Celebrating the Fourth

Geneseo's celebration of Independence Day 1876 began with a National salute at sunrise. Bells were tolled and cannons fired from every village and hamlet throughout the county. The day dawned calm and clear and, as recorded in the Livingston Republican, “the birds felt the inspiration and gave vent to their patriotism in their sweetest songs.”

Within a. few hours the weather had changed, but not the mood of the day. The parade, which was to form at ten o'clock, was delayed for nearly an hour by a violent rainstorm. By eleven the weather had cleared and the procession began, consisting of two bands, soldiers, the fire department and their new Silsby Steam Engine, a golden chariot carrying 13 young ladies dressed in the fashion of 1776 representing the 13 original states, and two large wagons carrying 38 little girls all dressed in white with bright colored sashes and each waving a flag symbolizing the then 38 states of the Union.

Rain continued a threat so the procession, after marching through the streets of the village, proceeded to the Normal School Chapel, instead of the Fair Grounds, for religious and patriotic ceremonies, followed by lunch served by the ladies. In the afternoon the games and races scheduled were held on Main Street despite another hard downpour. The mud in the then unpaved street was ankle deep, but the enthusiastic crowd remained to watch and cheer the sack races, potato races, the chase for the greased pig, and other games.

By evening the rains had ceased, and the villagers reassembled, joined by friends from other towns and villages for the day's grand finale. The spectacular display of fireworks which took place was like none had seen before. Later, as the tired crowds headed towards their homes, the moon was shining, the night still and silent, and the village peaceful and secure.