Reminiscences of Uncle Bob, Part Two

In the blogpost, Reminiscences of Uncle Bob, Part One, the focus was on the life of Charles and Maggie Daily while they lived on two farms 13 miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska.  Today’s post continues to reveal aspects of their life through the stories that their son Robert told during an interview when he was about 84 years-old.

Robert related that in January of 1908, when he was seven years-old, his family moved from the farm back to the house in Omaha where they had lived prior to 1901.1  Robert’s cousin Bill Bailey, who had been living with them on the farm since about 19052, had returned to Floyd County, Indiana.  Bill’s 18 year-old brother Alpha (Joseph A. Bailey) came to live with the Dailys in Omaha and Robert states, “Alpha was, well, I said brother, ‘cause he was with us for eight years.”3

In his interview, Robert tells about his father’s occupation at that time:

Interviewer:  Was he back into the coal and ice business then?

Uncle Bob:  Yeah, he, well, no.  I’ll take it back, take it back.  He went into the potato chip business.

Interviewer:  Now, that was something new to me that I just discovered recently.  What, he …

Uncle Bob:  That would ha’ been in the, in the year of 1908.

Interviewer:  Did he manage the potato chip factory?

Uncle Bob:  Yeah, it was just a home [business].  Well, he had one these here like the old-fashioned, uh, mail [or milk?] carrier wagons and one horse.

Interviewer:  Uh huh.

Uncle Bob:  I know, uh, my cousin was with us.  See, my cousin come to our place in 1908.

Interviewer:  And what cousin was that?

Uncle Bob:  That was Alpha, Alpha Bailey.

Interviewer:  Alpha Bailey.

Uncle Bob:  …I know Alpha worked in the, in the factory.  It was just a big vat, you know, and they had the potato slices.

Interviewer:  Well, you made ‘em?  It was a family operation, then?

Uncle Bob:  Yeah, well, Dad and …, even Ruth Thompson.  She was Ruth Thompson then. 

Interviewer:  Um hmm.  Um hmm.

Uncle Bob:  That was Mother’s sister’s girl.  She worked in there too.  That’s when she was just out of high school at the time.

Interviewer:  Well, that was something I had never heard of before, I didn’t know about this potato chip factory.

Uncle Bob:  Oh, Dad’d load up his wagon that way.  He had routes to go.  ‘Course he had help to make the chips, you know.

Interviewer:  Um hmm.  Um hmm.

Uncle Bob:  I remember Alpha workin’ in there, and stirring the potatoes in the big vat that way and, uh, get’n ’em ready for next day’s delivery.

Interviewer:  Sure, sure, delivering the next morning.

Uncle Bob:  Then when night’d come, why, he’d bring home, oh, anywhere from eight to ten sacks, and I’d peddle ‘em in the, around our, where we lived, see.

Interviewer:  Um hmm.  How much did a package of potato chips cost?

Uncle Bob:  Ten cents.

Interviewer:  Ten cents!  (Chuckling)

Uncle Bob:  And course, they was big ones, you see, they was half pounders.

Interviewer:  I’m sure they were.  Ohhh!  Now, how long did he do that?

Uncle Bob:  Well, that, I suppose …we was only in Omaha 15 months at that time, so it was in that there length of time, see.

Interviewer:  In about a year’s time.

Uncle Bob:  But Mother wanted to get back to the farm again, so Dad went lookin’ around again.  Then’s when we landed down in Kansas, see.4

The 1909 Omaha City directory has an entry for Charles which reads: “Daily Chas M, Potato Chip Factory 935 N 24th, r 1022 S 46th av.”5  The address of the Potato Chip Factory (935 N 24th) was the same address as Maggie’s brother-in-law’s residence and printing company (John C. Thompson & Son).6  Robert states: “…the potato chip factory was on the back end, back end of the building where Uncle John had his printing shop. … He had his printing press set type, y’know.  And you could see that, there was a big board with all the set type and he printed.”7  When asked, “Did you raise a lot of potatoes on the farm and that’s why you made potato chips?,” Robert responded, “No, no, that wadn’t it.  You don’t raise potatoes down there, anyway.  Whatever there was, they were just for eatin’.  I don’t know how he come to get into that, but he – little one-horse outfit, y’see.”8

Robert mentions that Ruth Thompson was just out of high school when she started working at the potato chip factory.  In the spring of 1908, Ruth was 14 years-old, a year younger than Robert’s eldest sister Gladys.  According to Robert, Gladys went to high school in Omaha while their family was still living on the farm.9  In the early 1900s, there were not very many options for education beyond grammar school in Omaha.  A perusal of the 1908 Omaha city directory reveals there were a few trade schools, such as barber, dressmaking or railway training; a few business schools; several Catholic or other religion-run schools; Creighton High School for young men; and Brownell Hall (a residential school).  One of the possibilities of where Gladys and Ruth could have attended was Omaha High School (a public school), located a few blocks from the Thompson home.  


The newly-built east section of Omaha High School, completed in 1902.10

“Omaha High School was located at 20th and Dodge Streets. In the late 1890s, the original brick building was deemed unsafe and unhealthy. Construction began on the replacement building in 1900. The east section was completed and in use by 1902. The south section was completed in 1905, and the west section was completed in 1910. The last section was completed in 1912. Parts of the original building were used until 1910. The old building was then removed, leaving an open courtyard at the center of the new building.”11


While the Daily family lived in Omaha, Charles rented a farm.  Robert told a story of an event that occurred at that farm:

Interviewer:  Mom used to tell the story about somebody that set the barn on fire.  Now, who was that?  And where?

Uncle Bob:  Well, oh, the barn we had, uh, burn, that was out in Grand Isle, Nebraska.  Y’see, when we lived in Omaha, my cousin was with us still.  And Dad rented a, out at Grand Isle, Nebraska, rented a quarter out there.  That was sweet corn country at that time, and raised a lot o’ sweet corn.  An’ the barn, ‘o course, was, uh, never knew how.  Cousin never smoked or anything like that.  An’ he got up an’ been out an’ got the horses ready an’ back in gettin’ breakfast. … They always figured that some, some, uh, let’s say tramp or man, slept in the barn that night.

Interviewer:  Oh, I thought maybe it was, I thought it was, uh, kids playing with matches.

Uncle Bob:  No, never knew just how it happened.

Interviewer:  I see.

