Wednesday, October 3, 2012
All across North Dakota, on this date in 1899, the people were jubilant. The War in the Philippines was over and a victorious North Dakota regiment was returning home. But nowhere was the celebration more intense and the soldiers more well received than in Jamestown. The members of Company H were enjoying an overwhelming welcome put on by the citizens of that city. A contingent of dignitaries had traveled all the way to Bismarck to meet the train and escort the boys back home. As the train entered the station, the Fort Totten Band played a patriotic air and the fire whistles blasted a welcome.
But the jubilant reception was not limited to the member of Company H. As each of the companies came through the station on their way to other towns, they too were greeted with fanfare and a high-spirited thank you for a job well done. The forty-eight members of Company D of Devils Lake were given free dinner and then were escorted to a Northern Pacific Special train to take them home.
Most of the houses and buildings in town were decorated with patriotic banners and flags. Even the telegraph and telephone poles were wrapped in red, white and blue bunting. The Electric Light Company had a sign made of hundreds of red, white and blue bulbs that welcomed the troops, a significant accomplishment in 1899. And of course there were the speeches.
Governor Devine served as master of ceremonies at the opera house, which was filled to capacity. Mayor Alfred Steele welcomed the boys on behalf of the city, and States Attorney Fred Bladwin greeted them on behalf of the county. It was then the turn of the officers of Company H to address the crowd and they were warmly greeted. Alfred Dickey, a veteran of the Civil War, then spoke of the new generation of soldiers. Other speakers stepped forth, and upon completion of the talks, the singing of patriotic songs ensured.
The following day a huge parade took place taking an hour and a half from beginning to end. It was led by Senator Lyman Casey as Parade Marshall leading the members of Company H and their drum corps, followed by the 1865 fife and drum corps and the veterans of the Ft. Seward Post of the G-A-R. Gayly decorated floats and uniformed groups of boys and girls, including the Girls Broom Brigade, along with private carriages, filled out the rest of the parade.
For the Jamestown boys, they were overwhelmed with the welcome and happy to be home.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
The Jamestown Alert October 5, 1899