Newark In the 1850's by Will Gunsul
Old Days in Newark
Will Gunsul Gives Interesting Incidents.
Letter to the Editor of the Kendall County Record. Published May 15, 1907.
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
Time reminds me that I am to subscribe once more for the good old Record if I am to keep in touch with the people I knew long ago.
If I may be just a little reminiscent I will say that away back in the early fifties (1850's) I attended my first Fourth Of July celebration. It was, of course, in Georgetown, afterward Newark. When we arrived, the air was full of smoke and firecrackers, and as it seemed then a large crowd was on the green. An anvil cannon kept up a constant uproar. Asher and I were very small lads and clung close to father. As we came near a crowd the shrill scream of fife cut through the air with startling emphasis, accompanied by the rat-tat-tat of a small drum and the boom-boom of a big one. Father listened a moment and then said. "That must be John Aldrich, as no one but John Aldrich ever could play that way." Soon the music stopped. Father put our little hands together and said, "stay here, boys," and stepped out and with a strong voice gave the order "fall in Company F." Instantly three men were in line. The next order was "size rank." This brought a lean, lank, tall man, whom I afterward knew as Thomas Finnie, another by the name of Partridge, and last but not least a ruddy, round-faced man with the fife in his hand into line. The latter was the redoubtable John Aldrich, whom my father designated as the best fifer that ever swung a lip. A few laughing orders in the manual of arms and then a general break ranks as they crossed hands in a sort of a reel. They had not met for many years and were all members of my father's militia company in Montgomery County, New York, of which he had been captain.
I see there is some talk of letting the county fair die out. Don't do it! Men of rich, noble, little Kendall, you will be more than ashamed afterward if you do. It is almost a necessity. The county board should come to the rescue and appropriated funds to help. Don't, don't do it! If you will stick to it I'll promise to come back next fall and attend and help. It hurts us absent ones to have you think of abandoning the enterprise. It does pay in a thousand ways that you do not dream of. Be loyal to the good old fair.
I go back again to the early fifties, when the fair was first organized, at Newark. Brother Asher and I groomed and fixed up a nice cow and led her on foot seven miles to the fair. We always will think she was much the best of the cows on exhibition, but there was a man, a strong character in Newark by the name of Manchester. How he did talk to the judges and got what he went after, the first premium, and we got a diploma while he got a cash premium. We rode old Bossie home on a trot; two tired, disgruntled, little lads.
William H. Gunsul, Lake Andes, SD