loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
Pioneer's Fourth

Pioneer's Fourth

GRHC - July 4th, 2012

The village of Grand Rapids had rousing Fourth of July celebrations from its very beginning in 1833.


In 1833, the pioneer family of Joel Guild had been here just eleven days, and had scarcely begun building their house at the foot of Monroe Street. The ladies, and those of the trading station took tea together, and there is a tradition that Uncle Louis Campau and Uncle Joel, remembered the Fourth temperately, with a slight moistening of the lips. The missionary on the west side tried to explain to the Native Americans why the Fourth of July was a day of jubilee among the Americans.

The following year the men of the village, with Robert Barr and his fiddle at the head, marched up and down the Indian trail, which later became Monroe Street. They sang and shouted and fiddled and hurrahed.

They had more marching across the river where many Native Americans joined in the sport. Chief Blackskin laughed then, if he never did at any other time in his life. A canoe rides down the river and back followed. What the fur traders and the priest did, nobody bothered to record.

Later in 1837 the maiden voyage of the new steamer, Governor Mason, provided an exciting excursion down the river to Grandville and back. The celebration included an oration on the boat with music provided by a bugle. Four liberty poles were raised at Grandville, but not one was standing at nightfall. One pioneer called it the liveliest Fourth he ever saw.

Full Details

TitlePioneer's Fourth
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; celebrations; Fourth of July
Pubdate StringJuly 4th, 2012

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC