Throwback Thursday: The 1916 Indiana Centennial

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

DeKalb County has seen and celebrated its fair share of centennials over the years, and in many different ways. Spencerville commemorated its 100th birthday with a plaque from the Indiana Historical Society, Waterloo held a historical pageant entitled “According to My Tell”, and Butler featured acts from the acrobatic “Sky High Girl” and a troupe of circus performers known as the Poodles Hanneford family.

This year, we’re celebrating our very first bicentennial—Indiana’s 200th birthday—so today why don’t we look back a century ago, when DeKalb County celebrated the year our state turned one hundred?

The 1916 celebration was filled with exciting, interesting things. President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Indiana States Fairgrounds. Indiana, a silent film—which now appears to be lost—was created, and a week-long pageant entitled The Pageant of Indiana was performed. Monuments were built, including one in Fort Wayne dedicated to Johnny Appleseed.

1916 was also the year the Indiana state park system was created, with the establishment of McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana.

1916 Centennial Program

DeKalb County held an official centennial celebration in Auburn on October 4th, 5th, and 6th of that year. Entertainment varied, ranging from a school pageant (which a thousand local school children participated in) to a singing trio to a traveling company of Japanese acrobats. Other featured acts included a troupe of trained seals, a balloon ascension, and the comedic acrobat James BeAno.

Centennial Postcard 3

As with today’s DeKalb County Free Fall Fair, each day of the 1916 celebration had its own theme: Old Settler’s Day, Organization and Fraternal Day, and School’s Day. There were literary readings and at least three parades, and a band concert was held at the beginning of every single day.

It appears to have been a huge celebration, drawing people from all over the county. As you can see from the photo postcard above, there was quite a crowd in attendance.

Are you ready to top that, DeKalb County of 2016? If you’re curious about this year’s celebrations, you can check out the official bicentennial website here, where you can learn about Legacy Projects, the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, and more.

Want to see more local history? Click here to browse our online photo database, or head on over to the Genealogy Center’s official Facebook page.



About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
This entry was posted in Throwback Thursday, What's Up At Willennar and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Throwback Thursday: The 1916 Indiana Centennial

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: A Brand New Year! | Charlie Chat

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