Independence Day 1900 at Spiritwood Lake

There were a lot of plans to celebrate the first Independence Day of the 20th century.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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There are those who say all it takes to bring rain in North Dakota is for someone to plan an outdoor event.

That was particularly true on the Fourth of July in 1900 when the festivities brought some much needed precipitation.

A headline of the July 5, 1900, Jamestown Alert said “Heaviest rainfall in North Dakota for many years last night and today.” The article went on to call the showers a “million dollar rain” that was anticipated to make the crops for the entire season.

Programs are offered on Sundays during the summer at the Stutsman County Museum.

There were a lot of plans to celebrate the first Independence Day of the 20th century.

Festivities included a picnic in Jamestown sponsored by the Modern Woodmen of America and the Royal Neighbors. That affair included a pickup baseball game of Woodmen members followed by the local high school team taking on all comers as the second game of the doubleheader.


The Catholic Church in Jamestown sponsored its own picnic with children’s races and games.

But the biggest event was planned for Spiritwood Lake where patriotic readings and speeches were on the schedule.

Cast O.A. Boynton, local community leader and businessman, started his speech by saying, “those who know me have only themselves to blame for being present.”

I like that kind of attitude in a public speaker.

“Some say that the heavy rainfall is a direct result of Captain Boynton’s talk,” wrote The Jamestown Alert.
The rain evidently came down hard, soaking people, picnic baskets and the ground to the point of saturation.

“A number rode out on their wheels (horse-drawn buggies or wagons) and found the same could not be used on their return,” continued the Alert. “Some of the horses attached to vehicles played out on the return trip and the passengers found it necessary to walk.”

One person returning to Jamestown from Spiritwood said he saw a steady line of “pedestrians” along the route all the way into town.

I hope everyone has a safe, dry and happy Fourth of July.


Keep in the mind that any holiday festivities that don’t involve walking nearly 20 miles on wet ground to get home are better than what might have been the worst Independence Day celebration in Stutsman County history.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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