Uncle Bob:  Alpha run out right away quick.  ‘Course, one horse broke, had broke loose.  The fire seemed to be in, right near, in front of the horses, something like that.  An’ o’ course, when he got right there, opened the barn door, the horse come out an’ knocked him down.  It could ha’ been, it could ha’ a been such a thing, that he would ha’, uh, wouldn’t ha’ been able to get out there.12


One of Charles and Maggie’s grandsons is the keeper of a trunk which holds many mementos of the Daily family.  One item is an invitation to the Commencement Exercises of Bassett High School in Bassett, Nebraska.  Maggie’s cousin’s (Viola J. Griffith) children were two of the nine graduates in the Class of 1908, graduating on May 28.  For a period of time during Maggie’s childhood, Viola and her brother William and their mother Malissa Griffith (nee Smith) lived in Maggie’s home in Iowa.13  Five years after their mother died in 1880,14 Viola married John G. Van Winkle in Keya Paha County, Nebraska, with William standing as a witness of the marriage.15  Viola’s children who graduated from Bassett High School 23 years later were Josie and Orlando Van Winkle whose ages (based on their ages in the 1900 U. S. census) were 20 and 17, respectively.16  Josie may have been named after Maggie’s mother Josephine Smith and Orlando may have been named after Maggie’s uncle Orlando Smith.  Bassett was about 230 miles from Omaha in north central Nebraska.

Josephine Van Winkle, estimated date about 1908

During this period when the Daily family lived in Omaha, there are a few additional things that can be noted.  Robert mentions that he and his sisters would often visit their grandmother’s sister Joannah (nee Smith) Gantz.  He said the Gantz family “lived just over the hill from us.  We’d stop at Aunt Joannah’s quite often.  They lived just a block from the church we went to for Sunday School when we was kids.”17  The church to which Robert is referring is probably South West Methodist Episcopal Church.  Robert also mentions that his father took a trip to visit his brother William who was living in Nevada, but Robert is unsure of the timing of the trip, saying: “Dad’d been out there while we lived in Omaha the first time.  He’d been out there, went out there a few months.  I don’t know where Dad got all his time, but that’s, that’s when he had the potato chip factory.  Whether he didn’t have it very long or not, why.  I remember it so well, bringing potato chips home and I’d deliver ‘em, some around the neighborhood. … Yeah, he done that back in, sometime in 1908.  Maybe, maybe he’d been out before that.  See, it could ha’ been.  I don’t know when it was.”18  And lastly, Maggie’s sister Emma passed away in November 1908.  An announcement in the Omaha Daily Bee stated: “The body of Mrs. Emma Thomson [sp.], wife of J. C. Thomson [sp.], an Omaha printer, will arrive in Omaha, Wednesday and fureral services are to be held, Thursday.  Mrs. Thomson died at Loveland, Colo., from which place the body is being brought. The Thomsons live at 935 north Twenty-fourth street, Omaha.  Mrs. Thomson was 43 years old.”19

Uncle Bob’s reminiscences to be continued in part three.


1 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview by R. Thiele, recording (ca. 1984): 4.

2 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 19.

3 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 11.

4 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 4-6.

5 Omaha Directory Company, Omaha City Directory 1909 (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Directory Company, 1909): 291.

6 Omaha Directory Company, Omaha City Directory 1909 (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Directory Company, 1909): 1133 & 1384.

7 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 19.

8 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 19.

9 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 9.

10 Nebraska Memories, “Omaha High School’s new east wing and original building,” http://memories.nebraska.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/ops/id/4/rec/14.

11 Nebraska Memories, “Omaha High School’s new east wing and original building,” http://memories.nebraska.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/ops/id/4/rec/14.

12 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 10-11.

13 “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6W2S-T6C?cc=1438024&wc=KKTP-FM9%3A518655701%2C518688401%2C519561701 : 11 June 2019), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield, ward 3 > image 6 of 14; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

14 Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 07 March 2021), memorial page for Melissa Smith Parsons (23 Apr 1843–14 Nov 1880), Find a Grave Memorial no. 43065696, citing Bethesda Cemetery, Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa, USA.

15 “Nebraska Marriages, 1855-1995,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2ZP-D7Y9 : 28 November 2018), John Graber Van Winkle and Viola Griffith, 24 Dec 1886; citing Marriage, Springview, Keya Paha, Nebraska, United States, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln; FHL microfilm 2,078,763.

16 “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-68N9-4VJ?cc=1325221&wc=9B7H-CXX%3A1030896901%2C1032582501%2C1032587901 : 5 August 2014), Nebraska > Keya Paha > ED 140 Keya Paha, Pine, Mills & Simpson Precincts > image 27 of 29; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

17 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 20.

18 M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 14.

19 “Mrs. Emma Thompson,” Omaha Daily Bee (November 5, 1908): 2, https://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/sn99021999/1908-11-05/ed-1/seq-2.pdf.

Reminiscences of Uncle Bob, Part One

In 2010 and 2017, I went to the Douglas County Historical Society (Nebraska) to search for records of the families of John and Josephine Bonewitz and Charles and Maggie Daily.  I found several birth and marriage records, but one record that was most important to me was not found, the birth record of my grandmother, Elizabeth (nee Daily) Bevers.  Of the seven children of Charles and Maggie, four births are recorded in Douglas County: Gladys, Oranna, an un-named baby boy and Lillian Iona.  Robert and Elizabeth’s records aren’t in the Douglas County birth register and their last child Joseph was born in Kansas. 

Nine months ago, a Daily descendant gave me an audio file which provides a clue as to why Elizabeth’s birth record can’t be found in the Douglas County birth register.  The audio file is a 100-minute recording of an interview given by Robert Lee Daily, Charles and Maggie’s son, when he was about 84 years old.  Robert relates, “… I was born in Omaha and only in Omaha for one year, and then we moved out on the farm, 13 miles out, … and lived out there seven years.  …we went out there and we stayed there ‘til 19-, well it’d ‘ve to been, ah, I think we left the farm in the spring of 1908, in January of 1908.”1  Elizabeth would have been born when the Daily family was living on a farm west of Omaha.

When the 1900 United States census was taken in Ward 7 on the west side of Omaha, Robert was three weeks old, having been born on May 10, 1900.2  The census, dated June 1, records that Charles and Maggie’s family was living at 1022 South 46th Avenue in a home that they owned, without a mortgage.  Charles was 43 years-old and working as a teamster (driving freight).  Maggie was 32 years-old.  They had been married eight years.  Their daughter Gladys was seven years-old and had attended school for 9 months, and their daughter Oranna was four years-old.

