Chautauqua, Part 1
What is Chautauqua?
Chautauqua – An adult education
movement in the United States
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
First organized in 1873 by Lewis
Miller and Bishop John Vincent as a Sunday School assembly in Chautauqua
County, New York
Chautauqua assemblies expanded and
spread throughout rural America
Brought entertainment and culture for
the whole community
teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day
A management company could have 8 going at a time
Towns got their programs through the company
Fill in with
See: “Chautauqua” by Edna Luce, Buffalo Tales, Vol. 10, No. 7.
For information about Chautauqua in
general & in this area. – personal memorieS
Chautauqua in Kearney
1887 proposal – Make Kearney a headquarters for a Chautauqua Assembly
like NY Assembly.
New lake made from the Kearney Canal
Proposal to the Board of Trade by the
Rev. Dr. Archibald of Cincinnati, Ohio,
He would buy
320 acres of ground [1/2 section]
be formed with a capital of $50,000
[Boom period, raising $$ for all kinds of things].
Proceeds used to improve the grounds,
make the lake
other buildings necessary to carry on a Chautauqua Assembly.
Give Kearney a reputation as a summer
resort – located near the center of US
Board of Trade heartily endorsed the
Nothing further was mentioned
Winter 1889-90 – Hesperian Chautauqua circle met at the homes of
young (society) ladies
Beginning in 1890 – Chautauqua programs around the state
Small towns like Long Pine, Crete,
Larger towns like Fremont, Auburn,
Tecumseh, Fairbury, York
Beatrice - had a Chautauqua grounds
beside the city
City had built a street car line from the down town to the Chautauqua
Both Burlington & UP ran special
excursion trains to some of these towns to Chautauqua
1891, Nov – Editorial suggesting Kearney form a Chautauqua
suggests the ministers might get
behind the idea.
Performances could be given on the
sloping land around Lake Kearney or the two lakes west of town.
be the lake by the State Industrial School or Echo Lake]
[But then the following year Boom
ended, idea died]
Still Chautauquas around the state
1904 – Lexington started one at their city park.
1906 – Hastings had their first one
July 23, 1906 – over 200
people from Kearney filled four coaches on the Burlington
Tent could accommodate everyone; many
stood to listen.
Couldn’t put up a bigger tent because
they did not have permission to cut down any trees
Four types of music – 150 voice
choir, a band, an orchestra, and a concert company.
A theologian and philosopher from Chicago
Spoke in the morning and evening
LaFollette, a reformer and economist from Wisconsin.
Spoke for 3 ½ hours in the afternoon.
July 28, 1906 – Plans underway
to organize a Chautauqua association in Kearney
A committee for organization and a
committee for grounds met all fall
Jan. 1907 – Adopted Articles of Incorporation for the Kearney
[possibly not filed with the state]
Capital $25,000 to be raised by sale
of 1000 shares at $25 each.
$5000 to be subscribed.
Pay 25% up front and the rest “upon call”. [$1,250 cash up front]
A board of 9 directors and such
officers as the Board shall elect or appoint.
Committee to sell stock were leading
business men in town.
Mar. 16, 1907 – Our first
Chautauqua to be held July 13-21, 1907
including Third Ward [Harmon Park now] park and a large tract adjoining it
[on north & west?]
to be fenced in and “parked” as soon as possible
arranged with drives, water fountains and lighting.
Part of program was announced [gives
idea of the types of programs]
Williams’ Dixie Jubilee Singers
Sappho Ladies Quartette
Royal Hungarian Orchestra
Harmonic Concert Company
Local musical talent on last day, men’s quartet and Midway Military
American Vitigraph Co. – Am. Vitagraph Co. was a movie studio
formed in 1897.
By 1907 it was the most prolific
American film company. Warner Bros. bought it in 1925.
Ralph Bingham - the ‘boy orator’ starting 26 years ago  at age
From Richmond, VA. An entertainer,
not a lecturer.
Plays violin, speaks in Negro, Dutch & Yankee dialects
Dr. Campbell (sermon)
Gilbert A. Eldridge, impersonator (lecture)
Mgr Tihen, the highest titled priest in America
Congressman J. Adam Bede, humorist of Congress (lecture)
Opie Reed (lecture)
J. Elton Packard (crayon artist [cartoonist])
John P. Dolliver – address, The Working Man of Nazareth
Dr. James Montgomery - pastor of Fowler Methodist Episcopal Church,
Tents would be available to rent for the season from $2.50 to $5.
Two cars of tents brought in from Fremont
Tents were 10x12, 12x14, & 12x19
Streets closed: City Council gave
permission to close 5th Ave from 29th to 31st & 30th St. from 4th to 6th
[Third Ward park was on the edge of