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July 4th In A Small Town

Dressed up for the 4th
Museum Front Porch

This year, the annual 4th of July parade will pass by the Bellamy House. As I got ready to decorate this year, I wondered, exactly how many parades this old house has witnessed pass by her front porch. The Bellamy House was built in 1880. She (as I like to affectionately refer to the house as) has withstood many years on West Mountain Street. In the early 1900's, a tornado swept through Kernersville and tore down the Church that stood beside the Bellamy House, but she kept standing. She has watched over the many children who have climbed the old pear tree in the front yard to steal a pear. She has watched progress grow in Kernersville and change the shape of our downtown area.

WWII service Board
Service Board Dedicated in Kville 1944

As I dug around to find more information on our annual parade, I discovered that Kernersville enjoyed some 4th of July parades in the late 1930's, up until 1940. After that, the United States would enter World War II, and folks around here were more concerned with supporting the war effort. An astonishing number of people from Kernersville served in WWII. In 1940, the town had around 2,100+ citizens. In March of 1944, a Service Board was dedicated in downtown Kernersville that listed all the names of the men who were currently enlisted in the US military. There were 528 names on that board. That is about 25% of Kernersville's population. The board didn't list the woman who were serving and it was created before the war came to an end. World War II didn't end until September of 1945. So, it is a safe bet to assume more than 528 people in Kernersville served in the military during World War II. For a small town of around 2,108 people, everyone had to know someone fighting. A great reminder that our freedom, the freedom we love to celebrate, has never been given for free.

committee minutes for 1948 4th
4th of July Committee minutes

But, by 1948, the Town of Kernersville was ready to celebrate our Independence once again. This time, bigger and better than ever. To the left is a picture of the record book the Museum received recently. It is the minutes of the 4th of July Committee and in them we find the decision to add a horse show to the year's festivities, as well as the normal parade, a baseball game and a square dance. It is clear, by 1948, Kernersville was ready to return to it's long standing tradition of celebrating!

I truly enjoyed searching through these record books, reading the minutes of meetings that discussed how to proceed with the 4th of July celebration that would set the tone for so many celebrations to come. I still don't know exactly how many years the parade has passed by my favorite "old girl" in Kernersville (the Bellamy House), but I do know that she is all dressed up this year and ready for the party! The Museum will be closed on the 4th of July, but our porch will be open, sit down a while and enjoy celebration. I know the Bellamy House will!

front porch pots
front porch pots

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