Monday, July 23, 2012

Pioneer Day: Celebrations in Snowflake, Arizona


Celebrating the 24th of July in Snowflake started weeks in advance. The bishop notified the congregation that the time for nominating the general committee was in order. Soon, all preparations were under way. For the girls, a new dress was absolutely necessary. Money was scarce, but one year Clara Rogers and I ordered six yards of lawn cloth, lavender in hue, and twelve yards of lace and like number of insertion; and what gorgeous dresses we wore that day!

The celebration began with a grand ball on the evening of the 23rd At dawn on the 24th, serenaders [sic] came by our house. An organ had been lifted into a wagon and served as accompaniment to the singers. We had breakfast on the hill above town and made a colorful sight in our pioneer costumes. The food was cooked over the open fire. We always sampled our neighbor's breakfast and after eating sufficiently, we hurried home to bathe off the campfire smoke and prepare for the parade. Our rides in the early morning air were very exciting as the teamsters popped their black whips in rifle shot noise.

The parade assembled on the public square, marched over designated streets and returned to the meeting house where an indoor meeting was scheduled. The parade was colorful with men on horseback, wagons loaded with spinning wheels and barrels strapped to their sides. Indians on ponies, hand carts and other conveyances each equipped as in Pioneer days. A skirmish and a mock battle usually took place. An anvil was kept booming all the time from sun up until after the morning and made the air ring with its noise. We relaxed from one blast when another quaked the atmosphere. The boys were thrilled with the noise, but the girls huddled in frightened groups.

The indoor meeting was hot and stuffy so we took our fans. The program consisted of musical numbers, speeches, anecdotes, and toasts to the Pioneers. Several times, when the 24th came on Sunday, the town above us on Silver Creek Taylor—celebrated on Saturday and Snowflake put on its program on Monday. Each vied to have something unique and different. On one occasion Taylor had a barbeque. A beef was cooked in a deep pit and all guests were served on tables under the trees. After dinner there were organized sports for young and old. All children received a prize whether they won a race or not. At one celebration I won a beautiful back comb studded with rhinestones and at another race I was awarded a beautiful silk fan. In this last event we were instructed not to run too fast. I took it quite easy in the relay race and had just picked up the eggs and placed them in a hat when my friend rushed by and stepped in the hat full of eggs!

The old time rodeo was a source of pleasure to others, but not to me. Once, Port Adair's broncho smashed into a picket fence and I almost fainted, but Port and the horse were unhurt. Lemonade was served beneath a tree and chairs, benches, buggies and wagons were arranged at advantageous points to serve as a grandstand for the sports events. Ernest Jones climbed the greased pole. Others tried unsuccessfully to gain the top, but when Ernest appeared on the scene, he was dressed in a very old shirt and jeans. He climbed easily by putting ashes on his hands and on the pole. That was a new slant on pole climbing. He soon reached the top, where a tobacco sack of money was the prize for his effort. The evening was spent in dancing. At midnight, prayer was offered in thankfulness and in dedication to the ideals of our worthy ancestors and the day was brought to a successful conclusion.

Mildred Pearce Morgan. [Mildred was the wife of Mat Morgan, one of the three sons of Mary Linton Morgan.]

Kate Carter. Heart Throbs of the West. Vol. I-XII. Salt Lake City, UT, USA: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1947.

Picture of the anvil courtesy of Rae Allen, Flickr.

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