4th of July Celebrations

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1860 – 4th of July Celebration

The “town bell fund” was started in 1860 during the 4th of July celebration.  The amount raised for the bell was about $160.  This sum was increased by donations from entertainments, suppers, dances, etc., until by the fall of 1860, a sufficient sum was collected to purchase it.  The committee that had the matter in charge ordered an iron bell from a Cincinnati foundry.

This bell weighed 1,650 pounds and cost $175 in Cincinnati; a bell tower 26 feet high was erected on the south side of Main street and early in December the first Independence bell was in position, at a cost of about $250.  The first criticism, after testing its quality, was that while the tone was perfectly satisfactory and could be heard distinctly several miles distant, it seemed to lack volume in the immediate vicinity, but this criticism was not to endure long, for after but a few weeks’ service, it met a very unromantic and untimely fate.  It cracked and became utterly worthless, ‘except for old iron,’ and although warranted for a year, when it was duly returned to Cincinnati, the committee was informed that the company had dissolved, and their guarantee was as worthless as their product.

Fourth of July Celebration, 1860 – Programme

President of the DayL.W. Hart, esq.
Vice-PresidentsAlbert Clarke, Dr. T.C Bartle
Reader  W.G. Donnan
Orator   C. Billings Smith
Chief Marshal   Gen. G. Dickinson
AssistantsB.C. Hale, Edward H.
Gaylord, Charles Kinsley
Chief of Police  Dept. Sheriff B.D. Read
AssistantsA. Ingalls, J.M. Westfall
Gunner  Samuel Sherwood

The committee offers to the citizens of the town and county the following programme:

  1. A National salute of 33 guns, one for each State, at sunrise, under the direction of Samuel Sherwood, esq.
  2. A town salute of 12 guns, one for each year of the corporate age of the town, at 10am
  3. At the firing of the town salute a procession will be formed near the court house, composed of the citizens of the town and county, and under the direction of the marshals, in the following order:
    • Martial music
    • Independence brass band
    • A bevy of young girls, one for each State, dressed in white, with appropriate badges, in a carriage drawn by 4 horses, and under the direction of Dr. George Warne, Charles W. Taylor, and A.B. Lewis.
    • The orator and reader, attended by the president of the day.
    • The vice-presidents
    • The clergy
    • Invited guests
    • Organized charitable societies
    • Gentlemen accompanied by ladies
    • Citizens

The procession will move through the principal streets of the town to the place prepared for the reading of the Declaration of Independence and oration, where seats will be prepared for the occasion.

  1. Music by the band
  2. Prayer by the Rev. J.M. Boggs
  3. Music by the Independence Glee club
  4. Reading the Declaration of Independence by W.G. Donnan
  5. Music by the Glee club
  6. Oration by C. Billings Smith, D.D.
  7. Music by the band
  8. After the oration and music a procession will be formed under the direction of the         

Marshal, consisting of the invited guests and those having tickets for the table, and all who wish to dine, which, headed by the band, will proceed to the bower where tables will be prepared for 400.   After the cloth is removed toasts will be read, appropriate to the occasion, which will be responded to by distinguished individuals at home and from abroad, interspersed with music and songs.

  1. After dinner there will be another town salute of 18 guns, one for each 100 of our inhabitants.
  2. In the evening there will be a dance at Morse’s Hall, under the direction of Messrs. Lee, White, Jones, and Kinsley, the avails of which will be appropriated to the fund for the purchase of a bell.

The committee would say to the citizens of the county, ‘come one, come all,’ and let patriotism, mingled with rational please, be the order of the day and the evening.

By the order of the committee, G. Dickinson, Chairman

1876 – 4th of July Celebration

The 4th of July, 1876, was observed in Independence in a most appropriate way.  Besides the usual and numerous 4th of July attractions, one that attracted particular attention and was unique in every feature was a representation in miniature, upon the placid waters of the mill pond, of the memorable duel in Chesapeake Bay, between the first Monitor and the Merrimac.  Considerable time and expense, about $300, was expended in preparations for the event.  A Monitor was built, Burr’s paddle wheel pleasure boat was fitted up to play the part of the rebel army and the other arrangements were perfect in detail.

