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Local History

Wilson's Creek 1961 Centennial

Springfield Leader-Press, 7 August 1961, pages 11 & 12

Centennial week activities underway here
Blue angels are on hand for big show

"With ultra-modern exhibit shelters going up in the public square, the Blue Angels arriving at Municipal Airport and numerous visitors taking a [illegible] [pre]liminary arrangements for the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield Centennial observance Wednesday and Thursday created a lot of interest today.

"At midnight the square is to be closed to traffic except for city buses or emergency vehicles.  Barricades will remain up until 10 a.m. Friday.  Twenty-seven military exhibits will be on display on the square and in the first blocks of College, South, and St. Louis Streets which also will be closed to traffic.

"This morning work started on special display structures in the northwest and southeast parking quadrants of the square.  Members of the Southwest Missouri Architects Association designed the shelters as their contribution to the centennial.  Each structure is about 30 x 35 feet, constructed of portable steel framing and covered with polyethylene plastic.

"Most of the exhibits will be of the outdoor type that will not need protection against the weather.  Among these will be missiles of the type used by the two United States astronauts in their recent flights.  A Civil War Centennial panorama also will be at the Shrine Mosque Wednesday and Thursday. 

"Crowds flocked to the battlefield throughout yesterday, particularly in the afternoon.  Cars ran bumper to bumper there for some time as sightseers drove around the tract.  Some estimated up to 12,000 persons were there during the day and evening some of them out of state tourists.

"About 800 persons were at the battlefield last night for a program sponsored by a group of residents of the area.  First casualty of the Centennial observance came when A.R. Chilton member of the Wilson’s Creek Rebels, was hit during a skirmish of that group with the McDonald County militia.  Paper wads and powder were used as ammunition and Chilton got a leg wound which put him on crutches today.  He suffered a severe powder burn and flesh wound.

"Loyd Evans was MC for the program last night at the battlefield.  Mrs. May Kennedy McCord played the guitar and sang.  Former weatherman C. C. Williford spoke briefly and Mrs. Williford gave some whistling solos, Clifford Patterson sang several numbers.  The bed of a truck was used for a stage and members of the audience sat on blankets or portable chairs they provided themselves.

"There will be free entertainment again tonight and tomorrow night at the battlefield on the Jack Glidewell land adjoining the 37 acre park on Bloody Hill.  Preceding the program the Wilson’s Creek Rebels will skirmish at 6:30 p.m.  The program will start shortly after 7 o’clock.

"Tomorrow’s activities will include a practice flight of the Blue Angels at Municipal Airport at 2 p.m.  Since the airport will not hold all the automobiles expected to be at the exhibition of the Navy’s precision flight team Wednesday at 1 p.m. considerable parking is expected to be [on private land?]

"At least three of the radio stations here will broadcast the narration of the flight as given by an officer over the loud speaker at the airport.  This will enable persons parked on the outskirts to tune in on their automobile radios and hear the same announcements as those parked within range of the speaker.

"A limited number of tickets went on sale this morning at the Shrine Mosque for the program there at 8 p.m.  Wednesday by the SAC band chorus and drill team and the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and Drill Team.  There will be 460 free seats in the balcony at that performance.

"The DeMolays today were assisting the Junior Chamber of Commerce in selling Centennial souvenir booklets.  They will continue until 5,000 booklets are sold.

"The Jaycees have posted signs on the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield Road.  The signs start at Campbell Avenue at Highway M and continue at one mile intervals on that road and Highway ZZ.  They are red and white and read ‘Wilson’s Creek Battlefield’ with an arrow pointing the direction.

"The Jaycees’ ‘Fly the Flag’ committee also urged that residents fly flags at their homes on Wednesday and Thursday."

For more information about the battle see Wilson's Creek : the second battle of the Civil War and the men who fought it by William Garrett Piston & Richard W. Hatcher III.  For more information about this years' anniversary see the Park's website. 

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