The census taker that visited the Dailys also visited a few of Maggie’s relations:

Maggie’s parents John and Josephine Bonewitz, along with their son Sidney and a cousin Sidney Smith and their nephew and niece Barry and Nellie May Howlara [sp. ?], lived one and a half blocks away from the Dailys.3

Harman Bonewitz (Maggie’s brother) with his wife Cornelia and son Rosco lived on the same street as the Dailys, two houses away.4

Judson and Anna Higley (Harman Bonewitz’ parents-in-law) lived one block away.5

John and Joannah Gantz (Maggie’s mother’s sister and her husband) with their children Anna, Adda and Harman lived about eight blocks away.6

The 1900 Omaha city directory has an entry for Charles in the classified business directory.  Under the heading “Feed, Hay and Grain. (Retail.),” the entry reads: “Dailey C. M. 3901 Leavenworth.”7  One of Charles’ business cards having this same address has survived and its image has been provided to me by one of Charles’ great grandsons.

A business card of Charles Monroe Daily, most likely dated about 1900.

In the interview that Robert gave, he related some information and a few stories about his family’s stint of farming west of Omaha: “… it was two different places.  … for one year, one place and then the rest of the time up ‘til I, uh, well, just before I was eight years old, see.”8  He stated that for a couple of years, one of Robert’s cousins, Bill Bailey, worked on the farm with them.9  Bill was the son of Charles’ sister Cynthia.  The Bailey family lived in Franklin Township, Floyd County, Indiana when the 1900 U. S. census was taken.10  At that time, Bill Bailey was 15 years old and he was not attending school.  It’s not known which years Bill worked at the Daily farm, but he would have been between 16 and 23 years-old.  One of Robert’s stories about the farm follows:

Interviewer:  How big a farm did you have?  You say, you went to the farm.

Uncle Bob:  Quarter, quarter section.  Well, since the second one.  We didn’t farm too much.  The first one was a quarter.

Interviewer:  Outside of Omaha.

Uncle Bob:  No, that was, oh, in Omaha, that was a quarter, yeah.  At the most it’d ha’ been a quarter.  Yeah, I can remember.  I can remember, like I said, uh, I went down, we went down after the cows.  Alfalfa is a very poisonous thing when the, when there’s dew on the ground.  And I know, going down to the pasture and o’ course that’s when I was pretty small.  We all went down there.  See, the bull had got over in the alfalfa field and a cow got over there and o’ course they were swelled up so big, from bloat.

Interviewer:  Um hmm, um hmm.

Uncle Bob:  And they were dead, at that time.  That’s one thing we had to fight so hard.  From that time on, since little, I knew alfalfa was dangerous, see.

Interviewer:  Um hmm, they overate.  Uh huh.

Uncle Bob:  They don’t eat very much.  If you fill a cow up, if it’d filled up first, then they can eat alfalfa on top of it.   But if they get nothing but alfalfa, it turns to gas and just, I lost cattle ….11

Robert identified the location of the farm: “…West Dodge, is what we called it.  It was out 13 miles.  That place used to be about, well I guess, pretty near right where the, ah, where the Flanigan’s Home is.”12  Flanagan’s Home was not in existence when the Dailys lived in that area.  It wasn’t until about 13 years after the Dailys left that farm that Father Flanagan acquired a farm for his ministry of caring for boys.

“In 1917, a young Irish priest named Father Edward J. Flanagan grew discouraged in his work with homeless men in Omaha, Nebraska.  In December of that year, he shifted his attention and borrowed $90 to pay the rent on a boarding house that became Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys.  Flanagan welcomed all boys, regardless of their race or religion.  By the next spring, 100 boys were living at the home.”

“In 1921, Father Flanagan purchased Overlook Farm on the outskirts of Omaha and moved his Boys’ home there.  In time, the Home became known as the Village of Boys Town.  By the 1930s, hundreds of boys lived at the Village, which grew to include a school, dormitories and administration buildings.  The boys elected their own government, including a mayor, council and commissioners.  In 1936, the community became an official village in the state of Nebraska.”13

One of the stories that Robert tells is about how he lost his toddler curls:

Interviewer:  Oh, that’s right, you used to have lot of curls!

Uncle Bob:  Yeah, oh, curly head when I was, up until I was, I’d say somewhere around four years-old or older.  That’s when I got, just had to cut the hair off of it.  Dad had a bumble bees’ nest underneath the salt trough out in the yard, out in the barnyard.  And o’ course, Dad was gonna get, get those bumble bees.  Course, I had to be on the job to see it done. (chuckle)  And uh, he’d take a jug of water out there, you know, and set up a trough.  An’ bump the trough and ‘course when they’d come out, why they uh, buzz around that jug.  Course … like that when they could pass over that … edge, just one right after the other they’d go right down that jug, see.

Interviewer:  Ohhh!

Uncle Bob:  But I had to be so close that way an’ they’d come too close an’ I went to fight them.  And then they’d come on to me.

Interviewer:  Uh huh.

Uncle Bob:  An’ got tangled up in my hair an’ I got belted!

Interviewer:  And that’s when you decided the curls had to go.

Uncle Bob:  (chuckling)  Well, that’s when Mother decided.

Interviewer:  (Laughter)  Ahhh.

Uncle Bob:  You’ve probably seen my picture when I, when I was a girl, didn’t you?  When I had curls.

Interviewer:  Um hmm, um hmm.  Yes, I have seen pictures of that.

Uncle Bob:  That’s when I had, I had curls, that way, my head was full of curls.  Yep.14

Robert truly did have a head full of curls.  A portrait of Charles and Maggie’s children attests to this fact.  On June 10, 1903, the Daily children posed for the portrait.  This was about six months after Maggie had given birth to their third daughter, Iona, who was born on November 20, 1902.  The ages of the children are written on the back of the portrait.

Oranna (7 years, 2 months old), standing on left
Robert (3 years, 1 month old), sitting on left
Gladys (10 years, 8 months old), sitting on right and holding Iona (6 ½ months old)

In his interview, Robert mentions that there are two trunks that hold documents and mementos of the Daily family.  One of the trunks is in possession of one of Charles and Maggie’s grandsons. 

A trunk which holds many historical documents and mementos of Charles and Maggie Daily and their children.

One of the mementos in the trunk is Robert’s locks which Robert says were kept in a Cascarets box.15  Cascarets Candy Cathartic was created by the Sterling Remedy Company in 1894 and it included the ingredient cascara, a potent remedy prescribed, as early as 1877, for constipation and other intestinal illnesses.16  A Cascarets box was a rectangular tin box nearly the size of a pocket watch, so it fit easily in a vest pocket.  The box held six brown lozenges, which had a taste comparable to chocolate.

Cascarets advertisement from the Omaha Daily Bee, April 14, 190117

Another memento in the trunk is the wedding invitation of Maggie’s cousin Anna Belle Gantz (the daughter of Maggie’s aunt Joannah Gantz).  Anna Belle married Warren A. Rider, whose family lived in Fairfield, Iowa when Maggie’s family and her aunt Joannah’s family lived there in 1880.18  The marriage ceremony was on Thursday, September 8, 1904 at South West Methodist Episcopal Church in Omaha.  The church was only two blocks from the home of John and Joannah Gantz.

