Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Observing the 4th in a vanished Lucas County world

I wrote yesterday about the 4th of July, 1901, celebration projected for Chariton --- and intended to leave it at that. But 1901 was the year the editor of The Chariton Patriot decided to report on all of that year's major celebrations in the county in his edition of July 11 and I couldn't leave that alone.

The reports are like dispatches from an entirely different world, where the place names and the landscape are familiar but the culture has vanished.

The report from Chariton consisted primarily of a list of winners in various races and a couple of descriptive paragraphs: "The glorious Fourth in Chariton passed off in a rather quiet and orderly manner. There was not anything of much interest that took place during the forenoon. There was quite a large crowd of people in town and many of them enjoyed their dinners in the courthouse park under the trees, where seats had been placed for the accommodation of the people. In the afternoon, there were races of various kinds.

"The City Guard Band discoursed sweet music all day. In the evening there was a small display of fireworks. Roman candles were given away and it was 'dangerous to be safe' from sparks for a time. The crowd was quite orderly for a Fourth of July crowd, and the officers tell us they did not see any drunks, and did not have occasion to arrest anyone."

Here are the reports from other Lucas County communities that followed:


The people of Russell and vicinity showed their patriotism this year by celebrating the 4th of July in the proper way. The town was crowded all day by an enthusiastic and good-natured crowd. The program for the day was commenced at 10 o'clock and was carried out in the park north of the Presbyterian church, where a platform and seats were erected. The Russell Cornet Band opened the program by playing a patriotic air, after which Rev. J.L. Johnson of the Methodist church offered a fitting blessing on the exercises and people. The address of welcome was well given by Editor J.L. Long of the Union, and Miss Margaret Johnson read the Declaration of Independence. Little Grace Gittinger recited an appropriate selection in her usual charming manner, a patriotic song was sung, and the speaker of the day, Hon. J.A. Campbell, was introduced His speech was full of good thoughts and was well received. This closed the exercises for the morning.

At 1:30 the band gave an excellent concert in the park and then the fun of the day commenced. There were races of all kinds, pony, foot, ladies' bicycle and fat man's races; also jumping and racing. The only thing that could have marred anyone's pleasure was the accident that occurred, and the small boy being forbidden to shoot fire crackers. In the evening the band gave another delightful concert, after which there was a fine display of fireworks.


The procession formed near the miners' hall. The white band led, followed by the National Colors, the Rediculous Ragamuffins, the baseball boys, the Union Sunday School, next the Latter Day Saints' Sunday School, followed by the United Mine Workers, wagons buggies and carriages. At the entrance to the grove, each child was presented with candy and an orange. The morning exercises consisted of solo, glee club and children's choir singing. Prof. John L. Morgan led the Glee Club and Mr. Wm. Evans the children's choir. Major Malion of Ottumwa delivered the address in the afternoon. He is an earnest, clear cut talker, not eloquent but logical and at times forceful. His effort was appreciated. The ball game was not as good as expected. The Bonaparte boys were discouraged, their captain being unable to play. The game stood 16 to 1, in favor of Cleveland. The contests for the best comic song and the best sentimental song was one of the most attractive features of the whole day. The fireworks were fine and entertained a large crowd of people. the celebration as a whole was an ideal day, a grand success financially, socially and morally. Not one drunken man was seen on the grounds.


The Fourth of July celebration in Lucas was a complete success, without anything to mar the enjoyment. The people began to assemble early in the morning, and by the time the parade had passed the streets were well filled with pleasure seekers. The exercises at the grounds were given in fine style and according to the program. The singing by the Harmony Club was splendid and well received by the spectators. The address of the day by Hon. Joseph Mitchell of Ottumwa was full of good things, appropriate to the occasion and served to stir the patriotism of the audience to it highest pitch. After a huge basket dinner the sports arranged for were carried out. The races were close and exciting and furnished good amusement for the people. The match game of ball between Lucas and Hiteman was well played and resulted in a victory for the latter by a score of 17 to 16. After the sports the people spent the time in various ways until evening, when an elaborate display of fireworks was given. A large number of people attended the ball at the opera house and stayed until the week hours of the morning, fully determined to make July 4, 1901, one long to be remembered.


That the eagle screamed just a trifle louder as it passed over Derby than it did as it soared over some of the surrounding towns is not to be wondered. The unusually fine program and other attractions drew the largest crowd that ever attended a public function of any kind in the town. An orchestra of nine pieces rendered fine music. The first selection was an overture arranged especially for the occasion. A ladies double quartette sang the "Star Spangled Banner." Rev. Pressley in a few well chosen words introduced Mr. Wesley Saunders of Centerville, the orator of the day. Mr. Saunders' boyhood home was near there and many of his old time friends were present to hear him. Mr. Saunders spoke chiefly on the progress of our country, our inventions and our educational advantages. He held the attention of his audience throughout. The Ariel Ladies quartette gave a humorous patriotic selection which received a well merited round of applause. In the afternoon a ball game between Derby and Cambria resulted in favor of Derby, the score standing 23 to 8. As a whole the day passed off very pleasantly.

Several accidents, all of them unavoidable, happened. Miss Alida Smith was hit in the forehead by the ball while attending the ball game, but was not seriously hurt. Floyd Hough, 1st baseman for the Derby team, had the misfortune to have a collision with another player resulting in a broken collar bone for Hough. Hiram Canfield, while helping with the fireworks in the evening, had his hands quite seriously burned by the premature explosion of a Roman Candle.


Newbern began the celebration of the Fourth with a sunrise salute, ringing of the church bells, followed by the small boys and the firecrackers, until 10 o'clock, at which time there was a parade somewhat as follows: Chief foresters of M.W.A., Belinda Martial Band, members of the Newbern M.W.A. and visiting camps, children wearing caps representing the states and territories and our new possessions, Miss Della Worley acting as goddess of liberty, her father, W.H. Worley, carrying the stars and stripes by her side. After the parade exercises were held at the grounds north of town. Singing. Prayer by Rev. Butterfield of Lacona. Reading of Declaration of Independence by Mr. Morrison. Song, Martial music. Recitations by Misses Mattie Porter and Willie Anderson. Dinner. Reassembled at 1:30 o'clcok. Address by Rev. Butterfield. Baseball game. In the evening there was a public installation of officers in the M.W.A., followed by a good display of fireworks, which closed one of the best celebrations Newbern ever had.


The 4th passed off quietly and pleasantly, a number of families picniced in Clore's grove and had a good social time and in the evening there was quite a good display of fireworks.


The Fourth was celebrated as follows. At night with fireworks and a dance in the hall and the Epworth League gave an ice cream supper.


I was intrigued by a bit of the report from Cleveland ---  that the "white band" had led the parade. At the time there were two Clevelands --- the incorporated village where white coal miners and their families lived and the unincorporated area to the east, where black miners and their families lived, known as East Cleveland. Each had its separate institutions --- and bands. I was left wondering if the black families of Lucas County celebrated Independence Day back in 1901, too, but there was no report in The Patriot from East Cleveland, so it seems unlikely we'll ever know.

No comments: