A History of Nebraska Methodism



FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.)


   IT could not be otherwise than that the religion established by our Lord, who Himself was constantly ministering to the whole man, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, instructing the mind, and pardoning the guilty and regenerating the soul, should take on all the manifold forms required by human nature, and continue to minister to the whole man. Then the generous impulses that are generated in the hearts of his disciples, eliminating selfishness, impelling by their gentle pressure, guided by an intelligent perception of the need, must soon find expression in suitable agencies and institutions for carrying on these larger features of Christian work, and found a hospital for the sick.
   It is among the pleasant recollections of the writer that, when pastor of the First Church, South Omaha, in 1890, at one of our preachers' meetings, Dr. D. A. Foote, of Omaha, came before us and presented the matter for the first time, and the truth of history requires the statement that the inception of the movement is due to Dr. Foote. A committee was appointed and the agitation began and through varying stages of careful, prayerful consideration, culminated in a tangible form the following year.









   That the matter should be approached cautiously, step by step, with no little hesitancy, and even some honest opposition, was to be expected, for Omaha Methodism was yet under the burden of debt, and ill prepared to assume further financial responsibility.
   The progress of this movement toward its blessed consummation is so well told by Brother Haynes,* that I again quote him: "The making of a beginning was held in reserve for the time being till the matter might be further investigated. The most inquisitive were on the alert seeking the while information. An opportunity came unsought. Mrs. Lucy Rider Meyer, of Chicago, who is reputed as the founder of training schools for nurses in the Methodist Church, accompanied by her husband, on their way to Denver, visited Omaha, and presented in a meeting held in the basement of the First Methodist Church, some of the features of the work necessary to the organization of a hospital. This beginning was the occasion of all effort to commenced work looking to the establishment of a hospital and Deaconess Home in this city. The intelligent and satisfactory presentation of the case by these zealous advocates gave inspiration to not a few, and particularly the women present were aroused so thoroughly as to incite them to greater deeds.
   The women - Mrs. Haynes, Mrs. Claflin, Mrs. Austin, and Mrs. Bryant - pressed the matter with such earnestness and solicitude that the pastors changed their purpose as much as to agree that if $1,500 should be raised as a guarantee of success, they would make no further opposition. Dr. J. W. Shenk courageously sec-

   *History of Omaha Methodism






onded the presiding elder and the women in an endeavor to make a trial.
   In the meantime Dr. Gifford, who was the owner of an infirmary on South Twentieth, near Harney Street, learning of the effort being made, offered the building which he had erected at his own expense, on the condition of an indebtedness of $1,900 being assumed and that there be six rooms reserved for his patients - two for men and two for women, and two besides, subject, however, to the rules of the hospital. The Hospital Association accepted the proposition, and leasing the ground at $400 a year, opened the institution on May 28, 1891, for the reception of patients.
   On the same day and at the same place, the association met and effected a permanent organization by electing Dr. J. W. Shenk president, and J. C. Cowgill secretary. A constitution was adopted, and a committee appointed to secure the legal incorporation of the association. The name given the institution is the Methodist Hospital and Deaconess Home of Omaha. On May 24th, the hospital and home were dedicated by Bishop John P. Newman.
   "The opening of the hospital," says the Omaha Christian Advocate, "is an event of great interest. The association now owns property worth $10,000, on which there is an indebtedness of $1,900. There has been about $1,500 subscribed for current expenses. The building has capacity for twenty-eight beds."
   From the date of the opening till the present a continuous good work has been done in caring for the sick, maimed, and otherwise disabled ones. But the work of caring for such as are admitted to the hospital can not



be done without expense; and provision had to be made to meet the constantly accumulating outlay. To meet this in part, it was deemed wise to make an inducement for friends and citizens to contribute a small sum by offering an equivalent. Hence, any one in health who may pay into the treasury ten dollars at one time is entitled to a yearly membership ticket, which allows the contributor, in case of personal sickness, to be taken care of without charge, during the year of making the payment."
   The growth and history of this blessed work are thus briefly, but eloquently, summarized by Mrs. Allie P. McLaughlin, who has been superintendent from the first: "The Hospital and Deaconess Horne Association was organized thirteen years ago this March. We opened the hospital the 28th day of May, 1891. We began to receive our patients without any means on hand, but the Lord has so prospered us, we have taken care of more than nine thousand people, of whom one-third have been entirely free. And to-day we have no debt. Our little deaconess family of workers numbered three at first, but now numbers forty-seven. We have been very much cramped all of these years because of our limited quarters. Thousands have been turned from our doors because we could not receive them for lack of room.
   The spiritual part of this work is one of the leading features, all of the workers being Christian people. The hospital itself is a great mission field. There have been a great many conversions as the months and years have gone by.
   The new building is now begun, the site paid for and about half enough for a $110,000 building. Of the first



workers who came thirteen years ago, two of us yet remain, Miss Jennie Cavanaugh and myself."
   While under Methodist auspices, its beneficence is not confined to Methodist people, as will be seen by the following figures of a year's work, as appears from the annual report for 1901-02: No Church, 235; Methodist, 231; all other denominations, including sixty-three Catholics, 420.
   Besides the nursing in the hospital, involved in the care of these patients, these nurses spent 26,872 hours in nursing patients outside of the hospital.
   On the lines of spiritual work they have visiting deaconesses, and many of our pastors will bear cheerful witness to their helpfulness in revival-meetings, and other forms of work.
   Their staff of physicians and surgeons include some of the most skillful in the country. Their names are: Harold Gifford, A. F. Jonas, J. C. Moore, W. O. Bridges, W. S. Gibbs, H. M. McClanahan, J. M. Aikin, R. S. Anglin, O. S. Hoffman, W. K. Yeakel, D. A. Foote, S. J. Quimby, and Mrs. Freeda M. Lankton.


   Not only was the Church broadening the range of her activities and agencies so as to include the hospitals, but the same generous impulse led her to take steps to provide for homeless children. In this site shared a general movement in this direction which set in about this time which was not only the result of a charitable impulse, but the intelligent perception of an urgent need that such children should be cared for and nurtured tinder favorable influences, lest they grow up without any training, or what is worse, vicious training.






   Moved by this impulse, Dr. W. L. Armstrong, M. D., had already dedicated his one hundred and sixty acre farm in Platte County, Nebraska, to that purpose, and had been caring for a few children as best he could. But the movement did not become very efficient, or command the support necessary to success. But Dr. Armstrong had his heart set on this noble project, and the Heavenly Father soon opened the way to much larger things. Coincident with this intense desire on the part of Dr. Armstrong to do something along this line, there was a growing conviction among the leaders of the Woman's Home Missionary Society that they ought to enter this field, and were already casting about for a suitable place to establish a national orphanage. Just at this juncture Mrs. Spurlock, who had been elected a delegate to the meeting of the National Board of Managers, who were to act on this matter at their next meeting, proposed to Dr. Armstrong that he join forces with the Woman's Home Missionary Society and that they work together for the object that had come to be so dear to both. To this he readily consented, and with this leverage, Mrs. Spurlock's earnest and eloquent plea won the day, and it was decided by the Board of Managers to locate their institution in Nebraska, and soon after that York was selected as the site. Dr. Armstrong giving his $3,000 farm and the York people adding $7,000, a fine farm of 160 acres adjacent to the city of York, worth then $10,000, was purchased and the Mothers'Jewels Home began its beneficent career.
   As seemed most fitting, good Dr. Armstrong was placed in charge, but he was already growing old and enfeebled by ill health, and soon found the work too hard,




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