« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ing their trains three times a year from that point. She did the rough work, which was a great help, and in that way we had more time on our hands. Our piano was still boxed at the warehouse, and after much persuading and many pleadings we were allowed to have it, though it necessitated the removal of every piece of furniture in the warehouse. As it was a large, old-fashioned, square piano and occupied two-thirds of our room, it barely left space enough at one end to open and close the only window in the room. I can't tell whether I looked oftener at the notes or the window, as there was very frequently a dusky face flattened on the window pane, and there was no escape, as every one in the house was so darkened. All we could do was to lock every door and call out, “puck agee,' which meant ‘go away,' but they seemed to enjoy our fright and great discomfort, especially the squaws, with the little papooses strapped to their backs. One day a pane was broken, and I think the only glazier in the town was sent over to replace it. He came in barefooted, and entered into conversation with much interest, and as he was leaving he said: 'If you're going to the party to-night, I'd like to dance the first set with you.' I replied I had not yet made up my mind whether I would go or not, but sure enough, he was there. Of course I was engaged for every dance, so had not the pleasure of his society. A few days after we had another dance, given by Armstrong & Clarke in their new furniture warehouse that stood where the Dewey & Stone Company now is. It was a house-warming, and I remember I danced a 'hoe-down' with Governor Cuming, who dared me to do it. That night we took two of the girls home with us to stay all night. We were limited as to bed accommodation, and so had to occupy the floor and sleep under the piano. As I was the slimmer of the two, I had to sleep back of the pedals, and my friend in front. But for all the discomforts we slept soundly, and were ready for the evening. Knowing a boat was looked for, we were discussing what we should wear, when we heard the whistle. Oh, the cove-oyster soup, steamboat sandwiches (much like railroad 'tid-bits of the same name), and the canned peaches, were a supper for the gods, to say nothing of the goddesses!
“Our house, which was prepared in St. Louis, and still stands at Capitol avenue and 17th street, was finished, and we moved in, thinking and feeling as if we were in another place, with such palatial surroundings. Father had a high board fence around three sides of the place, so it was called "The Fort.' Such good times we have never had before or since. Three daughters were married in the old house, and I recall many lovely morning walks there while it was building, and the beautiful wild flowers picked on the grounds.
‘God bless us every one,' says Tiny Tim, 'and may we live long and prosper,' we and our families.”
Mrs. Geo. L. Miller was one of the band of cultured young women who, with their husbands, cast their lot in a new country, and lived to see the land of the Mahas become Omaha, the only city of its name on the continent. Mrs. Miller has passed through all the vicissitudes of life in a new land from the little house on the open prairie to the great stone castle which will be her home for the remainder of her life, probably, and she has many a pleasant reminiscence of those passing years.
Mrs. Joseph W. Paddock came in 1854, and she, too, has been identified with all the years of Omaha's growth.
Mrs. Jno. M. Thayer was another of the pioneer women in this new territory and state, where she lived to share with her husband the responsibilities and dignities of his career as a general, a governor, and a United States senator.
Mrs. A. J. Hanscom was among the first women to occupy a home of her own in the new land. She came with her husband from Detroit to Council Bluffs in 1849, and in 1854 they built a home on their pre-emption claim near where Fort Omaha formerly was.
At a very early day Miss Sears came with her family to Council Bluffs, where she met the young attorney, Mr. Andrew J. Poppleton, and in 1855 they were married and went to housekeeping in a few rooms in the brick building on the site where the United States National Bank now stands. They at once proceeded to the building of a home of their own on the block at Fifteenth and Capital avenue, where they resided until the encroachments of business necessitated the removal to a site further northward, where a lovely home was built that will be doubtless for Mrs. Poppleton, as it has been for Mr. Poppleton, her last earthly abode. But she yet reverts with pleasure to their first home and the enjoyment of planting the trees and vines which for years adorned it,
Mrs. George Mills and her daughter Maggie, who afterwards became Mrs. Dick McCormick, were among those who came in 1855.
