Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Early Nebraska Esperantist

Alice Howard
In my previous post, I wrote about Abigail Russell, an early Esperanto speaker, living in Nebraska. As I noted, her daughter was also an Esperanto speaker, and apparently as active as her mother in Esperanto and other areas. Alice Howard, née Alice Russell, was very active in Omaha society in the early twentieth century. The Nebraska papers wrote about her and her family ninety-one times, between 1887 and 1915. Her husband was a druggist. The lived in Dundee, Nebraska.

Many of the pieces are short items dealing with the Howard’s social life, such as Alice going to visit her parents or her parents coming to visit her. When they spent the summer of 1901 with relatives in Ord, did Alice and her mother, Abigail, teach the little Howards any Esperanto? Or had Alice done that herself already?

We know that Alice taught Esperanto, since the Omaha Daily Bee reported that she was leading the class of Esperanto lessons held at the public library on Saturday afternoons in 1908. She later gave up that post to another member of the group, but in 1911 was running a class at for the Woman’s League. The Bee gave her organizational affiliations in 1911 as president of the Woman’s League,
secretary of the Esperanto society, correspondent of the U. S. Grant post, Women’s Relief Corps, and president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, alumnae chapter.
She was also in the Tennyson chapter of the Chautauqua Literary circle and the Frances Willard Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. She was a delegate to the Nebraska WCTU in 1909, so she probably wasn’t teaching the word “alkoholaĵo” (alcoholic beverage). She was born 15 October, 1860, and she died 7 January, 1940.

She is mentioned in a short item in Amerika Esperantisto in 1908 about the progress of the Omaha organization.
“The First Omaha Esperanto Club” was formed in July with twenty-seven members. Secretary, Mrs. W. B. Howard, 4722 Cap. avenue.
The same item goes on to mention what seems to be another Esperanto club in Omaha, but isn’t.
Master Dewey Webber writes from Omaha, July 13, that he is secretary of an Esperanto club, president, Mr. W. A. Webber, treasurer, Glen Webber. Unless we’re in error as to the date, the battle of Manila Bay was in 1898, so Dewey is hardly over ten years old.
A 1908 newspaper article does confirm that Dewey was born May 1, 1898. Another article does note that W. A. Webber is the president of the First Omaha Esperanto Club. He would have been about 44 in 1908. His son Glen, would have been about 11 or 12. Can we assume that William Webber’s wife Sarah was also in the club? (We can. She's on a list of Omaha Esperanto speakers.) However, Alice Howard was probably the secretary, and not the ten-year old.

He lived until 1984.

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