12,000 People Celebrate the Fourth of July in Cuba City

By the summer of 1917, Cuba City was gearing up for war in Europe. The Fourth of July seemed like the perfect way to show off the town's patriotism and what a celebration they planned! 

This is the front page of the Cuba City News-Herald on June 29, 1917:

And here is the newspaper ad announcing the plans for the big day:

Event planners had high hopes for Cuba City's Fourth of July celebration, and it appears that it was a great success. According to the following article, at least 12,000 people flooded Cuba City on July 4, 1917!

Cuba City News Herald  July 6, 1917

Some Celebration

Cuba City Has Great Patriotic Demonstration

It wasn’t a mere celebration—it was a patriotic whirlwind and the largest crowd in the history of the city, conservatively estimated at 12,000.

The day’s doings opened up with a concert at the North Western depot by the Cuba City Military Band.

Then followed the grand street parade—a marvelous presentation of patriotic, fraternal and civic events.

The baseball game between Benton and Hazel Green was a hotly contested feature and was won by Benton the score being 2 to 0.

The afternoon’s program at the city park opened by a band concert. Then followed the chorus, “America,” sung by the little folks and the vast audience.

Hon. S. E. Smalley gave the address of welcome in his customary pleasing manner and the Milledgeville Drum Corps favored the audience with a number of selections with fife and drum, each member of the little company being a veteran of the Civil War.

John P. Lacke then read the famous Declaration of Independence and was followed by a number of vocal selections by Jos. V. Ryan, the Irish rag time king of Ft. Dodge, Iowa.

Mayor Harris headed the parade and was followed by mounted riders, Messrs. B.A. Clemens, Alfred Turner, James Galligan, and Homer Ralph, who were to have impersonated Washington, Pershing, Lee and Grant, but owing to the costumes not arriving were caused to wear civilian clothes.

Then followed the Milledgeville Drum Corps in a decorated auto, playing patriotic airs, which added much to the military aspect of the occasion.

Then followed a decorated car containing Hon. John Stephens, C.A. Bazinett, Jno. Clemens, Hon. S.E. Smalley and C.C. Clemens. The next in line were the Benton Boy Scouts, who paraded in true soldierly style. Then came the members of the Cuba City Fire Department in natty new uniforms, each bearing a “Star Spangled Banner.”

The Cuba City Military Band then came along in their swell uniforms of white and blue and playing inspiring strains of patriotic music. The band was followed by a company of local cadets under command of Capt. Frank Florine, Jr., and with only two weeks drill surprised the crowd with their precision which was equal to that of United States Regulars. We believe this is a move in the right direction and efforts should be made toward making it a permanent institution of our city for the good of our boys. Next came the school children with radiant, joyous faces, no doubt partly inspired by the easy traveling due to our fine street pavement. A word of appreciation is due Messrs Ben Conlon and Alban Fiedler and the Misses Harris, Hendricks and Peacock in directing the children.

The section of the parade consisting of the floats included the Red Cross, Rebekahs, Royal Neighbors, Eastern Star and Daughters of Isabella—and it would be hard to pick a winner from such an excellent line-up.

Decorated autos advertising the Big Chautauqua to be held in Cuba City, July 24-28, McNett’s Quality Store, the Maxwell and Hupmobile autos, and the Chalmers car were in the line of march. Then came a number of boys mounted on ponies, followed by Louis Cunzenheim with his tractor and binder.

The wind-up of the parade was “Maud’s” brother hitched to a cart.

Hon. J.W. Murphy, of Platteville, then delivered an address fired with patriotic zeal which was enthusiastically received. He also gave an understandable explanation of the Red Cross movement.

Then came the drill by the Benton Boy Scouts—a very creditable exhibition.

“The Star Spangled Banner” was then sung by the children on the platform and the audience all standing.

Daylight fireworks (the first shown in our city) were next on the program, followed by the various races, which were pulled off in a creditable manner.

The evening program opened with a concert by our military band, followed by a brass quartette consisting of Messrs. Kellner, Warner, Stephens and Goldthorpe, who played “Southern Songs” in a pleasing manner.

A series of tableau followed which Messrs. Faherty, Ralph, Fiedler, and the Misses Heitkamp, Hendricks, Harris and Byrne, interpreted various personages in the early history of our country. A group of songs by Joseph Ryan, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. C.H. Bartlett, amused the audience, and their numbers were followed by another series of tableau impersonated by Messrs. Clemens, Galligan, Fiedler, Riker, O’Neill, Fields, Splinter, Cummins, Burns and Turner, the Misses Byrne, Heitkamp, and Varker, and Mesdames Clemens, Jacobi, Brewer, and Heil.

Four reels of movies by Loeffelholz Bros. delighted the vast audience and the grand display of fireworks wound up a day that will long be remembered.

The vast crowd is to be commented on their orderly deportment for there are few cities of the size of Cuba City entertaining such an enormous crowd with in which there is not more or less disorder. Not a single accident occurred to mar the day’s celebration demonstrating a truly sane Fourth. An unusually large number of autos were parked about the city and it is doubtless due to the presence of the “dummy police” signs at the street intersections that not an auto accident occurred.

The dance at the Auditorium drew a record-breaking crowd and the Merry-Go-Round and various stands drew capacity business.

A man was nabbed in the morning by the police for circulating anti-draft literature.

We cannot bring this account to a close without giving credit to whom credit belongs for the unqualified success of the parade. On the shoulders of one man rests the lion’s share—C.E. Turnbull. He has merited the sincere appreciation of all of our citizens for his excellent work.


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