July 4, 1898: ‘Greatest celebration in history of the State’ | NevadaAppeal.com

July 4, 1898: ‘Greatest celebration in history of the State’

Sue Ballew
Special to the appeal
Charles Lynch/ Special Collections at University of Nevada, Reno The Carson City courthouse with the Magnolia Saloon at one end and Platt's business at the other.

In July of 1898, William McKinley was President of the United States, Reinhold Sadler was Governor of Nevada, Carson City was celebrating the 4th of July, and our country was at war with Spain. An ad placed in the Daily Appeal on July 1, 1898, says you can buy your flag bunting at Abe Cohn’ store, and that they also offer a full selection of flags “… which we will sell at bedrock prices.” And Henry Rosenbrock was introducing the Bohemian cigar at the Magnolia.

Carson City folks were making arrangements for a big celebration. “Independence Day, July 4, 1898, at Carson City, Nevada, greatest celebration in the history of the State. Grand Parade at 10:30 a.m. replete with novelties and striking features; beautiful floats, handsome exhibits, rich and magnificent displays never seen before on the coast. Appropriate commemoration exercises at the Capitol grounds after the parade. Grand patriotic open air concert by the Nevada State band. Celebrating the historic Battle of Manila …”

Even though on July 4, 1898, it had been 122 years since the Declaration of Independence, Carson City was celebrating in grand style. According to the Daily Appeal of July 2, 1898, they had even more reason to celebrate: Carson will be a wilderness of colors on the 4th … the Emporium was in the lead, but yesterday S. B. Cohen set the place for elaborate decorations … bunting and flags are in big demand and those who don’t lay in a store of it by this evening will not get any to speak of. Explosives of all kinds were never so plenty and never so cheap … The 4th, this year will be the biggest ever let loose in America. The way with Spain is the cause of an extra display of enthusiasm on the part of the people. … The man who doesn’t decorate will be regarded as a Spanish spy, an enemy of the Republic and a spotted man whom all patriots should either shun or bonk in the nose for luck …”

The celebration was quite a success with a parade and all, and a special poem was written by Prof. E.E. Roberts:

Awake, arouse and let all see

That we adore sweet liberty!

Let freedom’s shout and freemen’s song

Proclaim the truth both loud and long,

And echo round the broad green earth

The praises of its life and birth …

Carson City had a great day that 4th of July, and it was reported in the Daily Appeal on July 6, 1898:

The 4th in Carson was an ideal day and the cloudless sky and moderate temperature gave the promoters of the celebration all that they could ask for… Here are a few of the parade procession members: First Division-Grand Marshall, E. S. Daugherty. Color Bearer, Miss Eva Stone. Aids: Otto Schulz…T. R. Hofer… Phil Doyle, Jr., City Marshall, Wm. Kinney and aids. Nevada State Band, Mexican War Veterans, Grand Army of the Republic, Goddess of Liberty–Miss Lena Mara, President of the Day. Second Division. Warren Engine Company, Curry Engine Co. No. 2… Third Division. Indian School Band, Carson American Juvenile Military Company. The Car of State was very gorgeous affair and Miss Lena Mars, very appropriately dressed was a splendid Goddess, looking every inch the character. Miss Milliard, as America, was also very strikingly costumed … The float representing the savage condition of America when discovered by Columbus, with the half naked Indians was a splendid conception of the Currie’s. The one representing America freeing Cuba was received with cheers.

An article the same day talks about Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt’s proposal to mobilize the Navy and destroy the Spanish squadrons, but his plan was rejected and the “peaceful blockade” was inaugurated. The war will go right on and our soldiers and sailors will win. But it must always be a matter of regret that in the crisis of affairs there was not a man (William McKinley) in the Presidential chair strong and resolute enough to adopt the swift, sudden, daring plan of action mapped out by Roosevelt. In addition our soldiers in Cuba were upset with the kinds of clothes, “They have heavy woolen clothing to fight in under a broiling sun. The clothes were intended for men who go into the Arctic regions and help guard the treasures of the Klondike, and then the War Department changed their plans and sent them to Cuba, forgetting about the clothes.

Not all of the people overseas were on the United States side, as pointed out in this article from the Daily Appeal, July 1, 1898:

A young American girl staying temporarily with her family abroad has made to feel occasionally the pro-Spanish tendencies of some people. One evening at dinner a young man, pointing to his glass of beer, attracted the attention of the company present by airily remarking to our representative: “See this glass of beer? The dark brown represents Spain, solid and substantial, while the froth represents the United States.” “Yes,” was the quiet reply, but I notice the United States is on top.”

Our country’s 122nd birthday was celebrated with the whole city enthusiastically participating in the party.

• Sue Ballew is the daughter of Bill Dolan, who wrote the Past Pages column for the Nevada Appeal from 1947 until his death in 2006. She is president of the Carson City Historical Society.