This is a photo of the big July 4th parade in Chariton on July 4, 1876, with the west side of the square to the left; Mallory Opera House in the distance. Nothing much had changed by 1887 --- the streets still were dirt; so the parade that year most likely looked about the same.
Chariton has observed Independence Day in a major way almost from the beginning back in 1849, so don't forget the big parade at 1 p.m. today, fireworks at Northwest Park at 10 p.m. and the fact lots of other stuff is scheduled on the square from morning until late tonight.
For what it's worth, the first major boom in southwest Chariton was heard at 6:07 a.m. today.
Things have changed over the years, of course --- so I thought it might be fun to look back at the celebration of an earlier year and picked 1887 at random, relying upon reports in The Chariton Democrat of July 7, that year. Here's the principal story, published under the heading, "The Fourth at Chariton."
It was a splendid day for merry-making. The copious rains had effectually laid the dust without producing mud, and the air was about 25 degrees cooler than the usual Independence day. The booming of cannon ushered in the day too early for the peace of those who desired a good morning nap.
The parade of Chariton industries was a very handsome and worthy effort. The parade was in the following order: The Chariton Cornet Band; The Martial Band; Goddess of Liberty and 38 little girls in Triumphal Car; Garland Bros. Wagon and Blacksmith shop on wheels, the workmen shoeing a horse and forging iron; Glenn's fine display of wagon and carriage work; Walton & Sons Stacker, Stock Tanks, etc.; J.F. Crowley's carriage painting; Mrs. Glenn's beautifully decorated carriage filled with beautiful ladies; Collins Brothers' flour and grocery store; Eli Manning's Dane Stacker and farm machinery; McCormick Machine Co's. machines.
After the parade the crowd which filled the streets repaired to the court house park and listened to some excellent band music. Prayer, Rev. Stokesberry; the Declaration of Independence was strongly and most eloquently read by Dr. Thos. Spencer, and Col. O.A. Bartholomew made a short but exceedingly able and interesting oration. These performances brought on the dinner hour and the crowd dispersed.
Afternoon, the people re-assembled. Unfortunately the toasts and responses were omitted, either by reason of neglect on the part of the committee to make the proper arrangements, or failure of the parties to respond. However, everybody was busy, and we should not censure too severely for the omission. The Anvil Chorus by our singers and the excellent songs sung by the colored glee club of Cleveland filled up the gap very nicely.
The baseball contest was a rather lame and one-sided affair. The Des Moines club was no match for our boys, and fell an easy victim to our prowess, as the score of 26 to 4 in favor of Chariton shows.
The contests advertised were hotly contested. The greased pig ran well and when sufficiently tired took refuge in Garland's shop and fell into Tap's brawny arms. In the wheelbarrow race L.T. Krish won the first prize and Chas Ryerson, second. In the potato picking, Charles Ryerson won first and John Boozell second. Sack race, (blank) first, with John McNay second. Foot race, McMullen, first, and L.T. Kirsh second. Elmer Landes succeeded in getting up the greased pole and captured the watch on top.
The parade of the Kalithumpians (the children's parade) was something in the way of amusement really worth the effort it cost. A large number of youngsters engaged in the fun and made a very imposing display.
The fire company gave an exhibition of water throwing, and the day was closed by a very creditable display of fire works, at the close of which the crowd divided, part going home, part dancing in the court house park, and about 500 going to the opera hall to witness the play.
A financial report ended this installment of the July 4th report in The Democrat. Total expenses for the celebration were $215.10 and total income from pre-celebration donations and fund-raising stands, $214.46. So organizers almost broke even. I'm guessing the expenses of our 2013 celebration are substantially higher.
The play at Mallory Opera House that concluded the day was a drama, The Lady of Lyons, sponsored by "the ladies who are endeavoring to put our city Library on its feet" and featuring local thespians. When all was said and done, the roughly 500 people who attended contributed $80 to the Library Association treasury. The play seems to have been well-received, but ran rather late.
"After midnight," the Democrat reported, "the audience went home sincerely hoping that --- it will not be so late next time."
There had been a variety of minor mishaps during the day, according to The Democrat:
"Early in the morning L.F. Maple's awning caught fire from a fire cracker and was a ruin before the fire was put out."
"The stand erected for the fire-works fell during the day and several boys who were playing under it were severely bruised."
Although "Fights and quarrels were numerous," according to the Democrat, only two perpetrators ended up in jail. Charley Dale, "a local slugger," beat up another young man, described only as a farm boy, and was jailed as a result. And Joe Landes tossed a string of lighted fire crackers into a lemonade stand causing considerable breakage and landing himself behind bars for his trouble.
The only near-scandal of the day involved the pump that under ordinary circumstances lifted water from the courthouse well to supply workers, visitors and their horses. County officials had removed the handle, apparently to prevent overflow crowds on the square from emptying the well.
That resulted in an irate letter postmarked Zero --- a little mining town on Lucas County's eastern border --- signed, "Taxpayer" and published in full on the 7th.
In it, Taxpayer took county officials to task for coming "to the conclusion, after running the county in debt from $15,000 to $20,000, that they were going to reform and cut down on extravagant expenses and they thought the fourth a good time to begin, and a good many thirsty people can testify that they are in dead earnest, for they ordered the pump handle taken off the pump in the court house yard for fear the dear people would wear out the pump and then it would be extravagant to have it repaired."
Among other things, Taxpayer demanded to know, "Who gets the rent of lemonade stands erected in the public square for the purpose of furnishing the dear people with lemonade ...?" when well-water is not available.