, not only In the county house, but throughout
the rntire city of Omaha and In South Omaha. S'.le
as found work for hundreds of men and women
hi these cities and has thus helped them to get on
their feet after they1 have been destitute.
Scarcely a Sunday In twenty-five years has Mrs.
Ahlquist failed to make her trip to tho County
hospital on the hill where she Is eagerly awaited
by dozens of patients who are cheered and strength-
Arriving at the hospital she goes from room to
room and ward to ward. Into the tuberculosis
ward sho walks regularly and foarlcsBly. Tho
sallow, wasted faces light up with momentary Joy
when she appears in the room, for sho has a word
of cheer and a lomon and other fruit for each nnd
every patient. Into the Insane ward sho strolls
nlso, meeting friends right and left. Many Inmates
embrace her as she enters, for she Is tho only friend
from the outside world that calls on them regularly,
Sho knows them all by their first names and never
falls to have a word of cheer for each. Little bits
of fruit or candy are always welcomed by tho In
mates, and the appreciation Is demonstrative.
There is one little invalid who with wide open
eyes watchos her door from Sunday morning uutil
the hour when Mrs. Ahlquist arrives. This is
"Little Lottie," 12 years old. It was Mrs. Ahlquist
who found her two years ago, neglected and friend
less at 1928 South Nineteenth street. It was Mrs.
Ahlquist who washed her, cared for her and got
her Into the county hospital, where she now enjoys
the comforts of a clean white bed, and daily atten
tion from trained nurses.
''Little Emma" is another patient littlestifferer
who recognizes in Mrs. Ahlquist the one ray of sun
shine (hat reaches her fronuthe world outsldo the
walls of the county hospital. ."Llttle Emma's" body
is wasted by the ravages of a hereditary disease,
and she can never hope to go into the broad world
to seek happiness. Her happiness consists of lying
in her little bed, and smiling at the kind faco of
Mrs. Ahlquist when that woman enters her room
and says pretty things to her.
Comfort for the Dying Destitute
Dozens of pntients at the county hospital have
died in the arms of Mrs. Ahlquist. Dozens, In
deserted parts of the city, lying destitute and dying
alone, have been ministered unto during their last
moments by thlB woman who never leaves when
death approaches a sick bed. DozenB of neglected
hovels has she cleaned up and scrubbed just in time
to make the death chamber a little more present
able while a destitute and abaudoncd patient died.
This silent charity worker has beon at the
graves of more than sixty poor that she has laid
to rest. She does not like to" have them placed In
the potter's field, so she makes application to have
the bodies turned over to ljer at the county hospi
tal. Then she has the task of' raising the money
to bury tho bodies. On certain occasions under
takers In the city who know of her great work have
contributed caskets for the burial. On otler oc
casions she has raised the money in various ways.
"I h.xrdly know how I ralse'the money some
times," says Mrs. Ahlquist, "but when the time
comes some how tho money is always forthcoming.
Through the kind help of tho county commissioners
and three wealthy women in the city I have always
been able to raise the funds to do this work. I have
spent $1,500 In streot car faros nlono visiting sick
and caring for the dying."
Friendless People Have Funeral Services
Mrs. Ahlqulst's funeral services are always
simple. When sho can secure a minister to go to
the undertaker's chapel where sho has a body she
does so. If for any reason the minister disappoints
her, as frequently happens, this patient woman
never wavers, but simply bows beside tho caskat.
asks the undertaker to do the same, nnd then
quietly and with duo dignity she repeats the Lord's
Prayer. Usually sho sings a hymn, and after that
the body Is taken to tho cemetery and laid to rent.
During tho present winter Mrs. Rose Elliott and
Mrs. Ahlquist have Inaugurated a llttlo sowing
circle of their own at tho home of Mrs. Elliott.
Every Thursday regularly these two women meet
hero and make quilts and comforters from tho
scraps of cloth that are given' to them throughout
tho week. They mako no effort to sell their
product, but immediately tako the now-made 'quilts
to some sick person or poor child who is sadly In
need of bedding.
Bedding and Coal in Most Demand
"We find more people who are in need of
bedding than any thing else," says Mrs. Elliott.
"Bedding and coul are always needed, for coal espe
cially costs so much." In tho home of Mrs. Elliott
letters from the poor are constantly piling up. They
appeal for coal, food, clothing and bedding, and
Mrs. Elliott sets herself to the task of supplying
those necessities Just us zealously as though Bho
wore drawing a large salary for caring for theao
people, and as though her Job depended upon
-Recently MJB.cBlUo.tt has takemlt upon herself
XbZXose Elliot L
to prtfvldo a home for young working glrlB, Into
her home sho haB taken a half dozen young work
ing girls of the city, giving them board and room,
and tho privilege of tho house for "a ridiculously low
"I thought it would bo better for them than the
influence of most of the rooming houses," she ex
plained, "and I expect tho girls to help mo all they
can with my work. If I can only pay tho grocery
bills and keep out of debt I am satisfied."
During tho cold woather of the present winter
Mrs. Ahlquist has put stoves Into sixteen homes
where heating stoves wer6 not before. Some of
theso stoves wore given to her by more fortunate
people who had discarded them for better ones,
others she had to buy with money raised In various
ways. She has clothed many men at tho poor houso
whoso clothing was in such shape that they were
ashamed to appear at church. They are able to t
tend church unabashed now,
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