May 31, 2016

New 1898 Decoration Day photo found

Holly Street, Skagway, Alaska
May 1, 1898

Courtesy of Alaska State Library - Historical Collections
(Click image to enlarge)

Holly Street, Skagway, Alaska
May 1, 1898
Courtesy of Alaska State Library - Historical Collections
(Click image to enlarge)

ecoration Day 
Skagway, Alaska, May 1, 1898

     Historian Diane Purvis of the Facebook group Pacific Northwest, Alaska, California, and British Columbia has located a second photograph of the May 1, 1898 parade. Because there are only slight variations in the two shots it is obvious that they were taken just seconds a part. The bottom photograph was located previous to 2009. It is in my book Alias Soapy Smith. One key difference is that the photographer etched in "Decoration Day Skagway" twice in the latest find. This determines with certainty that this photograph is from May 1, 1898.
     In Alias Soapy Smith I recorded that the date of the photograph was May 1, 1898, but according to E. J. "Stroller" White of The Skaguay News the parade took place on Monday May 30. However, the Denver Evening Post reported on the parade in their May 24 issue, six days prior to the festivities. The article is copied from the May 2 edition of the Skagway News that mentions the parade occurring "last Sunday," making the date of the parade May 1.

Why such a wide variation in the dates of Decoration Day and Memorial Day?

Decoration Day is what Memorial Day was first called. Today we celebrate it on the last Monday in May, but in the 19th century Decoration Day was celebrated on different dates all across the country, between late spring and early summer. 

The following is from the Denver Evening Post May 24, 1898.

By 7 o’clock … upwards of six hundred men and many ladies could be seen on the streets wearing red, white and blue badges which read: “Freedom for Cuba! Remember the Maine! Compliments of Skaguay Military Company. Jeff R. Smith, captain.” At 7:30 o’clock a procession nearly two blocks in length formed on Broadway, led by a carriage containing Dr. Hornsby and Moore, Walter Church and Deputy United States Marshal John Cudihee, and headed by the Skaguay Cornet band. Standard Bearer Tanner of Denver, Colo., proudly bore a large silk flag on which is inscribed the words, “First Regiment of Alaska Militia.”
     Beside him marched Captain Jeff R. Smith of the Skaguay guards.
    Following were members of the United States Army, the Skaguay guards and citizens in all upwards of four hundred men, to say nothing of a number of women, who [being] patriotically inclined, donned male garb, and joined in the procession. Along [the way] were seen many banners and transparencies on which were inscribed such mottoes as “Death to Weyler,” “Down with Spain,” “Freedom for Cuba,” etc. To the soul inspiring strains of “Marching Through Georgia,” the procession headed up Broadway to Seventh avenue thence west to Main street and to the post office, where the nation’s flag was saluted, and with bared heads, the gallant members of the procession and upwards of two thousand sidewalk escorts listened to the melody of that old tune so dear to the heart of every American, “The Star Spangled Banner.” From the post office the march was continued to the United States customs house on State street, when heads were again bared and that time-honored American melody, “Yankee Doodle,” floated out on the evening breezes.
     From the customs house the procession headed for the city hall, where Captain Smith gave the order to “break ranks.” And a general round-up took place on Fifth Avenue before the city hall, but the avenue was crowded the entire distance between State and Broadway. By previous arrangement Dr. J. A. Hornsby had been selected as chairman of the “spread eagle” portion of the exercises, and for ten minutes he entertained the large crowd with the kind of patriotic speech that causes a man to want to take the next steamer for the scene of action. Dr. Hornsby retired by introducing the well known attorney, Walter Church, who, in his usually happy, eloquent and pleasant manner, delivered an address aptly appropriate and pointed. He was followed by Attorney I. N. Wilcoxen, a battle-scarred veteran of the last war. Mr. Wilcoxen is still able and willing to battle for the stars and stripes, and before his able address was concluded all his hearers were ready to enlist in the good cause. F. T. Kellar followed in a speech rampant in vim, vigor, humor and patriotism. He is only a “boy” but the war spirit is strong within him.
     Jeff R. Smith, captain of the Skaguay Guards, made the closing address.
     While Jeff’s eloquence is not of that style which is said to make arches of Irish oak resound, yet he has a manner which causes his hearers to vociferously applaud. He closed his address by asserting that he had actually captured Weyler, and had him then and there in custody.
     The Seattle Post Intelligencer quoted Jeff’s closing remarks.
    “There is one man, who in this terrible strife, has transcended the bounds of fair war. He has murdered the helpless and weak, debauched women and starved little children. Mr. Chairman, this man we have with us today. I have him here, and now we will proceed to hang and burn Butcher Weyler.”
     The Denver Evening Post continued.
     At that moment “Weyler” was run up on a pre-arranged wire and properly hooted at by the crowd. A big bonfire was at once started, and Weyler was burned in effigy amid the deafening yells of upward of two thousand enthusiastic Americans.

Wikipedia: Decoration Day

Decoration Day, May 1, 1898
April 1, 2010

Decoration Day: pages 500-502.

"He died with many good deeds to his credit, as well as the other kind, but it is always the bad things he did which people remember."
—Henry “Yank Fewclothes” Edwards
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 592.

May 31

1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed by Congress.
1859: The Philadelphia Athletics are formally organized to play the game of Town Ball.
1867: Two soldiers on escort duty from Fort Dodge are killed by Indians near the Bluff Ranch, Kansas.
1870: E. J. DeSemdt patents asphalt.
1877: Colonel Nelson Miles reports that 2,300 Sioux Indians have surrendered in the last two months, at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies in Nebraska.
1879: Madison Square Garden in New York opens.
1880: The League of American Wheelman, the first U.S. bicycle society is formed in Newport, Rhode Island.
1883: Soapy Smith purchases a street vendors license to sell his prize package soap in Washington City, Iowa.
1884: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patents flaked cereal (Corn Flakes).
1889: More than 2,200 people die after the dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania collapses. In Denver, Colorado Soapy Smith donates to a charity drive to help the survivors.
1900: Carry Nation goes on her first saloon wrecking rampage in Kiowa, Kansas.

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