After the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence July 2, 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” That’s what we’ve done except we’ve done it on the 4th, the day the better-known Declaration of Independence was supposedly signed.
Here’s how Woodson County, Kansas, home to the Spawr family at the time, celebrated Independence Day 140 years ago (Defiance, the former county seat, no longer exists):
Woodson County Post, July 8, 1874
THE GLORIOUS FOURTH.
A Grand Turn Out—Grangers in Procession Headed by the Neosho Falls Silver Cornet Band—Over 4,000 People in Attendance
The masses were to assemble at the court house in Defiance at 10 A.M., but long before that hour a large concourse assembled in and around that edifice.
The band arrived at 9:30, and after partaking of an excellent lunch at the Cobb were prepared to discourse the soul-stirring airs appropriate to the occasion.
Their first move was to go out and meet the Bramlette Grange and escort them within the city limits. There were in this procession near forty teams heavily laden with human freight.
They then went south to the creek and met Scatter Creek Grange in procession. We could not see how many were in this procession, but it was the largest delegation we saw and was more than half a mile in length.
After reaching the court house a procession was formed and the line of march was taken up for the grove, which as about a mile distant, but there was not room enough to form in so short a space, so after the first two Granges had got into line, the remainder moved en masse.
The place selected was a very pretty situation, but was rather awkward to get to on account of the creek-crossing being steep and crooked, but the speakers’ stand was reached without accident.
The band played Hail Columbia to excellent style, the people were called to order by O. P. Haughawout, a prayer was offered by Rev. John Hayward, after which the regular order of exercises was commenced.
The oration, delivered by Mr. Bryant, of Humboldt, was such as would do credit to any one on a similar occasion.
The toast, “The Day We Celebrate,” which was to have been responded to by Judge Goodin, was left out because John R. failed to appear.
“The American Union” was to have been responded to by A. F. Palmer, but being unable to be present at the time on account of business, his place was creditably filled by W. H. Slavens, who did not expect to respond until called upon at almost the very moment.
“The Lords of Creation,” which was to have been responded to by a lady, was a total failure—not being called at all.
“The Patrons of Husbandry” was responded to by Geo. D. Carpenter in a masterly style. Mr. Carpenter also did himself great credit as Chief Marshal.
We think the Committee of Arrangements should have found men who would have been present and responded to the different toasts before publishing their programme. A celebration of this sort goes off much better is there is no break in the exercise.
But, upon the whole, we must say the celebration was a grand success, called out a very large number of people, and it will be a day long remembered by all who were in attendance.