Mandan News

Diane Boit: Mandan Celebrates the Fourth, 1888-1988

Diane Boit25 Years Ago – 1988

The only hitch in the plans for the 31st annual Mandan Jaycee Rodeo was the ban of fireworks by the Morton County and the Mandan City Commissioners. With temperatures ranging in the high 90s during the past few weeks, the extremely dry prairie was in the danger zone for fires.

But this year’s rodeo was a success, attracting more than 475 contestants from California to the Upper Midwest and, according to Jaycee president Tom Sitter, it’s still rated as one of the top three rodeos in the nation.

During the rodeo days, people also strolled through the Art in the Park Festival during the its three-day run at the Burlington Northern Park on West Main Street, to view and enjoy 98 arts and crafts booths, 24 food vendors and the entertainment of 16 different acts.


A Mandan News ad from 1988 for Dairy Queen.

A Mandan News ad from 1988 for Dairy Queen.

50 Years Ago – 1963

Thousands of churches across the nation rang their bells at 11 a.m. on July 4 in commemoration of the 187th anniversary of American Independence. According to a statement from President John F. Kennedy, 11 a.m. was the time that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and it was heralded by the ringing of the Liberty bell. Among the Mandan churches that rang their bells and chimes were the First Presbyterian, Christ the King, St. Joseph’s and First Lutheran Churches. In keeping with “let freedom ring,” many private citizens also participated by ringing all types of other bells, from door bells to alarm clocks.

Jane Tvedt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Tvedt, was crowned the Mandan Rodeo Queen over 12 other contestants at the climax of the Mandan Jaycees’ three-day rodeo. Tvedt was sponsored by Cloverdale Foods. Her silver buckle was awarded by Gene Becker, president of the Jaycees; she was given a bouquet of roses by Jack Danz on behalf of the Mandan Chamber of Commerce.

The Mandan American Legion team has won its ninth game of the season, defeating the Valley City Legion Club, 10-3, at the Mandan Memorial Baseball Park. Ron Zieszler started on the mound for Mandan, going four innings and taking the win. Driving in runs for Mandan were Clem Richau, John Grunseth, Jim Koch and Terry Bragg.

While enduring 100-degree heat, more than 3,000 people gathered at Gettysburg, Pa., to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War with Gov. William W. Scranton of Pennsylvania as the day’s speaker. He urged an end to the unfinished business left over from the war between brothers, including “the task of driving prejudice out of the human heart.”

(The last Civil War veteran of either the Union or Confederate armies was Albert Henry Woolson, who died at age 109 in Duluth, Minn., on Aug. 2, 1956. After his father was killed in battle, the then teenager had enlisted as a drummer boy.)


A Mandan Pioneer 1963 ad for Sundown Drive In, Mandan's former drive in theatre.

A Mandan Pioneer 1963 ad for Sundown Drive In, Mandan’s former drive in theatre.

75 Years Ago – 1938

Outside of occasional arguments brought on by “high spirits” from the consumption of alcoholic beverages, Mandan spent a quiet and peaceful Fourth of July. No serious injuries from the use of fireworks were reported, and no arrests were made for offenses within the city. That Mandan was not completely devoid of entertainment was proved by the evening’s mushrooming flight of fireworks, including Roman candles and sky rockets, and the continual mild popping of firecrackers throughout the day.

The lure of gold, dental gold, was credited for the early morning robbery by unknown persons who attempted to break into the offices of Dr. H.E. Stish and Dr. B.D. Rowley. Chief of Police Jim Buckley said that it was probably the same burglars who broke into a Bismarck dental office last week and escaped with a plate of false teeth, a table model radio and $200 worth of scrap gold.

After defeating Almont 27 to 6 on the Almont diamond last weekend, the Mandan Indians journeyed to Flasher on July 4 and suffered a 6 to 4 defeat at the hands of the Flasher Club. Despite the loss, Mandan’s high spots in the Flasher game were two home runs hit in succession by Roy Geiger, the first coming in the fourth inning and the second in the sixth.

Nine Civil War veterans passed through Mandan today en route to their homes in Portland after attending the special observance of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The group’s ages ranged from 92 to 101 years old. Spokesman John W. Cullen said that 1,928 Union soldiers and 626 Confederate men attended the three-day gathering.


100 Years Ago – 1913

“Hundreds of people came to Mandan on the Fourth of July to participate in the big celebration that had been planned by the Retail Merchants Assn. On the night of the third, however, it began to rain, and it rained all night. But, this fact did not deter the crowds from coming to this city to witness the ballgame, sports and fireworks that had been arranged for their amusement.

“The field was quite muddy and slippery, but the game put up between the Bismarck and Flasher teams was a very good one. The grounds were filled with people who were determined that they would get a little enjoyment out of the day. The teams played for a $100 purse. Bismarck won by a score of 7 to 3.

“In the evening, a fine display of fireworks was given on Main Street, and the streets were crowded with people eager to witness the colorful display.

“The Retail Merchants spent a great deal of time and money on arranging the program for the Fourth, and it seemed too bad that the rain should spoil the day for so many out of town visitors.”


125 Years Ago – 1888

The village of Mandan was organized in the spring of 1881; by 1888 its population was at 2,600.

July 5, 1888: “On Friday, July 5, at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 82 degrees above zero.

“Once more, the glorious Fourth has come and gone. Once more, the anniversary of our freedom and Independence has been celebrated, and in a manner that has reflected credit on the good citizens of Mandan.

“Early in the morning, we were informed by unmistakable signs that the Fourth had arrived, as young America commenced its attack on fire crackers. The procession to the grounds began at 9:15 a.m. and included a platoon of police, the Mandan Cornet Band, Hook and Ladder Company’s No. 1 and 2, members of the Grand Army of the Republic and members of the City Council. As the band played the National Anthem, the gentlemen took their seats on a raised stand. Following a prayer, the Declaration of Independence was read and then a patriotic speech was given by W. H. Winchester of Bismarck to an attentive crowd.

“At the conclusion of the oration, picnic tables were set up and families watched a race by the hose companies Nos. 1 and 2; No. 2 performed their duties in the quickest time, winning the $100 prize. The afternoon was filled with horse and pony races, foot races, bicycle races and finally a ballgame between the Bismarck Red Stockings and the Mandan club for $25 a side. The much-improved Red Stockings took the money.

“The day concluded with a beautiful display of fireworks over the Depot. It was a perfect ending to the Independence Day celebration in Mandan.”


(To contact Diane Boit, email