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CHAPTER XV
FOURTH of JULY CELEBRATIONS
This record must be paragraphed briefly, in the form of annals. Minor details, and more comprehensive descriptions, would make of it too long a chapter. But these will be of abiding interest.

1833. The pioneer family had been here just eleven days, and had scarcely begun building their house at the foot of Monroe street. The ladies, and those of the trading station, took tea together, and there is a tradition that Uncle Louis and Uncle Joel, and the few other men about, remembered the day temperately, with a slight moistening; also, that the missionary on the west side, tried to explain to the Indians why the Fourth of July was a day of jubilee among the Americans.

1834. Alvin Wansey was captain on parade, and nearly every other man in the settlement was next in rank. They formed a procession on the Indian path where Monroe street is. Robert M. Barr was at the head with his fiddle. They marched up the trail and down and about, and sang and shouted, and fiddled and hurrahed. Many Indians joined in the sport. They went across the river and had more marching, and Chief Blackskin laughed then if he never did at any other time in his life. Then they had a ride down the river and back in bateaux. What the fur traders and the priest did, nobody has recorded.

1835. Small neighborhood gathering and dinner at a farm house south of town. Speech making brief; but much patriotic merriment.

1836. Dinner on Prospect Hill, at which nearly everybody in the settlement was present. Among them, yet surviving, were Dr. Charles Shepard, Charles G. Mason, Alanson Cramton, and Mrs. Harriet Burton. Cramton's bugle was the leading and usually the only instrument for patriotic music in those days.

1837. An excursion down the river on the new steamer "Governor Mason" to Grandville and back. Celebration, with oration, on the boat. Alanson Cramton, with his bugle, furnished music. A pioneer used to call it the liveliest Fourth he ever saw. Four liberty poles were raised at Grandville, but not one was standing when night came.

1838. A celebration, with dinner and speeches, at a house where the Peninsular Club building now stands, and a procession headed by the Marshal of the Day, over the hill and down the steep declivity at Pearl street, to the foot of Monroe, and thence to the National Hotel.

1839. Celebration where now is the northwest corner of the city, near Billius Stocking's residence. Two tamarack poles were raised. Daniel C. Stocking read the Declaration of Independence, printed on cloth in the center of a bedquilt, and delivered a brief oration. A crowd gathered round, who took the larger liberty pole and offered to plant it for the man who first offered a bottle of brandy. Lovell Moore took it, and it was set in front of the Mission house, where he then lived.

1840. Long tables were spread on the east bank of the river a short distance above Huron street, in a bower constructed of green bushes, thrown upon stakes and poles, where Canton Smith spread a sumptuous dinner, liquid refreshments included without extra charge. Indians from the west side were invited over, and feasted. Ira S. Hatch danced a jig upon the tables after the dinner. Chief Mex-ci-ne-ne offered a toast, "The Pale Faces and the Red Men."

1841. The Fourth came on Sunday, celebration on the 3d; 13 guns at sunrise; 26 guns at sunset (on Prospect Hill); exercises at the court house. The Young Men's Association had a little celebration at 9a.m. in the room of the Dutch Reformed Church, with oration by Lewis Tower. President of the Day, John Almy; Orator, Simon M. Johnson. Temperance celebration at Grandville on the 5th; Orator, George Martin; Temperance Address by James Ballard.

1842. Boat ride on steamer Paragon to Grandville and back; celebration at Court House. President, George Coggeshall; Orator, Silas G. Harris. Dinner at National Hotel. Guns, of course. Nobody intoxicated. Down-the-river folks had a celebration at Tallmadge. Orator, the Rev. C. Church.

1843. Thirteen big guns on Prospect Hill at sunrise, and 26 at sunset. Excursion down the river and back by steamer Paragon, Capt. W. Sibley. Celebration exercises in Congregational Church. President, Lucius Lyon; Orator, Charles H. Taylor. Dinner at National Hotel.

1844. Salute at sunrise. Excursion to Grandville on the steamer Paragon; fare 50 cents. Procession at home, also, and exercises at the Congregational Church. President, John Almy; Orator, Thos. B. Church; music by the band. Dinner at the Mansion House, $1 per couple.

1845. Firing of salutes. General jubilee, but no formal exercises. The temperance people held a celebration on the west side of the river. Oration by G. L. Rogers. Temperance toasts in cold water, with cheers and guns but no other instrumental music, and many signed the pledge.

1846. No organized celebration. Day enjoyed by everybody in his or her own way. Thus it would appear from the newspaper silence concerning what was or was not done.

1847. No formal observance of the day. Several family and neighborhood reunions. A number of parties took lumber wagon rides out of town to attend country balls.

1848. President of the Day, Joshua Boyer; Orator, James Miller. Salute of 13 guns at sunrise, and 30 at sunset. Procession to the Congregational church, where the exercises of the day were held.

1849. No preconcerted programme. Business suspended, and the boys enjoyed themselves with candy, fire-crackers and powder. The ladies of St. Mark's church served refreshments.

1850. The day was observed in a highly creditable manner. Orator, R. P. Sinclair. Procession, including three fire companies, marched to the National Hotel, where refreshments were served.

