Governor Hill Visits the 1888 
Greene County Fair

by Robert Uzzilia
Cairo Town Historian

Originally published in the Daily Mail November 30, 2003


Did you hear? The Governor is coming! The word was all over town. The planning committee of the Greene County Agricultural Society had arranged the late August visit to Cairo for the 1888 edition of their summer showcase. Now that the moment was at hand, the humble town of two-thousand was all abuzz.

An article found in the Catskill Enterprise captured the celebratory mood by recording the following:

Thursday morning there was a stir, everything seemed to be moving, decorations were going up on private houses and stores and by 10 o’clock Main Street presented a pretty sight from Jennings’ Hotel to the Fair grounds.

Walters’ Hotel was elaborately decked with green corn stalks, bunting in wreaths and flags along the entire front. The post office, opposite was beautifully trimmed with large and small flags, gracefully arranged. There was a large flag suspended over the street between the hotel and stores. The millinery store next to the post office was also prettily trimmed. Case’s store was trimmed with corn, flags and streamers, etc., with a large flag over the street.

The front of Jennings’ Hotel was very prettily decorated. The gable end over the balcony was draped with flags. Under this was the name “HILL” in red, white and blue cloth. The balcony was draped with the national colors and groups of small flags. Over the front and office doors, drapery and flags were arranged. Between Jennings’ Hotel and the post office a number of private houses were decorated and flags swung over the street. D. K. Stevens’ store and also Mr. Stevens’ store opposite, as well as private houses in that vicinity were very tastefully decorated.

A variety of local and area bands provided the governor with a memorable greeting at the train depot:

Shortly before 12 o’clock a crowd began collecting at the station. The Cairo Band, the G. K. Porter Engine Co.-Capt. Walters and a number of citizens waited patiently until the whistle sounding at 12:25 signaled the approach of the train. The Engine Co. formed in open ranks in the station, ready to receive the guests. There were six cars. When the train pulled in and stopped there was a rush of girls-city boarders-to the windows of the car to see the Governor. 

The 16th Separate Company and Citizens’ Hose got out of the cars and were followed by Protection Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, with the Athens Drum Corps. Lastly, the members of the reception committee, with the Governor, appeared. This was the signal for three cheers, which were heartily given. The Governor and committee passed through the lines of firemen and entered the carriages in waiting. The 16th Separate Company took position in front, then Grand Marshal Geo. H. Lyons, assistant marshals L. J. Hubbard, Edwin Palmer, F. S. Decker and G. Vincent.

Upon reaching Jennings’ Hotel the 16th drew up in line and presented arms while the Governor and party passed in. The Hook and Ladder Co., Citizens’ Hose and G. K. Porter Engine Co. then marched off to dinner, the 16th and Citizens’ Hose dining at Walters’. 

By early afternoon the colorful procession had escorted the state leader to a large enthusiastic crowd waiting anxiously at the fair grounds:

At 2 o’clock the bugle sounded the “assembly” and the various companies fell into line, saluted the governor and took up the line of march for the Fair grounds. The bands were followed by three decorated wagons and citizens in vehicles.
When the procession passed up Main Street on the way to the Fair grounds it passed Walters’ Hotel and as the Governor’s carriage reached the porch a bouquet was handed him by a gentleman on behalf of Miss Annie Hahn, formerly of Potter’s Hollow. It was a graceful and pleasant courtesy.

The Fair grounds were simply packed with vehicles and people, and as the procession entered the grounds a hearty cheer went up from the crowd-a royal greeting to the Governor of New York.

The Judge’s stand, where the address was delivered, was profusely decorated with flags, a pole having been placed on top of the roof and lines run from it, on which were displayed flags of many nations. the band stand was similarly decorated. Prayer was offered by Elder A. Coons; the Governor was introduced by President Stead and the address delivered. 

During the speech many striking points were cheered. The address closed at 4 o’clock. The Governor, with Pres. Stead, Hon. A. P. Jones and others, drove to Jennings’ Hotel and then to the station, where Mr. Hill took the train for home.

As the Governor drove out of the grounds many called out “Good bye, Governor!” He smiled, raised his hat and bowed several times.

Even after the Governor’s train faded in the distance the village remained a flurry of excitement, as two full days of activity were enjoyed at the fair grounds as well as Cairo village;

Thursday evening featured a fine dinner at the Hotel Walters in which over 700 people were served. After supper Citizens Hose gave a drill in front of the hotel. The piazza was crowded with people and the applause was frequent and hearty. The “boys” made a most favorable impression upon all and their fine marching and bearing attracted the attention of every one. Officers Dodge and Hoy, of the Catskill force, were on the Fair grounds looking after crooks.

Friday was warm and fair and the Cairo Band went up early in the afternoon and played a number of selections. The judges were busy on stock and had not completed their report up to noon.

The receipts of the office up to 12 o’clock Friday, were as follows; Wednesday $232; Thursday $1,454; Friday $75 (at 20 minutes of 12) 5,814 tickets were sold the second day, and there were over 8,000 people on the grounds. The receipts of the second day this year were $258 ahead of the three days last year.

The general display of stock was unusually fine and large, especially in improved cattle.
E. E. Newman, Durham, exhibited a 3-year old bull, Jersey, registered, which took 1st premium. J. P. Thompson had a fine lot. One 3-year old bull, Jersey, unregistered, won 1st premium, also a yearling Jersey bull and a Jersey cow, full-blooded. He also exhibited 4 calves, 3 heifers and one 13 month’s -old yearling heifer that was a beauty, the finest on the grounds.

The exhibit of fouls was up to the usual mark. There were some fine Plymouth Rocks, Black Spanish, Brown and White Leghorns, English Dominiques, Silver Spangled, Buff Cochins, Hamburgs, etc..

When the fair finally concluded and all the premiums had been awarded, the citizens of Greene County had enjoyed one of the more memorable events in some years. A faded photograph, found years later would preserve the event for posterity.


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