Iowa, Battle Creek Military Band parade 1908
Keota band serenading, c. 1910

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In its review of the event, the newspaper summed the event in two headlines:

• "7,000 People Here and Everyone Enjoyed the Best Time of Their Life."

• "No Serious Accident to Mar the Pleasure of the Day"

Although the people of Battle Creek were proud of their Military Band, the Merry Widow Band from Omaha proved to be the crowd favorite. While the newspaper's description of the Merry Widow Band is rather vague, it seems that they were a novelty band whose members wore outlandishly large "Merry Widow" hats.

The paper concluded its account of the day with the statement that "Battle Creek has earned a rest for another five years."

In this postcard, which is postmarked 1911, we see the Keota Band performing in serenade formation. The photograph is taken at the intersection of E Broadway Ave and N Fulton St.

For six months leading up to the Fourth of July Celebration, The Battle Creek Times offered its readers an unusually detailed account of the Fourth of July preparations made by the band and the planning committees. In its first edition following the Fourth, the paper also supplied a detailed review of the event. These accounts – which are extensively excerpted below - offer modern readers with a fascinating glimpse into the character of a early 20th-century Fourth.


Thursday, January 30, 1908

-- That Battle Creek is to have a new band seems now a sure thing. Nineteen have signed themselves as members and those not having instruments have ordered same. As members have purchased their own instruments, should an opportunity be given later on for the citizens and business men to subscribe money to help the boys along, everyone should do what they can to make it a success.

Thursday, March 19, 1908

-- The mission of a brass band in a community is for good. Perhaps no other single feature can contribute so much to a towns life and pleasure. This being a fact, it is but just that a band should be looked upon, in a measure, as a public institution, and this view makes its success a matter of interest to every citizen. Battle Creek in the near future is going to have a band that will be a credit to any town. The band boys are putting in all their spare time practicing and doing good work. We hope that when the time comes our business men will support this new enterprise and thus help sustain it.

Thursday, April 23, 1908

-- Boost for a Battle Creek Fourth of July celebration. It will do you good ever afterwards.

-- Get busy and boost for a Fourth of July celebration. It may seem a little early, but then remember the story about the early bird and the worm.

-- The Battle Creek band of 23 pieces is hard at work these evenings practicing so as to be able to play decoration day and also go with the fire boys to the annual tournament at Onawa next June. It will also furnish music for the Fourth of July celebration should it mature. Boost for the Battle Creek celebration.

-- What’s the matter with calling a meeting Friday night for the purpose of agitating Fourth of July celebration? [sic] It has been several years since Battle Creek has celebrated and it is about time something was doing if we expect to retain our position on the map. This is a hint. Take a firm hold and the results will be surprising.

Thursday, April 30, 1908

-- Nearly $1,000 in sight for our Fourth of July celebration. Now let us all pull together and give Ida county one of the biggest celebrations in its history. Battle Creek is capable of accomplishing this feat.


$1,000 Will be Raised For Celebration

A subscription paper was started in circulation Monday morning for the purpose of securing funds for a Fourth of July celebration at Battle Creek. Before the day was over nearly $600 had been subscribed, and it was right there and then the [proposers?] decided to call a mass meeting of the citizens at the Hope House Wednesday ngiht. At this meeting there was a large crowd present and everyone enthusiastic. On motion H.J. Stover was made chairman and Ernest Carlton secretary. The subscription paper was read and those having charge of it making the statement that a few hundred dollars was still in sight for they had not yet made a thorough canvas.

Without a doubt it will be the biggest celebration ever held in this part of Iowa, as Battle Creek still holds the record of giving the best celebration ever held in Ida county and only on about two thirds of the funds already subscribed for the 1905 celebration. Next week we will endeavor to publish a list of the various committees appointed at the mass meeting last evening. Now it is up to each and everyone of us to pull together and do what we can to help all the committees in their work whenever our services can be of any use. From now on do nothing else but boost for the Battle Creek celebration.

