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The Harrisonville Reunion

The Harrisonville Reunion was one the "biggest events in the county, " according to many records.  People would come from all over the region to participate in the festivities.

The Harrisonville Reunion was started as a "thank you" to all of the veterans who served in the Civil War.  The event was originally held in Lucasville.  An article appeared in The Portsmouth Times on June 5, 1965 entitled, "History Revealed."  This article states that:  "History recalled that on August 17, 1865, a reunion of Civil War veterans was held in the grove.  More than 5,000 attended the "Peace Jubilee."  Abram F. Millar, Thomas, Dugan and John L. Ward were listed as the committeemen.  In 1880 Lucasville lost interest in the reunion and it was moved to Harrisonville when it was held  August 17, 1880 and has been held annually since as the Harrisonville Reunion."

There are conflicting records about the reunion's start date:  

July 20, 1895 article states, "one great picincs in the county every summer for the last 5 years" (making the start date 1890)

July 21, 1911 article states, "They mean to make this the biggest of the twenty-nine like affairs" (making the start date 1882)

July 21, 1915 article states, "making the 36th annual reunion one of the best a great series" (making the start date 1879) 

 

The reunions started to fizzle in the early 1910's.  By 1915 there was a drive to reinstate the reunion is all it glory.  In later years, the reunion became known throughout the community as the 17th of August.  The event was held on August 17, unless that date fell on a Sunday.

Below are articles regarding The Harrisonville Reunion that appeared in area newspapers.

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 Saloonists Flee the Law

Article taken from The Marion Daily Star, August 26, 1893

Portsmouth, O,. Aug. 26.-

The firm of Howes & Green, proprietors of the Shoe Saloon, have suddenly disappeared. 

Joseph Green, the junior partner, violated the government laws by selling whisky at the Harrisonville reunion without a license, and fearing arrest, departed the same day.

The firm is from Huntington, W. Va. 

Constable Williams attached the stock to satisfy the many creditiors.

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Some Big Picnics 

The Portsmouth Times, July 20, 1895

Despite all reports to the contrary, the Harrisonville reunion and picnic which has been the one great picnic in the county every summer for the last five years, will be held again this year.  The date is fixed for August 17.

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 August 18, 1895

  

Harrisonville Reunion
August 18, 1895

Article taken from The Daily Times, August 16, 1895

Sam Patch said "Some things can be done as well as others."   He was right.  So with the Harrisonville reunion and picnic last Saturday.  Scioto Post, G. A.R., ably assisted by Lois Camp, S. O.V., put forth an extra effort this year, and the result was highly satisfactory to all concerned.

It cannot be said that reunion was any better or the picnic more enjoyable than on former occasions.  The Harrisonville gatherings are always up to the limit.  It's hard to improve on them.  Last year the Sons of Veterans had entire charge of the affair, this year they stepped aside and the G.A.R. ruled.

Saturday was an ideal picnic day.  All roads led to Harrisonville, and long before people were coming from all parts of the county.  The road was blocked in some places by long strings of rigs stretching away for a mile or so without a single break.

The dust was almost suffocating, and if there was one thing more devoutly prayed for than another it was rain.  And it came in a gentle sprinkle in the afternoon.  Just a wee bit of shower where the people were gathered, but beyond Harrisonville it rained copiously, and many of the home goers in the evening found the roads muddy in some places.  Judging from the acres of rigs of all sorts in the grove it seemed that everybody in the county had turned out.  Various estimates were placed on the number of people present.   Some thought there could not be less than 6,000 people in the grove; others estimated the attendance at 2,000.  A fair average would be 4,000.   Of these probably 500 came from Portsmouth.  How they did miss the street car!  A horse and buggy represented $6 for the trip from Portsmouth, and it had to be a good, reliable driver that could get it at that price.

The picnic grounds are on a little rising knoll, half a mile beyond Harrisonville.  The grove is the property of Dr. Ray and contains over forty acres.   The trees are not very large and the shade is not dense.  The grounds might be considerably improved by cleaning out the underbrush and burning the leaves which have been accumulating on the ground for several years and have smothered out the grass completely.  No malaria lurks in the grove.  It is on high ground, half a mile away from water and dampness.

