Born in 1858, Alice Hanley grew up on her father’s ranch outside of Jacksonville, Oregon.
During the Civil War, the citizens of Jacksonville decided to hold a big Fourth of July parade to show their patriotism and to celebrate “the cause of freedom.” Six year-old Alice was asked to ride on a special parade float along with more than 30 other little girls, each of whom represented a state in the Union. One girl also represented the Goddess of Liberty, while another represented the Angel of Peace.
The girls wore white dresses made from special fabric shipped from San Francisco. The etiquette of the day required that the girls also wear ruffled pantalettes and hoops under these dresses. Brand new hoops were therefore shipped from ‘Frisco at 3 dollars each.
But when the girls tried to stand on the float, there wasn’t enough room because of all the hoops. And when they all sat down, Alice later recalled, the hoops “spread out so we looked like fantail pigeons.”
The hoops had to go. The girls put their names on them and hung them up on the wall of the old Methodist church. Patriotism overruled propriety that Fourth of July.
Source: Hanley, Alice, “Reminiscences of Early Days in Oregon,” (Southern Oregon Historical Society manuscript from a Summer Meeting of State Home Economics Extension Council, Corvallis, Oregon, August 5, 1935).
As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.