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Title: Independence Pageant Draws Large Crowd
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Submitted by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Salts
Taken crom Fountain-Warren Democrat - Aug. 28, 1930

Cast of 150 Portray Life of Cicot, Town's Founder, and Early Warren County in Open Air Theater.

Several thousand people, it is estimated, witnessed this historical pageant presented Wednesday portrayed the early life of Zachariah Cicot, the Indian half-breed who founded the town of Independence, and re-acted the early history of Warren county. The pageant was given on the exact spot on which once stood the log cabin home of Cicot, the place where he was born and died. It was a level stretch of ground about 100 by 160 on the Wabash river bank, illuminated by large electric flood lights, and the spectators were seated on the three hillsides of the natural ampitheatre to witness the pageant.

The story of the pageant was written by Mrs. Elmer B. Smith of West Lebanon from data furnished by the people of Independence, many of whom have descended from the pioneers of that community. The staging, costuming and lighting arrangements were very effective, due to the work of Mrs. George B. Munson of Independence, who had charge of the pageant, and her committee. About 150 local people formed the cast and costuming and stage setting were elaborate.

A homecoming and centennial celebration of the United Brethern church of Independence, held during the day, drew many visitors, some coming a long distance to attend the celebration at the home of their birth or their childhood. The homecoming program was held in connection with the church centennial celebration. Rev. Harry S. Berry, pastor of the church, delivered the address in which he reviewed the history of the church for the past 100 years since its founding. A basket dinner was served at noon.

The evening's program was opened at 8 o'clock with an announcement by William McKinzie, the herald, who dressed as an Indian rode onto the stage on horseback, and by use of a megaphone told the story of the first episode. Later during the evening he announced each act in the pageant which showed the founding of the town and its development.

The first episode showed a peaceful Indian encampment in 1781 and the birth of Zachariah Cicot, the town's founder, who was the central figure in the big celebration, and which part was taken by David Benson. The Red Man lodges of Independence and Mellott, which consolidated some time ago and which now form one of the largest and most active units of the order in the state, furnished all the Indian characters in the pageant.

In the second scen the only battle ever fought in Warren county was reproduced, Ora Handy taking the part of General Harden who was in command of the white settlers' little army which battled with the Indians.

In the third scene, Cicot was seen trading horse and whiskey with Indian boys and and also racing with Indians for furs. The Indian wedding presented in this scene was well portrayed. Glen Cowgill and Mrs. Pearl Cobb appearing as the bridal couple, and their singing was one of the outstanding features of the program. The next episode showed the young half-breed attending the Indian council under Council Oak.

In episode 5, young Cicot was shown in the year 1811 courting Kate, a beautiful Indian maiden, who later warns him that the red skins will ambush white soldiers if they pass through the village. Cicot then guided the white forces safely to Battle Ground, where the army of General William Henry Harrison defeats the Indians under the Prophet. Spies told the Indian leader that Kate condemned them and she was put to death by drowning in a pond near Independence, still known as Kate's pond.

The sixth episode showed Cicot's log cabin hom, which was located on its orginal site. Cicot and his Indian wife were shown and also the coming of the first white settlers to Independence in 1818. Charles and Emma Davis appeared in the roles of the father and mother of the first pioneer family, who arrived in a covered wagon. The building of another cabin for the white family showed the early pioneer life.

The battle in 1822 between teh Indian tribes, in which a large number of Red Men participated, was realistically portrayed in the next scene.

Episode 8 showed the first court in Warren county, in the year 1827, when the judges arrived on horseback after having driven under their circuits. The roles of the first judges were taken by Jas. Rhode, George Baker and William Bader, and they were attired in long-tailed coats, tight fitting trousers and tall stovepipe hats. Court was held at the Cabin of Enoch Farmer. Cicot appeared at court with his wife and Emil, the interpreter.

In this connection it may be of interest to know that the first court house was built of hewed logs and stood near where the old spring house stood on the Robert A. Milligan farm, now occupied by Orrie Milligan. The farm was owned by Enoch Farmer at that time and a town site of 30 acres was laid out on this farm at the site of the court house for the county seat of Warren county and it was named Warrentown, but influences were brought to bear which resulted in locating the county seat at Williamsport. Wm. Smalley, the father of Mrs. R.A. Milligan and Mrs. Peter Ault of this city and Mrs. Alfred Milligan, who resides near Winthrop, later bought this farm and he tore down the old court house and used the logs in a barn. Some of the hewed logs are still to be seen in the old barn still standing in the barn lot at the Milligan farm.

The arrival of the first circuit rider in the year 1830 and the founding of the original United Brethern congregation in a log cabin was portrayed in episode 9. The role of Rev. John Dunham, the circuit rider, was taken by Rev. Mack Reed of Veedersburg.

The tenth scene was devoted to the social life in the pioneer's home, showing an old-fashioned wedding and old-time square dancing, Alpha Wagoner and Arthur Crane in old-time style furnished music on their fiddles for the Virginia reel.

The erection of the first church structure and a procession of pioneers to the church was shown in the eleventh episode, while the next one showed the death of the Cicot and his funeral at the log cabin home in the year 1850. The thirteenth episode was laid in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War and showed the men responding to Lincoln's call for volunteers to fight for the preservation of the union. Patriotic singing was a feature of this scene.

In the finale the entire cast was assembled and the company sang, "On the Banks of the Wabash" and "The Star Spangled Banner."

The large crowd was handled in an orderly manner, and the parking of cars across the road from the scene of the pageant was managed in such a way that little confusion was had in leaving at the close of the performance.

The Attica school band played early in the evening, and Brown's Novelty band played appropriate music for each episode.

About 1200 tickets were reported sold, and the proceeds of the entertainment will be used to erect a boulder at the grave of Cicot in the old pioneer cemetery at Independence. The three-ton stone chosen for the marker is one that was used by the Indians to grind their corn in the early days before the arrival of whites. A flagstaff is also to be erected in the cemetery.

The church which observed its centennial was founded in 1830 on the Cicot reservation, a temporary church being first used, and in 1842 a church ediface was erected, which is said to ahve been the first church of any denomination built in the county. The present structure is the third one built by the congregation during the centry of the church's existence.

Date: 4/30/1990
Origin: Backward Glances
Record ID: 00000098
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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