Charles and Maggie in the 1890s

Following the marriage of Charles M. Daily and Maggie O. Bonewitz on November 18, 1891, they set up their household at 4801 Leavenworth in the developing area of West Side in Omaha, Nebraska.1  Their residence was about four blocks from Maggie’s parents, brothers and one of her sisters.  Maggie’s parents and brother Sidney lived at 4817 Pacific.2  Her brother Harman lived at 47th and Pacific with his wife Cornelia and his son.3  Her sister Carrie lived at 4824 Pacific with her husband Charles White and their two children.4  About two miles away, Maggie’s sister Emma was living at 1213 South 29th Street with her husband John Thompson and their three daughters.5


A section of an 1892 map of Omaha, Nebraska identifying the locations of the residences of the Daily, Bonewitz, White and Thompson families.6

Charles and Maggie were living in a city that had begun as a small frontier village in 1854.  In less than forty years, it would be called “the metropolis of Nebraska” and described as follows:

“Upon entering Omaha we find ourselves treading finely paved streets and surrounded by a busy throng of active, energetic people, substantial and elegant buildings on every side, stores filled with goods from every clime, and all the appliances of modern civilization, and can scarcely realize the fact that some are living here who remember when the buffalo, the deer and the wolf were hunted by the Indian over the hills, the bluffs and the prairies where this great city, occupying an area of 24 2/3 square miles …, now stands.  The streets are broad, cleanly, well lighted and many of them excellently paved with granite, Colorado sandstone, asphaltum, or cedar or cypress blocks, making fine drives and roadways.”7

Before their first wedding anniversary, Charles and Maggie became the parents of Gladys Melvina, who was born October 10, 1892.  Gladys was a seven month baby.8  By 1896, which was the year their second daughter Oranna Josephine was born, Charles and Maggie were living in a house that Charles had built.9  It was located at the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 46th Street, only 1 ½ blocks from Maggie’s parents’ home, and on the same street and very near to her brother Harman’s house.  The 1897 Omaha city directory explains that the houses in much of Omaha had been re-numbered that year,10 so from that point forward the Dailys’ house had the address:  1022 South 46th Street.  Maggie gave birth to a son on March 7, 1899, but the baby only lived two days and was buried in Evergreen Memorial Park.  Then a year later, Robert Lee was born on May 10, 1900.


Prior to his marriage, for a few years Charles Daily had been working for Maggie’s brother-in-law, Charles White, who had been running a coal and feed business.  Around 1891 White began working at a bakery,11 so Daily changed employers and in 1892 can be found working with West Omaha Coal & Ice Co.12  Although it is not known whether Daily had ownership in this company, he did have a significant role as evidenced by Daily’s name being printed in the company’s advertisement in the 1894 Omaha City Directory.  (See the ad below.)  Then in 1897, Daily was employed by Omaha Coal, Coke and Lime Company as a teamster.  At that time, a teamster was a “‘person who drives a team of horses’ (especially in hauling freight).”13

Advertisement in Omaha City Directory for 189414

There are a couple interesting things to note in the advertisement of West Omaha Coal and Ice Company.  One thing is: the location of the “Yard” is close to the location of Charles and Maggie’s first address (4801 Leavenworth would be one of the corners of 48th and Leavenworth).  Another interesting thing is that this business has telephone numbers.  The introduction of the telephone in Omaha and its dissemination within the city was quiet and slow.  It had begun about 15 years earlier, shortly before Maggie’s family moved to Omaha.

“… Louis H. Korty, an Omaha railroad executive, had seen Bell’s exhibit at Philadelphia and became interested in its possibilities.  In the summer of 1877 he sent to Boston for a pair of the instruments.  He induced a fellow railroad man, J. J. Dickey, to cooperate with him and in November connected the telephones across the Missouri River to establish connection from his office at Omaha to the Union Pacific Transfer at Council Bluffs.

