St. Joe County celebrated 1916 Indiana centennial in a giant manner | Historical past

A hundred years ago this week, South Bend hosted a huge party.

was marking a century of statehood. And South Bend celebrated in a big way: three days of parades, band concerts, auto tours and an elaborate historical pageant performed on consecutive nights.

The festivities required months of planning and prompted great excitement. A week before the start, “… the is rapidly assuming a gala appearance. It is now assured that the city be more tastefully and more extensively decorated than at any previous time in her history,” the South Bend Tribune reported.

The celebration took place Oct. 3, 4 and 5, 1916. Crowds of people arrived in town by railroad, interurban and auto to enjoy the occasion.

Commemorative buttons and ribbons presented in October 1916 to officials, chorus and cast members of the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County, an in Springbrook Park in South Bend to celebrate Indiana’s centennial. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Library. Tribune photo

Centennial pageant ad A

An advertisement for the Indiana Centennial celebration of 1916 in South Bend. This ad was published in the South Bend Tribune on Sept. 28, 1916. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection

Centennial ad 1916

An advertisement for the Indiana Centennial celebration of 1916 in South Bend. This ad was published in the South Bend Tribune on Sept. 28, 1916. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection

Centennial floral car

This auto driven by Miss Jane Dennis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dennis, won first prize for being the best decorated automobile in South Bend’s auto floral parade in October 1916 to mark the Indiana Centennial. Others shown in the auto are the Misses Elizabeth Shidler, Louise Shidler, Helen Garwood, Marie Kronwitter and Ella King. South Bend -Times Photo

CentennialM1pageantpano.jpg

A photograph of the costumed principal cast members in the October 1916 Historical Pageant of St. Joseph County, which marked the centennial of Indiana’s statehood. This photograph is from the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Michiana Memory collection. Image provided

Centennial headline

A headline in the South Bend Tribune on Oct. 3, 1916, at the start of three days of festivities celebrating Indiana’s centennial.

Indiana Centennial crowd 1916

A huge crowd turns out on Main Street in front of the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend on Oct. 5, 1916 to join in the final day of local celebration of Indiana’s centennial. The tall building at rear left is the city’s original Odd Fellows Building.

Tribune archive photo

(This photo was published in the Oct. 5, 1916 Tribune.)

centennialBstamps.jpg

Commemorative stamps that St. Joseph County issued in October 1916 to mark Indiana’s centennial celebration. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo

centennialKbook.jpg

The cover of the program for The Historical Pageant of St. Joseph County, the celebration of Indiana’s centennial that took place on Oct. 3, 4 and 5, 1916 in Springbrook Park in South Bend. Tribune archives

Centennial cabin

Local residents portraying South Bend pioneer Alexis Coquillard in front of his cabin during the Indiana Bicentennial pageant in Springbrook Park in South Bend in October 1916. The role of Coquillard (far left) was played by his grandnephew, Alexis Coquillard Jr. Photo/South Bend News-Times

Centennial postcardA

A commemorative postcard issued by Indiana in 1916 to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo

Centennial postcardB

A postcard image of historic Fort Wayne, Ind., produced by the of Indiana in 1916 to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo

Centennial postcardC

A postcard image of a covered bridge on the National Road crossing the White River in . The postcard was produced by the state of Indiana to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood in 1916. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo

Centennial layout

A diagram of the pageant grounds at Springbrook Park in South Bend as laid out for the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County in October 1916 to mark Indiana’s centennial. This map was published in 1917 in Popular Mechanics magazine. Springbrook Park was at the northwest corner of present day Lincoln Way East and Ironwood Road, where Indiana University South Bend’s on-campus student stand today. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection.

Centennial sunburst

The “sunburst” finale arrangement showing where 6,000 singers stood in the shape of a sunburst at the conclusion of the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County on Oct. 3, 4 and 5, 1916 in Springbrook Park in South Bend to mark Indiana’s centennial.  From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection.

Centennial celebration

South Bend residents gather in front of the St. Joseph County Courthouse on Oct. 5, 1916, the last day of a three-day celebration of Indiana’s centennial. The view is north on Main Street with the JMS Building (white building at center) and the Oliver Hotel at left. Tribune photo archives



Centennial ribbons

Commemorative buttons and ribbons presented in October 1916 to officials, chorus and cast members of the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County, an event in Springbrook Park in South Bend to celebrate Indiana’s centennial. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo



Centennial pageant ad A

An advertisement for the Indiana Centennial celebration of 1916 in South Bend. This ad was published in the South Bend Tribune on Sept. 28, 1916. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection



Centennial ad 1916

An advertisement for the Indiana Centennial celebration of 1916 in South Bend. This ad was published in the South Bend Tribune on Sept. 28, 1916. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection



Centennial floral car

This auto driven by Miss Jane Dennis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dennis, won first prize for being the best decorated automobile in South Bend’s auto floral parade in October 1916 to mark the Indiana Centennial. Others shown in the auto are the Misses Elizabeth Shidler, Louise Shidler, Helen Garwood, Marie Kronwitter and Ella King. South Bend News-Times Photo



CentennialM1pageantpano.jpg

A photograph of the costumed principal cast members in the October 1916 Historical Pageant of St. Joseph County, which marked the centennial of Indiana’s statehood. This photograph is from the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Michiana Memory collection. Image provided



Centennial headline

A headline in the South Bend Tribune on Oct. 3, 1916, at the start of three days of local festivities celebrating Indiana’s centennial.