Two family events occurred in early 1905.  Maggie gave birth to their fourth daughter, Elizabeth, on February 26.  Within two weeks, Charles’ father Joseph S. Daily passed away, on March 4 in Fredericksburg, Indiana.  Joseph had commented to Charles about his poor health in letters written in the late 1890s.

Robert relates that when Elizabeth was one year old, Maggie became sick and was nursed back to health by her sister Emma (nee Bonewitz) Thompson:

Uncle Bob: … Y’ see, their mother Emma, she was a, she had to make the living all the time an’ she was a nurse.  Couldn’t take care of the family, like that.  She was the one that pulled Mother through when Elizabeth was a baby.  Mother had double pneumonia at that time, see.

Interviewer:  Ohh, uh huh.

Uncle Bob:  And Elizabeth was just a year old.  And uh, she pulled through the crisis …

Interviewer:  With the pneumonia.

Uncle Bob:  Course, Emma came to our place and stayed with Mother.

Interviewer:  Oh, uh huh.

Uncle Bob:  Stayed right with her all the time, ‘til she pulled her through.  That’s the reason Mother was always, had to be careful, ‘cause her lungs were a little weak.19

An additional item that is in the previously-mentioned trunk is a letter addressed to Mrs. C. M. Daily.  The envelope was postmarked August 13, 1907 in North Manchester, Indiana.  It cost two cents to mail and it was addressed to R #1 Box 71, Benson, Nebraska.  The Benson Post Office was about four miles to the northwest of downtown Omaha20 and it was about nine miles from the location that Robert identified as the location of the farm where the Dailys lived.

A letter addressed to Maggie postmarked August 13, 1907

In 1907 Benson was a small town which had begun to be developed 20 years earlier.  A streetcar line ran from the business district of Omaha to Benson.21

“Some people were in the town founding business just to make money.  One of the earliest in Omaha was Erastus Benson and his partner Clifton Mayne.  Together, they speculated by buying a chunk of land from one of the Creighton brothers, platting lots and opening businesses, and flipping their land for jacked up prices.  It worked!”

“Benson Place was a village founded in 1887 by a land speculator named Erastus A. Benson.  He was a banker and land speculator who ran a streetcar line all the way to his village northwest of Omaha.  Soon after renamed simply as Benson, the area grew in leaps and bounds after 1900 by attracting residents with good land values and exclusive properties.”22

The letter that Maggie received was from her paternal grandfather’s second wife, Amelia Mary Bonewitz.  Maggie’s paternal grandfather was John Adam Bonewitz.  His first wife Mary Margaret Rider died in 1859, eight years before Maggie was born.  A year later, John married a widow named Amelia Mary (nee Hower) Noftzger.  At the time of writing the letter to Maggie, Amelia was about ninety years old and she was suffering from dropsy which refers to “swelling caused by fluid retention” (now called edema) and it usually occurs in the feet, ankles and legs.23  The text of Amelia’s letter follows:

1

North Manchester August 13th 1907

My dear faraway Granddaughter

I will try to pencil a few lines to you in my weakness not fit to write as I am very poorly havent been able to get out of my chair without help since February 8th had been very near deaths door sick all this year feeling a little relieved of a hard cough lasting several months my great trouble now is dropsy from that I find no relief an as have been trying for several weeks to sew a little to help time to pass more easily as I cant read as much as I would like on account of severe head trouble am on my sewing which is poorly done I made a little block for you

2

the centre pieces are of some you sent me some years ago the other pieces my Granddaughter sent from California if I had goods to fill the block then I would work the seams but will send it as it is hope it will reach you in due time but will need pressing on the wrong side as it may be pretty messy [?] my children are all in usual health as far as I know would write more but dea child I am in so much pain I must stop had a hard night of suffering I often do havent heard from any of your folks since the wedding time fear they are ill some of them

3

please excuse this scribbled rambling letter now may God bless you and all yours is the prayer of your

Grandmother

                A M Bonewitz

P S I mad the block week before last waited to feel better before writing but am worse so will do this before I go away which may be any day now with much love I will say good bye for the present   A M B

Uncle Bob’s reminiscences to be continued in part two.

Notes:

  1. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview by R. Thiele, recording (ca. 1984): 4.
  2. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DHWQ-CT6?cc=1325221&wc=9B7F-6T5%3A1030896901%2C1030788401%2C1031517601 : 5 August 2014), Nebraska > Douglas > ED 75 Precinct 3 Omaha city Ward 7 > image 17 of 37; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  3. “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch, Nebraska > Douglas > ED 75 Precinct 3 Omaha city Ward 7 > image 16 of 37.
  4. “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch, Nebraska > Douglas > ED 75 Precinct 3 Omaha city Ward 7 > image 17 of 37.
  5. “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch, Nebraska > Douglas > ED 75 Precinct 3 Omaha city Ward 7 > image 17-18 of 37.
  6. “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch, Nebraska > Douglas > ED 75 Precinct 3 Omaha city Ward 7 > image 25 of 37.
  7. McAvoy’s Omaha City Directory for 1900 (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Directory Company, 1900): 867.
  8. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 4.
  9. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 12.
  10. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6WNQ-44?cc=1325221&wc=9BWQ-ZJ8%3A1030552501%2C1031971001%2C1032575501 : 5 August 2014), Indiana > Floyd > ED 52 Franklin Township > image 5 of 15; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  11. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 22.
  12. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 11-12.
  13. “Boys Town History,” https://www.boystown.org/about/our-history/Pages/default.aspx.
  14. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 12.
  15. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 12.
  16. Samira Kawash, “Cascarets Candy Cathartic,” March 15, 2010, https://candyprofessor.com/2010/03/15/cascarets-candy-cathartic/.
  17. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska, April 14, 1901): 7, https://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/sn99021999/1901-04-14/ed-1/seq-7/.
  18. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYV-9GKJ?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-4WL%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396321 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 80 > image 16 of 23; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  19. M.R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 17.
  20. 1892 Omaha City Directory: front map.
  21. 1892 Omaha City Directory: front map.
  22. Adam F. C. Fletcher, https://northomahahistory.com/2017/03/30/the-lost-towns-in-north-omaha/.
  23. David Heitz, What You Should Know About Edema (Healthline Media, September 19, 2019): https://www.healthline.com/health/edema.

