Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Reunion of the Blue and the Gray...A Picnic in Baxter County

With the ongoing celebrating of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, I decided not to search out articles that  chronicled our division as a nation but would commemorate of our unity in the Ozarks. I believe these next few articles point to the way to healing and the restoration that took years to occur in the Ozarks.

In 1902, a committee was formed in Baxter County, Arkansas, to not only bring together citizens of this region, but give credence to the old Civil War soldiers in their sunset years. This too is the origin of the current Baxter County Fair. Though some of this has been chronicled in past newspapers and books, I believe I have found other articles that have not been published since 1902 – 04.

As I have mentioned in the past, it is truly difficult for me to point the accusing finger wholly at North or South. At times, both sides possessed accolades tribute, and other times each held the disdain of atrocities which seemed to prevail on both sides. However, after decades had passed and the tender wounds had begun to mend, there were men willing to be leaders for the next generation.

I believe history has the potential to change us.

I believe we can be a catalyst to change history by learning from the tragic lessons of the past.

How can we change our history?

Reconstruction will never succeed without Reconciliation.

The day Reconciliation is initiated...is the day History Changes.

As we walk the path of life, there will be opportunities to mend broken relationships. I believe the Father in Heaven can bring about these opportunities of reconciliation no matter our history.

After reading these next few articles, I believe it may be this very point of view the old soldiers of Baxter County would have us to grasp in these days. I believe you too, Dear Reader, can walk away with this same point of view. If this is so, maybe these old soldiers have accomplished their task they initiated in 1902.

This migration from Division to Unity is a welcome commodity in our Ozarks’ History.

Two days for Pleasure!
Reunion of the Blue and the Gray
MOUNTAIN Home, Ark.,
Friday and Saturday,
August 1 and 2
On Friday, Aug., 1, PROF MURGLE of Tioga, Ill., will make a
Thrilling Balloon Ascension and Parachute Leap.
The exercises will consist of music, both Vocal and Instrumental,
 Oratory by the best talent in North Arkansas, Base Ball contest be-
tween  two  crack  teams.   Fire  Works  at  Night.   There will be
swings,   Lemonade   Stands   and   Refreshments   generally.
Everyone is invited to come and with well filled baskets, cheerful
hearts  and  thinking minds.  Come and let us have a  glorious time.
By order of                                       Executive Committee.

End of Advertisement 

Reunion of the Blue and the Gray
MOUNTAIN Home, Ark.,
Friday and Saturday,
August 1 and 2
Address of welcome…….………..………..………………………Z. M. Horton.
Response……………….….Capt. B. F. Bodenhamer, Maj. H. H. Hilton.
Music….”Yankee Doodle,” “Dixie”…………..…………………………..Band.

1:30 p. m. Music
Address………………………………………………………..…….Hon. J. C. Floyd.
Address………………………………………………………..….….Hon. Chas Cole.
Balloon ascension and parachute leap……........…………..Prof. Murgle.
Baseball Game……………….............……….Yellville vs. Mountain Home.
 End of Advertisement  

 Our Two Days Picnic
The picnic at Mtn. Home Aug. 1st and 2nd was a complete success. Early Friday morning, the people began to gather from every point of the compass and by 10 o’clock the town was full to overflowing with plenty of folks at the grounds to keep the four swings and six lemonade stands running full blast. At 10 o’clock a procession was formed on the public square headed by a float consisting of four wagons, pulled by a ten horse power steam engine. On the float was seated the young ladies and little girls representing the several states and territories, and the boys representing the signers of the Declaration of Independence, all adorned with the red, white and blue, surmounted by the American flag. This float truly represented the beauty and chivalry of young America. Following the float came the old soldiers, both the blue and gray. Next a long line of citizens and visitors. The procession wended its way to the picnic grounds on the public school campus. Arriving at the campus, after music by the band and “Hail Columbia” and “Star Spangled Banner” by the chorus class, Rev. H. H. Hilton invoked the blessing of heaven upon the gathering. The crowd was then addressed by the Hon. Z. M. Horton, who took for his subject, “The greatness of our country.” He maintained this was the greatest government in the history of the world and that it was greater than any political party or faction, that it was safe in the hands of any political party and had come to stay. That it was equal to any emergency and capable of settling any question that could arise. In military strength it was invincible. He declared that any government that could subdue and strike from the map of the world the “Confederate State of America,” could bid defiance to any or all other governments. He closed with a tribute to the soldiers of both armies and especially Robert E. Lee, whom he had dominated the vanquished victor. Mr. Horton’s address was timely and well received by the audience. After Mr. Horton’s speech the crowd was dismissed for dinner. Everybody came with well filled baskets. There was enough food for all and to spare. The amount of eatables on the ground both days is conclusive evidence of the prosperous condition of our people. After dinner the crowd was entertained by good music and an able and eloquent speech by Hon. J. C. Floyd, the gifted orator from Marion county. Among other things he referred at some length to our vast mineral wealth, reviewing the various measures that led step by step to its development and made Baxter county the most prominent of all its competitors on the mineral map drawn by Prof. Branner, the best geologist in the world. Mr. Floyd’s address was well timed, instructive and delighted his vast audience.

