Saturday, July 02, 2016

The program for July 4, 1890 (no beer tent)

The schedule for this year's four-day Independence Day celebration, concluding with fireworks on Monday night, appeared here yesterday.

For purposes of comparison, this is the schedule for July 4, 1890, as it appeared in The Chariton Herald of July 3, that year. 

A major difference, you'll notice, is that it was a one-day celebration then. Multi-day celebrations, going on for as long as I can remember, actually are fairly recent in the grand scheme of things.

Another major difference: A good deal of oratory was involved. That doesn't mean that everyone actually heard what the orators were saying (there were no sound systems back then) --- but most of those attending were expected to gather on the courthouse lawn at appointed times and sit there, as if they could hear.

The event was advertised as, "The Grandest Celebration in the History of Lucas County." Actually, it wasn't. The Herald reporter was so underwhelmed that he limited his coverage to a paragraph in the edition of July 10:

"The fourth of July celebration in Chariton was not a very excitable affair, although the program was carried out almost to the letter. Quite a number of people were assembled and enjoyed themselves visiting together, listening to the addresses, viewing the fireworks, etc. The address of Rev. R.W. Evans was spoken of as being as fine a piece of oratory as is ever heard on a 4th of July celebration. With all a good time was had and we have not heard of anyone kicking themselves because they celebrated in Chariton."

Other Lucas Countyans had celebrated elsewhere and down in Union Township, according to a correspondent's report, "Simon Linn and his lady went down to Humeston to celebrate the glorious fourth, but missed the train for home. They secured passage with Mr. E. Henry, who, upon arriving at his home offered Simon the team and buggy to take his lady home. But Simon "lowed" they could walk, which they did. Simon said he hated to have to bring the team back and then have to walk home alone after dark."

That was not the biggest news in Union Township that week, however. The Union Township correspondent led his or her report with bigger news --- "The 4 p.m. passenger train Tuesday evening killed the Rev. A.C. Heckathorn's cow."

Over east a ways at Freedom, the correspondent for that neighborhood was concerned because, "We are informed that a country store not far from here is kept open Sunday evenings to induce boys, or would-be young men, to spend their time there in loafing and smoking, making a very free use of tobacco. If this be continued, the law should be enforced."

Tobacco may have been a problem, too, at both Chariton and Humeston on the 4th but for the most part, demon rum had not sullied the grand and glorious. Recent legislation had made the entire state "dry" so saloons were officially shuttered and would remain so until 1893, when legislators changed their minds and handed local governments the authority to set their own liquor laws.

So that's another point of contrast between 1890 and 2016 in Chariton --- there was no beer tent that year.

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