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.)  According to Maggie’s son Robert, Maggie worked as a bookkeeper for this same business.13 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).”14

Advertisement in Omaha City Directory for 189415

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 ….”16

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.17  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.”19

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 ….”20  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.”21

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.”22  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.”23


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.)24

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,25 he started printing a newspaper as an organ of a secret society called the American Protective Association.26  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.”27  This exposition is the largest event Omaha has ever hosted.28

“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.”29

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): 10.
  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. M. R. Wilson, transcription of Robert Lee Daily Interview: 4, 19.
  14. Online Etymology Dictionary, “Teamster,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/teamster.
  15. Omaha City Directory for 1894 (Omaha, Nebraska: The J. M. Wolfe Directory Co., Publishers, 1894): 813.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  19. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  20. J. M. Wolfe, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1883-84 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping Establishment, 1883): 19.
  21. Jim McKee, “The telephone comes to Omaha.”
  22. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 9-10.
  23. Omaha City Directory for 1894: 10.
  24. 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.
  25. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1892: 644.
  26. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The American, http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/2017270212/.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Liz Rea, History at a glance: 51, 54-55.

Four Weddings in Omaha

On October 14, 1882, a young man named Charles W. Savidge arrived in Omaha to begin serving as the pastor of First Methodist Church.1   Located at Seventeenth and Davenport, the congregation had been established in September 1855,2 a year and a half after the village of Omaha had been incorporated in Nebraska Territory.  When Rev. Savidge wrote his autobiography in 1914, he had served as a minister in Omaha for 31 years, having left the city for only one year to minister in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Regarding one of his accomplishments, Rev. Savidge stated, “I have now married nearly three thousand couples.  I have married all kinds of people, all colors, nearly all nationalities and all ages; some have been young, some old and others middle-aged.”3

Nearly six months after beginning his ministry in Omaha, Rev. Savidge performed the marriage ceremony of John C. Thompson and Emma V. Bonewitz.  The groom was the 22 year-old son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Thompson and was a newspaper editor, residing in Brownville, Nebraska, a city about 75 miles south of Omaha.  Thompson is mentioned in a history of Brownville:

“April, 1882, J. Thompson, a young man who learned the printer’s trade in the Advertiser office, purchased an office in Fullerton, Neb., and established a Republican paper in the old Advertiser office, on the north side of Main street, between First and Second. He has named his paper the Brownville Republican.”4

The bride was the 18 year-old daughter of John E. and Josie Bonewitz, whose family had moved to Omaha in 1880.  The wedding was performed on May 6, 1883, at Emma’s parents’ home and announced in one of the city newspapers, Omaha Daily Bee:

“At 4 p. m. Sunday, at the residence of the bride’s parents, No. 1623 Dodge street, Mr. John C. Thompson, editor of the Brownville Republican, was united in Marriage to Miss Emma V. Bonewitz, Rev. Savidge, of First M. E. church, officiating.  Only the relatives and intimate friends of the high contracting parties were present, but the affair was a most auspicious one, and the presents received were both costly and beautiful.  The happy couple left Sunday evening for their home in Brownville.”5


Rev. Savidge had performed his first wedding in 1879.  He has related that at the time he did not know what to do in that ceremony, so he asked a Presbyterian pastor who served in the same area and he was given some instructions.6  Thirty-five years later, Rev. Savidge wrote:

Some ministers have a very long and tedious marriage service, but my service is short and to the point.  There is not so much dependent on the length of the service and the minister as there is upon the contracting parties themselves.

“It is up to them whether they will be happy or miserable.  Here is a copy of my brief marriage ceremony:

“ ‘Will thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy state of matrimony?

“ ‘Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife in health, and forsaking all others, cleave thee only unto her?’

“The bridegroom answers, ‘I will.’

“I then ask the bride the same questions concerning the groom.  She answers, ‘I will.’

“I then direct the bridegroom to place the ring on the third finger of his lady’s left hand and, holding the hand, to repeat after me these words:

“ ‘With this ring I thee wed, and with my worldly goods I thee endow; in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.’

“I then close that part of the service with these words: ‘For as much as this man and this woman have consented together in holy wedlock, have witnessed the same before God and this company, and signified the same by joining of hands, I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.’

“I then offer the following brief prayer: ‘And now may God, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost bless, preserve and keep you.  The Lord mercifully look upon you; so fill you with all benediction and grace that ye may so live together in this life that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting.’

“Sometimes I add this prayer: ‘Lord, bless this man and woman, now this husband and wife.  Bind them together Thyself and may they never be separated by any discord or difference or rent apart by the action of any divorce court, but may death alone break this bond.  In order that they may live long and prosper, we pray they may believe in Thee, the living God, as much as Daniel ever did.  That they may take the Bible as the inspired word of God and Man of their counsel, thus laying the foundation of happiness here and felicity forever.  For the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.’ ”7


A year after John and Emma’s wedding, Rev. Savidge performed the marriage ceremony of Emma’s 23 year-old sister, Carrie Bonewitz, who had arrived in Omaha with her family in 1880.  Carrie married 25 year-old Charles P. White, the son of S. M. and Anna White, on June 12, 1884.  At least six years prior to their marriage and before Carrie had moved to Omaha, White and Carrie’s brother Orlando were boarding at the same boarding house, Donovan House, in Omaha.8  White resided in Omaha for a few years between 1878 and 1884, but on his marriage license his residence is recorded as Tobias, Nebraska.  Tobias was a new railroad village that had been platted and incorporated in the early spring of 1884.9

One of the witnesses of this marriage was S. H. Buffett.  This was White’s employer, a grocer whose name, Sidney H. Buffett, can be found in the Omaha city directories starting at 1870.  Initially, White had worked as a teamster for Buffett,10 later he worked as a clerk.11  The other witness who signed the marriage license was William T. Lyons, who was probably White’s mother’s brother.

Marriage Record of Charles P. White and Carrie Bonewitz

In 1886, Rev. Savidge performed a third wedding for a member of the Bonewitz family.  This time, 27 year-old Harman (sometimes called by his middle name Finley) married a 25 year-old dressmaker, Cornelia B. Higley, on December 29.  When the 1880 U. S. census was taken, both the Bonewitz family and the Higley family resided in Fairfield, Iowa.12,13  Harman and his father and brother Orlando had gone to Omaha for work as early as 1878, but apparently, Harman didn’t permanently move to Omaha until 1880 when his entire family moved there.  In 1885, Cornelia was still living with her parents, Judson and Ruah Higley, in Fairfield when the Iowa state census was taken,14 but in 1887 Cornelia and her parent’s names appear in the Omaha city directory.  One of the signatures of the witnesses on Harman and Cornelia’s marriage license is possibly Cornelia’s father’s signature.  The other signature is very difficult to read, but may be the signature of Harman’s brother-in-law, Charles P. White.

