"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Newspaper Clipping(s) of the Independence Day

As you old-timers around this blog may remember, last year I did a roundup of some cautionary tales about the many hazards of Fourth of July celebrations.  For this year's holiday, I thought I'd take a look at the lighter side of its history.  Browsing through the old newspaper advertisements for local July 4th events, I can't help but feel our ancestors got a lot more fun out of the holiday than we usually do today.

That is, of course, when they weren't blowing themselves to smithereens with DIY fireworks.

Arizola [AZ] Oasis, June 24, 1904

I find it particularly endearing how communities all boasted how their celebration would be bigger and better than anyone else's.  "The Eagle is going to scream his loudest!  We will have the best ever!"  And, no, I do not have an explanation how the "Wondrously Rich Chinese Pageant" fits in with the American Independence Day, but I'm sure it was a grand show regardless.

"Coconino Sun," July 1 1899

Who could resist a hose contest?

"Mohave County Miner," July 3, 1897

Greased poles and greased pigs.  Not to mention the Beautiful Queen De Cacti!

"New Anaconda Standard," June 30, 1891

I have a sneaking suspicion that "A Famous Orator of National Note Booked for the Occasion" means, "Our original speaker bailed out at the last minute, and we're still scrambling to find a replacement."

"St. Paul Globe," July 5, 1880

"Six Experienced Tubbists!"

"Hayti [MO] Herald," June 21, 1917

The oldest married couple!  50 yards Fat Men's Race!  Running Board Jump!  The Hayti Hussar Band in person!  Rain or shine!

"Hood River Glacier," June 28, 1917
A wartime celebration, with half the proceeds going to the Red Cross, and half to the mess hall of the boys of the Twelfth Company, so they can be kept away from those beans.

"Iron County Record," June 18, 1915

I wonder which of those young ladies was the proud winner of the "Goddess of Liberty" contest?

"Mansfield Mirror," June 22, 1922

Come on!  Let's go!  Something doing every minute!

"Mansfield Mirror," June 23, 1921

It's you we're talking to!

"Mohave County Miner," June 3, 1911

It's hard to top the lure of this one:  Come to Kingston or stay dead!

"Oroville Gazette," June 20, 1919

Nearly a century ago, they already felt the need to advertise a "real old fashioned" celebration.  A Wild West Show, a parade of soldiers and Boy Scouts, and continuous dancing.  Who could ask for more?

"St. Martinsville Weekly," June 12, 1915
Under the auspices of the Woodmen of the World!

"Wibaux Pioneer," June 19, 1909

I have no idea what a Bowery Dance is, but I want to attend one.  With a Cowboy of Montana.

"Yakima Herald," July 1, 1908

Out-of-towners cordially invited!

All right, I admit this one could get a bit too lively.

It's also interesting to see how long the history of the "Safe and Sane" campaign has been.


"Daily Missolian," July 4, 1914

"Cambridge Sentinel," June 25, 1910

"Kenna Record," June 27, 1913

"Seattle Times," July 4, 1914

So, there's our little look at Fourth of July in the days of old.  Enjoy the holiday, my fellow Americans.  Let's see if we can get a tug-of-war game and a Goddess of Liberty contest going.


  1. Wow! Bowery Waltz here and so much more up your alley. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcTYL2L2kQ0


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