1878 First Celebration

The 4th of July, 1836, was the first national anniversary day especially celebrated in Knox county. The exercises were held in Sanburn’s Grove, near Knoxville, and were attended by between 600 and 700 people, -- one dollar a couple being charged for the dinner, which was sumptuously served. The meat, which consisted of beef, veal, mutton and pork, was roasted in a pit in the ground, by Harrison Bell. Col. Herman Knox was very enthusiastic over the affair and took an active part, furnishing from his store the dishes used. Not being able to clean off the tables that night, as doubtless all wanted to partake and not miss any of the pleasures of the festive occasion, “Old Black Joe” was hired to stand guard over them until next morning.
This was a memorable celebration, and for its magnitude at the time many thought it would scarcely ever be surpassed. Indeed, one of the prominent men in addressing another said, “If you live here for 20 years, you will never see this beaten.”
Elder Gardner Bartlett made the opening prayer, and Hon. James Knox delivered the oration, after which the audience formed in line and marched to the tables spread under the boughs of a large tree.

Contributed by Pat White and Charlotte Babicki, extracted from the 1878 History of Knox County, Illinois, published by Charles C. Chapman & Co., Chicago, page 120.

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