Original Document
Original Document
The United Bowmen celebrate their anniversary with an archery contest, Philadelphia, PA, 1837

On Wednesday, September 9th, the company of "United Bowmen" celebrated their anniversary, near Philadelphia. According to the United States Gazette, this association holds its charter from the ancient company in England, that traces its line of existence almost to the merry days of the hero of Sherwood Forest. Cards of invitation having issued to numerous persons, between three and four o'clock the guests assembled, to the number of about twelve hundred, at the elegant seat of Mr. Norris, on Turner's The United States Gazette thus describes the scene:-

Nearly two hundred carriages were ranged along the lane, and in the extensive avenue to the mansion. From the east side of the extensive lawn in front of the house, was separated by extended lines, an area about fifty yards wide by one hundred and twenty long, for the exercises of the Bowmen. Midway on the east side of the area, was erected a very handsome marquee, in which. was Johnson's admirable band of music. Opposite that tent, on the west side of the area, was a table most tastefully decorated, upon which were placed the premiums; and without the line, on the north and west side; were seats for the ladies, who watched with earnestness the movements of the archers. Among the company were representations of all the liberal professions, and all classes of citizens who had leisure and taste for such enjoyment. Some of the young ladies and gentlemen kindly gave up their places of advantage to their seniors, and we wished them pleasant strolls as they paired off along the delightful walks of the place. How thoughtful thus to give place to the old.

The gentlemen of the Company wore their uniform, which consisted of green frock coats, trimmed with gold, with an arrow on their collars, white pantaloons and green caps; pendant to a black leathern girdle were the appliances of their craft. Their bows were truly beautiful, and the arrows were of the most approved shape and finish. The targets were placed near each extremity of the area, the sporting distance being eighty yards. The company was divided into two classes-each class was ranged near its own target, and one member of each stepped forward, and both discharged their arrows at the opposite targets; these then stepped aside and another two came forward-and thus till all had discharged their arrows. Near each target shot at, stood a neatly dressed lad with silk flags in his hat, and as an arrow struck the target, he waved a flag of the colour of the circle hit. The bowmen would march, to the sound of music, in file to the opposite extremity, gather up their arrows, and the captain of the target, Mr. Krumbhaar, mark upon a card the number which the members had gained. The centre, or gold spot, counting nine, and each ring counting two less, as one receded from the centre. The two lads, with their flags, moved always towards the target opposite the bowmen. Whenever an arrow struck the centre or gold spot, the band gave a flourish with their trumpets. As time for closing the contest drew near, it was evident that the ladies had taken an interest in the proceedings, and they were anxious to learn the result-to know who were to receive the splendid premiums. The contest was close, and the difference between the few who gained, and the many who missed, was very small. The first premium was the company's "bow~"-a massive silver vessel, weighing one hundred and fifty ounces, bearing various devices and inscriptions, and receiving from each yearly holder some additional ornament. This is held for one year only. The other premiums are retained by winners. The second premium was a handsome silver arrow, to bear the winner's name, date, and the inscription, SECUNDUS HOC CONTENTUS ABITO. The third premium was a handsome silver wassail cup, the stem representing a quiver. When the tally card was reckoned up, the premiums were thus awarded by the captain of the target, with a suitable address:-

FIRST PREMIUM, the Company's bow, to FRANKLIN PEALE-thirty-seven shots, counting one hundred and forty-four.

SECOND PREMIUM to S.P. GRIFFITTS, JR.-thirty-three shots, counting one hundred and twenty-nine.

THIRD PREMIUM to W.H.W. DARLEY. This premium is given for the arrow placed nearest to the centre of the target, without any reference to the number previously gained. It was obtained by Mr. D. at the last shot in the afternoon.

The company was delighted with the place and the means of enjoyment; and when some observed, that in a single round there had been several misses, we heard a young lady archly observe, that there Were more "misses" than hits. She did less than justice to the fair part of the company. We are too old to talk about such things, but we have good reason to believe that the united company were not the only bowmen of the afternoon.

We are sure that we express the feelings of the very numerous and highly respectable guests, when we refer with grateful pleasure to the liberal courtesy of the United Bowmen, and to their arrangements for the entire accommodation of those who witnessed their elegant and healthful exercise.

Credit: American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, October 1835.
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