Looking Back to Our Past: Arlington’s 4th of July Celebration of 1877
By Office of Communication
Posted on June 29, 2018, June 29, 2018


Arlington's popular 4th of July festivities, which draw tens of thousands of people to Downtown over a two-day period, are lot flashier than how Arlingtonians celebrated Independence Day 140 years ago.

Arlington Historical Society member Stephen Barnes recently transcribed an account about Arlington's first known 4th of July celebration, which was published in the Dallas World Herald on July 5, 1877.

Barnes noted that Dallas had decided "not to boisterously celebrate the 4th of July" in 1877. People from other North Texas communities had come for the Dallas celebrations in the past. An excursion train loaded with members of the Dallas community, and a few reporters, headed west to Arlington and Fort Worth to observe the festivities.

This look into the past is a part of the Landmark Preservation Commission's mission to increase awareness of Arlington's rich history. Learn more about the work of the Landmark Preservation Commission at www.arlingtontx.gov/pds/lpc or emailing [email protected].

The Excursion Train!

"Yesterday a train of six passenger coaches drew up to the Pacific depot to carry passengers to Arlington and Fort Worth. In a short time, it was filled with gentlemen and ladies, all in good spirits and ready to enjoy themselves when the opportunity offered. Although the train was intended to leave at half- past seven, it did not make its departure until an hour later. The Stonewall Greys and Lamar Rites were also onboard, enroute for Fort Worth. Conductor Chamberlain was in charge, and he handled the train in an admirable manner. Shortly after Eagle Ford, the engine ran into a lot of cattle on the track, knocking the Fourth of July out of an old brindle cow. At about half-past nine the train stopped at Arlington."

"As soon as the train came in sight of this thriving little village, a great crowd could be seen collected at the depot awaiting the arrival of the visitors, among whom was expected the military, the citizens of that town being under the impression that they were going to spend the day with them.

The Grand Marshall of the day, Mr. M.W. McNatt, was at the train waiting to conduct the military and visitors to the grove. When the train halted, quite a number of passengers, including, our reporter, proceeded to the grove, and there found everything prepared for a grand jubilation.

An immense barbeque had been prepared, and animals enough roasted to have fed three thousand people. From all directions people could be seen coming in, some on horseback, some in conveyances, and some on foot.

Numbers of pretty girls, handsomely dressed, and busy as bees, were flitting about arranging the tables, and laughing, chatting and conversing with all. The scene was so pleasing that our reporter sincerely wished he could have remained the entire day. As it was, he nearly got left, as the train, which had been sidetracked waiting for the train from Fort Worth to pass, was moving out.

The program of the day's doing was, reading of the declaration of independence by Mr. Tom Brenson, and the delivery of an oration by Colonel W. J. Crawford, of Dallas. There were also games of all kinds, swinging, croquet parties, baseball matches and target shooting.

The following gentlemen, who composed the committee on arrangements, were a sufficient guarantee that the affair would reflect credit on the busy little town that got up the celebration: Captain Brenson, W.A. Bledsoe, D.C. Hackney, A. Miller, Colonel Harris, Tom Harris, Mr. Swan, M.H. Hamilton, M.J.C. Middleton, William Harrison, John C. Vaugh, and other gentlemen, whose names we were unable to learn.

In the evening the large freight depot of the Pacific road, having been previously cleared of all freight, and tastefully decorated, was brilliantly lighted, and served as a rendezvous for the beauty of the county, and the young gallants who desired to trip the light fantastic toe.

As our reporter passed through last night the ball was at its height, and we warrant, in no town along the line, was the Fourth more heartily enjoyed or thoroughly celebrated than in the thriving town of Arlington."

Landmark Preservation Commission
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