Marriage License of Harman Bonewitz and Cornelia Higley

In his autobiography, Rev. Savidge had some sage words regarding “The Marriage Fee”:

“The true minister of the Gospel does not charge a regular fee for his services at the marriage.  He depends upon the generosity of the bridegroom and his appreciation of his bride.

“The minister has many avenues for his surplus change and his income is generally limited.  Don’t forget the preacher, boys!

“It is very poor taste indeed for the bridegroom after the ceremony to ask the minister what his bill is or what the charges are.  This is often done, but it is not the thing to do; it throws a sort of coldness over the meeting.

“The bridegroom ought to have his offering for the minister in his vest pocket, or better still, in an envelope, and then quietly hand it to him.

“That sum ought not to fall below $5.00.  A ten-dollar bill looks better to me!

“The groom who remembers the minister liberally will not lose in the long run.  A man ought not to be married often during this earthly life and he can afford to be manly and generous at this time.

“This whole transaction from start to finish is a test of manhood.  Brother, walk up and stand the test!

“I have often married people where I received no fee at all, but it seemed to me a good deal like tying up cattle.

“The largest fee I ever received was $50.00, but I prayed eight hours for that fellow.  I said, ‘Lord, work him up and help him give me a good fee, for I need the “dough.” ’

“He gave me, sealed in an envelope, ten five-dollar bills.  I praised the Lord and used the money.  One of the smallest, meanest fees I ever got, was some shade trees for the church and the trees died.  I guess they got ashamed and quit.”15

After serving at First Methodist Church for six years, Rev. Savidge was assigned to Grand Island, Nebraska in 1888.  He only served there one year, because during that year Rev. Savidge felt a conviction that his work in Omaha was not done.  He has written: “God seemed to pull on me and put a message from Himself in my very soul, that He had plans for me in this city, and the past twenty-four years have proved that my convictions at that time were from God.”16  So Rev. Savidge requested to be assigned to Omaha again and to found his own church, which would be called the People’s Church.  He has explained how he started the new work in Omaha:

“I … hired Boyd’s Opera House on Fifteenth and Farnum Streets for twenty-five dollars every Sunday.

“… The congregation was made up of the unchurched masses.  Men and women who never went to any regular church went there.  Harlots, drunkards and gamblers came to see and to hear: Many of these were benefited.

“I started a Sunday School in the lower part of the city and we instructed children of all nationalities and colors.

“… When the hot weather came on, I was compelled to give up the opera house and transfer my services to the Newman M. E. Church.”17

In the fall of 1891, Rev. Savidge decided to discontinue his association with the Methodist Episcopal denomination.18  He determined to be an independent minister and once again established the People’s Church, purchasing the old United Presbyterian Church building located on 18th Street near California for $1,000.19


That same fall, Rev. Savidge performed a fourth marriage ceremony for the Bonewitz family.  In about 1886, the family had moved to West Side, a developing addition to Omaha.  At some point in the late 1880s, Josephine Bonewitz began running a boarding house in that area, and a man named Charles M. Daily became one of the boarders and became acquainted with Maggie Bonewitz, the youngest daughter of John and Josephine Bonewitz.20  The son of Joseph and Amanda Daily, Charles Daily had worked his way from Indiana, across Illinois and Iowa for about 15 years, and finally settled in Omaha.  His first known employer in Omaha was Charles P. White,21 who was operating a feed and coal business, and was the brother-in-law of Maggie.  Daily worked for several years for White and on November 18, 1891 when 35 year-old Daily married 24 year-old Maggie, White signed the marriage certificate as a witness.  The other witness was Maggie’s other brother-in-law John C. Thompson.

Signed Marriage License of Charles M. Daily and Maggie O. Bonewitz
Charles Monroe Daily and Maggie Oranna (Bonewitz) Daily on their wedding day, November 18, 1891

The dress that Maggie wore on her wedding day was passed down to one of her daughters and then to one of her grandsons.  About ninety years after Maggie wore the dress for her wedding photograph, one of her great granddaughters posed for a photograph wearing Maggie’s dress.  The dress is still brought out for display at the biennial reunions of the combined Daily and Bevers families.

Maggie Daily’s wedding dress, modeled by a great granddaughter

As time went by, Rev. Savidge began to be consulted by many families regarding marriageable prospects.  In his autobiography, he writes:

“I am a firm believer in marriage.  We can never beat the evils of the present day except the people enter the marriage relation and establish their own homes.  God says, ‘He setteth the solitary in families.’

“Marriage is the order of God, the foundation of society, the church and the state.  Many people among us who have their own homes do not know the intense desire of those who are not so situated.  Our cities are crowded with women, good women, who have no chance to meet agreeable gentlemen, and there are many good men on ranches, farms and in mining, and even in our crowded cities who have small opportunity to meet good women.

“In recent years, on account of my age and experience, many come to consult with me on this subject.  Mothers bring their daughters and beg me to use my influence to have them properly settled in life.  It might do the skeptical on this subject much good to read some of the letters I receive.  One lady said, ‘The desire for a home and love is with me constantly; it haunts my every waking hour.’

“In the Bible you may read a very beautiful story of how Isaac got his wife, in Genesis, twenty-fourth chapter.

“Abraham’s eldest and most trusted servant attended to this business with alacrity and devotion, and with the evident blessing of God.

“Other people can dip in a little to help others if they have the skill and ability.  I have a bureau of information on marriage in my downtown office, which in the past year has worked wonders.  I have a most competent secretary who takes the details off of me and I hope to assist many worthy people in the future.”22

One last quote from Rev. Charles W. Savidge: “It is a perfectly natural thing to marry.  Man never got up this scheme; it is a plan of God.  It is folly to try to beat it.”23

Resources:

