North Omaha has been home to all kinds of people. Some were entrepreneurs, some were devoutly religious, and every now and then some were a little bit of one and the other. This is a biography of one such woman named Perfect Peace (1896-1951).
Born in 1896, Esther V. Dixon was an enigmatic woman with a lot of presence. Esther was from Omaha, where her father Joseph W. Singleton (1879-1944) lived his entire life. She married John Dixon in 1916 and was a businesswoman and religious leader who was important in North Omaha.
New Lamar Hotel
From 1924 to 1927, Mrs. Dixon was the proprietor of the New Hotel Lamar located at 1803 North 24th Street in the Near North Side neighborhood of North Omaha. The Lamar was a Black hotel, and was located in the segregated Black neighborhood surrounding North 24th Street at that time. It was in the same building as the Stuart Art Shoppe. Newspaper ads for the hotel ran in the Omaha Monitor, and said it was a “semi-modern” facility with “comfortable rooms” and reasonable rates. There was a “cafe in connection” with the business, too.
In a 1932 letter to the editor of the Guide, Mrs. Dixon was called out for her community work. Acknowledged as an ordained minister, Esther was called “Mother Dixon” in the neighborhood and it was said that she helped “fill an important place in our community life.”
Two years later, her husband John Dixon died in August 1934, leaving his wife Mrs. Dixon and their daughter Sedonia Mitrethia Dixon (1932-2015) behind. Rev. O.J. Burkhardt presided over the funeral, and according to a “card of thanks” published in the Omaha Guide, Mrs. Dixon was grateful for everyone’s care and concern.
A “Perfect” Convalescent Home
In the 1940s, Perfect Peace was operating a convalescent home at 1724 North 27th Street. In 1943, Mrs. Dixon made the newspaper when it gleefully announced, “Four more seek happiness by adopting spiritual names.” Proclaiming that the four individually filed for their name changes, the paper said, “that their sub-conscious selves have manifested their names in the spiritual world” and that “they feel their happiness on earth would be assured if they could legally use these names.” Along with Mrs. Dixon’s name change to Perfect Peace were Patient Love, Brother Freeheart, and Paul Sunshine.
A 1944 article said that Perfect Peace and the rest of the group had many religious reasons for changing their names. Claiming to be four-years-old in her new religion, Perfect also renounced having been married because they weren’t recognized that way by Father Divine (1876-1975). A newspaper article said, “The four requested that no reference be made to their color, for they recognize no difference in races. They said they meet each Sunday night in the home of Patient Love, whose husband is heart sincere, and that “Father blesses us together there.”
In 1945, she stopped being connected with Father Divine, and joined the Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.
The Passing of an Enigmatic Icon
On a late summer night in 1951, Perfect was driving two fellow worshippers back to Omaha from Lincoln when her car plunged into a ravine near modern-day 240th and West Dodge Road. Police theorized that the car was traveling westbound when Perfect Peace decided to turn around. Something came in front of her and she swerved to miss it, sending the car into the ravine. Perfect Peace died in the accident, and her passengers, both from Chicago, were seriously injured and taken to Doctor’s Hospital in Omaha.
After she died, Perfect’s daughter Mitrethia made a statement to the paper that her mother gave up Father Divine just two years after joining, and had changed her name for non-religious reasons.
Perfect Peace was a deaconness in her church when she died. The Omaha Star wrote a glowing eulogy celebrating her life, and many people mourned her passing. Her funeral was held at Salem Baptist, with Rev. J.W. Goodwin leading the service. She was buried at Forest Lawn.
Today, there is no memorial to Perfect in the community. Her hotel and convalescent home have been forgotten, with each of the buildings as well as her home demolished.
You Might Like…
- People from North Omaha History
- A History of 24th Street in North Omaha
- History of Businesses Owned By African Americans in Omaha
- “Perfect Peace” on findagrave.com