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Thursday, May 7, 1908

The Battle Creek Military Band is now composed of 25 members and are coming to the front in cyclone fashion. They will be on hand on the 4th of July with some surprisingly good stuff and they intend to spring new uniforms for the admiring gaze of the gentler sex. Of course, the boys say that they are getting uniforms for purely business reasons, etc, etc, but they are all young men and this is spring and “In the Spring, the young mans’ [sic] fancy lightly turns to thots [sic] of – pleasing the fair ones.”


Committees are all appointed and everybody is Boosting

The executive committee appointed by Chairman H.J. Snover at the mass meeting last week for the 4th of July celebration has had two nearly all-night sessions since and have appointed committees for the various tasks of making our celebration a bumper.

That the work of the executive committee was conscientious and for the best interests of the celebration, the citizens and the town is evident by their selections. It is doubtless if a better set of committees could have been selected had they held forty meetings.

The executive committee is composed of Mayor E.H. Campbell, Chairman, W.B. Spotts, Gustavus Reppert, W.S. Crawford, Dr. J. T. Conn, E.F. Peffer and Dr. F.M. Cole. Immediately after the mass meeting this committee held a lengthy session but did not complete their work altho they did decide that the executive committee should hire the speaker of the day.

Monday night they met in Atty. Campbell’s office and completed the committee appointments which are as follows:

AMUSEMENTS, FIREWORKS, ETC. W.B. Spotts, Chrm., E.F. Peffer, Dr. F.M. Cole, Frank Campbell, H.F. Stolley, Fred Christiansen, Roy King, Gustavus Reppert and D. B. Stork.


Floats, Carriages, etc, -- John Keenan, Chrm., A.M. Reidesel, W.H. James and M. Stork.

Automobiles, – Dr. C.E. Conn, E.A. Christiansen, D.H. Hedrick and Ed. Horstman.

Liberty Wagon – Mrs. S. Warnock, Miss Ada Smith and Mrs. F.M. Cole.

Rag-a-muffins, -- Dr. G. P. McKibbon, K.E. Carlson, August Brodemon and John Diebert.

BAND Dr. J.T. Conn, Chrm., F.E. Warner and Ed. Mients.

FINANCE W.S. Crawford, Chrm., Dr. J.T. Conn and C.E.A. Stickel.

PRINTING E.F. Peffer, Chrm., Chris H. Dall, H.B. Fancher and Henry Weise.

CONCESSIONS. C.E.A. Stickel, Chrm., Alex. Crawford and J.F. Lloyd.

PROGRAM James Crawford, Chrm., D.B. Stork, Dr. Paul Reed, Mrs. J.T. Montgomery and Miss Cassie Taylor.

STREETS AND GROUNDS William Buenz, Chrm., Charles Rogers, Fred Wolcott, Wm. Eells, J.T. Montgomery, Jas. Warnock, Jens Pedersen, Chris May, Emory Jones and F.O. Cubbage.

RECEPTION E.C. Hood, Chrm., A.J. Warn, S.C. Muller, H.J. Snover, H.A. Dessel, W.T. Smith, John A. Christiansen, W.E. Churchill, W.W. Crane, Hans Kuhl and Jens Iverson.

Now it is up to the committee to jump in and work as the executive committee allready [sic] has worked and will work to make this celebration of ours the biggest and best that has ever been pulled off in Western Iowa. We can do it. The Ida Co. newspapers are boosting for us as well as a number of outsiders incluing the Sioux City papers.

As far as we are able to ascertain by diligent scanning of our exchanges we do not find that any of our nearby towns are going to celebrate this year. This fact assures us a record-breaking crowd so let us prepare for them and show them the time of their lives – a celebration that they will tell their grandchildren about two generations hence. Everybody BOOST.

Thursday, May 14, 1908

-- The various Fourth of July celebration committees are hard at work securing the very best attractions for the big Battle Creek celebration.

-- Now is the time to get busy and clean your alleys, clear up the yard and trim the trees and thereby have everything looking neat for the big crowd that will visit us on the Fourth of July.

Thursday, May 21, 1908

-- At a recent metting of the board of directors it was decided to retain the Opera House for the Company’s use during the afternoon and evening of July 4th.

