Posts Tagged ‘Austin NV’

BattleBorn Burlesque: Celebrating the Fourth of July

July 1, 2010

Austin, Nevada - 1860s (Image from


How the old Time Austinites Celebrated


The First “Horrible” Demonstration in the BattleBorn State.

In the early days of Austin a number of fun-loving citizens of that then flourishing camp inaugurated the custom of holding burlesque Fourth of July celebrations after the regular exercises of the day were over.

Upon this occasion Judge W.H. Beatty, now Chief Justice in California, arrayed in female apparel and representing Miss Susan B. Anthony, acted as President of the day, and Judge Boalt, the now eminent lawyer of San Francisco, read the “Declamation of Superintendents.”

The Rev. Theopalus Jenkins delivered the following oration, which was copied seriously by a number of English newspapers as a speciman of American frontier oratory and eloquence:


Fellow Hoodlums and Hoodlumesses, Grangers and Grangeresses, Female Crusaders and Male Persuaders, Whangdoodlers, Ore Thieves and Three-card Monte Dealers.

Governor Herny G. Blasdel

This is the proudest moment of my eventful life. when I cast my eagle eye over the sea of upturned and unwashed faces that surround me, and behold the familiar countenances of so many of my former comrades in arms who participated with me in that glorious struggle for liberty — at the last State’s prison break at Carson — the emotions of my heart are too powerful for utterance and I can only offer a silent benison to Governor Blasdel and the Pardoning Board of Nevada for tempering the wind to the shorn ram, in thus enabling us to cast our lines among the ewes and wethers of this beautifully heterogeneous and cosmopolitan metropolis of Manhattanville.

My fellow hoodlums. More than three hundred years have elapsed since our Pilgrim fathers left their mothers-in-law and all other cherished household gods behind them in the Old World that they might be enabled to worship God and burn witches and Quakers according to the dictates of their own consciences. They landed in the midst of a Siberian winter upon the inhospitable shores of New England, when there wasn’t a distillery in the country and Plymouth Rock wouldn’t pay ten dollars to the ton by the dry process with the Stetefeldt improvement. Beans and bacon were unattainable luxuries, and the Indians had a corner on pine nuts and dried grasshoppers. Times were tough and the puritanic goose was pendant at a depressed altitude.

But, did the lion hearts of our sturdy forefathers quail before this accumulated load of adversity? Nary a quail. Perseverance and religious ardor will accomplish wonders, and behold the result! To-day the potency of New England rum and New England school-marms is felt and appreciated wherever the arts and sciences are cherished and wherever civilization has a foothold. From the Georgia Major, who in the gorgeous oriental costume of his country bends the pregnant hinges of the knee before the throne of the King of Dahomey, to the civilized savage who builds his wigwam in obscurity on the populous banks of the turbulent Reese, from the everglades of Labrador to the snow-capped prairies of Texas; from the Coliseum at Rome to that modern monument of enterprise and enlightenment — the citizens’ mill at Austin; from Alfalfa to Omaha and from the Pyramids of Egypt to Simpson’s park.

My fellow hoodlums, there stands Plymouth Rock and there stands Plymouth Church — probably two of the best stands in the country. The literati of America have vied with one another in doing homage and giving to the guardian spirits of each a prominent page upon the history of our beloved country. Longfellow has immortalized in verse the blighted love of Miles Standish, while Victoria Woodhull warbles sweet refrains commemorative of the tender bonds of platonic affection which sanctify the lives of Henry Ward Beecher and Mrs. Theodore Tilton?.

But, my fellow Hoodlums, all this is digressive. We have not assembled here to-day for the purpose of doing homage to a barren boulder, but to celebrate the natal day of that great North American bird which whipped the universal game cock of creation, and caused the crown heads of Europe to shake in their boots worse than did that spermacetti duck of old, when the Apostle Paul shook his fist under his nose, and vociferated unto him, ‘Thou art the man!’