At the appointed hour, the Merrimac steamed out from behind the head of the island and bore down upon a number of boats rigged as ships, with paper sails, etc., placed at convenient intervals, poured broadsides into them, with bombs rammed them and finally set them on fire.  She then engaged the ‘shore batteries’ and a vigorous exchange of fireworks ensued.  By this time she had reached the foot of the island when she met her fate in the shape of a Monitor which was the exciting feature of the whole program.  The battle raged with savage fury.  The Merrimac retreated and grounded and the ‘cheese box’ in the meantime poured hot shot into her until finally her magazine was reached and she blew up into several small pieces and victory crowned the Union champion.  An immense crowd was in Independence to witness this and all the other fine attractions prepared for the event.

Everything was up to the highest expectations, but the fireworks and naval engagement, which was partially owing to a fearful storm threatening.  The island that was mentioned has since disappeared – went out with the ice.

1889 – 4th of July Celebration

Over 8,000 people had swooped down on July 4, 1889, to help the town “swell the hallelujah chorus of freedom.”  Small boys were out in force, armed with large firecrackers, torpedoes and squibs.  Flags and bunting decorated the business district.  Everyone was brim-full of patriotism, good nature, and red lemonade.  A hose-cart race, a parade, and an oration were included in the morning program.

In the afternoon the spell of the turf left the streets of Independence deserted!  The horse races at Rush Park served as an effective magnet and the 50 cents admission fee paid by over 8,000 spectators clearly indicated that men did not live for noise alone.

1890 – 4th of July Celebration

The first meet on the kite-shaped track was held on July 4, 1890.  Only local horsemen entered but some creditable performances were registered despite the weather.  Allerton twice lowered his mark of 2:18 1/4, trotting the best heat in 2:16 ¾.

1892 – 4th of July Celebration

As quoted from the American Trotter Magazine  June 23, 1892:

“The glorious 4th will be celebrated at the Independence Driving Park in a manner keeping with the spirit of this city, which is decidedly a horse town, and of the day from which it took its name.  There will be racing by the greatest horses in training at this greatest track in the world, driven by trainers whose names are household words wherever trotters are known; exhibitions of speed by record breakers, bicycle races at different distances, foot races of every kind, athletic and other sports of every kind.  In fact the programme will be arranged so as to supply a complete round of pleasure for the entire day.”

1921 – 4th of July Celebration

John Canfield, an old Independence boy who had been ranching in North Dakota, arrived in the city and was making arrangements for something new and out of the ordinary as an entertainment.  He advertised a genuine frontier day roundup, just like they had in the Far West, for the afternoon and evening of July 4th and the afternoon of July 5, 1921, at the fairgrounds.

Indian and cowboy riders from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations, about 20 of them, took part.

The Independence Band, led by E.W. Raymond, played the 4th of July program.  Butch Close was the official announcer.  The roundup men rode bucking horses, mules and steers in many and varied ways.

Some rope work also was a feature.

1972 – 4th of July Celebration

“125th Anniversary”

5 day celebration June 30-July 4th

The calendar of events included: “Pioneer Heritage and Homecoming Day”, “Independence Salutes the Future” parade day (July 1st), “Religious Heritage Day”, “Young America and Ladies Day”, “Independence Day.”

Gov. Robert Ray served as ‘Parade Marshal’ while ‘Phantom Jets’ buzzed over Main Street in downtown Independence during the long parade on July 1st.  The parade contained 9 bands and over 150 separate units.  Thousands of persons of all ages lined both sides of Main Street to view the floats, displays, bands, dignitaries and various pieces of old machinery.   The nightly “Independence Panorama” was held at the Jefferson Field-the first performance being cancelled due to rain.  The Independence Panorama was a Historical Spectacular with a cast of over 300 local people.  It dramatized the challenge facing modern man in the light of past, present, and projected history.  It combined dance, drama, music, pictorial slide projections and special lighting effects in a magnificent total theatre experience.  Seating accommodated over 2,000.    A Hospitality Center was open as well as historical tours.  Downtown businesses had many antique displays in their windows.  The 125 page booklet “125 Years of Growth” was published with 2000 copies being sold.  Exhibit Hall (Gateway to the Past) museum at the fairgrounds was open daily.  Kangaroo Court was in session all five days.

The Buchanan Co. Historical Society has the contents of the “Time Capsule”.

BUCHANAN COUNTY FAIR SITE OF Early 4th of July Celebrations

The County Fair Board also has sponsored an annual 4th of July celebration at the fairgrounds which each year attracted several thousand holiday spectators.