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 Research Papers


Today is:

Fourth of July

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 was here

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?]

Afternoon exercises
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 1872?

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" were shown.

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.



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