-- The question is: Are we going to have a bumper of a Fourth of July celebration? Are you boosting for its success. Battle Creek holds a state-wide reputation when it comes to entertaining. Let us retain this honor at the coming big celebration.

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Thursday, June 4, 1908


Battle Creek’s Band Report.

Below we publish the secretary’s report of the Battle Creek Millitary [sic] Band for the first six months ending June 2nd, 1908. It can be seen that the boys have spent a good sum of money in getting into shape and they should be given all encouragement possible by the citizens of the town.

  • Total am’t rec’d from members as entry fees, dues and fines…..$164.45
  • Paid for instructor…………………………………....................………….$105.00
  • Paid for music, postage, and other incidental expenses………..… $44.40
  • Total am’t paid out………………………………………..................………$149.40
  • Am’t on hand June 2d…………………………………………................…..$15.05

Besides the above expenses the boys have purchased about $235 worth of instruments and supplies and have ordered uniforms amounting to $120 making a total of about $570 which the members alone have given. They have as instructor O.E. Van Doren, of Mapleton, who is as competent a director as can be found in Northwest Iowa and the boys are more than pleased with his services. At the regular business metting June 1st the same officers were re-elected, E.H. Freese president and manager, and C.H. Thomas secretary and treasurer. Hereafter positively no one but band members will be allowed at the rehearsals.

-- Are you doing your share of boosting for the Battle Creek Fourth of July Celebration? Now is the time to get busy.

-- Arrangements have been made with the Northwestern road to run a special excursion train from Onawa to Battle Creek for the big Fourth of July celebration. The train leaves Onawa at 7:30 a.m., returning at 10:30 p.m.

-- Posters and buttons will soon be out for the big Fourth of July celebration in Battle Creek. The music committee has contracted Reed’s Military band of Sioux City to help furnish music. All the committee are working hard and individuals are doing their utmost in boosting for a glorious celebration at Battle Creek July Fourth.

Thursday, June 11, 1908

-- Come visit your uncles, aunts and cousins at Battle Creek July Fourth.

-- Every business firm in Battle Creek will be represented in the Fourth of July parade with a fine float which means that we can look for something elaborate along this line.

-- An excursion train leaves Battle Creek next Wednesday morning at 8:50 to accommodate the large crowd that will take in the Maple Valley Firemen’s tournament to be held at Onawa. On the return trip the trains leaves Onawa at 8:00 p.m.

-- Battle Creek celebrates the Fourth of July and extends a cordial invitation to everyone around this neck of the woods to come and spend the day with them. With nearly $1000 to spend for amusements surely means that there will be something doing from sun up till sun down.

Thursday, June 18, 1908

-- Everything is moving along in fine shape for the Battle Creek Fourth of July celebration.

-- They are all coming to Battle Creek to celebrate the glorious Fourth of July. The program will be the best ever.

-- The Fourth of July executive committee has purchased a diving dog to give exhibitions on our big celebration day. The dog was purchased at Omaha at a big price and the tests he has been put through gives perfect satisfaction.

-- Large posters are out announcing the big Fourth of July celebration at Battle Creek. The program bills will be ready in a short time. Watch for them as it will be chuck full of all kinds of sports to be pulled off at Battle Creek July Fourth.

-- Don’t forget the big celebration at Battle Creek on July Fourth. Reed’s Sioux City Military Band assisted by the Battle Creek Band will furnish music all day long and Rev. E.S. Johnson, of Ida Grove will give the oration. The street parade will take place during the forenoon in which all of the business men are eagerly making arrangements to take part.

-- The Battle Creek Military Band furnished music for the memorial services Sunday which was their first public appearance and their work was a big surprise to everyone who heard them. The boys have only been practicing about three months and their leader has certainly made rapid progress with them which is proof that they must be a bunch of natural born musicians. Keep your eye on them July Fourth.

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Thursday, June 25, 1908

-- Programs and buttons are being distributed all along the line for the big Fourth of July celebration at Battle Creek.

-- Ten horses and riders are wanted for the Battle Creek Fourth of July celebration. Report to J.A. Keenan, chairman of parade committee.


National salute of 46 guns at sun rise.

Ten o’clock a.m. grand Parade and Trade Procession.

Speaking and exercises at the Grand Opera House immediately after parade.


Music ..................................................................Reed’s Military Band
Invocation............................................................Rev. W. M. Jennings
Song, “America”.............................................................Choral Society
Address of welcome...........Hon. E.H. Campbell, President of the day
Music...................................................................Reed’s Military Band
Reading Declaration of Independence.........................Clifford Driver
Song, “Red, White and Blue"........................................Choral Society
Address of the day.................................Rev. E.S. Johnson, Ida Grove
Music..................................................................Reed’s Military Band


Grand and Magnificent Parade of Automobiles at 1:30 p.m.

Afternoon sports will commence immediately after auto parade.

Program of Sports

Green Pony Race, 1 mile.
First Prize.........$7.00
Second Prize.......3.00
Free for all mule race, 1 mile.
One Prize...........3.00
Horse race, free for all, 1 mile.
First Prize.........10.00
Second Prize.......5.00
Free for all foot race, 100 yds.
First Prize..........5.00
Second Prize......2.00
or the equivalent in prizes.
Free for all foot race, 440 yds.
First Prize..........7.00
Second Prize......3.00
or the equivalent in prizes.
Boys foot race, 12 yrs or under
First Prize...........1.00
Second Prize...... .50
Third Prize........ .25
Ladies foot race, 50 yds., free for all.
First Prize...........3.00
Second Prize.......1.00
Fat man’s race, 50 yds., 225 lbs. or over.
First Prize...........3.00
Second Prize.......2.00
Greased pole climbing contest...... 1.00
Greased pig catching contest..........PIG
Tug of War, 10 men on side.........ROPE
Pillow fight.....................................5.00
3 legged sack race, 50 yds.
First Prize..........2.00
Second Prize......1.00
Blind wheelbarrow race..................2.00
High house race, 50 yds.
First Prize..........5.00
Second Prize......2.00
Egg race, for ladies.
First Prize..........2.00
Second Prize......1.00

Exciting High Diving Exhibition Given by a well trained Dog.

Grand fire works display and illumination in the evening.

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Thursday, July 9, 1908


7,000 People Here and Everyone Enjoyed the Best Time of Their Life.

No Serious Accident to Mar the Pleasure of the Day.

The Glorious Fourth was properly observed by our people. July 4 was a perfect day so far as the weather was concerned, and those who laid aside the cares of business to celebrate to the anniversary of the Birthday of National Independence had no fault to find with the weather, and those who celebrated at Battle Creek had no fault to find with the arrangements made for celebrating, nor occasion to complain of the program not being carried out. From the guns at sunrise saluting the states of the Union, to the display of fireworks in the evening, the day was enjoyed, no serious accident occurring to mar the pleasure of anyone.

It is conservatively estimated that fully 7000 people were here to celebrate the day, nearly 200 arriving the evening before from the west. The morning passenger from the east was so crowded that many were hanging from the sides and top of the coaches and many were left at Ida Grove.

At ten o'clock the vast crowd was eagerly waiting for the grand industrial parade to put in its appearance. The parade was a few minutes late but, however, was a decided feature of the day. As it passed along many remarks were made by visitors to the effect that "Battle Creek is surely "it" when it comes to getting up a parade and on this occassion have one that will out-class any attempt made by any large city." Our merchants worked hard on their floats and it is a pleasure to them to know that their labor was so highly appreciated and that is what makes them strive to improve over former attempts, but from close observation they have not left much chance for improvement over their 1908 attempt. The parade was lined up and represented as follows:

Red's Military Band from Sioux City consisting of 20 pieces.

Company of 27 horse-back riders representing United States presidents from Washintgton's time down to the present date. This was a novel feature and caused much applause as it passed along as it represented Wm. Taft riding along as guard on a white horse and also W.J. Bryan flying his colors with a large question mark banner.

Liberty wagon representing all states of the Union with Eunice Derr as Goddess of Liberty.

W.C.T.U. wagon filled with little boys dressed in white and L.T.L. printed on their caps representing the temperance cause so faithfully advocated by the W.T.C.U. Society.

