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Miscellaneous Information

Hillsboro Dispute over Fiddler Money

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 6 Jan 1899 p 1

Church circles at Hillsboro are disturbed by reason of a dispute as to the acceptance of a Burn of money raised by an "old fiddlers' contest" last Saturday night. This Reason such entertainments have been quite popular in western Indiana, in the small towns especially. The merchants in order to draw large crowds, advertise that on a certain evening an old fiddlers' contest will be given in the public hall. They offer twenty or thirty prizes for a score of excellencies in the fiddler's art. For example, a prize is offered for the man playing "The Arkansaw Traveler," for the oldest fiddler, or perhaps, for the most graceful fiddler. These contests have proved quite successful, and have never failed to excite rivalry of the keenest sort and to attract large crowds.

Such an entertainment was planned at Hillsboro, and it was advertised that the money taken at the door was to be given to the Sunday schools of the town. The programme committee at Hillsboro, however, went beyond the usual limit and offered prizes for the best clog, shuffle and wing dancers. The entertainment attracted a large crowd and was a complete success. Most of the church people were present, and all went well until the dancing began. Then some of the more circumspect retired, denouncing the performance as a "covenant with death and a league with hell." On Sunday morning the indignant sisters and elders met in the several places of worship and the management of the affair was denounced.

While these indignation meetings were in progress the contest committee came around to tender the Sunday schools the money the performance netted. Each church refused to accept the money raised in such an unholy manner, and the town has been in a hubbub ever since. Some of the more liberal church members assert that they can see nothing wrong in the form of entertainment presented, and that the rejection of the money was wrong. Most of the managers of the show are church members, and their friends are standing by them. The affair promises to almost disrupt the churches, and quarrels have been engendered that will not be closed for years to come.

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