“Messrs. Korty and Dickey then formed a partnership, acquiring license rights from the Bell Company at Boston for a portion of Iowa and all of Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.  For a year they were content to lease their telephones in pairs to provide private lines without interconnection to customers in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska.  In the spring of 1879 they admitted S. H. H. Clark, then president of the Union Pacific, into partnership and organized the Omaha telephone exchange.  This was brought into service in July 1879 ….”15

During the year before the telephone exchange was organized (1878), Korty and Dickey, running their business as Omaha Electric Company, had enlisted 150 telephone subscribers.16  These were two-party lines which did not connect to other subscribers.  When the telephone exchange was formed, which was named Nebraska Telephone Company, it had two operators, and the first telephone directory was issued.17  Soon afterward the telephone company “reported it had 323 subscribers that were interconnected by 160 miles of telephone wires.”18

The first mention of telephones in an Omaha city directory was made in the 1883 edition: “Omaha is connected with all the principal cities in Nebraska by telephone, and with Council Bluffs, Iowa, by that marvelous invention, the telephone ….”19  This issue of the city directory has the first listing of Nebraska Telephone Company.  By 1887, there were 4,500 subscribers and a press release announced that it provided service to 70 fire and 40 police department “boxes.”20

Very little mention of the telephone service is given in the city directory until the 1892 edition, in which it was reported that the Nebraska Telephone Company was about to erect a three-story fireproof building that would be “adapted exclusively for telephone purposes, … fitted throughout with all the latest and most improved apparatus and appliances pertaining to the telephone business.”21  The 1894 edition announced the following:

“The Nebraska Telephone Co., has completed and now occupies its fine new fire-proof exchange building, at the corner of South Eighteenth and Douglas streets, and is operating its system mostly through underground wires, thus relieving the city from much that was dangerous as well as inconvenient and unsightly.

“The adoption of the underground system caused the laying of 1,500 miles of copper wire in 40,000 feet of 100 pair cables.  The improvements cost about $180,000 and bring the company’s operations up to the highest state of efficiency, by the adoption of the latest improvements and inventions.”22


On April 30, 1897, Charles wrote a letter to his father, Joseph S. Daily, who lived in Fredericksburg, Indiana.  This is known because Joseph makes note of this fact in a letter dated May 13, 1897 which he sent to his son Charles.  It is unlikely that Charles’ letter still exists, but Joseph’s letter is in possession of one of his great-grandsons.  At the time that Joseph wrote the letter, he was afflicted with catarrh.  Currently, the word catarrh isn’t used much in the United States, but the condition is as common as ever (catarrh is the build-up of mucus in the nasal passages and in the throat.)23

Charles may have sent his father a copy of The American, which was a weekly newspaper edited by John C. Thompson, the husband of Maggie’s sister, Emma.  John was a printer, and having opened his own shop about six years earlier,24 he started printing a newspaper as an organ of a secret society called the American Protective Association.25  Joseph declined Charles’ offer of having the newspaper sent to him, saying he didn’t have time to read it.  The text of Joseph’s letter follows:

“C. M. Daily

“Dear Son.

“Yours of April 30th 1897, at hand.  I have not seen or heard of your expose in 98.  altho it may have been in some of the Papers I read as I pay no attention to such matters.  As to the Amrican News-Paper, you nead not send it as I have not time to read so many Papers.

“My healh is bad and has been so for a year.  I have Cattarh in my nose which if I could get rid off I believe I would be well.  I am doctoring for to cure the Cattarh all the time, I cannot sleep well of Nights.

“We are having Plenty of rain, and the farmers are getting along well with their Planting.

“Your affectionate Pa

“Joseph Daily”

Letter written by Joseph Daily to his son Charles Daily, dated May 13, 1897

Joseph mentioned that he had not heard of “your expose in 98.”  He was referring to the Trans-Mississippi Exposition that would be held the next year in Omaha from June 1 until October 31, 1898.  The purpose of the exposition was “to showcase the economic, cultural and artistic achievements of the individuals who lived in this region.  All of the buildings, which housed over 5000 exhibits, were built as temporary structures.  A monument to the exposition is in Omaha’s Kountze Park, the former site of the exposition.”26  This exposition is the largest event Omaha has ever hosted.27

“William Jennings Bryan brought the idea of a multistate agricultural fair to Omaha leaders after he attended the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  From this, plans were developed for Omaha to be the site of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition five years later.