Battle Creek Military Band of 26 pieces dressed in new uniforms, making a nobby appearance and at the same time playing music hard to beat for a band four months of age.

Dr. F.M. Cole, Dr. Geo. P. McKibben and Clark & Campbell float comprising a neat driving outfit, single tandem, negro footman and driven by Miss Hasel Rinehart.

W.W. Crane furniture float decorated in a manner so as to represent a neat cozy parlor room.

Crawford & Haneman with a neat and nobby meat market float. The only objectional feature of this float was that they did not throw out a few links of sausage to the hungry mob along the route.

R.G. Bell with his restaurant float and ready to serve lemonade and peanuts to the 7,000 people who witnessed the parade.

Battle Creek Telephone Co. with a complete outfit on the float and also an operator who was kept busy answering calls along the line of parade as to how it was progressing and reporting at both ends the condition of the center section.

E.A. Christianson had a handsomely decorated float representing the Imperial carriage of Louis 14h with nine little girls dressed in white carrying banners on which were advertisements for the Big Department Store.

The Maple Valley Vavings [sic] Bank float consisted of a decorated buggy, the feature of the decoration being large gold dollars covering the entire outfit.

Storck Bros. hardware float was a novelty, representing an old-style automobile made entire out of hardware material with D. B. at the steering guage.

The Green Bay Lumber Co. had a large float which represented a good sized porch of a modern dweling [sic] home.

James & Cubbage came next with a real estate float appropriately decorated as a real estate firm enjoying a thriving business.

W.E. Churchill had a float which represented the Ida County Foot Form Store to a "T" and from which was distributed advertising matter praising the Buster Brown Shoe.

R.W. King's livery barn was represented with a neatly trimmed buggy which showed where to go when you wanted a nobby rig in which to take your "best" out for a drive.

The Battle Creek Savings Bank had a decorated surrey for their float in which was seated the officers and directors of the bank.

Crawford Bros. General Merchandise Store was represented with a neatly trimmed float, showing to great advantage what an attractive line they carried in their dry goods department.

A.J. Waru[?] was surely there with the goods to show for it in his float. It represented an alarm clock nearly six feet high and four feet across and the alarm gong kept strking all along the route of the parade.

The Battle Creek Drug Co. float represented a large soda fountain glass eight foot high and filled to the brim. In a way this float was responsible for the excessive thirst during the day and accounted for the big rush at the soda fountain.

C.E.A. Stickel was next in line with a float which, from a decorative standpoint, woucl have been impossible to improve. The float represented the high-grade quality of dry goods kept in stock at his place of business and also banners printed in English, German and Dane inviting new customers to trade with him.

A.B. Lampe had a float which represented his wall paper business and was decorated in an unique and tasty manner.

The Famers Lumber Co. float was another attractive feature of the parade and was hitched to a $1,000 team from the Blue Ribbon Stock Farm southwest of town.

The City Millinery float was a buggy trimmed both inside and outside in white with hats and ribbons as decorations and in every way represented a neet millinery shop.

A new enterprise sprung into existence on the morning of July 4th and got into the parade with a flota representing the Battle Creek Auto Club. The automobile was nicely decorated at the rear end with Dr. C.E. Conn’s donkey which was pressed into service in order to navigate the machine. From the style and make-up of the float we are inclined to believe that Dr. Conn is getting in line to knock against the automobile as all indications point that it was his float.

A.M. Riedenci[?] was next in line with two buggies drawn in single and double tandem style by Shetland ponies. His large float was demolised [sic] in the morning by a runaway which was too bad as it was a handsome one.

J.A. Christensen had a float representing his blacksmith shop. He had an old forge on a heavy platform and was busily engaged doing work which was turned over to waiting customers the following Monday.

The last, but not least, of the parade was the Merry [Widow] Band. This was one of the main attractions of the entire parade and caused an abundance of mirth with their music and didos. They are an attraction worth at least $500 a day to any amusement company.