1851. Observed with salutes, procession, exercises at the Swedenborgian church on Division street, and dinner at Rathbun House. President, John Almy; Orator, the Rev. F. A. Blades.

1852. The citizens celebrated in the good old fashioned style, with salutes, procession, exercises on the Public Square, and dinner at National Hotel. President, John Almy; Orator, Thos. B. Church.

1853. Exercises on the Public Square. Orator, A. J. Eldred. Dinner at the National Hotel. Fire works in the evening, which by accident mostly exploded together, creating a sensation not down in the programme.

1854. Usual ceremonies. Procession. Exercises on Island No. 1. President, John M. Fox; Orator, P. R. L. Peirce. Music by the Valley City Band. Dinner at National Hotel. Fireworks on the Island and on Prospect Hill.

1855. Thirty-one guns at sunrise, with ringing of bells. Procession. Exercises and dinner on Island No. 1, reached by a foot bridge. President, Truman H. Lyon; Orator, Flavius J. Littlejohn. Fireworks, followed by a torchlight procession in the evening.

1856. Gathering on the Public Square. Oration by Lucius Patterson. Dinners at places about town. Good time generally. Fireworks on the Park in the evening. Frank White had his left hand nearly all shot away by a premature discharge of the cannon.

1857. Cannon and bells. Procession to Public Square. President, George Martin; Orator, S. S. N. Greeley. Valley City Guards, Capt. D. McConnell, on parade. Dinner and toasts at the National.

1858. Three military and three fire companies in procession, also Sons of St. Patrick, Common Council, Old Settlers, old soldiers, and Barnhart's Band. Orator, Thomas D. Warrall. Guns and bells in morning. Dinner at Rathbun House. Exercises on the Park. Pyrotechnic display on the Park in the evening.

1859. Usual noise of guns and bells in morning, and crackers all day; an unusual number of strangers in town, estimated at 15,000. Oration by Rev. Courtney Smith on the Public Square. Grand Rapids Guards and Artillery in procession with band. Balloon ascension from Square, by  W. D. Bannister. He landed about three miles west of the city.

1860. Enthusiastic celebration. Guns and bells. Estimated that 20,000 visitors were in town. Long procession. Exercises on the Public Square. Oration by Chancellor Tappan of the State University. Procession of "Antique Horribles." Greased pole contest for silver watch at top; taken by Samuel Stout. Wheelbarrow races blindfolded, first prize, $5, awarded Madison Welch. Various festivals in the evening.

1861. The Third Infantry Regiment of volunteers had left for the field. Recruiting for more and for two cavalry regiments had begun. Celebration on the Public Square. The citizens had erected the tallest liberty pole ever put there, with a long streamer bearing the motto: "The Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable." Large gathering. Oration by Thomas B. Church. The "Horribles" paraded; a laughable sight, but at the coming on of civil war seemed sadly out of time.

1862. The darkest period of the war was upon us, and patriotism was tempered with serious apprehensions and forebodings. Celebration on the Public Square, but less joyous and enthusiastic than usual. Oration by George Gray.

1863. City full of people. Steamboats and excursion trains crowded. President of the Day, Judge S. L. Withey; Orator, U. S. Senator Jacob M. Howard. Exercises on Island No. 1. Balloon ascension from same place, by Prof. Ayeres.

1864. Impromptu celebration. Little display. Exercises in Hovey's grove, west side. President of the Day, Henry Fralick; Orator, Col. George Gray. Soldiers' fair, by the ladies.

1865. Being just after the close of the war, the celebration this year was naturally enthusiastic, and notable for the length of the procession, and for the dinner given the soldiers on the Pearl Street Bridge. President of the Day, Judge S. L. Withey; Orator, the Rev. Robert M. Hatfield, of Chicago. Exercises in Hovey's grove. Salute at sunset. Fireworks from Crescent hill.

1866. Ordinary celebration. Exercises in the grove north of East Fulton street on the hill. President, Henry Fralick; Orator,  Phillip J. D. VanDyke, of Detroit.

1867.Elaborate celebration. Special trains on the railroads. President, W. D. Foster; Orator, Byron G. Stout, of Pontiac. Dinner at the Rathbun House. Fireworks at night.

1868. The new steam fire engines, "David Caswell" and "Louis Campau" were prominent features of the procession. The "Horribles" added to the general merriment, but were not a complete success. President, Henry Fralick; Orator, Thos. B. Church. Fireworks from Island No. 2.

1869. Sunday. Celebration by the Saengerbund Society in Pettibone's garden on the west side. Monday, the fifth, was informally observed, and rather quietly celebrated. Business generally suspended. Steamboat and railroad excursions. Good Templars had a social gathering in Hovey's grove, and a sumptuous dinner was given in the lower hall of Sweet's Hotel by the ladies of the Congregational Church Society.

1870. There were the usual salutes, and procession, witnessed by crowds of people. Exercises in the skating rink, on Waterloo street. President, Henry Fralick; Orator, George B. Jocelyn. Balloon ascension in the afternoon by Prof. LaMountain. who landed in the town of Cascade.