“… The cornerstone for the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition and Indian Congress was laid in April [1897] and the project got underway a week later.  Thomas Kimball, chief architect for the Trans-Miss Exposition, supervised the design of classical buildings around a central lagoon, which became the “Grand Court” and centerpiece for hundreds of activities.  The Trans-Miss was located on 184 acres of land in North Omaha donated by the Kountze family.”28

Joseph, still suffering from catarrh, wrote another letter to Charles, dated March 9, 1899.  He noted that Charles had written a letter to him, dated on the sixth.  At the end of the letter, Joseph mentions that he previously wrote a family history and sent it to Charles.  It is not known at this time if that original document still exists, but it may be the basis of the History of the Daily’s, which is the research work of Charles’ daughter, Iona Daily Zick, and has been distributed among Joseph and Charles’ descendants.  The text of Joseph’s letter reads:

“Dear Son Charles M.

“I received your letter of 6 inst. today.  We are all well at this writing, I say we are all well – there is but me and Mattie my wife here in Washington county.  I am afflicted with Lingrip Catarrh and have been so afflicted for [the last] 3 or 4 years and am in the habit of saying we are all well that means my wife is well.  I think maby when it gets warm I will get better  It has moderated to day and I feel better.  We have had a long cold winter and this for March so far has been like January.

“The only excuse I will make for writing this letter with a pencil instead of pen and ink is I am sitting at my writing desk with pencil, and would have to get up to ink and pen ….  It is a task for me to write any way since I have been sick.

“you ask me about Mattie’s Picture  I think I sent you her Picture with my own several years ago when I give you a history of your Ancestors – your grandfathers and great grandfathers.

“I am weak and exhausted so I will have to quit.

“Your affectionate Pa Pa

“Joseph Daily”

Letter written by Joseph Daily to his son Charles Daily, dated March 9, 1899

Notes:

  1. Omaha City Directory Including South Omaha for 1893 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1893): 247.
  2. Omaha City Directory Including South Omaha for 1893: 152.
  3. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1891 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1891): 103.
  4. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1892): 686.
  5. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 644.
  6. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: front.
  7. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1890 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1890).
  8. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview by R. Thiele, recording (ca. 1984): 19.
  9. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 4.
  10. McAvoy’s Omaha City Directory for 1897 (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Directory Company, 1897): 11.
  11. This statement is based on the fact that the 1892 Omaha city directory has an entry for C. P. White which indicates his workplace is a bakery; Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 686.
  12. Omaha City Directory Including South Omaha for 1892: 169.
  13. Online Etymology Dictionary, “Teamster,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/teamster.
  14. Omaha City Directory for 1894 (Omaha, Nebraska: The J. M. Wolfe Directory Co., Publishers, 1894): 813.
  15. The Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company, The History of L T & T (The Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company: Lincoln, Nebraska, 1955): 3, http://bellsystempractices.org/Miscellaneous/the_history_of_lincoln_telephone_and_telegraph_-_1955-small.pdf.
  16. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha” (Lincoln, Nebraska: Lincoln Journal Star, Jan 24, 2015): https://journalstar.com/news/local/jim-mckee-the-telephone-comes-to-omaha/article_5b1f1678-bada-5b27-8220-f08fc40e99a2.html.
  17. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  18. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  19. J. M. Wolfe, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1883-84 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping Establishment, 1883): 19.
  20. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  21. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 9-10.
  22. Omaha City Directory for 1894: 10.
  23. Jill Seladi-Schulman, Going with the Flow: Recognizing and Treating Catarrh (Postnasal Drip) (Healthline Media, September 28, 2020): https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/catarrh#definition.
  24. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 644.
  25. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The American, http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/2017270212/.
  26. Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska, 1898, http://www.historicomaha.com/transmis.htm#:~:text=The%20Trans-Mississippi%20Exposition%2C%20held%20in%20Omaha%2C%20Nebraska%2C%20from,housed%20over%205000%20exhibits%2C%20were%20built%20as%20temporary.
  27. Liz Rea, History at a glance (Omaha, Nebraska: Douglas County Historical Society, 2007): 56, http://www.douglascohistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/History-at-a-Glance-9-2007.pdf.
  28. Liz Rea, History at a glance: 51, 54-55.