Mardi Gras in Mobile
A Timeline
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Mardi Gras in the Early Colony  1699—1711

1830—1831

Cowbellion de Rakin Society originated in Mobile,
The Original Mystic Parading Society

1837
First festive masked procession  recorded in New Orleans.
First festive masked procession recorded on Mardi Gras

1839
Cowbellion Founder, Michael Krafft died in October

A disastrous year for Mobile with several major fires, particularly during the months of April and October, and the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever yet recorded, combined with the national “Economic Panic of 1837.”

The Mansion House Hotel, the site of early Cowbellion celebrations, was partially destroyed in this year but the Alhambra , which would become a favorite venue for the Cowbellions and then the Strikers, opened at the end of the year.


   
  
1840
Cowbellions’ first thematic parade
(see original account by Louis Tasistro,  Random shots and Southern Breezes, containing critical remarks on the southern states and southern institutions, with semi-serious observations on men and manners, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1842). )

Hotels and ballrooms of the nineteenth century were popular gathering places where men met for business and where all large-scale formal occassions took place. The most popular venues of the Antebellum Period were the Alabama Hotel, which later became the Waverly and finally, in 1852, became the Battle House, on the corner of St. Francis and Royal; the Alhambra on Dauphin Street just west of Royal; Temperance Hall on the corner of St. Joseph and St. Michael Streets, Armory Hall on the second floor of the complex that included City Hall and the City Market on the southeast corner of Government and Royal, and the Mansion House Hotel on the corner of Conti and Royal. 

1841
Cowbellions’ first tableau.

1842

1843
First parade of the Strikers Independent Society

1844

1849
First appearance of the “Rising Generation,” later known as “T.D.S.”
(see Daily Crescent, January 5, 1850))

1852
Battle House Opened, quickly becoming the nexus of Mobile’s social scene, including the customary balls and parties related to the mystic parading tradition.

1857
Krewe of Comus organized in New Orleans, the first mystic parading society, modeled entirely on the Cowbellions to march in New Orleans and the first to march on Mardi Gras. A few of the Comus founders were also Cowbellions and Strikers, having lived previously in Mobile. The Krewe of Comus looked to the Cowbellions and Strikers as their inspiration and their members maintained close contact. The Strikers, for example, were all invited to the first Comus ball and the Cowbellions regularly presented a gift to the Comus organization at their ball.

1865
Mobile surrendered in the last month of the Civil War and New Year’s Eve celebrations re-established but were minimal.

1867
Order of Myths organized with the goal of creating a mystic society like the Cobellions and Strikers but parading on Mardi Gras instead of New Year’s Eve

   
  
1868
First Mardi Gras celebrated in Mobile,
adding another night of annual festivity to the calendar. (There were mystic parades in Mobile on both New Year’s Even and Mardi Gras through the end of the century.)
First parade of the Order of Myths
First parade of the Lost Cause Minstrels
Joe Cain’s attendance is uncertain

In the second half of the nineteenth century, new venues for social engagements took center stage, particularly during the newly celebrated Mardi Gras season.  The most popular venues in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century included the : Manassas Club on the corner of St. Francis and Royal Streets, the Athelstan Club at 107 St. Francis St., the Battle House Hotel, Temperance Hall, the Princess Theater, the German Relief Hall and Gilmer Hall. 

1872
Mobile Carnival Association organized by T.C. DeLeon to capitalize on Mardi Gras. The goal was to increase tourism by making Mardi Gras a more public, commercialized event. The term Carnival was now used more often to refer to the celebration in Mobile and elsewhere, demoting an event that lasted beyond Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, alone. Other activities were organized as a part of the city’s new “Carnival” experience including beauty contests, costume contests, concerts and a royal court and a series of formal ceremonies over which the mock king and queen of the carnival would preside.

 First year Joe Cain appeared as “Slacabamarinico ,”
satirizing Eastern monarchs with false pretenses, a popular theme at the time, while he subtly mocked the same within his own community.


 First parade of Knights of Revelry 
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is cancelled bringing many New Orleanians to Mobile
  
The three main New Year’s Eve parading societies held one ball together.

Excelsior Band founded by John A. Pope

Comic Cowboys founded by Mobile comedic actor, Dave Levi

Order of Doves Formed, the first African-American Parading Association

1918 Mardi Gras Cancelled in Mobile & New Orleans

1904 - 1905 The most widespread decorations of the city with elaborate electric lighting at the foot of Government Street , in Duncan Place and in Bienville Square. 
 1916
  A new Mobile Carnival Association is established with a purely commercial mission