This album shows the Independence Day celebration at Historic Forestville Minnesota. Forestville, now within in the  Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, was a prospering community in southeast Minnesota that declined after the Southern Minnesota Railroad bypassed it in 1868.

Reprint of the original 1896 Forestville 4th of July Celebration flyer.
(Original in Minnesota Historical Society collections.)

Schedule of today's events.

With the house modestly attired for Independence Day, that is "The 4th", we depart for Forestville.

The Forestville Glee Club sings old favorites such as the Battle Hymn of the Republic

"In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the course of human events..." And so, the Declaration of Independence is read by the Rev. Father McTague.

Hon. Ignatius Donnely was the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1860-1863 and later a Republican congressman from Minnesota and a state senator. Today he delivers a speech in Forestville, giving his populist views of government, taxation, woman's suffrage, wealth and poverty, and the presence of the United States in the Philippines.

Chickens gather near the old (now non-functioning!) outhouse. As you see, it is complete with a crescent moon cut in the door.

When this little girl crouched low to talk to the chickens, she's almost their size!

One of the attractions of the day was a baseball game played in the style of the 1860's. Here, dressed in blue, are the "Rochester Roosters".

The announcer, shouting through his pyramid-shaped megaphone, tells about the rules of the game and presents the teams. The woman under the parasol is carrying the "fine bucket". The game 140 years ago was very gentlemanly and the good behavior of the players and onlookers was expected. Any transgressions resulted in an immediate 2-bit (25 cents) fine that had to be dropped with a "clank" into the bucket.

Three members of the red team, the "Forestville Nine".

I got up to stretch my legs and found these lovely ladies taking refuge from the afternoon heat under  the shade of a tree.

Some of the buildings and a wagon in Forestville.

Back to the game. It the 1860's it was called a match. The hurler (now pitcher) readies to hurl to the striker (batter). If the striker is an artist (proficient player) he may hit a sky ball (fly ball) into the cornfield and score four bases (home run). If he's a muffin (inexperienced or rookie player) he might hit a daisy cutter (sharp grounder) and be able to leg it (run to a base) to first if he's lucky!

A friendly (at least from all appearances it seems so!) game of checkers on top of a keg in front of the store.

Ah ha! What do we have here under the netting in the shade? Delicious homemade pies all cut and ready.... for what?

This boy calmly waits at the simple wooden table. Don't let his innocent demeanor fool you! He's developing a cunning strategy.

This girls responds to hecklers in the crowd--siblings or friends no doubt.

The word has been given and the pie eating contest has begun. This girl is getting assistance from a parent who keeps her hair out of the sticky mess. Is this fair?

A brother and sister look on at the spectacle. They are clearly of northern European descent, which is prevalent in this part of the country. He is mildly amused and she looks downright disgusted by the whole affair!

With cap placed neatly on the table and arms obediently kept behind his back, this boy calmly buries his face in the goo.

After a few heats of kids, the voracious men are brought in for a go at the decadent and disgusting display of gluttony.

This man, all hunched over, presses down and tips up the plate up like a starving dog licking up every last bit!

He was the unlikely winner of the heat and he kindly let me photograph his much-to-be-admired prize. He was so proud and smiling as he struggled to get bits of blueberry pie filling out of his beard, boasting that this coveted award will be placed on the mantle over his fireplace, and that someday he'll charm his grandchildren with the story of the "Forestville Pie Eating Contest."

This handsome guy politely smiles with blueberries all over his face at the referee as she declares him the winner of this heat.

This young woman was a professional. She ate in two heats, each time going against men twice her size, and beat them soundly both times! Her poor boyfriend must have wondered what he is getting himself into!

The Pie Ladies watch the fruits of their labor being devoured in mad haste. Probably such a delicious dessert should be eaten a little more slowly and enjoyed a little more, but fun is fun, no?

I was quite surprised that this man was able to breathe!

The pie was enjoyed as shown by the smile, but the remainders indicate a looser here. Instead of Bluebeard the Pirate we have Purplebeard from the Old Navy.

This is some old fashioned treat that was for sale--Rock Candy made of sugar crystals with color and flavor on a wooden stick.

I wandered into one of the old buildings and saw this wooden still life in the corner.

Further inside, this man was busy shaving and shaping a wooden handle. He pushes with his foot on a lever that clamps the piece down tightly.

Oh, that's right--it's the 4th of July!

Meanwhile, the band played on.

People started to put things away, but there's always time to pause for a chat.

Time to pick up the old bones, lawn chair, bottle of water, and head for home.

But first one must cross back over the 1899 Carnegie steel bridge that spans the Root River.

Then, take a right past the beautiful meadow and woods

and get back to Modern Times with its hot cars

and healthy food!

Later that night we looked out over Rochester's Silver Lake anticipating the beginning of the fireworks "rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air"




Holy smokes!

All over the place!



And then, the terrible traffic nightmare we had to fight in order to make our way out of there and get back home. It was way past my bedtime...

Good Night!