The Rockport Journal, July 12, 1935

Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.




July 4, 1935 , is now a matter of history and Rockport and Spencer county are able to mark up another celebration as a great success. It started off with a boom and ended with a bang.

From the time the parade started at a little past 10 a. m. until the Indians under Chief Funny Face captured the block house late in the evening there was not an idle moment.

The parade of more than 100 representations, not gorgeous, but typical of the time each float was to represent was considered one of the best ever seen here. Each float portrayed a business or more especially a period of time typical of the thing it was to represent.

The parade with Loney Parsley as chief marshal formed on Second and Seminary streets and was made up of many interesting novelties and when the word "go" was given everything moved like clockwork. There were four bands, the Rockport high school band, the Dale high school girls drum corps, the Evansville Legion band and the Rockport band.

The parade was really a pageant of the time the Lincolns lived in Spencer county. There were Indians dressed in the costumes peculiar to their tribes and the time it was to represent. The line of march was from Second street down Main and into the City Park at the north entrance, around the race track, past the amphitheater and the reviewing stand where Hib Bennett announced through a loud speaker each float and what it represented, thus giving each and all an idea of how to interpret what the float was to represent.

As the parade passed down Main street the sidewalks were lined with people, literally thousands of them, and as it entered the park other thousands had chosen other vantage places that they might see as well as hear.

Three ox teams were in the parade and thousands saw for the first time representations of the motive power that our forefathers used in cultivating the soil or in the carrying of our sturdy pioneers into the central west and the far west.

The spinning wheel and the loom had important places in the parade as they did in furnishing clothes and raiment for the builders of a nation. Everything was represented; the goat cart, the dog cart and the donkey; women on old time side saddles, the emigrant wagon full of children, drawn by oxen, and the faithful dog, seeming to be on the lookout for danger; the old time school teacher, who believed that "lickin’ and learnen" went hand in hand, with his hickory schallalah, his emblem of authority, keeping a close watch upon the pupils as they studied their lessons "out loud", sitting upon pegleg split logs for seats, the disobedient pupil sitting upon a high stool wearing the humiliating dunce cap.

Peter Pindar, the story teller, was there and surrounded by a bunch of children eager to hear his fascinating stories that always carried a moral and when he moved they followed him with the same eagerness that the children of Hamlintown followed the Pied Piper. Prof. F. S. Morgenthaler impersonated Peter Pindar. The "Old Woman In the Shoe" with so many children she didn’t know what to do, but she did manage them, and so on, and so on. We cannot mention all the worth while floats.

The judges decided the float representing the Sandy Creek Landing put on by Grandview was first, the covered wagon drawn by oxen was second and the old spinning wheel, shaving horse, etc., put on by Scamahorn & Hutchinson won third prize.

Honorable mention: Evansville American Legion Auxiliary band, Indian tribes put on by Kiwanis and the Meeks tragedy shown by Richland.

The Pioneer Village dedication was the central event of the day and in connection with this was the first meeting of the Southern Indiana McGuffey Club. A table with blanks for registration and badges for those who registered was placed near the entrance to the village and during the day more than five hundred McGuffeyites registered and in the afternoon they met under a brush canopy and organized the Southern Indiana McGuffey club by electing JRoy Strickland president, Dr. Claude Lomax of Dale vice president and Mrs. Alldore Cassidy of Tell City secretary.

Previous to the organization Joe Haines of the Rockport Democrat welcomed the club and Mr. Strickland responded. Mrs. Huffman read a life of W. H. McGuffey and recited two original poems. Rev. J. F. Rake of Evansville gave a fine address in a short talk, where every word counted. S. B. Prater, president of the Indianapolis McGuffey Club, and also national president, made a few remarks.

We might go on like the rill, forever, and never tell it all.

JRoy, in Paragraphy in Monday’s Courier, devoted almost a column to describing the celebration and here we quote his first paragraph:

"Three days have come and gone since the Rockport celebration, affording ample time for reflection and mediation. It was a SUCCESS, and we believe it surpassed in attendance the expectations of the sponsors, the Spencer County Historical Society. And the huge crowd thoroughly enjoyed the day’s festivities. The outstanding feature was, of course, the dedication of the Lincoln Pioneer Village. It is a hallowed spot, and more hallowed it will become with the passing of years. It symbolizes the humble beginnings of families who as neighbors and friends to the Great Emancipator contributed much to his moral fiber, his courage and benevolent nature. His early contacts, influences and impressions were made in Spencer county, and undoubtedly stamped themselves indelibly upon his character and had some part in preparing him for the burdens and tasks that later fell upon his shoulders. All roads of the nation will eventually lead to the Lincoln Pioneer Village, the objective of historical pilgrimages."

It is pleasing to all who worked so hard to make the event a success to know that our neighbors and friends from other places may say such fine things about the meeting and here we want to mention that all the Evansville papers carried fine front page articles, also the Indianapolis papers and the Chicago Tribune had a special representative here who gave a writeup covering almost three columns. Other papers were generous.

Well, after the meeting at the Lincoln Pioneer Village, the speaking proper began at the band stand in front of the amphitheater, with Mrs. Bess Ehrmann master of ceremonies. Speeches were made by Atty. General Philip Lutz of Indianapolis, Judge Roscoe Kiper of Boonville, former Lieut. Gov. Harold Van Orman of Evansville, with Hon. E. C. Simpson introducing the Democratic speakers and T. C. Basye the Republicans (we don’t know why the difference). Hon. William Fortune of Indianapolis was introduced and he made a few remarks. Evidently he was pleased with the affair for after he went home, George Honig received from him a check in the amount of $100 for the benefit of the Pioneer Village. JRoy was introduced and he made a few remarks of appreciation. Other visitors were introduced from the speakers stand and last George H. Honig in whose mind the plan originated and who has given a whole summer’s work to seeing his idea fulfilled, was introduced by Mrs. Ehrmann. He delivered the dedicatory address and no one in the vast crowd was happier than was Mr. Honig.

Seven thousand people went into the Lincoln Pioneer Village during the day. The crowd was conservatively estimated at 10,000, at least it was one of the largest crowds ever seen in Rockport. More people were present from a distance than were ever seen in the City Park.

Following the dedicatory speech of George Honig, a band of young Indians under the direction of S. G. Browman (Chief Kio-Wa-Set) of Kendalville, Ind., put on several Indian ceremonial dances, which were watched with the undivided attention of the crowd that swarmed back into the amphitheater and over the race track during this performance. The boys who had only two days preparation, performed beautifully, and the meaning of each dance could be readily seen.

After instructions from the trainer, the entire tribe under the leadership of Ben Curtis, set forth from their teepee seeking white scalps and soon their dreams came true, as the covered wagon drawn by the two ox teams left the village, carrying a pioneer family. The Indians (members of the Kiwanis Club) rushed in and arrived at the gate too late to enter the village, but one trapper who lagged too far behind was slain and his scalp taken. After much gun fire from within the stockade, the Indians made peace with the white settlers as a fitting closing ceremony to the day.

The old band wagon with T. C. Basye and Henry Hoch, members of the old Rockport Fair board, and Mr. Newman, representing President Lincoln, as occupants had an important place in the parade and we must mention Santa Claus (Mr. Phillips, postmaster at Santa Claus) riding in a sleigh.