Wild Statehood Celebrations for North and South Dakota
On Nov. 2, 1889, the Dakota Territory was divided in two and both North and South Dakota were admitted into the Union as the 39th and 40th states, respectively. The event was highly anticipated by residents throughout the territory, and the citizens of the two new states celebrated wildly when statehood finally came—“jollification” was called for!
This article was published by the Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota) on Nov. 2, 1889:
A Statehood Jollification
A citizen yesterday suggested to the News the propriety of holding a big statehood jollification meeting as soon as it is convenient after the president’s proclamation. The idea is a good one and with a very little effort the meeting could be made a great success and a memorable occasion to one and all.
At Sioux Falls and other points steps of a like nature are already being taken and an open air celebration will take place if nothing else. Such a meeting can be carried through practically without expense. The time and its importance are certainly worthy of commemoration and it would seem that South Dakota people are lax indeed if they permit it to pass unobserved.
The next day’s papers reported that jollification had indeed occurred. This article was published by the Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) on Nov. 3, 1889:
Bismarckers Manifest Their Appreciation of Statehood in the Most Approved Manner.
Flags Go Up, Cannons Are Fired, Cheers Are Given and Everybody Rejoices.
The following dispatch from James G. Blaine to Governors Miller and Mellette yesterday afternoon was the signal for an outbreak of the old-time enthusiasm which has so often shaken Bismarck and won for her undying fame for patriotism and chivalry.
Washington, D.C., Nov. 2, 1889
To Governor Miller and Governor Mellette, Bismarck, Dak.:
The last act in the admission of the two Dakotas as states in the Union was completed this afternoon at the Executive Mansion at 3 o’clock and forty minutes by the president signing at that moment the proclamation required by the law for the admission of the two states. The article on prohibition submitted separate in each state was adopted in both the articles, providing for minority representation in South Dakota was rejected by the people; this is the first instance in the history of the national government of twin states, North and South Dakota, entered the Union at the same moment.
—James G. Blaine
No sooner was the news of the receipt of this telegram upon the streets than Bismarck was one grand cyclone of cheers and shouts, music and cannonading. The Tribune was the first to demonstrate, and with the flag to the breeze, the whistle of the engine screeching forth its joy and a genuine Fourth of July demonstration in front of the office, attracted the attention of the citizens and called forth a crowd of inquiring North Dakotans.
“What’s up?” “We’re a state!” “Hurrah!”
This is the character of the dialogue as each citizen, who had not heard the news, came forward to make inquiry. The demonstration made by the Tribune acted as a contagion. Soon the street was a blaze of exploding gunpowder and a tornado of voice. T. W. Griffin was among the first to touch off fireworks, but he was soon followed by Brandt and Frisby, Hallemback and Dunn, all of whom gave vent to their pent-up patriotism in the most approved style. In the evening Captain Moorhouse started a number of anvils, and Beal and Van Houten filled the air in their vicinity with rockets and Roman candles. Charley Kupitz added to the illumination with a spinning wheel contest and Dietrich and Kupitz did their duty in the illuminating celebration. It was a night of praise and thanksgiving, American sentiment and demonstrative loyalty.
E. H. Bly said he had not felt so young in twenty years and Colonel Thompson was seen to jump up and crack his heels together three times before returning to terra firma. Colonel Brown danced a hornpipe on the corner of Main and Fourth, and all the other young men who are quick to celebrate a welcome event gave similar exhibitions of their pride and agility. Men who have lived in Bismarck for many years without visiting the east, were not slow in manifesting their joy at being in the United States once more.
Eppinger and Frohmme almost forgot their rivalry and rejoiced side by side. Yegen and Giltschka, Strauss and Fox sang “Del Wacht em Rhine” with Star Spangled Banner variations, and the fire department did not come out to stop the singing—but joined in the chorus and gave three rousing cheers for the state of North Dakota.
It was a night of jubilation, everybody was happy and the capital of the northern twin did full justice to the occasion.