There were various means of entertainment in the grove.  Most prominent of all was a large dancing platform.   There was a large crowd around it all day.  The Scott String band furnished the music for the dancers.  Lemonade and refreshment stands were quite numerous.  Marsh had two of the largest on the grounds and did a big business.  The talented editor of the Morning Excuse even conducted a small lemonade and soda water stand.  Five merry-go-rounds were in operation, but did not do the business expected.  A platform for speech-making and the band was erected.  Wheels of fortune, cane racks, shell games and various other schemes were in operation.  Down in a corner of the grove several slabs of lumber had been stuck up, forming an enclosure of about twenty-five feet square.  It was the intention of the builders to confine some Union prisoners inside, put some Rebels on guard, and, finally a grand rush for liberty was to be made, with a sham battle following.  The prisoners could not be found, so the scheme failed.

A baseball game was also booked for the afternoon between the Sciotoville players and the Lucasville nine.  As the clubs were being organized the rain came up and the sport stopped.

Recognizing the importance of having some eloquence and speech making, Mr. Horace White exerted himself to enlist the services of a number of orators and politicians.  After much trouble he obtained some promises and after some patriotic music by the Harrisonville Sheepskin band and the Lucasville band, the first orator of the day was introduced.  It was young Orra Rickey, son of Ex-Commissioner Frank Rickey.  He delivered a very able oration and one worthy the oldest orator on the grounds.  He is a very bright young man and will make his mark in the world someday. 

Rev. Snodgrass was then introduced and made one of his characteristic patriotic talks.  He was listened to with considerable interest and his frequent bursts of eloquence were loudly applauded. 

William E. Ross, the colored statesman from the Seventh ward was next introduced.  He wore his long Prince Albert coat and as he placed his hand on his bosom he looked far more dignified than his wont when addressing the city fathers.  He made a good speech.  It was full and running over with patriotism and he only alluded to politics in a very mild way.   It was a very interesting talk. "Some negroes will steal and so will the white folks. Some colored people go to the penitentiary so does the white man.  If I want to steal a chicken once in a while, nobody ought to kick on an old soldier.   I was raised by Grover Cleveland's uncle anyhow and I ought to be excused," said the member of council from the Seventh ward.  With the assistance of two of his colored brethren he sang an original song composed for the occasion.   He afterwards favored the crowd with another song not quite so original, "Poor, but a Gentleman Still."  He sang it, however, in a very original key, and some of the people believed what he said. 

For some unaccountable reason the speech and song of Bro. Ross closed the exercises of the day, Chairman White then announcing the speech making at an end. There were several orators waiting behind the grand stand and were sorely disappointed when they were overlooked by the chairman.  Charley Hard stood under the dripping bunting until his had was colored red, white and blue, ready with a pretty little speech for his constituents.  Rev. Racy also wanted a chance to move the audience to tears and tell them what an honest man he was to trust with the country cash.  A number of other offices seekers could hardly control their anger when refused a chance to make their speeches, "This is not a good crowd to electioneer in anyhow" said C. Hard, "there are too many woman and children here. The people I want to see are voters."

A good story is told on Candidates Hard and Ball of a discovery they made while in search of water.  They found something else, and as they were examining the cork of kodak, flend pressed the button.  Go to Floyd McCormick for the rest.  It is said that Rev.  Tracy was also in it.

All in all the picnic and reunion was a great success.  Not a single accident was reported, not a single drunk and disorderly was to be seen on the grounds. Everybody came to enjoy themselves, and they did in their own quiet way. 

These annual picnics are productive of much good.  It matters not that their main objects is to make a little money.  Patriotism and love country are always inspired, and the day is looked forward to with much eagerness by those to whom it is the only big holiday of the year.   In many respects it is much more of a gala day than the biggest day of our county fair.  Scioto Post, G.A.R., Lois Camp, S.O.V., and the people of Harrisonville are to be congratulated on giving us such and opportunity for solid enjoyment.   There is not another picnic in southern Ohio equal to it. May the custom long survive.

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Dan Yost Crippled

The Portsmouth Times, August 20, 1895 

Dan Yost is walking with a cane today, the result of a very ugly accident Saturday.  Dan was one of a small party of wheelmen who went out to the Harrisonville reunion and picnic on their wheels.  When about three miles from Harrisonville, he started to go around a buggy, and the dust blinding him, he rode over a bank and received a very hard fall.  His leg was badly cut on his wheel, and three stitches were necessary to close up the wound.  He came back in a buggy.

