Mandan News

N.D. Constitutional Convention begins – July 4, 1889

Diane Boit
25 Years Ago – 1989
The 1989 celebration of North Dakota’s 100th birthday was named “The Party of the Century.” And for several good reasons. Excitement and energy steadily grew during the Fourth as crowds of more than 70,000 people lined Mandan’s Main Street for the morning’s Centennial Parade and for the estimated crowd of 100,000 who attended the program on the Capitol Grounds that evening. The mercury also nudged the “century” mark each day of the celebration, topping out at 101 degrees on the Fourth.

The Governor’s Trophy for best overall Parade unit went to the Funeral Coach from Parshall. The Centennial Award, for best theme, went to the N. D. Beef Commission. The Early Inhabitants Era winner was Bullinger Tree Service’s riverboat. The Bright Dreams/ Hard Times winner went to Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center, Bismarck; and the Modern Times winner was awarded to HIT, Inc. First place buggy winner was a Landeau Carriage, driven by Les Forsgren. First place horse unit was the Track-n-Trail Drill Team of Stanton; and First Place in antique cars went to Larry Warren, Bismarck.

The Mandan Jaycees Rodeos, held for the final time at the old rodeo grounds in south side Mandan, were well attended each evening, and the Art in the Park Festival drew accolades from organizers and customers alike. The hot air balloons floating over the city each day also drew all kinds of praise.

The evening’s entertainment at the Capitol Grounds was televised, and the KX Extravaganza featured entertainers Bobby Vee, Myron Floren, comedians William and Ree, and for the finale, television star Roy Clarke who expertly performed a variety of guitar and mandolin selections. The evening ended with an electronic laser show on the south face of the capitol building, followed by a gigantic fireworks display, accompanied by the music of the Centennial Orchestra.

50 Years Ago – 1964
The 75th anniversary of North Dakota’s statehood was celebrated this week with a special 28-page historical section compiled by all 10 of the state’s daily newspapers. The Diamond Jubilee Edition’s purpose was to, not only, celebrate North Dakota’s past, but also its future. Along with articles regarding the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Mandan Refinery, old Fort Lincoln, the Trail West and Teddy Roosevelt Outdoor Dramas, the Peace Gardens and construction of Interstate Highway 94, the Jubilee section also featured many of the state’s important founders, including John Burke- legislator, governor, U. S. Treasurer and N. D. Supreme Court justice; Rep. Usher Burdick who played a leading role in state politics for more than 50 years; Temperance pioneer Elizabeth Preston Anderson; and former governors John Moses and Bill Langer.

The Jubilee Edition also published various statistics. The 1960 census showed that 78 percent of the 632,446 people in the state were born here. Just 100 years ago- 1864, less than 3,000 white inhabitants lived in the state. And, the number of people on North Dakota farms in 1960 was almost half of what it was in 1930 due to the drought years- 204,398 farms in 1960 compared to 396,871 in 1930.

Mandan’s and Bismarck’s annual Fourth of July week was celebrated by hundreds of area residents at the three-day Shrine Circus show held at the Rodeo Grounds in south side Mandan. The show featured trained animal acts such as the elephants’ ballet, Capt. Hoover’s mixed den of lions and tigers, Joseph Lembke’s College of Chimpanzees, along with dogs, horses and llamas leaping through rings of fire and other tricks. Also popular were the various clowns in colorful costumes who did skits concluding with an “exploding” taxicab. The evening performance ended with the usual colorful fireworks displays.

75 Years Ago – 1939
Mandan and vicinity apparently spent a safe and sane Fourth of July with no serious accidents or injuries reported.

The newly-completed museum at Fort Lincoln State Park was opened to the public at noon, July 4, for the first time. Supt. J. H. Gipple has reported that 150 paid guests from nine states had registered. A small fee of ten cents to adults and five cents to children is charged for admission to the building which contains a large collection of Indian artifacts, as well as relics of old Fort Lincoln.

