ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Memorial Day Observance

Decoration Day


Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces.


The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, will be held on May 28, 2018.  The holiday was held on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.  It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.




05 28       MEMORIAL DAY 1900

There will be no formal observance of Decoration Day here, further than the customary decorating of the soldier's graves in all our cemeteries by squads detailed Friday forenoon for this purpose; and a procession of the members of the O. D. Pease post and veterans to Oak Hill cemetery, where the regular Decoration Day ceremonies will be held.  The line will form at the post headquarters at 1 o'clock Friday afternoon.  All patriotic citizens are requested to send contributions of flowers for grave decorating to the post headquarters as early as possible Friday morning.   WR


06 04       MEMORIAL DAY 1900

Persons having flowers to spare are kindly requested to deliver all they possibly can to the O. D. Pease Post room early Friday morning, so that the graves of our dead patriots can be suitably decorated on that day.    WG



06 04       MEMORIAL DAY 1900

Memorial Day without having any formal exercises provided for it here, was duly observed by our citizens.  Places of business were quite generally closed in the afternoon and flags from various buildings were at half mast.  At 1 o'clock the O. D. Pease post and the Sons of Veterans camp formed in line in front of headquarters and headed by the new fife and drum corps marched to Oak Hill cemetery, where the memorial ceremonies were held at the graves of Capt. O. D. Pease, in whose honor the post here is called . . . The weather, although threatening for a time, remained fine all through the proceedings.    WR


06 05       MEMORIAL DAY 1900

The weather conditions of last Wednesday were all that could be desired for a proper observation of Memorial Day, and the exercises as arranged by the O. D. Pease Post, No. 94, G. A. R., and the Woman’s Relief Corps were generally participated in by our citizens.  The principal ceremonies were held in the afternoon and were of an order to invoke reverence and honors for the noble soldier dead.  At 1:30 o’clock the procession formed at Grand Army hall and marched to Oak cemetery . . . . At the cemetery memorial services according to the Grand Army ritual were held over the grave of Lafayette Damp, a member of the post who died last fall, the customary salute being fired at the conclusion of the services.  Thereupon the line of march was resumed to Turner Opera house, where the exercises were opened with an address of welcome by A. E. Needham, commander of the post . . . .  The Opera house was filled to overflowing and Mr. [Joseph] Davies’ oration was listened to with the greatest interest.  His effort was a masterly one and delivered with the eloquence and feeling that stamped him as a public speaker of rare genius and wonderful resources.  Not in many a day has Watertown had the pleasure of hearing a more able address or a more cultured orator.   WR




Memorial Day in Watertown promises to be a very tame affair compared with previous years.  For a number of years past the day has been celebrated in Watertown in every manner, and it was always looked forward to with a great deal of interest by our people.  The expense of those celebrations has always been considerable and it has heretofore been borne by the O. D. Pease Post, G. A.R. of this city.  This year, however, the Post feels too poor to bear the expense, and has asked for an appropriation of $50 from the council for that purpose, the law allowing money to be appropriated for such a cause.  The council at its last meeting appropriated only $25, the Post has unanimously decided that would not be sufficient to bear the expense of the celebration, hence the Post will only carry out a program according to the ritual of the order.  There will be no public speaker.  In afternoon services will be held at Oak Hill cemetery.  It is hoped the city council at its meeting next Tuesday will appropriate an additional $25 to the Post.   WG



06 15       MEMORIAL DAY 1902

Conformable to usage the members of the G. A. R. resident here and others attended special Memorial services Sunday evening.  This year the services were held in the M. E. Church, Rev. A. M. Bullock, assisted by Rev. Wm. Fritzmeier, occupying the pulpit.  The church was well filled, a section of the pews being reserved for the “old boys,” some thirty of whom were present, and a sturdy group of old Union savers they were too.  The regular church choir was on duty and the rendition of the old army songs and patriotic odes by the choir and the congregation brought back to memory the times when as wearer of the Union blue these same Grand Army boys would sing like songs way down in Dixie. Every music number was an Army song or national anthem. A song by the choir and congregation; prayer by Rev. Wm. Fritzmeier; music.  Then the address by Rev. A. M. Bullock, a masterpiece of eloquent thought; patriotic and inspiring, a gem in a becoming setting were the evening’s program of exercises, and though lacking perhaps something of usual formality, was most thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone in attendance, and by none more than by the veterans themselves.