  1. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God (Omaha, Nebraska: Beacon Press, 1914):38-39, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/faith/pages/hfig0038.htm.
  2. David Marquette, History of Nebraska Methodism: First Half-Century (1904): 56, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/hmec/pages/honm0052.htm.
  3. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 89, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/faith/pages/hfig0083.htm#ch25.
  4. John McCoy, transcriber, History of the State of Nebraska by William Cutler (Chicago: The Western Historical Company, 1882): https://www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/nemaha/nemaha-p6.html#press.
  5. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Daily Bee, May 8, 1883):8, https://www.newspapers.com/image/466624152.
  6. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 89.
  7. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 89, 91.
  8. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1878-1879 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Publishing House and Book Bindery, 1878): 97 & 286.
  9. Helen Kottas, “Nebraska…Our Towns, Tobias — Saline County”: https://casde.unl.edu/history/counties/saline/tobias/.
  10. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1878-1879: 286.
  11. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1881-1882 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping House, 1881): 421.
  12. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYYV-9R3L?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-C68%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396695 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 81 > image 60 of 64; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  13. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYYV-9RN5?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-C68%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396695 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 81 > image 19 of 64; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  14. “Iowa State Census, 1885,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939Z-YGHT-J?cc=1803643&wc=M6L6-Q23%3A145017901%2C145048501 : 1 April 2016), Jefferson > Fairfield, Fairfield > image 67 of 152; State Historical Society, Des Moines.
  15. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 92-93, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/faith/pages/hfig0092.htm.
  16. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 51, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/faith/pages/hfig0045.htm.
  17. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 51-52.
  18. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 55.
  19. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 56, http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/religion/MECHURCH/faith/pages/hfig0056.htm.
  20. E. J. B. V. Bevers, personal communication with M. R. Wilson, ca. 1976.
  21. Omaha City and South Omaha City Directory for 1889 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1889): 194.
  22. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 93-94.
  23. Charles W. Savidge, Have faith in God: 92.

Miss Maggie’s Early Life

When I was a child, occasionally I would ask my mother where our ancestors were from.  She would tell me that her father’s father was from England, her father’s mother was from Switzerland, her mother’s father was Irish and her mother’s mother was Pennsylvania Dutch.  It was not until I was well into adulthood that I learned that my mother’s grandmother Maggie was not actually born in Pennsylvania, nor were Maggie’s parents born there.  It was Maggie’s grandparents who were born in Pennsylvania.  Her paternal grandparents (John Adam Bonewitz and Mary Margaret Rider, also called Peggy) were already married when they moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio about 1820, but Maggie’s maternal grandparents (Harman Smith and Barbara Flora) were still children when they moved with their parents to Ohio about 1822 and 1815, respectively.

Subsequently, all of Maggie’s grandparents moved to Indiana.  When Harman and Barbara Smith moved from Ohio to Huntington County, Indiana (about 1843), their children were still young, which included Josephine Smith.  Late in life (about 1853), John Adam and Peggy Bonewitz moved to neighboring Wabash County, Indiana and their son John Esli Bonewitz moved with them.  Somehow, John Esli met Josephine and they married in 1856.  They lived in Indiana for a few years, then in the early 1860s, they moved to Fairfield, Iowa, which is where Maggie was born on November 9, 1867.1

When the 1870 U. S. census was taken in Fairfield, Iowa, Maggie, at nearly 3 years-old, was the youngest in a household of three adults and seven children.2  Maggie’s father was 35 years-old and her mother was 32 years-old.  She had two older brothers and two older sisters:  Orlando, age 13; Harman, age 11; Carrie, age 9 and Emma, age 5.  Maggie’s mother’s sister Malissa Griffith and Malissa’s two children William and Viola, age 8 and 7 respectively, were also living in the Bonewitz household.

Little is known of Maggie’s life as a child, but from what is recorded in the 1940 U. S. census it is known that she attended school through the fifth grade.3  Also, from the 1880 U. S. Census, we learn that two more brothers (Claudius and J. F.) were born after Maggie,4 one when she was eight or nine years-old and the other when she was twelve.  When Maggie was about ten years-old, her father and eldest brothers traveled 230 miles due west of Fairfield to Omaha, Nebraska and a few years later the entire family moved there. 

The annual Omaha city directories reveal information about the occupations and residences of the family.  Beginning with the 1878-79 city directory, entries can be found for John, Orlando and Harman Bonewitz.  When the 1880 U. S. census was taken, the Bonewitz family was listed in Fairfield, even though the 1880 Omaha city directory has an entry for John.

When Maggie’s family arrived in Omaha, she was 13 years-old.  Maggie’s teenage years were filled with many family events, including deaths, marriages and changing residences.  Sadly, two weeks after the census was taken in Fairfield, Maggie’s nearly six-month-old brother J. F. passed away.  His grave is in Omaha, not Fairfield.5  Less than 10 months later, Maggie’s other younger brother Claudius died at nearly five-years-old.6

Omaha, which “derived its name from a tribe of Indians that were formerly the owners of the soil,”7 was a booming city.  It was established in 1854 and immediately experienced rapid development.8  After a brief slowdown due to a financial crisis in the late 1850s, the city resumed its expansion as Omaha became the outfitting center for immigrants to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.9  An article in the 1870 Omaha city directory identified several factors which attributed to Omaha’s development:

“The mines of the west, the termination of the [Civil] war, and the initiation of the U. P. R. R. [Union Pacific Rail Road] brought back vitality.  Capitalists made homes here; railroads one after another came from the east, making Omaha their objective point; a fleet of steamers gave connection with the south; the Government established here headquarters for the army of the West; manufactures sprung into existence; the U. P. R. R. constructed workshops, employing hundreds of hands, and executing every description of work, and prosperity which has known no interruption, returned.”10

The population when John and his sons arrived in Omaha was about 26,215.11  When the Bonewitz family moved to Omaha in 1880, the census report gave it a population of 30,652.12  The population in 1884 was estimated at 55,23013 and in 1887 it was estimated at 96,717.14

According to the city directories the family moved several times.  Upon moving to Omaha, the first address of the family was 1314 Jackson.15  The first time that Maggie’s name is listed in the city directory is in 1884.  Her residence was at 1623 Dodge, which is the same address listed for her sister Carrie and her father.16  Her father’s entry notes that his occupation was “boarding.”  Maggie’s parents ran a boarding house and it is likely that Maggie assisted her parents in this endeavor.  In 1885, Maggie’s residence was at 1209 Georgia Avenue17 and in 1886 she lived at 1113 Georgia,18 both of these addresses were listed for her father and brother Harman also.

Other family events that occurred in the first half of the 1880s included the birth of another brother (Sidney) in January 1882.19  Maggie’s sister Emma married John C. Thompson in May 188320 and her sister Carrie married Charles P. White in 1884.21  The next year, tragically, Maggie’s eldest brother Orlando passed away.  In the Omaha city directory, he is in the list of “the most prominent persons who have died within the city of Omaha during the year 1885,” and is given the date of death of August 27.22  (This may actually have been the date of his burial.)  Not long before Orlando’s death the Bonewitz family posed for a family portrait.23  Based on how old Sidney appears to be, the photograph may have been taken in late 1884 or early 1885.  Maggie, standing on the left, would have been about 17 years-old.