Mrs. Alf. D. Jones came with her husband to Omaha in 1854, and endured the hardships as she also enjoyed the pleasures of those early days. Mr. and Mrs. Jones are still residents of Omaha, and upon the walls of their luxurious home is a picture of the first log cabin erected by Mr. Jones at a place called Park Idlewild, not far from the present home of Mr. Herman Kountze. Mrs. Jones was the first of the gentler sex to visit the first session of the territorial legislature, held in Omaha. She had arranged to go with Mrs. Thayer, who was detained by callers. Her presence called forth from Dr. Bradford, a member from Nebraska City, the following lines which he indited on the spot and presented to her:
“Though man is called creation's lord,
And proudly steps in lofty style,
Till cheered by lovely woman's smile.
With passions roused by fierce debate,
Smooths softly down those looks of hate.”
The first woman to settle permanently in Omaha was Mrs. Wm. P. Snowden, who came with her husband from Council Bluffs for the purpose of boarding the men who were burning the kiln of brick that went into the first buildings of the town. A house had been built on what is now Jackson and Twelfth streets by the Town and Ferry Company, and called the St. Nicholas, and this they occupied. Mrs. Snowden came to stay, as events proved, for she is still a resident of Omaha, and with her husband celebrated her golden wedding in this year 1897, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, most of whom were born and reared in Omaha.
Mrs. Elizabeth Reeves, later the wife of William S. Cannon, a merchant of Elkhorn, was the mother of the first child born in Omaha, William Nebraska Reeves, at present residing in Valley county, this state. The first girl born in Omaha was Margaret Ferry, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Ferry, and she first saw the light of day in a tent on the valley of a creek known then as "Paradise Lost,” about where Krug's brewery now stands. In the flight of years she has forsaken her birthplace for a home beyond the Rocky mountains.
Mrs. E. Reeves, Sen., was the first doctor in Omaha, and not only did successful professional work, but was most kind and benevolent to everyone needing it, and endured many hardships in aiding others.
Miss Adelaide Goodwill, now Mrs. Allen Root, was the first school teacher.
The first bride was Miss Caroline Mosier, who became Mrs. John Logan, and still resides in Omaha, a widow.
The first public speaker among women was Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, of Council Bluffs, who later become famous as the originator of the bloomer costume.
Among the very earliest settlers was Mrs. Wm. D. Brown, whose husband ran the first ferry between Council Bluffs and what is now Omaha, the land then being in the possession of the Indians. Mr. Brown made a claim to land which comprised: about what is now the entire site of Omaha in 1853, the greater portion of which he sold out to a ferry company.
He died in the sixties, but Mrs. Brown lived some time after him, and still has descendants who are residents of Nebraska, one daughter having married Mr. Alfred Sorenson, who compiled a most excellent history of the early days of Omaha. Another daughter, Miss Nellie Brown, became a writer of some note and left some beautiful poems that were pen pictures of her native state. Mrs. McKenzie is the only daughter of the family now resident in Nebraska, and tells many interesting reminiscences of the early days.
Mrs. Thomas Davis and Miss Davis, daughter of Mr. John Davis, who afterwards became Mrs. Hermann Kountze, were among the residents of those days, Miss Davis being among the few young ladies who were the centers of attraction to the many young bachelors who had come west to seek their fortunes.
The first woman to succumb to the hardships of the new land was Mrs. Collins, wife of Rev. Mr. Collins, the first Methodist minister to be stationed in Omaha.
It would have been a pleasant task, were life only long enough and not so full of other duties, to gather into this article the stories which these pioneers have to tell of those early days, to see the smiles and tears chase each other across their faces as the pleasures and pains of those most eventful days of their lives were recalled, but to others I must delegate the continuance of this pleasant duty, which I have only begun, hoping that future pages of the records of the State Historical Society will contain many a pleasant reminiscence of those women who helped to lay the foundations of the commonwealth of Nebraska.
Some of them, who came in their youth with glowing anticipations, to build a home in the new, strange land, have gone ahead, but they lived to see much of the growth of a country marvelous in its rapidity, and many are yet spared to watch still further its development and prosperity. As their century draws to its close may its rapidly hastening events foretell to their senses, sharpened by the wisdom of years, the greater future which is coming to this land they have helped to give to the generation succeeding.
This is woman's century, and thus do the women of 1855 send greeting to the women of almost 1900.