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Article in The Portsmouth Times, August 20, 1898, p. 3: 

Harrisonville Reunion 

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Make Plans of Annual Reunion

 The Portsmouth Times, July 21, 1911 

Committeemen Captain Sylvester and Edward S. Neary were in Friday morning making arrangements for the advertising of the famous Harrisonville reunion, which, according to the ancient custom, will be held on August 17.

They mean to make this the biggest of the twenty-nine like affairs that have been held at the same place on the same date, and to that end will get new attractions to draw the people.  Chief of these is a balloon ascension which has already been contracted for.

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The Harrisonville Reunion
Article taken from The Portsmouth Times, Saturday, August 17, 1912, p. 2.

Large Crowd at the Harrisonville Picnic

 

With ideal weather prevailing, a tremendous crowd was present at the famous Harrisonville picnic and reunion Saturday.  All roads today led to the beautiful grove on the farm of Walter Corriell, where the picnic has been held annually for more than a quarter of a century.

As early as six o'clock people commenced to arrive at the grounds and from then on until two o'clock a stream of vehicles of every description loaded down with people, rolled onto the grounds. The crowd was estimated as being right at 5,000.

An interesting program was rendered in the afternoon and several addresses were made.  The exercises were immensely enjoyed by the big throng.   The celebrated sheepskin band of Harrisonville was present and enlivened things with stirring war tunes on the fife and drum, which brought back to memory the days of the civil war to the veterans present.

Hundreds of families brought baskets well filled with edibles and at the noon hour had lunch in picnic style on the grass in the shade of the big trees.  The weather being warm the refreshment stands did a land-office business, while the other attractions, including the merry-go-round, shows, baby racks, etc., were kept busy.

Candidates were very much in evidence, there being but one or two of the county candidates absent, while there were several district candidates present including James S. Thomas and Charles M. Caldwell, candidates respectively for common pleas judge and congress.  The candidates on both sides did some tall hustling, and as a result there was plenty of politics at the picnic.

Portsmouth was well represented, the delegation from this city numbering close to 500, while Lucasville, New Boston, South Webster, Sciotoville, and Wheelersburg sent many people.  The picnic was a great success and every one present seemingly had an enjoyable time. 

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S. of V. Hold a Splendid Meet

The Portsmouth Times, July 21, 1915 

Vienna Camp Sons of Veterans had a splendid meeting Tuesday evening decided to attend the Harrisonville reunion and homecoming Tuesday, August 17 in force.  The Camp plans to go into camp on the ground with colors, games, tents and their splendid drum corps and with their Bolo Boilo degree team they will be in position to entertain friends.

The fine Auxiliary of the camp and wives and daughters of members will assist.  They will also help lustily to whoop things up for Lois Camp and the good old Vets of Scioto Post G.A.R., and do what they can to assist in making the 36th annual reunion one of the best a great series.

Commander Shelton appointed the following committee to have charge of arrangementd and on transportation:  David P. Scott, George S. Carroll and Harry M. Sickles.  All the fellows are enthusiastic over the outing.

Vienna Camp will in the near future be beneficial as well as fraternal and patriotic.

Resolutions were introduced last night to force a mutual benefit association and this met with unanimous approval.  The Camp plans to pay a weekly sick benefit of $5.00 per week.  It already has a death benefit of $250 one of the best amoung orders.  The new association will be formed at ____.  Harry M. Sickles, Gilbert Dodds and Charles C. Bennett have the matter in charge and they are to bring in report at first meeting in August.

The new by-lays of the Camp which have been up for passage the past several weeks were formally adopted and will be in full force after approval by Division Commander, T. E. Long, of Dayton.  The committee which drafted the new by laws, Marry M. Sickles, Gilbert F. Dodds and Charles C. Bennett, were given a rising vote of thanks.

The past quarter was one of the first for years, and the Campmade a nice gain in membership and prestige.

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Harrisonville Reunion

The Portsmouth Times, July 23, 1915 

Members of the G.A.R. of Harrisonville, will hold their annual reunion on August 17 at Shuter Grove at Harrisonville,  Anyone wanting privileges should write John Blakeman, Lucasville.

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Reunion August 17

The Portsmouth Times, August 13, 1915 

Many residents of Scioto county are looking forward to the annual Harrisonville reunion, which is to be held at Shuter's Grove, Tuesday, August 17th.  The committee in charge has made elaborate plans for the day.  There will be several prominent speakers and other attractions.  A number of Portsmouth people are planning to attend the reunion, which is always a delightful event in Scioto County.