After the speech of Mr. Floyd, the match game between the baseball teams of Mtn. Home and Yellville was to be the  feature of the afternoon, but the shower of rain caused it to be postponed till the next afternoon, as did also the balloon ascension, which was to have taken place at 4 p.m.

On Saturday, the 2nd day, the crowd was entertained in the forenoon by able and eloquent addresses by Mr. Joe Deatherage and Prof. L. A. Morton.

Prof. Morton has accepted the position of principal in the Mountain Home College, and came just in time to meet the big crowd and get acquainted. He needs no better introduction to our people and the address delivered by him on that occasion. On the manner in which he has met our people and taken to his work, we predict that the success of the school under his management is assured.

After Prof. Morton’s address the crowd was treated to splendid recitations by some of those splendid elocutionists for which Mtn. Home has become celebrated, notably Miss Annie Simpson and Miss Hazel Brown.

The crowd then witnessed the balloon ascension and parachute leap by Prof. Murgle. This was a great feature and was closely watched from the starting of the inflation until the ascension was made and the aeronaut safely landed.

Dinner was then announced and was as plentiful as on the previous day.

Dinner over the crowd divided, part going to the ball game and the others remaining to hear the political discussions between the candidates for governor. Hon. H. H. Meyers, (Clayton Republican) opened the discussion, followed by Hon. T. M. Humphreys, democrat, of Fayetteville, representing Gov. Davis, who was unable to be here. Myers closed the debate with a 30 minutes speech. By this time the crowd was weary, but listened to Judge Greaves (insurgent republican), who represented his side of the case in a half hour speech.

All the speakers are fluent talkers and made hard hits at each other, eliciting applause whenever a good point was made. But the people were out for enjoyment and seemed to take very little interest in the discussion. It is an old axiom that a “a fool can ask questions that puzzles a wise man to answer.” There was one in the crowd that undertook the role of questioner while Judge Humphreys was speaking, but was soon silenced by a good natured, witty reprimand.

There were 2,500 to 3,000 people in attendance each day, perhaps the largest crowd ever assembled in Mtn. Home. It was the most orderly and well-behaved gathering of its size ever known in the place, and many say the best they ever saw anywhere. There was no drunkenness, quarreling or boisterous conduct, and nothing to mar the general good will that seemed to prevail all minds. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and go away feeling glad that they came.
End of Article 

 The Ball Game.
The Yellville boys were “too many” for the home nine, as might have been expected. The home nine were “just jumped up” for the occasion and had only two or three days practice, while the Yellville team is an old one and well drilled. However there was some good work done by the home club. John Harlan was by odds the best player on the ground, and if the catcher could have held the ball he pitched the game would have been closer than it was 42 to 6 in favor of Yellville. As it was Harlan “fanned” 13 in the game and would have got more of ‘em but for being hard hit on the arm by the Yellville pitcher. Good feeling prevailed and an ambition was aroused in Mtn. Home that we hope will culminated the organization and maintenance of a home baseball team willing and able to cross bats with any of our neighbors.
End of Article 

The North Arkansas United Veterans Association of the Blue and Gray.
Among stated features of the picnic program, none was more completely carried out than the organizing of “The Blue and Gray,” with thirty-one charter members adopting the following constitution and by-laws:
Section 1. This organization shall be known as The North Arkansas United Veterans Association of the Blue and Gray.
Section 2. As a qualification for membership the applicant shall offer satisfactory evidence that he was a regularly enlisted soldier in the Federal and Confederate army, during our civil war or in our war with Mexico.
Section 3. The prime object of this organization is to encourage, cultivate and strengthen that sincere relation of loyal and fraternal friendship which should ever exist between us as Americans, although representatives of two once opposing armies; earnestly blending our humble efforts in eliminating any and all feelings of animosity that may exist with references to our said civil war.
Section 4. This organization is entirely non-political, and is in no sense intended to control, modify or influence the opinions of its members on any of the present or current political issues of the day.
Section 5. The officers of this association shall consist of one president, two vice-presidents, one secretary and one treasurer, who shall hold their respective office for a term of one year or until their successors are elected and qualified.
Section 6. it shall he duty of the president to preside at all meetings and perform all duties usually incumbent upon such officers.
Section 7. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep record of all regular proceedings, and conduct all correspondence of the association; providing himself suitable record book, stationary, etc., with funds obtained by written order of the president drawn upon the treasurer.
Section 8.  It shall be the duty of the treasurer to collect all annual dues, to have charge of all funds of the association and make complete financial report at each meeting thereof.
Section 9. That for the purpose  of defraying incidental and other expenses there shall be paid annually in advance by each member as annual membership dues the sum of twenty-five cents.
Section 10. That the following list of officers duly elected, this organization is hereby declared permanent:
President - B. F. Bodenhamer.
First Vice President – L. A. McPhearson.
Second Vice President – H. G. Shearer.
Treasurer – A. J. Truman.
Secretary – J. A. Surby. Buffalo, Arkansas.
Executive Committee: Wesley Barnett, Robt. M. Hancock, Mart Bodenhamer, E. C. Cook, Sr., and W. D. White.

