Livingston Co

New York

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Fourth Of July Celebration 1838


from Lockwood Doty's History of Livingston County, 1905

Independence Day was the most important annual community celebration in 19th century Nunda.

The Fourth of July would be a day of socializing, recreation, and arespite from work. More importantly, it was also a day to recount the short but splendid history of the Republic, and to reflect on American ideals and the National spirit.

Nunda's Independence Day of 1838 may have been the grandest ever in the Keshequa Valley. The residents who gathered from miles around not only celebrated another year of independence, but also the great promise of the Genesee Valley Canal.

Nunda had been active in the long fight for the Canal. Finally, after eleven years and hundreds of petitions, the State passed the enabling legislation allowing work to begin. A great celebration, one of the largest in the Valley, had been held in Nunda on May 11, 1836.

By the time this broadside appeared, engineers and construction crews were already digging the man-made river through the Keshequa Valley. As the text below shows, they would be among the honored guests at the ceremonies.

Although it would take almost fifteen more years to finish the Nunda and Portage portion of the Canal, most who attended the Fourth of July festivities in 1838 would see in their life time the both the continued growth of the United States and the realization of the dream of a busy waterway through Nunda.


 Here is the text of the poster (some punctuation has been changed or added.)


Independence '38    Gen. Val. Canal

OFFICERS OF THE DAY. Marshal - Surranus Britton, assised by Utley Spencer. President -- Hon, Charles H. Carroll. Vice Presidents --- Azel Fitch, Hon. Micah Brooks, Eliphalet Tyler, Esq., Hon. Daniel Ashley, Col. Cowner, Jonathan Barron.

Orator - A Clinton Chipman, Esq., Reader - Benedict Bagley, Esq, Chaplain - Rev. Wales Tileston

Committee of the Day - Quartus H. Barrons, Silas Grover, A Clinton Chapman, Roswell G. Bennett, David M. Dake, A. M. Crane, Benedict Bagley, and Walter Whitcomb.

The Engineers upon the Genesee Valley Canal are particularly invited to unite in the festivities of the occasion. Seats will be reserved for the Patriots of the Revolution. Citizens of neighboring towns and counties are invited to attend.


1. A National salute of 26 Guns and the ringing of the bells at Sunrise.

2. At 11 o'clock, at the signal of four guns, the procession will be formed in front of the Nunda House, under the direction of the Marshall and Assistant Marshall of the Day.

   ORDER OF THE PROCESSION I. Music; II. The President and Vice Presidents; III. The Reverend Clergy; IV. Orator and Reader, V. Ladies, VI. Committee of the Arrangements and of the Day; VII. Revolutionary Soldiers; VIII Canal Engineers; IX. Citizens and Strangers; X Lads under 15.
The procession will proceed to the Presbyterian Church and on entering will observe the orders of the Marshal.

3. Music

4. Prayer

5. Reading of the Declaration of Independence

6. Music

7. Oration

8. One Gun and Music

9. Benediction

10. Those gentlemen wishing to dine, will form a procession and repair to the Eagle Tavern, where the festivities of the day will be continued as follows:

      I. Dinner; II. 26 Regular Toasts, with Guns and Music; III. Volunteer Toasts and etc

12. At Sunset 26 Guns and Ringing of the Bells.

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