Friday, April 02, 2010

Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr.

Birth: Oct. 10, 1832, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.
Death: Apr. 17, 1904, Bayou La Batre, Mobile County, Alabama.

Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr., also known as "Old Joe Cain", "Chief Slacabormorinico" or "Old Slac", is recognized as the man responsible for the Mardi Gras celebration's rebirth in the years immediately following the Civil War in Mobile, Alabama. The stress of the Civil War brought an end to the annual festivities in Mobile. After the war and under Union occupation, the city was disillusioned and discouraged. On the afternoon of Fat Tuesday in 1866, Joseph Stillwell “Joe” Cain, Jr. set out to raise the spirits of Mobile. Appearing as a mythical Chickasaw Indian, "Chief Slacabormorinico" or “Old Slac”, from Wagg Swamp, he climbed aboard a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule and held a one-float parade through the streets of Mobile.

This was the beginning of the modern era of Mardi Gras in Mobile. Cain’s reasoning for masquerading as the Chickasaw Indian chief was that the Chickasaw Indians were never defeated, and this was to show the Union occupation, since the south lost the Civil War. He succeeded in what his goal was, which was lifting the Mobile Bay Region from despair and reviving Mardi Gras. In 1867, Joe Cain made his second appearance as “Old Slac”, but this time he is accompanied by the “Lost Cause Minstrels”, 16 former Confederate soldiers playing drums and horns.

This was the origin of The Order of the Myths parade on Fat Tuesday. Cain founded many of the mystic societies and built a tradition of Mardi Gras parades, which continues today. In fact, he is remembered each year on Joe Cain Day, which is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Known as "the people’s day," Mardi Gras revelers decorate anything they can push, pull, or drag for the Joe Cain Procession and parade, which is as much fun to watch as it is to ride. Cain himself participated in each year’s festivity until he died. Joseph Stillwell “Joe” Cain, Jr. was a son of Joseph Cain, Sr. and Julia Ann Turner. He married Elizabeth Alabama Rabby.

Elizabeth Alabama Rabby Cain.

Birth: Jun. 16, 1833, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama.
Death: Jun. 16, 1926, Mobile County, Alabama.

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