Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2012 July 4th:The 4th of July -- from J.P. McPherson's Diary

My great-great grandfather James P. McPherson,  his wife Mary, and four young children arrived in Springdale, Wisconsin, on the 30th of May, 1850.  After eight years in New York City, the couple had fully embraced  this new land of theirs and were preparing to build their own home on their own land in Springdale.  Tailoring for friends, as well as working in the fields for himself, friends and neighbors left J.P. precious little time for relaxation.  However, the following entry for his first July 4th in Springdale, where he was to make his home for the next half century, presents a interesting view of this new citizen* of the United States of America:

1850   July 4th,  Thursday  At home all day  -- dullest 4th of July I have passed in America.  Thus I wish to be this time next year will observe the day in a more fashionable way.

However, for the next two years, the Diary reflectes that he would  spend yet another quiet, uneventful 4th of July at home and then visiting his neighbors, the Andersons.  It wasn't until 1853 that James P. McPherson fulfilled his promise of that first July 4th in Springdale.  His diary for that Independence day in 1853 reads as follows:

1853  July 4th, Monday   At Celebration of Independence at Mount Vernon -- made short speech.

Later,   J.P. became quite well known for his political speeches, complete with his sons playing patriotic songs from the back of the wagon,  Eldest Billy played the trumpet; my great grandfather James, the flute; young Jabez, on the drums.  All the while J.P. waved the American flag and made speeches --- wearing his Scotch hat with black ribbons down the back and a thistle emblem on the front.  He knew from whence he came, and  the new land he now called home.  Reportedly, and appropriate for this day,  James Peter McPherson ended his speeches with these words:

Hip Hip Hoo Ray for the USA!!

*Naturalization papers for James P. McPherson signed and issued on 23 October 1849 in NY City.  Witnessed by Alexander Gordon.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. I imagine a Fourth of July spent at the old homestead would have been a little more quiet than any Independence Day extravaganza in the midst of New York City! However, it looks like he did his best to bring a spark to liven things up, once he got established in his part of Wisconsin.

    1. His diary entries were always sparce, but I was very fortunate to have the Centennial History of Springdale and in it folks desscribed J.P. Evidently he was quite colorful in speech and appearance. Thanks for reading. I really look forward to your comments.

  2. Thanks for your nice comment on my blog. What a great way for your great-great grandfather to celebrate July 4th! Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. :)

    1. Thanks for reading this 4th of July offering and of course the comments. Also, I was truly taken with your blog post on "old Ironsides" --- we have a true family connection, though only in the words of OWH.

  3. hi Joan, I've nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award. You can read more about it in my post http://cassmob.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/illuminating-blogger-award/


  4. Pauleen, I just sat down in front of the computer and saw that you had nominated me. Thank you for the nice words of the nomination too. I appreciate the thought and the nomination --- and as soon as it cools down enough to think, I will get back to work here. Thanks again.