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Picnic Boosters Meet on Sunday

The Portsmouth Times, August 14, 1915 

Notice is given members of Vienna Camp Sons of Veterans and S.V. Auxiliary of Vienna Camp, and to any comrades of G.A.R. interested that a meeting of the Harrisonville reunion "Boomers" will be held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry M. Sickles 841 7th Street, Sunday at 2 o'clock for final arrangements for the outing Tuesday.  Everybody urdged to attend.  Last call before the boat leaves.

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The Portsmouth Times, August 17, 1915

 Today is the date of the annual Harrisonville reunion, one of the truly big picnic events of the year.  Owing to bad roads the attendance from the city was not as great as usual, nor as the importance of the reunion would justify.  But at that there were several thousands on the ground and as usual everybody had a delightful time.

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Makes Plea for Harrisonville Reunion

The Portsmouth Daily Times, September 7, 1916

Last August, a day or so after the Harrisonville reunion, some patriotic soul, too modest to sign his or her name sat down and wrote an eloquent and stirring appeal to Vienna Camp Sons of Veterans calling upon he and camp to reinstate the reunion is all of its former glory.

The matter was taken up by Vienna Camp and the assistance of the camp was tendered to the old boys of Scioto G.A.R. and Lois Camp Sons of Veterans, but unfortuately nothing came of this.

The same patriotic soul, presumably, has addressed another letter to the member addressed last year, and it is a stirring appeal that will touch the hearts of all who attended the great reunion of other years.

I wandered once more to the Harrisonville picnic and looked upon the few remaining vesages of that once fame and loved event and mused o'er the departing glories of other years.  "Few institutions of it kind have gripped the popular fancy of the public than has this patriotic and the end of a few events will bring more geniune regret."

"Instituted when the veterans of the Civil War were yet in the 20's and 30's when Rutherford B. Hayes was president continued yearly, it soon became the most notable event of it kind in Southern Ohio, an event looked forward to and attended by thousands of people, a great sociable and patriotic and homecoming reunion where friends and relatives gathered to mingle and pay homage to the "boys in blue."

"The 17th of August!"  What estatic thrills that magic phrase once sent through the souls of expected multitudes.  What tender memories are clustered around that sacred name.

Other celebrations have come and gone, county fairs, annual picnics, and patriotic events of all magnitudes originated and run their meteoric careers and died but the Harrisonville reunion has lived on until its originators and perpertrators have been so thinned by the relentless hand of time and so few remain that its passing and theirs is one.

I am writing you in the hope that the patriotic orders of this community will take immediate steps to cooperate with the few remaining of the Harrisonville G.A.R. and the Harrisonville S.O.V. and revive this institution to the original greatness.

If die it must, lets bring it back to its zenith's magnitude and "let it last breath be its noblist. 

"Don't let it be said that this annual reunion launched on the tide of popular affection by the young survivors of the great Civil War shall receive its death wound at the hands of a forgetfull and unappreciative posterity.  Rather be it that it shall grow with the succeeding years and when the last survivor of that great struggle shall have passed beyond it shall stand a monument of patriotic affection in a faithful duty alone.  Signed "A Friend"

It can be taken for granted that the members of the Vienna Camp will be ready and willing to do their part, and now with closer and more friendly relations exsiting between Vienna Camp and Lois Camps, a way may be found to bring back the numbers, the enthusiasm and the old-time glory in the reunion of August 17th, 1917.

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Harrisonville Reunion

Article taken from The Evening Telegram, Elyria, Ohio, August 17, 1917

Harrisonville, O. - Aug. 17 -

Veterans and Sons of Veterans attending the annual reunion here today talked mostly of the present war instead of the Civil War as heretofore.

The proudest G.A.R. man was the one with the most descendants now serving under the flag. 

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 The Portsmouth Times
August 11, 1926 

 

 

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 The Portsmouth Times

August 17, 1939

 

Several ads appeared in The Portsmouth Times from 1952 to 1961.  The last mention of the reunion was in 1961.  The reunion numbering system changed between 1956 and 1957.  The 1956 ad states that this is the 74th reunion.  The 1957 ad states that this is the 77th reunion.

Click here to read the ads. 

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