Celebrating New Year’s Day 121 years ago

New Year's Day activities from 1901 in Jamestown.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

Not all of the entertainment that passed through Jamestown was all that good. Some would even say that a show at New Year's in 1901 was downright bad.

The local opera house had booked in the “Knobs o’ Tennessee” for the holiday. The show was billed as a melodrama revolving around hunting.

Critics said the show missed the mark.

“The play was advertised as a melodrama but it was of the funny kind,” wrote The Jamestown Alert. “With the fun in the wrong place.”


Evidently, the show had been promoted with some well-known actors of the day, but the cast was changed after it left the big markets of Chicago and St. Paul.

“The actors worked hard to please and did the best they could,” continued the Alert. “… for the information of the public, it is fair to say that the management of the opera house tried hard to cancel the date.”

The locally developed entertainment seemed to be of a higher quality marking the New Year’s holiday in 1901.

A masquerade ball was the place to be as the year 1900 transitioned into 1901.

The scene was described as happy by the Alert with “all kinds of brilliant and fancy costumes, some gay and grotesque, some otherwise.”

Costumes included Native Americans, cowboys and Dutchmen along with the “Queen of Hearts and the Peanut Girl” and some new characters.

The $5 for the best costume went to a lady who wore an “elegant and becoming black lace dress trimmed with gold with diamond brooch and crown.”

In case you are wondering, the lady and her costume represented “night.”


Prizes were awarded for the best costume, best waltz and the most comical costume.

Given modern sensitivities, many of the costumes would not be considered appropriate today but were fodder for the front page of the newspapers of the day.

While not entered in the contest, a couple of young ladies represented the newspaper industry in Jamestown.

Dressed in costumes “festooned with newspapers” these ladies distributed copies of The Jamestown Alert and Jamestown Capital to members of the crowd.

Try doing that with today's online edition.

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Related Topics: HISTORY
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