Immediately after the parade, the exercises at the opera house was commenced. Hon. E. H. Campbell, president of the day, in a few well chosen words gave a address of welcome after which he introduced Rev. E.S. Johnson, speaker of the day. Rev. Johnson’s address was a gem and appreciated by the large audience. Clifford Driver read the declaration of independence. The program was interspersed with fine selections of music.

At 1:30 the automobile parade was pulled off, there being about 30 machines taking part and all decorated for the occasion. Without a doubt W.B. Spotts had the most attractive feature, his car representing the Iowa battle ship complete and all through the parade kept up a steady boom of firing from its guns. Frank Campbell also had a unique feature, his car representing a G.A.R. camp. One good point about this parade was that no accidents occurred which shows how careful auto drivers can be when in the midst of a crowd of 7,000 people.

In the afternoon the fun began. The races were all contested in a good natured but determined spirit, and the ward of prizes was generally satisfactory.

The green pony race was won by W. Rathburn, R. Rathburn 2d.

In the mule race F.H. Peterson won 1st, H. F. Peterson 2d.

The free for all horse race was won by L.L. Boers, Guy Martin being a close 2nd.

“Buck” Ward of Ida Grove captured the 100 year foot race, C. Bray of Mapleton 2nd.

In the 440 yeard foot race “Buck” Ward won with ease, Breshner 2d.

F. Weid came in 1st in the fat man’s race, “Blackstone Bill” 2d.

The boys foot race was won by T. Quigley, N. Bray 2nd and Jim Crane 3rd.

In the high bounce race which was a new sport feature proved interesting. C. Bray won 1st and “Buck” Ward 2d.

Fred Krause easily won the wheel barrow race.

Groth and Putzier won 1st in the three-legged sack race, Krause and Freese winning 2d.

In the sack race 1st went to W. Putzier, 2d to H. Groth.

The pillow fight was a warm test of endurance and after several minutes of determined fighting the contest was called a tie, the prize going to Baxter Bros.

The tug of war contest, with ten men on a side, was decided in favor of Truman White’s gang.

The greased pig and greased pole contests were both won by Fred Krause.

July Fourth Notes.

George Mierstein, the traveling representative of Haley & Lang of Sioux City, was at our celebration and expressed himself as having the time of his life. George was drum major of the Merry Widow Band and his leadership drew the band all along the parade. Come again, George.

Special attention is due to W. B. Spotts auto-battleship float. As Atty. W.E. Johnston of Ida Grove said, “That is good enough for any body’s parade anywhere.”

If you didn’t enjoy yourself on the Fourth don’t remark about it, because everyone will think that you didn’t take advantage of a golden opportunity and it was your own fault.

Wonder how the habitual knockers felt the day after.

It is evident now that no feature was left out that could have improved the celebration. It was the best ever and could not have been bettered.

It was unfortunate that an early morning runaway completely demolished A.M. Riedesel’s float. His single and double tandem Shetlands made a hit and we doubt if any float would have made a better appearance.

A group of citizens were standing on Main St. celebrating the 4th all over again Monday evening and in the discourse one man remaked that “we fed 32 people at our home for dinner on the 4th,” and after all had expressed their views on this subject, it was found that every family represented in the group had averaged 25 visitors at dinner. This common feeling of Battle Creek hospitality to visitors is the one best feature of our celebration.

The Merry Widow Band made a hit. A circus man who was here trying to negotiate for the high diving dog, got a complete description of the uniform and photograph of the band and will feature the same in his parade.

W.B. Spotts has a photograph taken of his auto-battleship from which he will have a copper plate made and have a few thousand postal cards printed which will be distributed free.

Battle Creek has earned a rest for another five years.

The committee all done good work and are to be congratulated.

--Much fun and alleged wit is expended on the merry widow hat, but taken from center to circumference, it is the most useful and sensible headgear the woman has been guilty of for several generations. It is hat and parasol in one, leaving the fair hands of the wearer free for work or play.

-- Dr. F. B. Warnock was down from Sioux City to take in the Fourth of July celebration. He says Battle Creek did better than ever and was highly pleased with the Merry Widow band and is in favor of hiring them for an attraction at the coming Inter-State Fair at Sioux City.

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Primary Sources