Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July, Early 1900s

Joe Herring, Jr., a friend, fellow "history geek" and local columnist wrote about how Kerrville has celebrated the Fourth of July over the years.  In last weekend's edition of the Daily Times he wrote, "In 1902, Kerrville enjoyed a grand celebration at the Kerrville Park, which I think was the old West Texas Fairgrounds."  He went on to talk about the festivities that day.

Joe's column reminded me of a family photo I have in my collection and I can't help but wonder  if it was taken on July 4, 1902.  Here's the photo:

Someone had written "July 4 Barbecue" on the back of the photo.  The short couple on the far right are my grandfather, William Lanza Council and his first wife, Leah Steagall Council.  I don't know who the other people in this photo are, but would love to know.

This is a photo that's fun to study, from the pouch hanging on one of the ladies' belts to all the stuff going on in the background.  There's lots of fun stuff to see.

Behind the group of ladies and gentlemen, there's a pavilion-type building, a tent, and a group of men in the grove of trees behind my grandfather's right shoulder.  Here's a closeup of the tent:

Looks like a a barbecue!  When I read Joe's column this week I couldn't help but wonder if this was taken at the 1902 celebration.  My grandfather and Leah were married in 1900.  This is before their daughter was born in 1907.  My guess is this photo was taken sometime between 1901 and 1905 - so the chances are pretty good. 

According to Joe, the 1902 celebration featured a foot race, sack race, high jump, ladies' foot race, greasy pole climbing, wheel barrow race, barbecue, speeches, basketball game and many other activities.

Today's Fourth of July celebrations look very different from those over a hundred years ago.  While I am known to wax nostalgic for days gone by, I am so glad those long white dresses and big hats are no longer considered proper summer attire for Kerrville ladies!

Have a wonderful holiday!


  1. Great post and love the photo! Hopefully someone will know the others, too.

  2. Lanza, I think I have a copy of this same picture in my collection. I can't see it too closely here, but my Grandfather may be in the dark suit, left... Could that be Susie, 2nd lady from left? This or a similar picture may have named "Col. Taylor" for the older gentleman. Was there a Col. Taylor in Kerrville?
    Will have to work on this. Dana

  3. 2nd note: Second lady from left definitely does seem to be Susie Steagall. Picture was in Susie's collection. Man in dark suit to left NOT my grandfather. Man in light suit too young to be Col. Taylor. I feel sure I have other pictures with this same background somewhere. More later.