On July 3rd and 4th, more than 2500 persons, drawn from all sections of western North Dakota, including a large crowd from Mandan and Bismarck, gathered at the natural amphitheater south of Medora to witness the rodeo, staged by Walter Ray and his assistants. Most of the crowd watched the show from their cars, parked on the nearby hillsides, with the grandstand at the arena packed to the limit. Indian dancing, trick riding, bull-dogging, calf roping, wild horse and steer riding and rope twirling entertained the crowd. Monday’s celebration began with a pageant, presented by the Congregational Church, featuring the Marquis DeMores, former president Theodore Roosevelt and other names famous in the days of the old West. A dance closed each day’s activities.

100 Years Ago – 1914
“The Fourth of July was a safe, sane and quiet one this year in Mandan. Ralph Countryman met with the only injury reported. A cannon cracker went off in his hand and powder was blown into it and his face. However, his injuries were not serious.

“Two thousand people enjoyed the music furnished by 15 pieces of the Mandan band at Golden Valley where the local musicians were the big feature of their Fourth of July celebration. The band left Friday night on the No. 1 train for Hebron, and then traveled by automobile 36 miles north to Golden Valley Saturday morning. When the Mandan band appeared in the parade, there was practically no one left on the main streets for the rest of the procession as the whole crowd followed the band and their splendid music to the city park for the afternoon concert, followed by the reading of the Declaration of Independence and a picnic. Other activities included foot races, bucking bronco contests, a baseball game and boxing. A colorful fireworks display ended the day’s celebration.”

125 Years Ago – 1889
The village of Mandan was organized in the spring of 1881; just eight years later, statehood was the talk of the Dakota Territory.

“On Friday, July 5, at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 88 degrees above zero.

“There was a large exodus from Mandan to Bismarck yesterday, and the train loads of people that crossed the river did so with the evident intention of enjoying themselves. Bismarck was exceedingly gay, and they did their best to entertain the visitors. They were especially careful to accommodate the visiting newspaper men.

“The Fourth began with a salute of 42 guns at Sunrise to awaken residents and guests to a new chapter in Dakota’s history.

“The parade was formed promptly at 10 o’clock at the west end of Bismarck’s Main Street and as the inspiring music of the superb military band from Ft. Yates heralded its approach, faces turned toward the west and from thousands of throats went up cheers and wild huzzahs. The scene was magnificent.

“Major Powell, grand marshal of the day, mounted on a spirited steed, guided the way, followed by the regulars from Ft. Lincoln and Ft. Yates. The four companies of infantrymen, marching in accurate lines, were followed by 72 cavalrymen. Next, came the members of the constitutional convention in whose honor the entire procession was proceeding to the Capitol.

“As the last carriage conveying the 75 delegates passed, a cheer along the entire line gave notice of the arrival of the 42 young ladies who, mounted on horses, represented the 38 states of the Union and the four new ones about to don the statehood garb.

“However, the greatest novelty in the parade was the group of 75 Indians from Standing Rock under the command of Major McLaughlin. Among the chiefs were: Sitting Bull who carried a huge American flag; Gall, Rain-In-The-Face, Thunder Hawk, John Grass, Winnebago, Flying Horse and Walking Eagle, all dressed in colorful attire and headdresses.

“At Sixth Street, the entire procession, flanked by the Bismarck firemen of Pioneer Hose Co. No. 1 and their decorated cart, turned left on its way to the capitol, where the parade halted to let the convention delegates take possession of the building. The parade then continued down Fourth Street to the Main Street.

“The Constitutional Convention was called to order promptly at 12 noon with the election of Mr. F. B. Fancher of Stutsman as president. During the afternoon, various committees were organized before adjourning for a picnic at the grove east of the Athenaeum building. Other activities included a baseball game, horse races, musical entertainment, the evening’s ball and finally the gigantic display of fireworks to end the day for the weary crowd of revelers.”

Please email comments to or write to Diane Boit, 402 17th St. NW, Mandan, ND 58554.