From Louisa Collins' Diary - July 4 (71) Father and I took a
ride to look at some land he is about buying And then Ah sad
thought I had to say good by Will I meet my dear father in heavan O Lord grant me this We are just moving when father
From Bassett – Chap XXVII
– The first 4th of July Picnic,
celebrated by the Gibbon Homestead Colony, July 4, 1872
Held 4 miles east of Gibbon in Dugdale’s cottonwood grove on
the bank of the Wood River. Some gathered in Gibbon at 11
a.m. to ride out together in wagons. School Dist 1 and Wood
River Station in Hall County also attended.
The Program – The different schools marched into the grove:
First – Wood River School with banner – streamers, rosettes
& eagle with scroll in center
– 60 members
Second – Dist. 1 – 115 members
Third – Gibbon School with banner – “Gibbon Sunday School”
on front, “Holy Bible” on back
– 150 members
Fourth – Wood River Union School with flag and banner –
“Union Sunday School” on front,
“God is Love” on back – 65 members
[That’s 390 people]
S. B. Lowell – “President of the day”
Opening prayer – Rev. Wm. Morse [lived north of Kearney –
1st assigned minister of 1st UMC]
“America” – audience led by Prof. D. B. Worley at the organ
Declaration of Independence – read by Rev. J. J. W. Place
“Beautiful River” – sung by Gibbon School
Oration - H. D. Niles
[break for dinner?]
Musical selection – Prof. Worley
Recitations - Misses Edith George, Flora Sprague, Carrie
Marsh and Flossie Day
Bassett says there were not less than 500 children in
attendance – were there that many people in the area in
From Come Back letters
On July 4, 1874, a celebration was held "in the
schoolhouse", according to Mrs. D. C. Hostetter, which "'had
speaking and singing and all were glad we were there ...
were like a family."
The Daily Press reported "The Fourth of July in Kearney was
very quiet and had it not been for a slight display of
fireworks might have been mistaken for Sunday." Most of the
citizens, "on leisure bent...accompanied the Kearney Cornet
band on the 6 A.M. train for Hastings." The band gave
impromptu performances at Lowell and Juniata before arriving
in Hastings. The reporter complained "Hastings ought to do
one of two things - have smaller celebrations or better
accommodations ... a great many were compelled to skirmish
around the stores and restaurants and finally satisfy the
cravings of hunger with crackers and cheese."
The nation's Centennial in 1876 offered many opportunities
for celebrations. In addition to a large civic observance,
July 4th was also the day on which the government opened the
Fort Kearny military reservation for settlement.
Hugh Sydenman had vivid recollections of the July 4, 1880
celebration, when Charlie Swan was drum major and "blew the
big horn. He was so tall and skinny I wondered where he got
all the wind to make the noise with." Homer Green, "a dapper
young fellow in an immaculate uniform," played cornet and
was the leader. Also "the band consisted of Tom Hull and his
bass drum. Another lesser feature was the firing of the
National salute, which was accomplished with a pair of
anvils. Somebody got hurt in this act but it wasn't me and I
soon forgot who the person was."
See Kearney Daily Hub
July 6, 1891, page 3
July 5, 1892, page 3
July 5, 1893, page 3
July 5, 1894, page 3
In 1898 - Townspeople were forced to go elsewhere to
celebrate the Fourth of July that year. In Pleasanton, "The
Honorable W. L. Greene spread the eagle in his own peculiar
style, jumped on the Spanish, and howled for the flag until
he was hoarse." The Kearney Hub noted, "People did more
celebrating than for a long time."
A typical Fourth of July celebration in Kearney during the
early years of the twentieth century included a parade,
oratory and band concerts on the high school lawn. A "train
carnival" might pull into town and set up rides and other
attractions on Central Avenue. At times the observation car
of the train was opened up and folded back to make room for
a screen on which such movies as "The Great Train Robbery"
Dr. Frank O. Raasch tells of the year that a Baptist
minister appeared at a city council meeting to protest the
"girlie show" at the carnival.
"Why, you can even see part of their bosoms," he said.
"Why, that's terrible," the mayor exclaimed. "I move we
adjourn and investigate this ourselves.!"
Part of the Fourth of July observance might be held on the
banks of Kearney Lake. The feature of the show, a high
diving act, would be postponed until 11:00 p.m. or later to
hold the crowd on the grounds as long as possible.