Grand and Glorious

The Biggest Celebration and the Biggest Crowd Ever Seen in Monroe County.

Everybody in a Good Humor

Source: Monroe County Appeal, July 10, 1896

The biggest crowd of people ever seen at Paris was here last Saturday. The roads were muddy, the weather was hot and the clouds were threatening, but the spirit of independence and a desire to celebrate had taken possession of old and young and they turned out in force. They came early and stayed late. From 6 o’clock in the morning on up till both trains arrived in the evening every road and lane leading in to Paris was a struggling, hustling mass of humanity, horses and vehicles. At times Main street for two blocks would be completely choked with wagons, some trying to get one way and some another, until it required the combined efforts of the marshals of the day to open up a passway. Before the parade was ready to start all the wagons and teams were taken from the line of march, so that there was free passage for the procession and plenty of room for the people. It was then that a look down Main street was a sight worth seeing. From every flag staff the stars and stripes floated in all their pride and beauty, while every awning, post and window was all but hidden by the lavish decorations of flags, bunting and gay streamers. As far as the eye could see both sides of the street was surging mass of men, women and children. Bands were playing, fifes were filling the air with martial music, and the roll of drums drilled patriotic hearts with proud memories of the glorious deeds of Revolutionary sires.

Promptly at 10:30 the procession formed and took up the line of march. Grand marshal Jeff Bridgeford on his famous stallion, Indian Boy, led the way. Next came a squad of mounted Indians gaudily painted and bedecked in the panoplies of war as they appeared when as masters of the forest they sallied forth to battle. Then came the Santa Maria, a perfect model of the quaint old vessel in which Columbus discovered the Western World. She was under full sail, handsomely rigged and gaily decorated. She was in command of Bill Ownby, as Columbus, dressed in the splendid dress of the old Spanish Cavaliers. Following this were the old settlers in carriages, and then the famous Barney Band, whose martial music has become indispensable in all North Missouri celebrations.

Harry Blakey rode a splendid charger and represented George Washington as he appeared in the brilliant and courtly costume of Colonial days. Next came the ex-Confederate veterans of the county, as full of enthusiasm as though they had never known the time when the Union poured shot and shell into their ranks in far off Dixie. They were followed by a perfect representation of Uncle Sam by Barney Farthing. Then came the Goddess of Liberty, one of the prettiest sights we ever saw. A large float, bedecked in the national colors, formed a base from which the Goddess, Miss Fannie Broughton, towered in all the glory of a perfect figure and all the beauty of a typical Missouri girl. At her feet crouched an eagle with outstretched wings. In one hand she clutched a silken flag while in the other she held aloft a silver globe. A prettier sight was never seen. Following this was a sight that made everybody cheer. It was the 45 young ladies mounted on white horses, representing the states. All were handsome, nicely dressed and skillful riders. Next came Miss Bessie Howell beautifully dressed in white representing Anderson Blanton’s jewelry store. Her costume was covered with flashing jewels and gems, and presented a beautiful appearance. Next was a float filled with a half hundred handsome young girls. The next float contained a chorus of singers dressed in plantation costume and lustily singing plantation songs. Smith & Clapper followed with a blacksmith shop on wheels. Anvils were ringing, the forge was burning, and a horse was being shod. It was a great hit. The 16 to 1 question was illustrated by a 325 pound negro on a big draft stallion riding beside a little dried-up darkey on a donkey, and raised a big laugh. Next was an old Mississippi negro orchestra that got such a fine twist on “The Gal I Left Behind Me” that if somebody had called ”swing yer pardners,” the whole crowd would have joined in an old time hoedown. Gilmore’s Band brought up the rear. Their ridiculous costumes and Chinese music were too funny to talk about. Kuhn and the Racket store each had a man in the parade with a banner advertising the bargains they offer. A traveling show that happened along joined its parade of monkeys, Shetland ponies, goats, clown and trained dogs with the procession. Altogether it was the grandest and most unique parade of the kind ever seen in the state.