What did the 4th of July mean to your ancestors, and how did they celebrate it?
My grandmother, Anna Jane Beaton, was as American as apple pie. Her father, Alfred Beaton, was an immigrant of Scottish heritage from Prince Edward Isles. Her mother, Edith Orcutt, descended from early Puritan settlers, including Governor William Bradford. Alfred and Edith captured their memories on one memorable 4th of July in 1914.
Two pages of delightful images display Anna Jane Beaton, age 7, her older brother, Orcutt Phillip Beaton, age 14, and three neighborhood friends celebrating the 4th of July on a warm summer afternoon. The children gathered together in the Beaton’s front yard at North 40th street. Orcutt posed with his friend George Graham, draped by two American flags. In the next image, Anna Jane’s hand is warmly clasped by her best friend Pete Frenzer. Anna Jane wears a big smile and an even bigger hair bow. The third photograph Anna Jane and Pete still hold hands and are joined by Kathy Lake, who wears an equally immense bow in her hair. I like Kathy’s saucy look, one hand on her hip and the other on the shoulder of her friend Pete. The fourth image, Anna Jane, seated in a rocking chair, holds a large doll with a face that would give me nightmares. Kathy kneeling beside Anna Jane, holds the American flag over her shoulder. In the background, three more flags lean against the porch stairs.
Was it Alfred who took the photographs? His son Orcutt, a gentle smile on his face, proudly posed with his baseball mitt ready to pitch a ball. Alfred Beaton owned a furniture and toy store, so perhaps Anna Jane’s doll and the baseball glove were new gifts?
I imagine the Beaton’s had a picnic, played games, and later attended some of the numerous activities mentioned in the Omaha Daily Bee for July 4, 1914. Various immigrant groups are mentioned in the article celebrating their participation and contributions to their community.
“All-day celebration and formal opening at Fontenelle Park, under auspices of Park Commissioner J.B. Hummel, Central and Monmouth Park Social Centers, Clairmont, Kenwood, Fairfax and Fontenelle Park Improvement clubs; prize games and contests morning and afternoon; flag raising and speech making at noon; fireworks in evening; band concert all day.
Reception at Fontenelle park by members of Olivet Baptist church to Rev. Willaim A. Mulford, new pastor.
Joint celebration all day Riverview park by Riverview, Deere Park and Southeast Improvement clubs.
Picnic and fireworks display at Kountze park by residents of the neighborhood.
Swedish-American patriotic festival all day at Spring Park, Florence, under auspices of Norden Singing society; program of contests, music and speaking at 4:30 p.m; fireworks in evening; dancing afternoon and evening.
AT THE OUTDOOR CLUBS
Special golf matches, tennis and baseball games, dinners and dancing at all the clubs.
Cabaret entertainment at the Field Club.
Special fireworks display at Seymour Lake Club.
Women’s tennis tournament start at Country club.
Cricket match at Miller park at 11 a.m.
Finals in tennis singles and doubles at Happy Hollow; band concert at 11 a.m. followed by oration by Judge W.W. Slabaugh; reading of Declaration of Independence; program by male quartet and singing of patriotic songs.
AT CARTER LAKE
All-day program at Carter Lake club; trap shoot at 10 a.m.; land and water sports in afternoon; special dinner, dance and fireworks in evening.
All-day program at Young Men’s Christian association summer park; tennis, base ball and big camp swim in morning; music by camp quartet and speaking by Rev. G.A. Hulbert and Judge Bryce Crawford in afternoon; picnic supper at 6 o’clock; big Venetian water carnival and fireworks in evening.
Special program of races, contests and sports at Dietz park, with dinner, dancing and fireworks in the evening.
AT THE SUMMER RESORTS
Free balloon ascension, moving pictures and concert by Finn’s band, dancing and other attractions at Lake Manawa.
Mullen’s animal show, free band concert, motion pictures, dancing and other attractions at Krug park.
Fireworks, music and feature films at Rome summer Garden.
Boating, fishing, music and dancing at Nathan’s lake summer resort, five miles north of Florence on upper road.
City tennis turnament starts at the field club.
Double-header base ball game at Rourke park between Leland’s Chicago Giants and Bradford’s Brewers; first game called at 2 p.m.
Irish celebration of the passage of the home rule bill, under auspices of Emmett Monument association at Thirtieth and Fort streets; program of Gaelic sports, music, speech-making, dancing and refreshments.
Display of fireworks by Hanscom Park Improvement club on hill near Thirty-fourth and Wright streets in evening.
Old fashioned celebration of the day by comrades of George Crook post, Grand Army of the Republic, and Women’s Relief corps, at Florence park all day, commencing at 10:30 a.m.
Parade, band concerts, ball game, dance, fireworks, salutes and races along Vinton street from Sixteenth to Twenty-fourth streets, from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., by Vinton Booster club.
Plattdeutscher Verein celebratioin by the German home.
Water polo, other sports and contests, dinner, dance and fireworks at Council Bluffs Rowing association on Lake Manawa.”
What images and memories do you have from your ancestors of this special day we commemorate each year on July 4th?
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