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July 4th in Bismarck, 1889


Dawn came to Bismarck on July 4, 1889. A greatly anticipated day had finally arrived. A forty-two gun salute filled the morning air as trains rolled into the station spilling their contents of excited visitors to the Capital City. Hundreds were arriving to witness the opening day of the Constitutional Convention and what was promised to be the greatest celebration in the history of the territory. It was a banner day for Bismarck, literally, as red, white and blue banners, buntings and flags adorned most businesses and homes.

The Grand Marshall, mounted on a spirited steed, began the parade at 11:00 while the military band from Fort Yates stirred the air with patriotic music. Then four companies of regular units from Fort Abraham Lincoln and Fort Yates marched with precision. They were quickly followed by seventy-two members of the 5thCavalry with their yellow plumes dancing in the sunlight. Next came the carriages of the delegates in whose honor the procession wound its way through the main thoroughfares of the city en route to the Capitol.

One of the highlights of the parade came next. This unit was comprised of forty-two young ladies mounted on horseback, thirty-eight representing the existing states, and four young ladies in spotless white representing the hopeful new states of North and South Dakota, Montana and Washington.

The grizzled veterans of the Civil War were cheered as they passed along the route, and Hairy Chin, a Sioux medicine man, followed them dressed in an Uncle Sam costume. Then, in full regalia, came seventy-five members of the Standing Rock Reservation including Gall, John Grass, Running Antelope, Rain-in-the-Face and none other than Sitting Bull himself dressed in a Prince Albert-styled coat. Next were the local militia and the fire hose companies from across the state.

The delegates alighted from their carriages and entered the chambers of the Capitol. As directed by the Omnibus Bill, they went into session at 12:15 where they elected temporary officers and appointed two committees – one on rules and one on credentials. The delegates then adjourned and joined the crowds massed in the grove of trees near the Athenaeum Theater on 6thand Main. Here patriotic speeches and entertainment filled the air. Mandan beat Bismarck in the much heralded baseball game, and the bets were hot and heavy for the horse races. Fireworks marked the end of a splendid day. The two thousand residents of Bismarck had indeed put on one of the finest celebrations in the history of the territory to welcome the Constitutional Convention to the city.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


The Bismarck Tribune July5, 1889

The Jamestown Weekly Alert July 11, 1889