President Grover Cleveland in a proclamation issued November 4, 1896, set aside November 26 “to be kept and observed as a day of thanksgiving and prayer throughout our land” and asked that Americans forego their usual work and assemble in their houses of worship to render thanks. However, the celebration of Thanksgiving in Valentine in Cherry County in 1896 was “remembered more on account of the breach than the observance,” according to Robert Good, editor and publisher of The Valentine Democrat. The chief culprit was the weather. Good wrote in the Democrat on December 3:
“With the wind blowing at the rate of forty miles an hour and the thermometer hovering around zero while ten inches of snow filled the circumambient atmosphere so full it was continually at the bursting point, general observance of the holiday graciously granted by Grover could not be expected though most of us his loyal subjects closed our usual places of business. Repairing to our houses of worship was out of the question.
“It is impossible to give in detail the manner in which the day was celebrated by the majority of Valentine citizens but if the editor of this paper did such an absurd thing as to keep a diary of his daily doings the page devoted to Thanksgiving day would read about like this:
“Nov 26, ’96 – 4 a.m. Got out of bed to catch train going east. Lots of snow and wind. 4:40 a.m. – Went to depot, train reported hour late. 5:40 -Train another hour late. Still snowing and blowing. 6:40 – Train ‘nother hour late, same weather, ate breakfast. 8:00 a.m. – Train ‘n’our later, got mail put papers in office, read letters. 8:50 – train said to be coming.
“9:00 – Same old snow and blow, went to The Donoher [a hotel operated by M. J. Donoher], ate dinner as follows, all of it: Oyster Soup, Baked Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Roast Beef, Brown Gravy, Roast Veal, Mushroom Sauce, Stewed Lamb, Green Peas, Mashed Potatoes, French Beans, Corn, Mince Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Walnut Pudding, Brandy Sauce, Tea, Coffee, Milk, Water, Apples, Oranges, Toothpicks.
“Dear reader, we leave it to your imagination to complete the diary. After eating a dinner like that what would you have done, always remembering that the snow and blow before mentioned had not ceased?”
The weather, in addition to inconveniencing Good, also stranded area travelers and forced the cancellation of an entertainment in Valentine. He noted elsewhere in the December 3 issue of the Democrat, “Most people are now thankful Thanksgiving is over.”
An unidentified woman holding a large turkey.