Volume 2, Number 4, Summer 1965
The morning of July 4 was ushered in by the firing of guns and the shouting of voices.
Early in the morning the people of Kirbyville were aroused from their slumbers and frightened half out of their wits by the ear splitting report of half a dozen miniature cannon (black-smith anvils) fired simultaneously.
The morning dawned bright and beautiful, giving promise of a perfect day. People were astir quite early as busy as ants making preparations for the days festivities.
Crowds began thronging in from every direction. Everybody was beginning to have a genuine good time when suddenly the sun became obscure. The sky was overcast by dark clouds and drops of rain began falling upon the dry, dusty earth.
The crowd rushed pell mell for shelter. Some took refuge under the canvas covering the dance platforms, others sought shelter beneath refreshment stands. Those less fortunate were forced to flee to the nearest houses in the village. There was a regular stampede for awhile. It looked as though the days pleasure was spoiled.
The rain fell in torrents for an hour or so, then gradually subsided into a steady downpour.
At noon the large baskets were relieved of their delicious food, and by the time each had partaken the bountiful repast, the rain had ceased. The sun was peeping out from behind the clouds as cheerfully as if nothing had happened. And its genial rays were reflected in the faces of the young folks who were on the verge of despair at the thought of having to separate so early on the glorious 4th.
The mud was soon beaten down by the tramping of so many feet. The shower had rendered everything more pleasant by cooling the air and laying the dust.
Time sped on fleet wings the remainder of the day, and parting time came only too soon.
I must not forget to mention that at five o clock sharp the order to fall in was given and J. C. L. McKnights "regiment" stood out in grand array with drums beating and colors flying. They looked quite grand stretching from one end of the picnic ground to the other. About thirty minutes were spent in marching and drilling, the column winding in and out of the crowd like a huge serpent.
At the expiration of the time the regiment wound itself into a solid circle and not less than forty voices blended in giving the yell for the national heroes from Washington down to Shafer and Admiral Dewey till the hills reverberated with thrilling sound. Then just before disbanding, we gave the Institute yell, "Who are, who are, who are we? Taney County Instituters, Yes siree;" ending with a yell that would put to shame any of the wolf packs that inhabit these hills.
The best of order was maintained throughout the entire day and it is Kirbyvilles boast that not one of her sons indulged in the use of intoxicating liquors on this sacred day, and comparatively little dancing was done.
All were hurried to their homes at early twilight by the appearance of threatening clouds which loomed up in the west and warned us of an approaching storm. Another head-long rush was made for shelter. Many hats looked beautiful for the last time that day and many poor drenched creatures reached shelter too late to escape the deluge.
Thus ended the memorable day, the memory of which will remain fresh in the minds of all who were present.
"The Taney County Instituters"
Jessie E. Yarnell Cox
The Teachers Institute was held in Kirbyville the year of 1899. We teachers and would-be teachers were required to write a composition on our Fourth of July, 1899. At that time J. C. L. McKnight was County Commissioner. He had recently returned from service in the Spanish American War in Cuba where he was a Sergeant. He gave to us and to some who were not in the Institute the same training he gave the soldiers. He put us through the maneuvers or review on the 4th as a part of the celebration.
These Institutes were held at different places. In 1898 it was Forsyth, in 1900 at Protem, also at Protem in 1901.
The County Commissioner furnished the examination questions, but in 1901 they sprung a surprise on us and the State Superintendent furnished them. Consequently many failed, some who had held 1st Grade certificates. Out of 72 only 13 passed. They called us the lucky 13.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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