Puzzling Times – Omaha 1915 edition #2

We are excited to share with you the second panel in the series of panoramic photos shot by Father Rigge and Alphonse Schmitt.

Father William F. Rigge, S.J., was born September 9, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He completed his grade school education at St. Xavier College (Cincinnati) in 1870 and joined the Society of Jesus in 1875. As a young scholastic (i.e., a Jesuit who has not completed his final vows), Rigge came to Omaha in 1878 along with Father Roman Shaffel and three other Jesuit scholastics to open the new Creighton College. In 1881, Father Rigge left Omaha for his theological and academic studies. He kept in touch through correspondence and visits with his older brother, Joseph F. Rigge, S.J., who taught science at Creighton between 1885 and 1893. After damaging his eyesight while obtaining a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, William was again assigned to Creighton in 1896 for a distinguished career as a teacher and scientist. His research, much of which involved the Creighton Observatory, was published widely and earned him local and international recognition. Creighton remained his home until his death on March 31, 1927.

Todays puzzle is the view from Northwest by North.


A huge thanks to Karl who has done a lot of research about the images and writing of the information.

Image A - Hugo Bros Shows sign advertising for the circus we saw setting up in the previous panel. Known in full as the Hugo Brothers’ Modern United Shows, the circus was managed by brothers Charles and Victor Hugo. The 1915 season was the circus’ first and starting from its home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa it traveled through Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri. The show had a run of bad luck following its time in Omaha with flooded tracks in Missouri requiring detours, an outbreak of Hoof and Mouth disease, and a large fight breaking out while it was in Chicago. This bad luck along with the disappearance of Victor Hugo that December led to the circus being reorganized as the Coop & Lent New United Monster Shows in 1916.1 2 3

Image B - J.F. Smith Brickyard, a closer view of the smokestacks on the horizon line, which Fr. Rigge identified as belonging to a brickyard. Using a digital copy of Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Omaha, Neb. from 1918 that the Omaha Public Library generously makes available we were able to further identify it as the J.F. Smith Brickyard. Owned by Jacob Fred Smith, a prominent Nebraska brick maker at the time of this photo, the site had been in operation as a brickyard since around 1880. Previous owners included the Ittner Brothers Brickyard, which Smith had worked for earlier in his life, and the Withnell Brothers & Smith Company, with Smith buying out his partners stakes in the enterprise following the brothers’ deaths. The brickyard closed in 1918. Salem Baptist Church and a Walgreens now stand where the brickyard was once located.1 2

Image C - Immanuel Hospital, located roughly a block North-East of present day North High School its visibility is a testament to the detail that Fr. Rigge and Mr. Schmitt were able to capture with their photos. In 1887 Rev. Erik A. Fogelstrom and some compatriots founded the Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Association for Works for Charity. This organization gave birth to Immanuel Hospital with the original hospital building visible here being completed in 1891. This building was intended to be the first of three wings, but only two were ever completed. The campus eventually grew to include 17 buildings. The decision was made in the 1960’s to close this campus in favor of a new facility at the current location near 72nd and Sorensen. The building shown here was demolished in 1961 and the campus was closed in 1974.1 2

- Prospect Hill Cemetery – The grassy hilltop to the left of the brickyard along the horizon is the Prospect Hill Cemetery. Formed in 1858 by Byron Reed from land acquired from Moses Shinn and Jess Lowe it is thought to be the oldest cemetery in Omaha. Originally named Omaha City Cemetery it was renamed Prospect Hill Cemetery in 1865 and is the burial site of many prominent early Omahans, including J.F. Smith who was interred there in 1954 following his death at the age of 94.1 2 3 4

- Another point of interest in this plate is the sunroof on the left side of the image. At a glance nothing might seem amiss, but a closer examination reveals pen strokes that indicate that the details of the sunroof were drawn in by hand. This was likely to correct a glare coming from the glass of the roof as the aura of the glare can still be seen in the washed-out white areas surrounding the sunroof.


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