An unusual feature of Boise’s Fourth of July in 1875 was that those in charge of the celebration that year were nearly all German-born members of the Boise City Turn Verein Society. Their ad in the Idaho Tri-weekly Statesman on June 15th read “1776!-1875! CELEBRATION of the GLORIOUS FOURTH – to be held at the PAVILION on Monday, July 5th, 1875! Under the auspices of the BOISE CITY TURN VEREIN.”
The Turn Verein was a German social and gymnastic society whose members fought for the Union during the Civil War. The Statesman noted: “Hurrah for the Turners! They are going to celebrate the coming Fourth of July whether anyone else does or not. We are glad to know that the fires of ’76 will be again lighted in our city on this memorable day. We say go ahead Turners, others will fall in when the drums begin to beat.”
(The Fourth came on the Sabbath that year, so the noisy and sometimes drunken celebration was moved to Monday, July 5.)
On June 29, the paper noted: “The Liberty Car, which is to carry the youth and beauty of Boise City, on next Monday, was finished yesterday by Messrs. Ben Anderson and Geo. Englehard. After its completion it was taken down Main Street and excited much curiosity. It will be a ‘thing of beauty’ on the 5th of July, and to the fair ones who will have the honor of riding in it, the remembrance of the occasion will be a ‘joy forever.’”
The order of the parade that day was listed: “1- Music, 2-President, Orator, Reader, and Chaplain in carriages, 3- Vice-presidents in carriages, 4- Liberty Car, 5- Boise City Turn Verein, 6- Public, Private and Sabbath School Children, 7- Citizens on Foot, 8- Citizens in Carriages, 9- Citizens on horseback.
“Dancing to commence at 2 P.M. Recess from 5:30 to 8 P.M., Dancing to be continued after 8 o’clock. Parties wishing to rent Bars or Stands are requested to apply to the superintendent of grounds. Tickets for dancing, afternoon and evening, $3.
“Order of Ceremonies: 1- Singing Star-Spangled Banner. 2- Reading Declaration of Independence. 3- Singing Red White and Blue. 4- Oration. 5- Lunch.”
On July 3, 1875, the Statesman was enthusiastic over the Liberty Car: “The car of liberty is already finished. It presents a magnificent appearance, more appropriate and inviting than anything of the kind heretofore presented to the public on such an occasion. The Turners well understand how to arrange things… The stars, flags, and other symbols borne by forty-one chosen ladies and misses will be worth going many miles to see, and if we mistake not, there will be great numbers present to contemplate this object of attraction, as well as to join in the general exercises of the day.”
On July 6, the Statesman noted: “Powder. After ten o’clock Saturday night the noise of gun powder rose on the midnight air. To be sure, the great Fourth was near, and to the young, noise and happiness, patriotic enthusiasm, and Chinese crackers are synonymous and convertible terms. If they wish one day in the year, or even two days, to sit up all night so as to usher in the day with noises, to accompany themselves with fire and flame, concussion and reverberation, and lager beer, and to wind up with weariness, blisters and colic – why ’tis the Fourth of July and a free country.”
Arthur Hart writes this column on Idaho history for the Idaho Statesman each Sunday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.