On Jan. 2, 1872, the Statesman reported: “The cannon at Fort Boise, at 12 o’clock last night, fired the old year out and the new year in. This was greeted by the firing of smaller arms throughout the city. The morning broke as pleasant as May Day and everybody seemed disposed to close up business and have an old-fashioned jollification day by meeting friends, exchanging congratulations, and wishing each other a Happy, Happy New Year.
“The ladies were at home, as usual, and done themselves credit in their kindly receptions and the festive boards which were spread before their welcome visitors. It is hard to particularize, especially when ladies vie with each other in doing honor to such occasions. Suffice it to say we don’t see how anyone could have done more. It was truly a Happy New Year.”
There was a leap year in 1876, and the Statesman reported that “Boise’s belles” were determined to “turn the tables on the city’s bachelors.” Tom Morrow, city marshal, told the paper he was going to get married to the first woman that proposed “just for the sake of giving the boys a chance to toot their horns.” The 1876 new year was ushered in by the firing of guns and Chinese firecrackers all over town. At Fairview, near War Eagle Mountain east of Silver City, a grand patriotic party was given to welcome the centennial year of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States of America.
The year 1879 was welcomed at Idaho City by the explosion of “15 or 20 large bombs” and was bade farewell by a large congregation at a traditional watch service in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In December 1881, the Statesman offered to publicize open houses on New Year’s Day: “Those of our lady friends who intend to receive callers on New Year’s day, or the day observed in lieu thereof, and desire to acquaint their friends therewith, can do so through our local columns. Notices should be handed in to the office not later than six o’clock Friday evening next.”
A few days later the paper observed: “Social — Those who labor under the impression that Boise is dull socially are in error. Dancing school Monday night, Masonic supper and dance Tuesday night, two social parties last evening, the married men’s dance to-night, dancing school again Friday night, and a social gathering of our German citizens on Saturday night about fill this week. And the indications are that this sort of thing will continue till Lent.”
New Year’s Day fell on Sunday in 1882, leading to this item in the Idaho Statesman: “Happy New Year. The belief that the observance of Monday as New Year’s Day would detract from its general observance in this city proved unfounded, for everybody was out and the city bore a general holiday appearance. The young men of the city had every available turnout, even to one of the city job wagons, which a quartet calling itself the ‘Eating Four’ had chartered. The Oregon boys, to keep up the reputation of their nativity, turned out in a barouche, with hoisted umbrellas.” (A barouche is a fancy four-wheeled carriage with a high driver’s seat in front, two double seats inside facing each other, and a back seat with a folding top.)
“A quintet carried with them both their Pride and their Coffin.” ( This was a reference to well-known local men D.P.B. Pride and Frank Coffin. Pride would serve as territorial secretary in 1884.) “Everywhere the most bountiful tables were spread, about fifty ladies in all receiving callers, and waiting upon the gentlemen with a grace only acquired in the climate of Boise City.”
Their daughters had much to live up to.
Arthur Hart writes this column on Idaho history for the Idaho Statesman each Sunday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.