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Earliest Known Celebration

Horace Aldrich, one of the earliest settlers in Downers Grove Township, held possibly the earliest Independence Day celebration in the area at his farmhouse on Ogden Avenue in 1839, as reported by the Chicago American newspaper on 19 July 1839:

 "A numerous company of ladies and gentlemen assembled on the 4th of July, at the house of Horace Aldrich to celebrate that eventful day; and although the notice given was short, the number attending, their smiling faces, the spirited ceremonies, and the cheer of our host, left nothing to be desired. The company walked in procession to a neighboring grove, where the committee had made arrangements for their reception. The Declaration of Independence was read, in a style peculiarly fitting that important document, by John W. Walker, Judge of Probate. The oration was delivered by James C. Hatch, Esq., in which he enforced the propriety of commemorating the ‘Glorious Fourth’ by pointing out the lessons it should teach, the advantages gained, and by contrasting and showing our celebration of that day to proceed from causes and principles, to which the celebrations of the most enlightened nations, ancient or modern, ought not be compared. 

"The ceremonies being completed, the company returned in the same order and sat down in the garden to a dinner, the excellence of which was acknowledged by the simple justice done by all to the abundance of good things produced. S. M. Skinner, Esq., was President, and N. B. Moreton Vice-President."[1] 

"Judging from the general tone of this gathering and from the known population of the county in 1839, friends must have been invited from far and wide. Can we not picture the scene as the celebration came to an end: as the sun went down and the shadows lightened, the guests bid good-bye, walked out to a neighboring grove where they had hitched their horses; mounted, or climbed back into their wagon, and were off for home, to arise early the following morning.”[2]


[1] Chicago American, 19 July 1839.

[2] Dugan, Hugh G. 1949. Village On The County Line: A History of Hinsdale, Illinois. 35-37. 

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