Mobile Mystic History
  • 1830 A group of young men led by Michael Krafft stay awake all New Year’s Eve, making noise with cowbells, hoes, and rakes. The group became the first parading mystic society, using the name Cowbellion de Rakin Society with annual parades each New Year’s Eve. The Cowbellions dissolved in 1912, but re-formed in 1991.
  • 1840 The Cowbellions stage the very first display of its kind in the United States when they roll forth a parade with a title and subject.
  • 1843 Some men who had been refused membership by the Cowbellions formed the Strikers Independent Society with their own New Year’s parade. The Strikers is America’s oldest extant Mystic Society. The Strikers stopped parading in 1881 (except in 1884), but still hold an annual ball.
  • 1844 “The T.D.S.”, called “The Tea-Drinkers’ Society” but actually “The Determined Set”, was formed.
  • 1850 Joseph Ellison and 5 other men from Mobile form the New Orleans Cowbellions, and in 1857, that Cowbellion society, renamed as the Mistick Krewe of Comus, held its first parade on Mardi Gras day.
  • 1866 Joe Cain revived the parades in Mobile on Mardi Gras day. While Mobile was still under Union occupation, Joe Cain paraded through the streets of Mobile, dressed in improvised costume depicting a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico. The choice was a backhanded insult to the Union forces in that the Chickasaw had never been defeated in war.
  • 1867 Joe is joined by other Confederate veterans (including Thomas Burke, Rutledge Parham, John Payne, John Bohanan, Barney O’Rourke, and John Maguire), parading in a decorated coal wagon, playing drums and horns, and the group became the “Lost Cause Minstrels“.
  • 1868 The Order of Myths, the oldest parading society in Mobile, is founded.
  • 1869 The H.H.S. (Heavy Samplers Society) is founded. The H.H.S. is said to have evolved from a young men’s baseball team that followed behind the Lost Cause Minstrels. The H.S.S. collapses in 1873 after a lavish and expensive ball puts them in debt, and the Infant Mystics is founded by H.S.S. members. Its balls are held in Temperance Hall.
  • 1872-1897 The first Mobile Carnival Association (the De Leon Carnival Association) is founded by Thomas Cooper De Leon, a Jewish journalist from South Carolina, who manages carnival for 25 years. Daniel E. Huger is crowned Felix I.
  • 1874 The Comic Cowboys are founded by Dave Levi from New York City, with predominantly Jewish membership. They dress in cowboy jeans or street clothes on floats that display billboards with humorous jokes or caricatures.
  • 1874 The Knights of Revelry (K.O.R.) is founded
  • 1881 On January 6 there is the last New Year’s Mystic Society parade in Mobile, as The Cowbellions, The Strikers and the TDS paraded together.
  • 1881 The Infant Mystics take over management of Mardi Gras from the Mobile Carnival Association
  • 1898-1926 The second Mobile Carnival Association organizes Mardi Gras. King is Felix II.
  • 1922 The Crewe of Columbus parades with its 6 trademark floats. Three depict the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, then the Crew’s emblem float with a big globe rotating in the center, and that’s followed by the title float. It was originally a Catholic organization, but opened to other denominations in the 1930s
  • 1927 The third (and current) Mobile Carnival Association is founded
  • 1939 The predominantly black Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA) is founded.
  • 1956 The Incas begin parading.
  • 1966 Julian Lee “Judy” Rayford arranges to have Joe Cain exhumed from Odd Fellows Cemetary in Bayou la Batre and reburied in Mobile’s Church Street Graveyard in 1966. Rayford carries Joe Cain’s skull in the pocket of his coat. He establishes Joe Cain Day in 1967 by walking at the head of a jazz funeral down Government Street to the cemetery on the Sunday before Mardi Gras
  • 1977 The Conde Cavaliers is founded as a way for a workingman to join a Crewe that had no way to inherit a membership in any of the old groups.
  • 2003 The Conde Explorers, the first racially integrated parading Mobile Mardi Gras organization, is formed.