The Chronicles Of Grant County

saint patricks day tumisu from pixabay 25This image was provided courtesy of Tumisu through Pixabay.

Can you imagine Silver City and other communities in Grant County festooned with green ribbons?

Today – Saint Patrick's Day – might be the day to re-invent a tradition that local residents practiced in the early days of Silver City.

Green ribbons (and other decorations in the color of green) have been used throughout the world to celebrate the anniversary of the death of a man who has become synonymous with the life of Ireland. The Liverpool Mercury, a newspaper serving that city in England, reported on March 21, 1828, that Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated on March 17th that year "...in a more than usual brilliant manner..." with, among other items, green ribbons.

The celebration of Ireland's patron saint has been part of life in Grant County for close to 150 years. Most news reports focused on the social aspects of the day rather than its religious significance. On March 25, 1873, The Daily New Mexican printed a letter from Silver City dated March 18, 1873, in the newspaper's edition dated a week later: "St. Patrick's day honored this plaza by a visit yesterday and was enthusiastically welcomed by eighteen Fenians. We decked ourselves in emerald, and I being the greenest of the crowd was chosen Head Centre. There being no one who dared tread on the tail of our coat, (there was a coat in the party), the day passed off disgustingly pacific."

The Southwest Sentinel in Silver City ran a news article on March 14, 1893, indicating that a dance will be held at "...Morrill Hall next Friday evening which will be the 17th of Ireland or St. Patrick's day in the morning." The following week, the newspaper reported that "The ball which was given at Morrill Hall last Friday evening was well attended. The dancers celebrated St. Patrick's day in the evening after the most approved fashion." No indication was given what was considered "approved fashion."

The following year, on March 20, 1894, this newspaper noted that "Every true Irish heart beat beneath a little bow of green last Saturday in honor of the immortal Saint Patrick."

On March 20, 1895, The Eagle (a weekly newspaper in Silver City) noted that "Green ribbons were noticeable on the streets last Sunday. St. Patrick has a numerous following in Silver City." In that same edition, The Eagle reported that "The Siempre Vive whist club was entertained..." at a local home where "Refreshments were served just before midnight and the party broke up early on St. Patrick's day in the morning."

The celebration of Saint Patrick's Day continued in subsequent years throughout southwest New Mexico. On March 18, 1896, The Eagle noted that "Doc Warren escorted the Misses [Mrs.] Ott and Miss Betty Claypool, the bell of Mogollon, down to Deming to attend a dance to be given last evening in honor of Saint Patrick's Day."

On March 16, 1898, according to an article in The Eagle, "The local fire department will give a St. Patrick's Day ball in the Newcomb hall tomorrow evening for the purpose of raising funds for the maintenance of the department. The music will be furnished by the Fort Bayard orchestra. The fire boys are deserving of liberal support from the Silver City business men in particular and the public in general, and they should be encouraged by liberal patronage." Tickets for the ball were $1.00 each. The news article continued by noting that "A good time is assured, and the 'wearing of the green' will be appropriately observed by Silver City in aid of a good cause."

The following week, on March 23, 1898, The Eagle reported that "St. Patrick's Day was observed in a quiet and orderly way in this city. Some of the mining camps, however, clung to the time honored custom of celebrating in the good old way. Everything was serene and orderly until a yellow ribbon was espied, and then came the general mix-up, in which St. Patrick usually came out victorious."

One item from the early days of Silver City that you may want to avoid was noted on September 6, 1892, in the Southwest Sentinel: "St. Patrick's Pills. They are the best physic. They also regulate the liver and bowels. Try them, 25 cents per box."

[Note to self: Keep those 25 cents in my pocket.]

While the COVID-19 Pandemic continues, let us not forget to take the opportunity to celebrate life. The day is not yet here where celebrations can return to normal, but let us retain hope that that day will soon be upon us.

Today, let the town based on the colors of silver and copper glimmer in green.

green ribbon mskathrynne from pixabay 70The image was provided courtesy of mskathrynne from Pixabay.

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© 2021 Richard McDonough