1871. The usual booming of cannon, clangor of bells, and noise of explosives at the hands of patriotic Young America. An immense crowd, long procession, and exercises at Fulton Street Park. President, Charles H. Taylor. Addresses by prominent citizens. Dinners given by civic and religious societies in various parts of the city. The fireworks comprised thirty-three pieces. The "Horribles" or "Birds of Paradise," had a grand and unique street display.

1872. No general celebration. Many citizens visited Grand Haven, at which place a celebration was held, and the Cutler House was formally opened.

1873. An attractive programme was arranged by the Turn Verein Society, including a procession, and exercises in the Fulton Street Park. Orator, Col. I. E. Messmore.

1874. No general celebration. The Arion Society celebrated at Tusch's garden, West Side. The Caledonians assembled by Reeds Lake at Miller's Landing, and the Grand Rapids Guard picnicked at the Pioneer grounds, Reeds Lake.

1875. Sunday. Remembered by informal gatherings at Reeds Lake, and at Turn Verein Hall. Monday, the fifth, Barnum's Circus exhibited on the West Side. Over 20,000 visitors were in town. In the afternoon several representatives of the press---Robert Wilson of the Eagle, F. E. Jeffres of the Times, Ed. J. Clark of the Democrat, and Sid F. Stevens of the Saturday Evening Post---made a balloon ascension in company with Prof. Donaldson, to the tune of "Up in a balloon boys" by the band, and landed about six miles out of town toward Ada.

1876. Centennial year. The citizens of Grand Rapids had one of the finest celebrations in all the country. There were notably fine decorations, chief among them the centennial arch on Campau place. Smaller arches were reared on Canal and West Bridge streets. Forepaugh's circus was in town, and formed a part of the parade, which was the largest ever seen here. Exercises in Fulton Street Park. Orator, T. B. Church. About 25,000 people from outside visited the city.

1877. A respectable procession and the usual ceremonies at the Park. Judge S. L. Withey was President of the Day, with a Vice-President from every ward in the city, and nearly every township of the county. Orator, T. F. Hildreth. The Caledonians had a picnic at the lake, and there was a cricket match between the Milwaukee and Grand Rapids clubs on the fair grounds.

1878. The celebration of the 102d anniversary was creditable to the city, consisting of the usual procession and exercises. Charles Fluhrer, Orator. In the afternoon was a fantastic procession of "Horribles."

1879. No general public celebration. The German citizens spent the day at the German Workingmen's gardens, West Side, and the Caledonians at Reeds Lake.

1880. Sunday. No formal celebration. Young America began to enjoy the festive fire-cracker and stick of candy on Saturday, and on Monday places of business were generally closed. The Grand Rapids Guard had a picnic, drill and target-shoot on the Black Hills. The German Workingmen's Society passed the day at their garden on Jefferson street; oration by T. B. Church.

1881. The shooting of President Garfield on the 2d of July turned the day for rejoicing to one of sadness and suspence. About 20,000 strangers were in the city to witness one of the finest displays Grand Rapids ever made. Exercises in the Park. President, Col. I. E. Messmore; Orator, Emery A. Storrs, of Chicago.

1882. Long procession, municipal and military, with numerous trades displays. Prize drill and sham battle at the fair ground. Exercises in Fulton Street Park. President, Capt. H. N. Moore; Orator, Spruille Burford.

1883. Very quiet. Many citizens went to Reeds Lake, Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Grand Haven.

1884. No formal observance. The usual noise of fire-crackers and tin horns.

1885. This year the citizens took two days in which to expend their patriotism---the third and fourth---and made as fine a celebration as was ever known here. The decorations were profuse, and the programme for both days, including fireworks at the close of each, was excellent and well executed. Exercises on the Fourth, in Fulton Street Park. President, E. F. Uhl; Orator, Maj. A. B. Morse, of Ionia.

1886. Not an eminently successful celebration, though well laid out. There was a procession, and a holiday service in Fulton Street Park. Oration by John W. Stone. "Horribles" in the afternoon.

1887. Showers in the morning had a tendency to dampen both ardor and gunpowder, but, the sun coming out brightly, later in the day a very pleasant celebration was had, mostly at Reeds Lake, where numerous attractions were offered, including boat-races, swimming-races, tub race, and fireworks. There was a military drill at the fair grounds, well attended.

1888. Salute at sunrise, 100 guns. Grand parade. Trades display pronounced by committee the finest ever made in Michigan. Exercises at the Park. President, Edwin F. Uhl; Orator, W. P. Wells, of Detroit. Fireworks in the evening at the Sixth Street Bridge.

1889. The central feature of the celebration was the laying of the corner stone of the County Court House. There was a long street parade, and an address by Marsden C. Burch. President of the Day, Col. George G. Briggs. Fireworks at Sixth Street Bridge in evening. Large crowds went to Reeds Lake and indulged in various festivities.


Document Source: Baxter, Albert, History of the City of Grand Rapids, New York and Grand Rapids: Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1891. (Name Index)
Location of Original: Various.
Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/15fourth.html

Created: 24 February 2000[an error occurred while processing this directive]