The very first edition of a newspaper in Jamestown editorialized that people needed to observe the Fourth of July.
In fact, the edition was distributed on July 4, 1878, and expressed the opinion that some people believed that the “Fourth of July is played out.”
“This is not well,” said a front-page article likely written by Edward Foster, the editor of the new Jamestown Alert. “As it is good to keep in memory the unselfish deeds of the haters of our country.”
It appears there were no organized festivities in the young city of Jamestown in 1878, “but we may keep it in our hearts and by such other means as may seem good to us, refrain from such exercises as shall desecrate it.”
It doesn’t seem Jamestown managed any Fourth of July celebration in 1879, although folks may have traveled out to Fort Totten for horse races among the cavalry troopers stationed there.
The first planned Independence Day festivity in Jamestown likely came on July 3, 1880. The Fourth of July was on a Sunday that year, requiring the big party be moved up a day.
Events started with a parade that began its march when “a national salute fired from Klaus’s battery” was sounded on what is now First Avenue in Jamestown. The parade included veterans, the Jamestown Turnverein, likely an athletic club, school children, a display of horsedrawn farm equipment and finally the citizens of the community in their carriages.
Given Jamestown’s population of just 400 people in the 1880 U.S. Census, you have to wonder who was actually watching the parade.
Afternoon events included the reading of the Declaration of Independence, something that seemed to be a fixture in early Jamestown, Fourth of July celebrations, horse races and foot races.
As the sun set, a “creditable display” of fireworks and a grand ball at the Klaus Hall wrapped up the activities that the editors of The Jamestown Alert deemed a success.
“The absence of all quarreling and drunkenness was a marked feature,” wrote the Alert.
I suppose the Jamestown public rested on Sunday and went back to work on Monday.
As part of the census, the population of Stutsman County was found at just over 1,000 people outside Jamestown with just about 10,000 acres under cultivation in the county.
Of course, The Jamestown Alert was promoting the region hoping to bring more settlers and readers for the paper.
“We are for Jamestown, Stutsman County and Northern Dakota,” wrote the Alert, referring to its editorial policy. “We do not expect to please you all the time, why, you know you can not please yourselves more than half the time.”