Quilting Exclusif Magasin, Omaha, Nebraska 

Translated from French, this shop's name in English is Exclusive Quilting Store.  Located at 1805 Dodge Street, the owner is identified on her circular as De Madam Hara who has "been serving the public in a highly satisfactory manner for eight years in Omaha [but was] known in Iowa City, Ia., as the Iowa City Quilt Co."  The circular illustrates all over patterns but she also has "vines, flowers, leaves and other beautiful designs [and does] Applique Embroidery, Fancy Bed Spreads on Plain Materials, Bath Robing, Piece Tops, Upholstering and Pillows, Etc., or anything you wish quilted."  She stated that "my service has no equal.  I specialize on very best machine quilting only."

Omaha's city directories for 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940 (Ancestry.com) identify her as Velista Hara, and also identifies a second quilting business as the Quilting Shoppe owned by Amy Sopher located two blocks down the street at 2021 Dodge.

Who was Velista Hara?  She was born Velista Kutchera in Iowa, April 1887, daughter of John and Mary Kutchera who immigrated in 1854 and 1865 respectively from their native Bohemia (part of today's Czech Republic), John as a 10 year old boy with his parents Joseph and Barbara.

Velista married Ernest Thomas Hora (not Hara) about 1913 and their son La Vern was born about 1915.  The family was enumerated in Riverside, IA, in the 1920 Washington County census but soon moved to Iowa City, IA, where Velista established a quilting business.  (Images from NewspaperArchive.comVelista's husband, an insurance and real estate agent, was a son of Bohemian natives Michael and Mary Anna (Liska) Hora.

Velista's marriage ended in a rather sensational divorce in 1924 in which her nine year old son testified on her behalf creating headlines in the Iowa City newspaper (his testimony reveals that his father was an alcoholic).  The parents were awarded joint custody of their son--his father during the school year (even though La Vern stayed with an unrelated family while his father traveled for his business) and his mother during the summer.

Velista moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and opened a new quilting shop.  She placed the following ad in a cookbook published in February 1937 by the Ladies Aid Society of the First Methodist Church.  Although the ad says "18 Years in Omaha," Velista was living in Iowa in 1918-1919.  Regardless of how long she'd been working in Omaha, this 1937 ad and the earllier flyer above reveal the sophisticated quilting business she developed, and one wonders how many employees she had.

Neither Velista or her son have been located in the 1930 census and it's not known what happened to Velista after 1940 when she was listed in the last available Omaha city directory.

© Wilene Smith, March 9, 2011, all rights reserved 

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