Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day, Late 1800s

Fourth of July postcard, early 20th century. 
Virtually unknown today is the practice of sending
Independence Day greetings such as cards and postcards,
a common part of late 19th and early 20th Fourth of July
Independence Day celebrations of late 19th century Middleborough were usually confined to small family get togethers or a quiet day spent relaxing.  Evenings might be devoted to neighborhood displays of fireworks.  Pranks, more typically associated with Hallowe'en, were also engaged in with one of the most commonplace being the ringing of the local church bell at midnight, as indicated by this undated news item from the local newspaper from just before the turn of the last century.

Young America commenced celebrating the 4th as soon as the clock struck the midnight hour.  Soon the bell of he Methodist church pealed forth, and it was subsequently found that some one gained entrance, and by attaching a rope to the bell and bringing it out of doors and over the fence, they were able to ring the bell free from discovery.  Later the bell of the Baptist church was rung awhile.  Guns, pistols, crackers, torpedoes and tin horns kept up a continuous round of noise to the annoyance and disturbance of sober and quiet citizens.

Most of the stores were open a short time in the morning, but were closed the balance of the day.  The streets of town were reasonably quiet through the day.  To the pond, Lakeside, visiting friends out of town, on a trip to Boston, Brockton, Taunton, Wareham or Onset, filled up the hours of the day to those who wanted to 'celebrate.'  Many a family spent the day quietly at home in restful enjoyment and freedom from business cares.

At the ponds, the day was very quietly observed.  The steamer met an accident, losing part of her smoke stack, which caused some delay.  A bolt was also lost, which delayed the passage, and the passengers were not landed until about half past one o'clock.  The regatta was postponed on account of the strong breeze.

In the evening several parties showed fireworks display, among them being C. W. and Philip E. Kingman, J. B. Ryder, Geo. H. Washburn, Casper Littlehale, and conductor Charles Jones.  An extra train ran to Taunton in the early evening to allow visitors to witness the fireworks.


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