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Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Great Anniversary Festival

John Adams, the second president of the United States, declared, “I believe that [the Fourth] will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

This postcard (circa 1930) is a view of the Battle of Concord, April 19, 1775 diorama once featured at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) was the culmination of a political revolution in which the thirteen united former British colonies rejected the right of Great Britain’s Parliament to govern them and formed a Continental Army to fight for independence.

Though the war began in 1775, our nation's independence is dated to July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.

In 1776, small celebrations, including toasts to the new nation were made, but the first official celebration was held July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia. The custom spread to other towns quickly and included parades, games, military displays, and fireworks.

The first Fourth of July celebration in Lake County, Illinois, was held in 1844 at the confluence of Second and Third Lakes, in today’s Village of Third Lake. Nearly 100 people gathered from neighboring communities, including Nathaniel Vose, who acted as the celebration’s “marshal,” Amos Bennett and his family who were the first African American settlers in the county, and Reverend Dodge of the Millburn Congregational Church.

David Gilmore, a settler from Massachusetts, made chowder, and other families brought pumpkin pie (made from pumpkins harvested and dried the previous fall), sorrel pies, and seed cakes.

After the meal was eaten, Reverend Dodge gave a prayer for the freedom of the slaves in the South, and Nat Doust read a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Since there were no fire crackers or fireworks, but people wanted a bit of noise to celebrate, B.F. Shepherd said, several boys “got hold of a little powder, wet it and filled some wild goose quills… when they were touched with a live coal they would go around in all directions.”

Two Revolutionary War veterans are buried in Lake County. Henry Collins (1763-1847) served in Massachusetts from 1781 to 1783, and is buried in the Mount Rest Cemetery in Newport Township. Reuben Hill (1765-1858) served in New York State from 1780 to 1783, and is buried in the Wauconda Cemetery.

(Postcards in this post, unless otherwise noted, are circa 1905 - 1915)

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