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Celebrate the Fourth

The history of the Fourth of July dates back to the early days of the United States, from that first celebration occurring in 1776. Of course, the celebration of America’s birthday has changed over time. Join us as we see how the Fourth of July was celebrated in the first portion of the 1900s in Indiana County.

In 1903, the Fourth prompted the following ad, printed on July 1, for the Brilhart’s 5 and 10 cent Store: “Fireworks! Fireworks! Roman Candles - 10¢, 15¢, Sky Rockets - 25¢ each, Pin Wheels, Flower Pots, and Penny Novelties. Fudge - 10¢ a pound, Peanut Brittle - 5¢.”

Indiana enjoyed a fitting Fourth of July celebration in 1904. Keck’s Battery began the festivities by firing off the cannon at 2:30 a.m. giving residents quite a rousing morning wake up call. This was not the original plan however, it was supposed to be a sunrise salute at 5:30 a.m. Philadelphia Street was decorated with flags and hundreds of Japanese lanterns. Company D of Blairsville rolled into town in a four-mule wagon, and the Pennsylvania Railroad brought into town six coaches filled with people. A long parade included six pieces of horse-drawn fire equipment and an old chemical fire engine pulled by fifty boys. Manning and DeCrow of New York gave a unique acrobatic performance at 8:15p.m., concluding with a fireworks display which began promptly at 9:15. The display lasted over an hour. The Gazette made note that the display which a “great improvement over the fiasco of the Centennial last year that there is no such thing possible as making a comparison.” The train left at 11:00 p.m., carrying thousands of sleepy people back to their homes. “It was a great day and Indiana has reason to be proud of it,” concluded the Gazette.

The Indiana Gazette - June 8, 1904

Indiana was not the only town celebrating our nation’s birthday in 1904, Marion Center also held a large celebration, drawing throngs of people to the town. The day’s festivities included a parade, a tub race, a sack race, a bicycle race, an egg race, a greased pig and a greased pole, a foot race, a wheelbarrow race, three baseball games and two or three band concerts, and finally a grand display of fireworks. The Smicksburg cornet band and the Marion Center Martial band were in attendance. A dancing platform was also erected and the orchestra kept the dancers busy. The Gazette estimated that 3,000 people were in attendance.

In 1909, Indiana did not have a celebration, but Homer City staged such a big show that double trolley car service was needed. Baseball occupied the center stage, and Homer City won two games from the Greenville team (made up of five Indiana men, one from Punxsutawney, and three from “old Cherryhill”). The second game lasted thirteen innings, and the 1,200 people present got their money’s worth. Not all was quiet in Indiana where “three boys and a child were treated for firecracker burns, and a plasterer named Collins started his celebration Sunday evening, and inside a half hour he had fired a sky-rocket into the clothes of a child in its mother’s arms, and had blown up a wheelbarrow at Caruso’s Fruit Story. He was arrested and fined $5.00.

Wherever you are this Fourth of July, the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County wishes you a Happy and Safe 4th of July. As a reminder, the Historical Society will be closed on July 4, 2023 so our volunteers and staff can spend the holiday with their family and friends.

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