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Fourth of July in history


Fourth of July, Harrington

One of the earliest recorded celebrations of the Fourth of July in Lincoln County was this peculiar mention: “The Davenport fireworks were let off in the suburbs of that city, for the reason, I suppose, no buildings are insured. A few boys enjoyed them, but those who remained to witness them were at the dance when the display took place, and did not see the balloons ascend. The celebration was purely Republican, even Democratic office-seekers being scarce.” (Sprague Herald: 7-12-1888) For a frame of reference, according to McKenny’s Pacific Coast Directory in 1886, the population of Harrington was 35. There were 28 businessmen listed showing their address as Harrington, consequently, one must assume that they did not all live within the limits of Harrington’s census boundaries. One of those businessmen was Frank Gray, editor and publisher of the Harrington Times. Unfortunately, we don’t have archives of those papers. Of July 4th celebrations in Harrington, one of the earliest mentions is that of one out in the Zion District: “The celebration at Hellinger’s Grove July 4 was attended by a large number of our citizens, and a thoroughly good time is the verdict of all who attended.” (LCT: 7-06-1894) Their homestead applications in 1882 and 1883 were in Section 4 and Section 20 of Twp 24 Range 36 by Maria, John and William Hellinger. Maria Hellinger, a native of Germany, applied to become a citizen of the U.S. on June 2, 1890 in Superior Court at Sprague.

The same 1894 paper that made mention of Hellinger’s big celebration carried articles showing the ability of the pioneer town to rebound from near extinction. Harrington suffered a huge fire loss by arson of its major businesses in March of 1894 and by the Fourth of July the paper reported how the business, Great Eastern Store, that had burned to the ground was up and running enough to have been the victim of “the act of stealing a suit of clothes.” The thief was “taken to Sprague where he was sentenced to two years in the pen.” The town of Harrington had no celebration for that Fourth and the other major business that had burned, Wilson’s building, was rebuilding as the materials for its construction continued to arrive. The Kicker was a mimeograph newspaper published by a man named Grace, and one of the early Citizens reprinted a portion of the July 18, 1894 paper in which the weather report for July 11-15 was as follows: 70 degrees, 80, 84, and 88 with rain being reported for the 15th.

The Lincoln County Times, published in Davenport, reported in June 1895: “Fourth of July preparations are progressing finely and everything appears to be perfectly harmonious. Therefore the celebration at Harrington is sure to be a grand success.” Other details included: “Capt. Mayer will be ready to begin operations with his cream separator at Harrington on the morning of the 4th. He will be fully prepared to have it in fine working order and to make it quite an exhibition for that day, at which time he wants everybody to call and see it work. Everybody is preparing to go to ‘the Fourth’. Picnics will be quite numerous on the 4th this year, notwithstanding the Leader’s belief that everybody and all his friends and relatives will go to Harrington.” After the eventful day, little was recorded about the actual activities. “The young people of Davenport divided up about equally among their celebrating neighbors on July 4th. Quite a number were at Larene, others at Hawk Creek, the ball players at Harrington and the boat rowers at Medical Lake. August Krueger, a German farmer who lives down the river east of Egypt, came into town to spend the Fourth with friends at Hellinger’s Grove last week, but as he drove out of town lost a fine black frock coat which he was carrying with him. Although he retraced his steps a few minutes after the garment was lost, no trace of it could be found. While he did not wish to lose the coat, he especially regrets the loss of some photographs which it contained, and says if the finder does not wish to give up the coat, he should at least be glad to have him return the photographs.” (LCT: 7-12-1895)

“Our streets presented the appearance of a Fourth of July celebration last Sunday, says the Harrington Independent. A large number of the boys from the country were in to spend the day and sports of all kinds were indulged in. There were two horse races, two foot races and two jumping matches, the honors being about evenly divided between the town and the country boys. Although there was considerable wrangling over some of the races, the crowd was an unusually orderly one. The country boys have promised to be back next Sunday with their fastest horses and some good races are expected to take place. We understand that there will also be a bronco busting contest.” (LCT: 7-31-1896)

Odessa’s Fourth of July

The Odessa Record was first published in May of 1901; due to its location in the county, much of the earlier news for Odessa was missed. The Harrington Citizen began covering Odessa spasmodically in 1898 when it first began publication. From 1898 to 1901 the Citizen did not highlight any Fourth of July activities for Odessa. With The Record in full operation, here is how the festivities were as reported locally: “Hundreds of people were in attendance. At 11 o’clock the big parade began to move down Main street with the stars and stripes in the lead, J.B. Ziegler as marshal of the day, the Odessa brass band, calathumpians [Editor’s note: Callithump: A somewhat riotous parade, accompanied with the blowing of tin horns and other discordant noises] and floats. When the parade broke ranks J.B. Ziegler made a short but impressive speech, part English and German, that the latter might appreciate the meaning of the national holiday. Attorney Frederick J. Hoagland of this city read the Declaration in a very impressive manner. The day was one of pleasure and every one seemed to enjoy themselves. Sports. Horse race, running, Cap, owned by Peter Saunders, first prize, $25; second prize, $5, Charley, owned by O.W. Kennedy. Pony race, won by Peter Schmith, $10. Fat men’s race, Dave Holmes, first prize, $1; John Dopp, second, 50 cents. Hundred yard dash, free for all—Holmes, first prize. Boy’s race, won by Kouch. Lemon diving contest. Sack race, first prize, $1, A.L. Miller. Tug of war, won by Irish, prize, $10. Best waltzing, prize, gold medal, Miss Martha Voss and John Crawford.” (Original Odessa Record: 7-05-1901)

The 1902 celebration in Odessa had greater activities and races planned, and heavy clouds came in for the event and “it rained almost incessantly. With all the committee members worried that it might be a total cancellation, the patience of a few saved the celebration by deciding to wait out the storm. The schedule was only set back a few hours and the program went along as planned. Country dwellers came into town as the skies brightened and the day was considered a Grand Success.


Tuesday evening, June 27, at 6:30 p.m. the Harrington Historic Preservation Committee met at the Harrington School in what is called the Room of Requirement in the elementary wing. Notes from the meeting did not arrive in a timely manner.


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