“Come to Ithaca for a Different July” – A Time of War, a Time of Peace, July 1917


Above: Gratiot County Herald, June 28, 1917

     During the summer of 1917,  it seemed that some Gratiot County residents did not know whether to celebrate the Fourth of July or to spend time contemplating the seriousness of a nation going to war. It had been a custom in Gratiot County that the annual Fourth of July celebration would be hosted in a different town each summer. Now, with a war on, St. Louis opted not to host the event.

     Ithaca quickly came to the rescue in hope of promoting Woodland Park, a park located on the town’s west side. People were invited from across the county to come and spend the afternoon and the evening in Ithaca. The event was billed as “a day of pleasure and quietness instead of the usual 4th of July celebration.”

   The park was promoted as a place that had plenty of water, room to park one’s automobile or hitch their horse, and enough activities to keep everyone busy. The events offered baseball games, horse shoe contests, three legged races, volleyball, medicine ball, racing, singing, and music. On the spiritual side, the Free Methodists were also holding camp meetings in the park.

      That July it was a time to slow down as the county went to war.

Copyright James M Goodspeed 2017

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