06 15       MEMORIAL DAY 1908

Memorial Day, May 30, 1908, will long be remembered by the citizens of Watertown, especially the children who with badges and flags took part in the parade.  At an early hour, the indications that the day was to be clear, influenced old and young to devote the day to the memory of those who took part in the great civil war and now sleep in the cemeteries in this city. 


On this occasion, there was a departure from the ordinary observance of the day and highly appropriate and should be continued, and that was the marching of the band and cadet company from the Northwestern University to the city park and placing garlands upon the monuments erected by Robert E. Lewis to the memory of the soldiers and sailors who enlisted in the service of their country from the city of Watertown.  And in this connection, it might not be amiss to call attention to the fact, that the names of Watertown's heroic dead ought to be engraved upon the monument.  There are a sufficient number of patriotic men in this city who would contribute the funds to defray the expense if someone would take the initiative.


Upon the public buildings and many of the business buildings "Old Glory" was hung at half mast, the stars and stripes waved from many private homes and there were a large number of elegant, patriotic decorations . . .     Watertown Weekly Leader



06 15       MEMORIAL DAY 1910

Decoration Day on Monday was cold and chilly, but this did not prevent a very large turnout of our people at both the afternoon and evening exercises.  The parade in the afternoon to Oak Hill Cemetery was the largest ever witnessed here on a similar occasion.  In the morning details of the G. A. R. Post visited the various cemeteries and decorated the graves of the old soldiers there in.  At 1:30 p.m. the procession outlined below was formed at the corner of Main and North First streets and marched to the grave of O. D. Pease in Oak Hill Cemetery, where services were held according to the ritual of the G.A.R.


The afternoon program was as follows:


Marshal of the Day and Aides

Northwestern University Band

Northwestern Cadets and Students

Public Schools

Parochial Schools

Mayor, Hon. F. E. McGovern and Reception Committee in Carriage

Imperial Band

Commander of O. D. Pease Post and Committee of G.A.R.

Deutscher Krieger Verein

O. D. Pease Post No. 94, G.A.R.

Older G.A.R. Veterans in Conveyance

Children in Carriages to Decorate the Graves of Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Lewis

Watertown Military Band

Common Council in Carriages

Board of Education in Carriages

Committees in Carriages

Woman's Relief Corps in Conveyance

Citizens in Carriages


Arriving at the tower in the cemetery, the head of the column halted, open order, and presented arms while the Grand Army Post passed through to music of fife and drum to the grave of the late Comrade O. D. Pease, where services according to the G. A. R. ritual were held as follows . . .     Watertown Gazette



END OF WWI - Includes Company E of Watertown







Silently a group of high school students stood mingled with strangers near Memorial Bridge, patiently waiting for the long awaited event.  Five or ten minutes passed and then out of the quiet air a sound of a band was heard.  Then all eyes and ears were alert.  The Cavalry Band led the procession.  When about one third of the parade had crossed the bridge, the people of the parade stopped, the band played “The Star Spangled Banner,” the flags went up; hats went off and a beautiful wreath was dropped from a hovering airplane into the water.  The spectators then regained their breath and the old men, who had lived through those perilous years, wiped an unashamed tear away.  The remaining parade consisting of boys and girls from Junior High, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and shining automobiles finished the procession that led to the Oak Hill Cemetery.    The Blue and White, 06 1931, Published by the Students of Watertown High School.







05 27       MEMORIAL DAY 1966

With bright sunshine flooding the city, flags flying in a cool breeze that prevailed during temperatures in the 50s, Watertown yesterday celebrated another Memorial Day.  There were crowds along the streets where the parade marched from the city’s west side, with a halt at Cole Memorial bridge and then to Watertown Veterans Memorial Park where the solemn rituals were carried out.  Speaker of the day was Loran F. Patten of Horicon, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Commander Palmer J. Freres of the Pitterle-Beaudoin Post 189, the American Legion opened the program and presided at the ceremonies.   Watertown Daily Times



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05 25       MEMORIAL DAY

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History of Watertown, Wisconsin