The Bonewitz family (with their approximate ages):
Back Row: Maggie (17), Orlando (27), probably Emma (20), probably Carrie (23) (Emma and Carrie could be the opposite)
Front Row: Josephine (46), Sidney (3), John (49), Harman (25)

When the 1885 census of Nebraska was taken, Maggie along with her father, mother and three brothers lived on 28th street.24  Maggie’s sister Emma and brother-in-law also lived in the household and they had a daughter, Josephine, who was one year old.  In addition, there were five boarders in the household.  Another marriage took place in December 1886.  Maggie’s brother Harman married Cornelia Higley.25

In the newspaper Omaha Daily Bee, an announcement was placed describing Maggie’s 20th birthday:

“Wednesday evening a large number of young friends assembled at the residence of Mr. John E. Bonewitz, in West Side, and passed a very pleasant evening, the gathering being in honor of the twentieth birthday of his daughter, Miss Maggie.  Quite a number of invitations had been sent out and as a result the house was filled with merry, fun-loving young people.  Some very nice and costly presents were bestowed upon the young lady, who made an admirable hostess on this occasion.  At 11 o’clock a very fine lunch was served, after which the assembled friends were entertained with music and games.  Those in attendance were G. L. McIlvane and Miss Robertson, J. E. Hardy and Miss Emma Lyman, A. S. Gantz and Miss Anna Higley, Charles Roberts and Miss Hannah Roberts, George Ritchie and wife, T. W. Smith and wife, C. P. White and wife, H. N. Stump, Ernest Gantz, Mr. Christ, of Sac City, Ia.; John Collins, Rockport, Mo.; John C. Thompson and wife and the parents of the young lady.”26

Besides Maggie and her parents there were 20 people in attendance at her birthday party.  Some of the guests were:

  • A. S. Gantz (Argola) who was Maggie’s 18 year-old cousin, the son of her mother’s sister Joannah.  The Gantz family had been living in Fairfield, Iowa at the same time that the Bonewitz’ family lived there in 1880.27 
  • Ernest Gantz is possibly a relation of Argola.  There was another Gantz family that lived in Fairfield in 1880 which included a young person named Ernest.28
  • Argola accompanied Anna Higley who was probably the 17 year-old sister of Maggie’s sister-in-law Cornelia.  The Higley family was also living in Fairfield in 1880.29
  • C. P. White and wife were Maggie’s brother-in-law Charles and her sister Carrie.
  • John C. Thompson and wife were Maggie’s brother-in-law and her sister Emma.
  • H. N. Stump was a carpenter living in West Side.30  (Maggie’s father was a carpenter at the time.)31

The newspaper article notes that the Bonewitz family lived in West Side.  This was a newly developing area about three miles west from the post office and was near the West Side train depot grounds.  It would later be described as an area of workers’ cottages.32 This is the area that members of Maggie’s family would reside for the next 30 years.

Notes:

  1. Shaw-Messer Chapel, “In Memory of Maggie O. Daily” (Watertown, South Dakota: Shaw-Messer Chapel, March 15, 1947).
  2. “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDVC-DFR : 17 October 2014), Maggie O Bonewits in household of John E Bonewits, Iowa, United States; citing p. 5, family 37, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,898.
  3. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-5855?cc=2000219&wc=QZFM-WRZ%3A791611401%2C793270701%2C793367301%2C793379401 : accessed 5 July 2020), South Dakota > Codington > Watertown City, Watertown, Ward 3 > 15-24B Watertown City Ward 3 bounded by (N) 4th Av S; (E) Maple, ward line; (S) city limits; (W) city limits, ward line > image 3 of 24; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012.
  4. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD2G-RHC : 13 July 2016), Maggie Bonewitz in household of J E Bonewitz, Fairfield, Jefferson, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district ED 81, sheet 409D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0347; FHL microfilm 1,254,347.
  5. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 19 July 2020), memorial page for Freddy Bonewitz (Jan 1880–Jul 1880), Find a Grave Memorial no. 170992635, citing Prospect Hill Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by SRGF (contributor 47487065) .
  6. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 19 July 2020), memorial page for Claudius Coan Bonewitz (7 May 1876–23 Apr 1881), Find a Grave Memorial no. 170992581, citing Prospect Hill Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by SRGF (contributor 47487065) .
  7. Collins’ Omaha Directory (Omaha, Nebraska: Charles Collins, Publisher, June 1866): 19.
  8. Collins’ Omaha Directory: 21.
  9. Collins’ Omaha Directory: 24.
  10. Omaha Directory for 1870 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe, Publisher, 1870): 17.
  11. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1878-1879 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Publishing House and Book Bindery, 1878): 27.
  12. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1881-1882 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping House, 1881): 11.
  13. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Omaha City Directory 1884 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping Establishment, 1884): 9.
  14. Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1887 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1887): 2.
  15. J. M. Wolfe, Wolfe’s Omaha City Directory 1881-1882: 116.
  16. J. M. Wolfe, Omaha City Directory 1884: 100.
  17. J. M. Wolfe, publisher, Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1885 (Omaha, Nebraska: Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping House, 1885): 102.
  18. Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1886 (Omaha, Nebraska: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, 1886): 113.
  19. State of California, California Death Index, 1940-1997 (Sacramento: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics): http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=cadeath1940&h=709689&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt .
  20. Marriage license of John C. Thompson and Emma V. Bonewitz (State of Nebraska, Douglas County, May 6, 1883).
  21. Marriage license of Charles P. White and Carrie Bonewitz (State of Nebraska, Douglas County, June 12, 1884).
  22. Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1886: 15.
  23. A descendant of Josephine Smith Bonewitz’ brother Obediah Smith contacted the author through Ancestry.com and subsequently supplied this photograph which her grandmother had labeled John and Josephine Bonewitz.
  24. “Nebraska State Census Collection, 1860-1885,” (Online publication – Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009): http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=nestatecensus&h=1420813&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt .
  25. Marriage license of Harman F. Bonewitz and Cornelia B. Higley (State of Nebraska, Douglas County, December 29, 1886).
  26. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska, November 20, 1887): 11, https://www.newspapers.com/image/149885912.
  27. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYV-9P9W?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-4WL%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396321 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 80 > image 17 of 23; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  28. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYYV-9R3L?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-C68%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396695 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 81 > image 60 of 64; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  29. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYYV-9RN5?cc=1417683&wc=XHBX-C68%3A1589394762%2C1589396075%2C1589395491%2C1589396695 : 24 December 2015), Iowa > Jefferson > Fairfield > ED 81 > image 19 of 64; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  30. Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1887: 660.
  31. Omaha City and Douglas County Directory 1887: 75.
  32. Dennis Mihelich, ed., Ribbon of Destruction (Omaha, Nebraska: Douglas County Historical Society, n. d.): 8.