The 4th of July in Dayton
The first Independence Day celebration in Dayton was held in 1809. The townspeople assembled on the riverbank, marched to the courthouse, sang together, listened to speeches and heard artillery salutes, and then marched again, meeting at the home of Henry Disbrow for dinner. Activities included wrestling and shooting matches, foot and horse races and dancing into the evening.
In 1810, there were 17 toasts made to mark the occasion including these memorable ones:
Toast No. 3: To “The Constitution of the United States – May its duration be as lasting as the solar system.”
Toast No. 10: To “Agriculture – May our plowshares never rust, and may hungry of nations be fed with our superabundance.”
Toast No. 11: To “Manufacturers – May our exports exceed our imports.”
At the 1815 Fourth of July celebration, Dayton women were finally welcomed to join the parade march.
In 1816, one hundred guests had dinner together, enjoyed a vocal concert at the home of William Bomberger and attended a ball at Col. David Reid’s inn.
In 1822 at dawn, Dayton awoke to the sound of church bells and cannon fire. During the parade, four Revolutionary War soldiers carried the flag – Col. Robert Patterson, Simeon Broadwell, Richard Bacon and Isaac Spining. Nineteen patriotic toasts were given that day. Six more from fellow soldiers. Isaac Spining’s toast was “May the cause that first inspired the heroes of ’76 to shake off
the chains of slavery be very dear and supported by all Americans.” And the final toast of the day was to “The heroes of the Revolution that fell to secure the blessings of this day to us: may their children so maintain them that America may be a republic on the last day of time.”
The 1837 Fourth of July celebration was dubbed the celebration that wasn’t. Billed as a grand affair, the opening of the Miami Canal at Piqua was slated for the 4th of July. More than 1,000 people waited patiently for the arrival of Gen. William Henry Harrison in the first canal boat. Neither Harrison nor the boat arrived that day as there was not enough water in the canal.
The ladies of Dayton, determined to establish an orphan asylum, held an Independence Day picnic to raise funds in 1843.
This glimpse back at these early celebrations show that they were about community, sharing and remembering the sacrifices that others made during the birth of our nation.
John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Of course, the Declaration of Independence was debated in Congress and the wording revised and was finally approved two days later on July 4.
Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!
Your friends at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
Woodland Cemetery, founded in 1841, is one of the nation’s five oldest rural garden cemeteries and a unique cultural, botanical and educational resource in the heart of Dayton, Ohio as you will see as you read through this new MostMetro.com series. Visit the cemetery and arboretum and take one of the many tours Woodland offers free of charge. Most of Dayton’s aviation heroes, inventors and business barons are buried at Woodland.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is located at 118 Woodland Avenue off of Brown Street near the UD Campus. The Woodland Office is open Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm and Saturday 8 am to 12 pm. The Cemetery and Arboretum are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. The Mausoleum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, call 937-228-3221 or visit the Woodland website.