Indiana Centennial crowd 1916

A huge crowd turns out on Main Street in front of the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend on Oct. 5, 1916 to join in the final day of local celebration of Indiana’s centennial. The tall building at rear left is the city’s original Odd Fellows Building.

Tribune archive photo

(This photo was published in the Oct. 5, 1916 Tribune.)



centennialBstamps.jpg

Commemorative stamps that St. Joseph County issued in October 1916 to mark Indiana’s centennial celebration. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo



centennialKbook.jpg

The cover of the program for The Historical Pageant of St. Joseph County, the celebration of Indiana’s centennial that took place on Oct. 3, 4 and 5, 1916 in Springbrook Park in South Bend. Tribune archives



Centennial cabin

Local residents portraying South Bend pioneer Alexis Coquillard in front of his cabin during the Indiana Bicentennial pageant in Springbrook Park in South Bend in October 1916. The role of Coquillard (far left) was played by his grandnephew, Alexis Coquillard Jr. Photo/South Bend News-Times



Centennial postcardA

A commemorative postcard issued by Indiana in 1916 to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo



Centennial postcardB

A postcard image of historic Fort Wayne, Ind., produced by the state of Indiana in 1916 to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo



Centennial postcardC

A postcard image of a covered bridge on the National Road crossing the White River in Indianapolis. The postcard was produced by the state of Indiana to mark the centennial of Indiana statehood in 1916. From the collection of the St. Joseph County Public Library. Tribune photo



Centennial layout

A diagram of the pageant grounds at Springbrook Park in South Bend as laid out for the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County in October 1916 to mark Indiana’s centennial. This map was published in 1917 in Popular Mechanics magazine. Springbrook Park was at the northwest corner of present day Lincoln Way East and Ironwood Road, where Indiana University South Bend’s on-campus student apartments stand today. From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection.



Centennial sunburst

The “sunburst” finale arrangement showing where 6,000 singers stood in the shape of a sunburst at the conclusion of the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County on Oct. 3, 4 and 5, 1916 in Springbrook Park in South Bend to mark Indiana’s centennial.  From the St. Joseph County Public Library collection.



Centennial celebration

South Bend residents gather in front of the St. Joseph County Courthouse on Oct. 5, 1916, the last day of a three-day celebration of Indiana’s centennial. The view is north on Main Street with the JMS Building (white building at center) and the Oliver Hotel at left. Tribune photo archives

Shortly after noon on Oct. 3, the celebration started with the firing of cannon, blowing of factory whistles, ringing of church bells, unfurling of flags and sounding of auto horns, The Tribune reported.

There were large parades through the city each day: a general parade that included a unit of elderly Civil War veterans, a parade of automobiles decorated in flowers, and an industrial parade for businesses and factories. There were band concerts and traditional dances of various nations performed in front of the County Courthouse.

Crowds visited the 1853 County Courthouse to see an exhibit of local historical objects. There was a private reception at the Chamber of Commerce for pioneers of St. Joseph County, some of them born in 1830 and well into their 80s.

A plaque was placed at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Taylor Street to mark the former home of the late Schuyler Colfax, who was speaker of the U.S. during the Civil War and vice president under President Ulysses S. Grant.

The highlight of the celebration was the Historic Pageant of St. Joseph County. It was performed before large audiences all three nights at Springbrook Park (later Playland Park), an amusement park on Lincoln Way East near Ironwood Road. (The land now Indiana University South Bend’s on-campus student apartments.)

The park racetrack was converted into an open-air stage with a man-made lake deep enough to float canoes, a river, trees and shrubbery, according to news reports of the time in The Tribune and the South Bend News-Times.

The pageant provided more than 20 scenes re-enacting events of local history: Father Jacques Marquette traveling through this region in 1675, early settler Pierre Navarre arriving, the forced removal of the Potawatomis, the founding of the University of Notre Dame, the Civil War and Mishawaka’s great fire of 1872, among others.

It was a big show: $20,000 worth of costumes were leased from Chicago for the performers. Cannons were brought in from Culver Military Academy to add authenticity to the production.

Chief Black Hawk, a Sioux Indian chief, and 15 other members of his tribe came to town to portray Miamis and Potawatomis in pageant scenes, according to the news reports. The Sioux lived in tepees in Springbrook Park throughout their stay. Other actors included local residents and Notre Dame students.

The pageant concluded with a showstopper: 5,000 local schoolchildren and 1,000 adults together singing the Indiana centennial song, “Indiana! Blessed Homeland” and other tunes.

Newspaper accounts estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 people saw the pageant over its three-night run.

On the pageant’s final night, the 19-day-old baby son of two of the Sioux Indians was christened before the crowd. The baby was named Chief Becha Amogatcha, which the newspapers reported means “Chief South Bend.”

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