The people of Hawley, Pennsylvania, like so many small towns- and bigger ones- across the country, have always loved a parade.
The Fourth of July parade enjoyed each year has been held annually since 1967 when the Hawley Public Library organized one in conjunction with a lawn social fund-raiser. Library President William J. Adams had charge. A few year later, Ann Morgan, who was on Council six years and mayor for 28, started coordinating the parade. Since 2010 the parade has continued as a community event run by Mayor Kevin Hawk and the Borough.
Prior to 1967, Independence Day in Hawley lacked a parade for quite some time. When and why it was discontinued has yet to be found in research. An account has been located of a big celebration in Hawley for the Centennial of the Nation, in 1876.
The Honesdale Citizen newspaper- a direct forerunner of The News Eagle, carried a detailed story by an unnamed reporter known only as "Observer."
July 4, 1876 opened in Hawley with the ringing of bells and a salute of 100 guns. At 8 a.m., a procession made up of almost entirely horse-drawn vehicles came together and paraded through the principal street. Riding on a bay horse was the "Chief Marshal," who was not identified. The marshal led the parade, attended by three mounted aides.
Following them was a band drawn by eight grey horses.
After this was a group of 1812 veterans in old uniforms, with a cannon and muskets drawn by four horses.
--- Early fire company?
The third vehicle was a hook and ladder company with equipment, pulled by four spans of oxen. This is of note, since Hawley Fire Department did not organize until 1898. Prior to that it is known there were bucket brigades, but this reference may indicate something more.
Hawley lacked any steam or hand fire engines in 1885, and there were no hose carts, according to the Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Hawley published that year. The huge inferno that engulfed the Bellemonte Silk Mill in 1894 was fought by passing water buckets.
There was an organized fire department in Honesdale which had four horse-drawn Silsby steamers, acquired in 1874. Honesdale had a huge Centennial parade that day starting between 9 and 10 a.m. It could be that one of of Honesdale's fire apparatus was in Hawley's parade. Silsbys weren't ladder trucks, however; they were pumpers. One of the Silsbys, it should be noted, is still owned by Honesdale Fire Department (Protection Engine Co. 3) and is prominent in parades to this day.
Back to Hawley's lineup...
Army and Navy personnel followed, apparently on foot.
Next came a large float pulled by four horses. On board were 38 young women representing each of the States in the Union at that time, dressed in white. They carried flags and were in a carriage with seats arranged in the form of a cone. Seated on top the cone as the Goddess of Liberty.
Page 2 of 3 - The Solidarity Society of the Catholic Church came next, riding in a vehicle pulled by four horses and representing the States.
The local German Reading Club was represented with three vehicles, one pulled by four horses and each of the others drawn by a team or two.
Following in line was the Second Division, led by a marshal on a black horse and attended by aides. Behind him was a band in a vehicle drawn by four black horses.
Each division appears to have expressed a theme. Patriotism and history marked the first; local industries and commerce in the next.
The article's reporter made note that one of the local businesses represented in the parade was far too graphic. The owner of a butcher shop demonstrated his expertise during the parade by slaughtering a calf.
After the parade, the public assembled at a new barn owned by a Mr. Ames where a patriotic program was held. A German Mannerchor performed a song. The Declaration of Independence was recited. The Irish Band offered music. Rev. J. V. Newell (Hawley Methodist-Episcopal) gave a speech. The Glee Club the led in song. Father John P. O'Malley (of St. Philomena - now Queen of Peace Parish) read Washington's Farewell Address.
That didn't end it.
The 8 a.m. parade was the first of three in Hawley held that day.
There was what was called a "Masquerade Parade" at 2 p.m. Then at 4 p.m. there was a procession of fraternal organizations, including the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows and the Father Matthew Society. The third parade enjoyed the accompaniment of Irish and German bands.
--- Up Honesdale way
No doubt Hawley was appropriately festooned with flags in abundance, and certainly picnicking and firecrackers were the order of the day. At least we know it was so in the County Seat, Honesdale, where Honesdale newspaper accounts described an even larger public explosion of patriotism.
Delaware & Hudson and Erie ran special trains to bring the large number of visitors to Honesdale. Church and civic groups planned refreshments. The town was adorned in red, white and blue, and Civil War veterans decorated the monument in Central Park. Honesdale's observance of the Centennial started Sunday evening July 2nd with a union church service.
A torchlight procession was held on July 3rd. The Fourth dawned in Honesdale with a cannon firing from Irving Cliff, where a 75 foot, decorated Liberty Pole was seen. After a grand morning parade there was a program in Central Park, followed by a community picnic.
Following a special baseball game, Honesdale had a schedule of amusing races such as wheelbarrow race, sack race and tub race set for that evening, and fireworks. A thundershower prevented most of the races but the fireworks went on as scheduled on the banks of the Lackawaxen in Honesdale.
Page 3 of 3 - --- Busy town
Hawley, at the time of the Nation's 100th anniversary, was bustling with the movement of anthracite coal, by rail and by canal. The Pennsylvania Coal Company Gravity Railroad was in full operation, bringing its coal to the waiting Erie steam train at Hawley. Passenger coaches traveled twice a day to Dunmore and back on the gravity system and sent riders to Honesdale. The D&H Canal was active, and its Hawley basin operated in the future park. Levi Barker was busy making canal boats. Mills and a large tannery lined the falls. The townspeople were active in commerce.
Details from the parade lineup reveal an active sense of community, with lively interest in band music, close ethnic fraternity by Hawley's Irish and German populations, and unashamed fervor for the United States of America. There were certainly a lot of guns, and a great many horses.
Much lay ahead, with the community forming a borough and separating from Palmyra Township in 1884. Soon to come was the Hawley Graded School (1879), Bellemonte Silk Mill (1881) and numerous other factories turning out glass, textiles and other goods. Steam train service would soon expand.
Hawley would have plenty of reasons ahead for a parade.
We can be grateful for correspondent accounts about Hawley in the Honesdale papers of this period still available for researchers. The Hawley Times began publication in 1874 but copies from the 19th Century are not known to have survived. In any case, the Times had an interruption of publication in 1876 and was not produced in July.
Did anyone take pictures of Hawley's 1876 parade? Ludolph (Louis) Hensel, the celebrated Hawley photographer, did not locate his business in Hawley until 1878. We may have to leave what it looked like to our imagination.
• Honesdale Citizen, July 13, 1876
• Things Forgotten: Wayne County 1876-1889 by Dr. Vernon Leslie (1990)