In the year of 1858, the town of Galion was abuzz with anticipation for the 82nd anniversary of American independence. Townsfolk had decided to commence their grand celebration on July 3, as July 4 fell on a Sunday.
That morning, a summer shower had swept through Galion, washing away the dust and heat of the previous days. As the town clock struck 7:30, people began to arrive from far and wide. By 9:00, the crowd had swelled to a grand total of 5,000, a vast concourse of patriotic citizens ready to honor their nation’s birthday.
At 8:30, the Santa Clara Calvary, a regiment of 80 men in uniforms that could only be described as a delightful array of styles and appearances, took their place at the west end of Main Street. They were led by the resounding melodies of Bates’ Brass Band and a team of four sturdy horses. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Fire brigade formed on South Street, ready to march in unison. As the clock struck 9:00, both groups began their march toward the Depot, where they were met by the Marion Brass Band, Marion Fire Company, and a host of visitors from Marion. The town was abuzz with the sound of brass music, the clip-clop of horse hooves, and the joyous laughter of the townsfolk.
From there, the procession marched through the principal streets of Galion. They paraded from South Street to Atwood, from Atwood to Columbus, from Columbus to Main, and finally from Main to the Public Square. A wooden platform had been erected on the town pump, from which Father Puffer, a local figure of great respect and renown, gave his remarks. He was known far and wide as an orator and a genius, but above all, as a true patriot. His stirring words of patriotism and unity echoed throughout the square, inspiring all those who listened.
A highlight of the celebration was the demonstration by Fire Engine #1. Galion’s aerial truck, fondly named “Let Her Squirt,” showcased its capability to throw water up to 100 feet, a sight that brought cheers and claps from the onlookers.
Music filled the air as four brass bands took turns performing. The harmonious melodies intermingled with the jovial chatter and laughter of the townsfolk, creating a cheerful symphony of sounds. It was indeed, as the Bucyrus Journal remarked, a celebration long to be remembered for its diversity of performers, the fun, frolic, and fuss.
However, the festivities were not without a touch of drama. After the communal dinner, a quarrel broke out amongst some of the attendees. The Mayor, in his dedication to maintaining peace, tried to intervene but unfortunately received a rather severe blow to his head for his troubles.
Despite the small hiccup, the Independence Day celebration in Galion of 1858 was indeed a day of joy, unity, and patriotism, a testament to the spirit of the town and its citizens.
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