On November 3, 1885, the Bismarck Tribune published the following article on how the cowboys of the badlands had celebrated Halloween. It sounds like a rip-roaring good time – or a disaster in the making!
Hallowe’en in the Bad Lands.
While the young people of Bismarck paid no extraordinary attention to fair Hallowe’en, the cow boys of the Bad Lands favored the stars and gaudy buttes of that land of earthen goblins with a celebration, which for brilliancy and spontaneity surpasses any thing of the kind on record. True there were no maidens to add the feminine charm to the occasion, but the pistol decorated gentlemen of the ranges were equal to every emergency, and that the conventionalisms of the occasion might be properly observed, a number of the bovine guardians agreed to don the female garb, and while away the early evening hours in waiting for the coming of the sign changing hoodoos. There were no signs to tear down in the Bad Lands, but they could skim the jagged pasture land on their half breed plugs and rip the ambient air up the back with shouts and whoops and leaden balls. The proper hour having arrived, the cowboys on the outside, as representatives of the masculine gender rode up to the ranch and entered, to find that their female impersonators had been faithful and fifteen of their fellow cowboys were seated about the room in skirts and waists and what scraps of ribbons they could gather from their trunks and neighboring ranches. A dance was immediately opened and everything was as pleasant as a Fifth Avenue social, until the whiskey reached its zenith and the hour for shooting had arrived. The cowboy girls seemed to forget the modesty which their positions demanded, and in the language of the prairie, “they turned themselves loose.” A general fusillade was indulged in, the meeting adjourning when the lamps were shot to pieces and the borrowed and improvised dresses were obliterated. It is said that had the celebration lasted an hour longer the climax might have [been] a row, but as it is, a few loud words, a parting drink and a desperate attempt to shoot the blinking stars closed the memorable event.
To see the complete digital item, go here.