Austin and the Fourth of July

Published 2:42 pm Sunday, July 3, 2016

I hope you are having a wonderful Independence Day holiday weekend.

George Hormel’s brother, William Henry, not only celebrated the nation’s birthday on July 4, but he also celebrated his own. He would have been 154 years old on Monday. As a Presbyterian minister, William Henry served the church in Austin for several years. I like to think that he contributed to the success of the George A. Hormel and Company through diligent prayers of success for his brother’s endeavor.

One of my sons was born on Halloween so I understand what it is like to share a birthday with a nationally recognized holiday. Although Halloween doesn’t carry the significance of Independence Day, being given an overabundance of free candy on your birthday might be just as meaningful to a child as always seeing fireworks.

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Historically speaking, the tradition of shooting fireworks in celebration of our nation’s freedom was said to be the dream of John Adams. According to, “Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, he [Adams] envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated ‘with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.’”

Throughout the Austin Daily Herald and the Mower County Transcript there are many stories of Fourth of July festivities. The July 3, 1895, the transcript reported the schedule of activities planned for the fourth which were held in the third ward, near the freight depot.

“There will be the usual program of music, addresses, etc., in the morning, and the afternoon will be filled up with sports of various kinds. The program includes a grand trade procession and a Wild West show. There will be a balloon ascension and a large open air pavilion will be arranged for dancing. A display of fireworks will be held in the evening.” 

On July 8, 1908, the Herald wrote, “It was glorious.  The celebration was a success in every sense of the word and Austin did things right, the fireworks were grand and the whole affair was a record-breaker in celebration history.”

The tradition of parades and fireworks were started in our country and our community many years ago.  The Hormel family had even more to celebrate on this holiday.  Light a firecracker for William Henry if you think about it.


What’s happening at the HHH

The Bazillions

6:30 p.m., July 18

Kid friendly rock ‘n’roll performed by Twin Cities parents and educators. Duo brings songs to life through illustration, animation and activities. Free.


Teddy Bear Tours

9 and 9:45 a.m., July 20

Pre-register for these fun, interactive tours intended to introduce young people to our historic home. Cost is $6 per family of three, $1 for each additional person. Call 507-33-4243.