Firing a cannon at a Fourth of July celebration in Brownville, Nebraska, in the early 1900s. History Nebraska RG3190-23a
Two boys in Beaver City published their own little newspaper in the 1890s. Brothers Willie and Jay Green called their four-page, semimonthly paper The Kid. Here’s their take on the local Independence Day celebration in 1897, which included not only speeches and parades, but also elements of popular “Wild West”-style entertainment, and even a balloon ascension:
Beaver City celebrated the Fourth of July on Saturday, July 3. The celebration was opened by the street parade in which the band led, followed by a wagon load of the prettiest and smallest girls in town. Then came different wagons with the advertisements of the several merchants and druggists, and last of all two clowns, one riding a baer [sic] and the other leading it, which of course was gotten up to advertise Peter Baer & Co.
After the parade had marched around the square, they at once marched to the court house, where a large crowd assembled under the shade of a large tent and a bowery to listen to Rev. L. S. Boyce, of Hiawatha, Kans., formerly a pastor of the Beaver City Presbyterian church, make the first oration of the day. Next came Hon. G. W. Norris [the future US Senator], after which the crowd dispersed for dinner.
In the afternoon the first thing was a number of races which did not come off for some good reason. This was followed by some glass ball shooting by Prof. W. T. Collings, after which the crowd gathered on the hill east of Dr. Butler’s residence to witness some range riding by Col. Bill Webber, and an Indian Massacre of which the Col. was in charge. During the massacre the chief accidently ran into some barbed wire, throwing the horse and rider. The rider escaped injuries but the horse will not be ready for use for several weeks.
The next thing was the balloon ascension by Prof. L. Brownie. He had bad luck with his furnas [sic] in filling the balloon and at once went to work on a new one and after supper he made his ascension. It was so dark that it could hardly be seen, so he will try it again this afternoon, and we hope he will have better success this time.