COLES COUNTY NEWS:

THE GATHERERS AND THE REPORTING

PART G

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The Oakland Section:   Oakland Section:  194   195    197   198


196.
OAKLAND, ILLINOIS HISTORY

FIRST REUNION AND BARBEQUE, AUGUST 15 & 16 of 1894

[An article from the 1894 Oakland Ledger—the beginning of a big tradition]

(A fuzzy picture of the old Pennsylvania Depot at Oakland)

 

       The big day of the barbecue dawned bright and clear. The day was cool. The roads were dusty, however, but this did not deter the people from coming. They had been invited, and as visions of a square meal were in sight, nothing short of a cyclone could have kept them away. In Oakland we are used to big crowds on the Fourth of July, but the most sanguine expectations did not come up to the number of people present. They came 'in every conceivable shape; in buggies, big wagons, spring wagons and on the trains. From the west alone, between the hours of 8 and 9 o'clock, 2,100 people were encounter. When it is taken into consideration that this was only one of five roads into town, it will give some sort of an idea how many people were here last Thursday. The people commenced coming to town at 5 o'clock in the morning, and k was noon before the string of vehicles ceased to be visible on ail roads leading into the city. The old celebration grounds were used as a place for the people to place their vehicles, and at 11 o'clock, 5,600 vehicles had been placed there.

       On the west of the barbecue grounds were over 1,000 teams, while teams were hitched as far north as Chapman's old tile factory. Not only this, but our liverymen, Newman and Kirkpatrick, had over 300 buggies hitched up and down the street in front of their livery stable."

 It was a big crowd, the largest, beyond a doubt, ever assembled in Eastern Illinois. There were present several directors of the Paris and Charleston fairs, who are used to seeing large crowds, and these gentlemen said that we had 30,000 people here. Others say that 40,000 would be nearer right.

       With over 6,000 vehicles in the grove it would be safe to say they brought on an average of five people each which would make over 40,000 who came to Oakland in that way. Every train that came into the city from both roads were crowded to the doors, and it is estimated that 2,000 people came to town Thursday on the cars. There are 1,600 souls in Oakland, and thus it will be seen that the total figured up, on a low basis, gives in round numbers over 34,000 people in the city last Thursday, to say nothing of the people who came to the city on Wednesday previous—at the lowest, 1,000.


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