July in Kearney in the Early 1900’s
Typical Fourth of July
celebrations in the early 1900’s
a parade on Central ending at the high school
speeches on the high school lawn
baseball games, other sports for men and boys
fireworks display in the evening
In 1917 there were
fewer fireworks available. (start of WW I)
companies were selling surplus fireworks left over from last year.
Manufacturers had cut back.
the nation was at war there was not as much gunpowder available for
Kearney had its usual celebration but in the evening there was a band
concert and a limited fireworks display.
The following year
the state of Nebraska recommended no fireworks displays.
Kearney planned a big, patriotic celebration but without the fireworks
Private purchases could be made but inventory was smaller due to war
production of ammunition.
1919 – Horse
Mid-Summer racing meet was to be held in Kearney on the Fourth.
So that added to the usual parades and the like.
2. A Couple of Unplanned Fireworks Displays
No booths selling fireworks like we have today
June 30, 1911
– Mr. Knaggs, a store owner in south Kearney
Displayed his fireworks for sale in the front window.
About 9 a.m. the morning sun hit the display through the window they started
Fire department was on the scene in a few minutes and had the fire under
July 2, 1916 – Fireworks on display in Henline’s store
Set off by the sun through the thick display window causing $300 worth of
the newspaper report) “The fireworks made a fine showing while they
lasted but didn’t last long. As for the plate glass windows they departed
this life instantly, dying of sheer fright at the commotion so suddenly set
agoing on that otherwise peaceful Sabbath morning.”
3. July 4th Fires
July 5, 1911 – Five
fires reported on July Fourth not part of official celebrations of the day.
1. Boy threw lighted firecracker into fireworks displayed in shoe shine
Blew up $85 worth of fireworks and caused $200 damage
hours later, fire put out in a tailor shop in the same block
Someone threw a lighted firecracker between the walls of two frame buildings
in same block during the afternoon a fire damaged the roof of a barber shop.
4. Evening, fire department called to a residence at 5th & 29th , no damage
department called to a photographic studio on Central where there was a
fire department kept two teams and several men in readiness all day.
high school boys went camping trip along the Loup River west of Poole.
They planned to fish and hunt for a week to 10 days.
The father of one of the boys drove them and all of their equipment up there
He would return for them when they were ready to come home.
[not sure how they would tell him. Maybe telephone from Poole?]
Glenwood Park was a popular place to camp.
A group from Axtell came up there for the weekend.
Also some Kearneyites were there for several days.
August 1910 – The Nebraska National Guard was at Ft. Riley for summer
[Every summer they had camp, at a different site each year. Broken Bow one
year, Kearney one year...]
This year they were at Ft. Riley, Kansas
First morning after arriving began at 5:15 a.m. when reveille sounded
1st Sgt. came down the row of Kearney’s Company A tents
All were sleeping peacefully.
Sgt speaks few words but his actions were effective.
Those who slept lengthwise in their tents were yanked from their beds by the
It wasn’t long before everyone was awake.
evening three Junction City men known for their prowess at poker came out to
Planned to acquire enough to retire in luxury
When taps sounded a few of the more charitable guardsmen chipped in to buy
them rides back to town.
None returned for the rest of the time the guardsmen were in camp.
As the days passed, the men suffered each night from jiggers as they slept
in their tents on blankets on the ground.
June 5, 1911 – Unrelated to Camping - Three
mechanicans from Detroit came through Kearney with a new model Packard
6-cylider 75-horsepower touring car. They had been testing the car by
driving through Wyoming, Colorado and other western states and were on their
1912 – A leading Kearney business man had farm land on the Wood River
They have a summer cottage with sleeping porches; planned to stay until
[no air conditioners then]
The state fair was setting up family camping on the fairgrounds during the
fair in Sept.
A tent with cots, chairs, table, blankets and pillows would be available to
1913 – [automobile growing in popularity]
A Kearney dentist and his family left for a 2-3-week camping trip in
1914 – The Elks
obtained Plum grove along the Wood River [east of Glenwood] for a camp to be
used by their members this summer.
land owner has trimmed trees and has 6 acres of bluegrass available.
The Elks’ steward made the camp his permanent headquarters overseeing
activities and meals.
Steward was an excellent cook and had meals for any number at any time.
Besides fishing, campers may play tennis or golf.
Tents were screened; Cots were provided but members had to bring their own
Dining room and kitchen are built with a roof and screened sides.
Canvas can be rolled down in case of storms.
formal opening of the camp, scheduled for June 4, was postponed when some of
[not described] had not arrived yet.
June 19, 1914 – The annual Nebraska Press Association meeting was
held at Epworth Lake park where the editors and their families camped for a
July 3, 1914 – The Community Club was
managing a boys’ and young mens’ camp at a location about a mile from
Kearney. The location was chosen so those working in town could get to their
jobs during the day and then spend evenings and nights at the camp. For
those staying all day there would be tennis, baseball, boating, fishing, and
swimming [sounds like they were along the Platte]. All boys under 17 had to
join the Boy Scouts because the camp would be run in a military manner. The
boys had to bring their own food [“eatables”], tents were free, but cots
would be rented or they could bring their own.
The camp was to open July 9th “at the canal north of the Boyle property,” on
the west shore of Kearney lake.
Aug. 1914 –
Fishing trip to the Loup brought back catfish. A group of young ladies spent
a week camping at Glenwood.
June 4, 1915 – [another type of camper] Six
tramps who had been camping on the east edge of Kearney where they had been
They were jailed and “may be given the chance to work for the city for a few
July 28, 1916 –
Watering trees in the city was encouraged so they would not be lost like
several years ago during a dry spell.