The great American Eagle that holds down the gallinacious bird of France with one claw, the double headed buzzard of Germany with the other and chaws up the British Lion into mincemeat, with the entire balance of the European menagerie roosting on his tail feathers! And yet this extraordinary bipedal cuss has not yet reached his prime of life! In a few years more he will confiscate the navies of Europe to build himself a nest, gobble the armies of the world for breakfast and afterwards use them to fertalize the soil of his ranch — which by that time will be bounded on the north by the Aurora Borealis, and on the south by the Antartic Cirle. He will turn England into a corral for his bronchos, and stable his mastodons in the Tulleries of France.

Battle Mountain (Image from

But to resume my digression. The great principles of E Plumbus Unum have never been more beautifully illustrated than in the growth and prosperity of our famous city. Here but a few short years ago the gentle Shoshone held undesputed sway. Clad in the gorgeous costume of his race, which consisted principally of an abbreviated breech clout and a couple of postage stamps — he pergrinating peacefully over his native hills, monarch of years has elapsed, since, where we now stand, no sound broke the solemn and serene stillness of the air — except the occasional yelp of the noble cayote as he stalked grandly over his native heath, dragging his majestic tail behind him. A few short years and behold the change! A city to which all the people of Lander county pay tribute. Her surrounding hillsides teeming with the fruitful sagebrush and nutritious pine nut. A city supporting three churches and thirteen fare banks, forty two gun mills and one quartz mill, and all that is wanted to make it the commercial center of the earth is a railroad from Battle Mountain or a high toned deck of hurdy-gurdies from Carson. A city whose common schools will compare favorably with those of any nation on the face of the earth. Where the standard of the moral culture of our youths have attained such an elevation, that the chances are — if they have good luck and no set backs — a majority of them will break into the penitentiary before they are twenty-one years of age.

Taking these things into consideration, my fellow hoodlums, let me admonish you, when to night, you retire to your several homes, in the hospital, the pest house and the calaboose, to firmly resolve in your minds that the fires of patriotism shall never burn dimly within you, and that you will never prove ungrateful to the country that supports such institutions for your benefit.

In conclusion, my fellow hudlums, I will remark that I am an Independent candidate for Congress, subject to the nomination of all the conventions that meet in the State. My principles are liberal, and were constructed especially to meet the emergencies of the approaching campaign. I am what might be termed and Independent Democratic Republican Granger. I am opposed to the Battle Mountain and Austin railroad — for the reason that I have generally found it more comfortable walking on state roads than on railroad ties. I am in fact opposed to all railroads, but in favor of free passes, free schools and free school marms. I believe that every woman has a constitutional right to be a school marm, and if I was on the Board of Trustees, I would vote for them all — irrespective of age, sex, color, or previous conditions of servitude.

I am opposed to the Sutro tunnel, but in favor of artesian wells — where they don’t conflict with the interests of distilleries and breweries. I am an ardent female suffragist and in favor of giving the ladies all they want and more, too, if they demand it.

I shall support Susan B. Anthony for President. She is one of the old time girls and I consider it a duty incumbent upon all forty-niners to stand in for her. Let us all stand in unitedly, and victory will purch upon her waterfall. The American eagle, from his cyrie in the mountains, will swoop down upon her, seize the slack of her pannier in his beak, and with her, wing a triumphant flight to the White House at Washington.

And now, my fellow hoodlums, for the purpose of testing the sense of this meeting, or rather for the purpose of testing whether or not this meeting has any sense, I will propose a conundrum:

All of you who are in favor of the political views I have just expressed, and are in favor of the aforesaid female and your humble servent for the respective positions I have mentioned, will manifest it by saying “Ay!” All opposed will fire off a six-shooter. It is carried unanimously, and I take great pleasure in extending to you all a cordial invitation to walk down to the Cedar street hydrant and take a drink at my expense.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 4, 1899