Next meeting to be 1 p.m. on first Saturday in October, 1902, at Mountain Home, and during which rally there will be organized a camp of the Sons of Veterans of the Blue and Gray. Meantime, call at drug store and enroll your names, young men, with your comrade “Dick” Cowan, giving descriptive data to facilitate the work of organizing.
End of Article  

Expression of Public Sentiment.
Editor Bulletin: Responsive to numerous earnest solicitations, and with heartfelt assurance that we voice sincere sentiment of all concerned, it is highly gratifying to publish the fact that without one accident or act of disorderly conduct worth mention, throughout two long days, the promiscuous assembly of about 3000 sociable, intelligent people of North Arkansas principally of Baxter county, really enjoyed the complete carrying out of a picnic program at Mountain Home, August  1st and 2nd , 1902.
W. J. Baker, H. W. Redus, A. J. Truman, R. H. Hudson. Executive Committee. 
 End of Article 

The Reunion of the Blue and Gray was a total success and continued as an annual event. Two years later, this next letter of praise to the editor of The Baxter Bulletin came from a spectator from across the state-line...Prestonia, Missouri, in Ozark County. 
With all due of respect, this letter was written with poor grammar and spelling; nevertheless, I believe it was penned with sincerity from the heart of a gentleman from Prestonia. I will admit, the first time I read it, I my eyes were straining and my mind was in a whirl trying to figure out what this gentleman was trying to say. But looking back at this time period in Ozark' History, a public education was not afforded to everyone in this region. Hard times required tough choices, and its' settlers had to work hard in order to scrape out an existence. Therefore, as we read this last article, let us thank the Father in Heaven for those who have sacrificed many things in the past that we may afford the life we have today.
  A Prestonia, Mo., Spectator.
The picknick at Mtn. Home, your town, is what I want to tel about. My wife told me if I’d sta at home frida and keap the chickins out of the garden, I mout go saturday to the picknick. She and the chaps went. She sent Gim bak frida nite so I could go saturda. I axed Gim who was their. He said ever boddy. Wel sur, I found out bot bein their Saturda that Gim didn’t no, cause ever boddy was their and ever boddy fotch somebody with them, then thar was lots from our county, besides them. Then them foaks from Maryon and Izzard County, what has so many babys thay was their, and thay brout the fokes and their babys what lived tother side of them. Oh I gist wisht I’d had the larnin so I cood have counted um. I axed for U, tha sade U was not thar. U ediiter I mean. I node U had the larnin and cood count um, then you cood told everboddy how many was their through the Bulletin.  I believe I and  ever boddy else would node U caz tha sed  them pictors that lade thick on the platform and all over the ground their was sum pritin on it too. I coodent read it but sum seed it was the program whot was on it. I wish all of our county foakes had bin their to seed everybody caze never seed so many at Gainsvil nor no other place in Ozzark County.

I’ll tell it as it comes to mind. Next was a joke on myself. Thar was a little boy, guess he was acomin two ears old, was lost, come hugin round me legs, thout I was his dad, atter a while he seed I was not but favored him, caze he then looked around and broak to one of the ugliest that I seed that day and some one said  we favored. The way I felt I had soon staid at home and minded the chickens out of the garden. Nother thing I was like the Irishman that went to see a sitty but coodent see it for the houses, so I coodent see the foakes at the picknick for the people bein in the way. U all has got the best foaks down thar I ever seed. No fussin, I never heard a cuss word nor bad word all day. All laffin and gassen with their heads up steppin like a blind horse and acted more like tha was lookin for rain. Everthing there was good and nice. Good speakin, good lemonade stands, good show, good grub, good water, good musick, good racin, good throwin, and thought ever boddy felt gooder, looked gooder, acted gooder, dressed gooder and was gooder caze I felt like a sheep at a shootin match. That day at Mountain Home will be in memory til I have to fall in line at the roll above. I wish we could all meet again in Mountain Home then meet in a higher home afterwards.

Works Cited:  
“Advertisement: Blue & Gray Picnic.” The Baxter Bulletin. (11 July 1902) 6.
“Advertisement: Blue & Gray Picnic.” The Baxter Bulletin. (18 July 1902) 6.
“Advertisement: Blue & Gray Picnic.” The Baxter Bulletin. (25 July 1902) 6.
“Advertisement: Blue & Gray Picnic.” The Baxter Bulletin. (01 Aug., 1902) 6.
“The Ball Game.” The Baxter Bulletin (8 Aug., 1902) 4. 
“Expression of Public Sentiment.” The Baxter Bulletin (8 Aug., 1902) 7.
“Organized: The North Arkansas United Veterans Association of the Blue and Gray” The Baxter Bulletin (8 Aug., 1902) 7.
“Our Two Days Picnic.” The Baxter Bulletin (8 Aug., 1902) 4. 
 “ A Prestonia, Mo., Spectator.” The Baxter Bulletin (2 Sept., 1904)2 -3.

1 comment:

Steve Wiegenstein said...

Interesting material about this picnic! I just ran across your blog today and am enjoying some of the back postings.