No. 11 Normal Methodist church
William Jennings Bryan, who spotlighted Lincoln from the nineties on, died in 1926, shortly after the famous Scopes trial in Tennessee. He had gone to that state to thunder disapproval of John T. Scopes, who was being tried for teaching evolution, contrary to Tennessee law. It in believed that Bryan's death was hastened by his vigorous efforts in behalf of fundamentalism.
It is interesting to gaze upon this in modest church--Normal Methodist, 55th and South--which Bryan attended after his removal to Fairview, and reflect that here, doubtless, were built up the religious convictions which accompanied him--perhaps hastened him--to his grave. Not always did he occupy one of the old fashioned stained oak benches. Often he spoke front the carved pulpit, his hand upon the old metal clasped Bible, his pontifical and mellow voice filling the little church.
What W. J. Bryan believed he believed with great sincerity and articulateness. First intimations of his gifts as an orator came with the impassioned silver speech in 1896; in which he declared: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns: you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." His contemporaries did not always agree with the Great Commoner, but they could not do otherwise than respect his sincerity. He fought for the silver standard, for peace, for prohibition. for fundamentalism, often losing but never giving up the fight.
His lion's face and mane, his broad hat, his golden voice, are gone, but gashes of his reform ax may still be seen on the surface of the commonwealth.
No.. 12--City Mission
For years preceding and following the turn of the century 9th Street was definitely a street of wickedness. In fact it was dedicated to the ways of wickedness--it and the shadowy region West, extending down to about K street. There was a law on the books against the sort of houses that filled the red-light district, but instead of enforcing it the police exacted tribute. Every first Monday of the month proprietresses in silks and plumes rustled into the city hall and majestically laid down their gold. As the rate was, we are told, about $15 for inmates and $245 for managers per month they left a considerable stock on the municipal desk. Most of it went into the public school coffers.
This noisome neighborhood kept police busy. No mere saunter up to the station for a list of parking offenders was the police run in those hectic days. Often a brief telephone call--murder or/and suicide at Rose's or Rae's or Kitty's, took police and reporters hopping. The district was finally closed by the expedient of enforcing the law. The man undertaking this revolutionary method of procedure was Co. Atty. Frank Tyrrell.
One of the well known notorious houses, known an Lydia's Place, stood at 124 So. 9th st. This same building, cleansed in purpose and aspect, was a number of years ago turned into the City Mission by interested Lincoln churches. At the top of the house a lighted star now beckons shabby wayfarers to a free meal and nights lodging. Looking in at the mission any evening one may see, not parading painted women in short skirts, smoking cigarets--unmistakable marks of sin in the 80's and 90's--but seated derelicts lending their cauliflower ears to the nightly religious service.
© 2000, 2001 by Kathie Harrison, Ted & Carole Miller