While Special Collections & Archives is closed Tuesday in of observance of Independence Day, here are several diary entries from a variety of individuals, soldiers and civilians, at home or away, describing their thoughts and observations on July 4th from 1863-1933.
James F. Overholser, a Preble County resident, enlisted in July 1862 and served with Company D, 81st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, until 1865. In July 1863, Company D was guarding a railway bridge outside of Pocahontas, Tennessee, just to the northwest of Corinth, Mississippi. Overholser’s entry for July 4, 1863, reads:
Hot put up our tents today. There was a a national salute of 34 guns fired at noon today by the Battery. Large (SP?) amount of men drunk and plenty of fighting going on among the men. It was the poor grade of whiskey that did the fighting.
July 3-5, 1863 (MS-5)
Grafton Claggett Kennedy (1859-1909) was a raised on a farm in Harrison Township and later worked as an attorney with Kennedy, Munger, & Kennedy. On Tuesday, July 4, 1882, he wrote:
Raining Cold. Gene & I went fishing. Stayed till noon and caught nothing. After dinner took my reading. Helped take care of Uncle Chip! Mowed weeds in evening in orchard. To bed at 9:30P.M.
July 3-5, 1882 (MS-146)
On July 4, 1918, Palmer B. Coombs (1893-1959) was serving in France as a sailor with the U.S. Naval Railway Battery #1, American Expeditionary Force. Coombs arrived in France on June 8, 1918, and within several weeks of this entry Battery #1 would move toward the front lines. His diary entry for the day reads: “Parade, AM. St. Nazaire afternoon, LaBoule evening.”
June 24-July 19, 1918 (MS-182)
In 1933, Florence Brown (1896-1937) was living at 932 Kammer Avenue with her husband, Edward B. Brown, and two children. July 4th, 1933, in her own words:
Tues. July 4
Well Ed is off again today been off since Sat. Drove up to Arcanum this afternoon, come home about 9 o’clock. Saw the fireworks at the Miami Valley Golf Club, come on home & out past Forest Park saw the last of them.
July 4, 1933, Dayton, Ohio (MS-478).
Hopefully, all of you will document your Fourth of July, so 100 years from now our descendants can look back to see how we celebrated the holiday. Please note the Overholser and Coombs diaries have been scanned and are available anytime through CORE Scholar. The Kennedy and Brown diaries can be viewed by visiting us on the 4th floor of Dunbar Library during regular hours. We will open again Wednesday morning, July 5, at 8:30am.