Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A few pics from this summer's 2013 event

Families relaxed at the park after the parade.

We received a lot of positive feedback about this band.  They helped create a relaxing and wholesome environment for the park picnic.
"General Lafayette" and local  volunteer and veteran, Juan

                                                                  Kids enjoyed panning for gold with "Wess".

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 4, 1854 - Pioneer Women Provide an Unforgettable "Fourth" in Lafayette

Oregonian, August 12, 1900:

"...I recall the celebration of the Fourth of July at Lafayette, Yamhill County, Oregon, in 1854.  Some weeks before, the women of the village...engaged to make a flag and present it, through the orator of the the Masonic lodge of that place.  The beauty of the banner, as it was given to the breeze with eloquent, patriotic and appreciative words, stirred the latent spark of patriotism in the hearts of all present, and kindled into a glow of enthusiasm, as the speaker concluded, that rent a shout in unison from the lips of the motley little host.  The flag was a handsome one, and as fine a sample of "hand sewing" as our grandmothers could have desired.

Following the oration and the presentation of the flag, came an invitation to a public dinner.  Rude, improvised tables were set in the grove; cherished linens from grandmothers' looms, that had been brought by ox team express across the plains, covered the unsightly boards; sprigs of fir and cedar, bouquets of hollyhocks and pinks, with now and then a bunch of sweet "mission roses" garnished them, and over all the new old flag floated."
-Catherine Amanda Scott Coburn

(Catherine was a writer for the Oregonian, a respected historian on Oregon history according to her obituary, and sister to Abigail Duniway.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Must-See Mini-Series for parents this July 4th season

The HBO mini-series "John Adams" offers a birds-eye view into our country's fight for independence in the 1700s.  It is NOT made for children and has a couple of scary scenes even some more sensitive adults would want to fast-forward.  But the mini-series is worth mentioning on this website because children have a better chance of learning American history  if their parents know it and are committed to teaching it.

"John Adams"  was the recipient of  four Golden Globe awards and thirteen Emmy awards, which is more than any other miniseries in history.  Historians did call producers out on some historical inaccuracies but the re-telling of this American story still offers a good overview.

For a kid-friendly version of the story of our founding fathers, scroll down on the blog to the link about Liberty's Kids - an EXCELLENT cartoon series offered on Netflix.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Finding A U.S. Flag that Was Actually Made In the U.S.

 Friday was Flag Day and some great articles were posted that provided links for finding American flags actually made on American soil.  Here are a couple of those links for those wanting to raise a flag this Fourth of July!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An 1850 Fourth-of-July in Lafayette, Oregon


In 1850, nine years before Oregon became a state, the little frontier town of Lafayette was becoming quite the popular place for settlers to come after arriving off the Oregon Trail.   Read some quotes from a newspaper article below to learn how these Lafayette pioneers celebrated the nation's birthday that year.

It all started with a parade.  
"The procession was formed in the square of Lafayette, by Hon. A. J. Hembree, Marshal, at 11 o'clock, in the following order, and marched to a grove north of the town, where preparation was made for the oration:"

Next, there was music.

Then came a prayer.
"An appropriate prayer was addressed to the Throne of Favor by the Chaplain."

The Declaration of Independence was read and an orator gave a speech.
"Orator of the Day and Reader of the Declaration."

The people ate together.
"After which the procession marched in order, to the south east of the town, and partook of a sumptuous dinner prepared by the liberality of the citizens of Yam Hill."

Toasts were made to remember and honor the birth of our country.  Here are a few of them:
"The day we celebrate:  It gave birth to one of the proudest republics ever known in the annals of the world.  May its return be hailed with gratitude by all Americans." 

"George Washington - His name is embalmed in the hearts of his countrymen.  He was great in goodness, and good in greatness.  May his name be forever remembered by the sons of freedom."

"Our Country - The beacon star of nations - the birth place of freedom.  So long as liberty shall find an abiding place on the earth, May America be hailed as her home."  

 "The Framers of the Declaration of Independence - Their names are immortal - peace to their ashes."

 "The Union - Our watchword and our strength - may the sons of Oregon be always found with willing hearts and hands ready to preserve it."

Oregon Spectator,  "Fourth July Celebration by the Citizens of Yam Hill", July 25, 1850

Commercialism and all the glitz and glam that today's July 4th events offer can sometimes distract us from the real reason we gather each Independence Day.  After a 2000-mile journey to Oregon, our town's pioneers didn't have any of that.  And yet, they had a lot, including their life, each other, and a love for the country they had left behind.  Maybe that's all you need to celebrate this patriotic holiday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

How Can You Appreciate A Country You Do Not Know

Above is a You Tube video of a guy who decided to go to a California beach on July 4th to see how much the general public knows about the history of this patriotic holiday.   As entertaining as it is to watch peoples' responses, the video demonstrates what statistics are showing:  that many Americans don't even know the basics of our country's heritage.

According to a poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, only 58 percent of Americans could tell you the date America declared its independence.  In this same poll, one in four Americans did not know which country we gained our independence from.   In a poll conducted by U.S. Mint, only 57 percent of Americans knew that George Washington led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and only 57 percent knew that Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

The internet is loaded with opinions on why Americans are so ignorant of their history.  The purpose of this article is not to enter a debate about the "why's" of Americans' historical illiteracy.  Rather, this post is meant to challenge us all to become more pro-active about remembering and honoring our roots.  Independence Day provides a perfect platform for doing this. 

In the 1800s, July 4th was more than just a party.  At these events, patriotic hymns were sung, prayers of gratitude were given, long speeches about our nation's past were recited for younger generations to hear, and toasts were made to honor our nation's first leaders.  Sure, they had the picnics and fireworks.  But those things were just the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.   Maybe if we look to the example of our 19th Century ancestors, we can be more intentional on America's birthday and re-discover the "heart and soul" of this patriotic event.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed." - George Washington

  "A frequent recurrence to fundamental absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty and keep a government free." Ben Franklin

 "Trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers." -Former Librarian of Congress, Daniel Boorstin. 


-Oregon Spectator (U of O Libraries)- many articles about Oregon's first July 4th celebrations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Look for the Helpers"

After the Boston Marathon tragedy recently, there were some words from the late "Mr. Rogers" going around on the internet.  Fred Rogers said that when he was a little boy and saw a sad story on the news, his mom would often say to him, "Look for the helpers.  You'll always find people helping."   What a great way to help our children find hope in the middle of hopelessness.

Sometimes these helpers are professionals who put their life on the line every day for others.  But just as often, the helpers are unknown citizens who happened to be in the right place at the right time wanting to help their fellow man.   For these "Average Joe's", there is a program in Yamhill County that exists to provide   free disaster preparedness training so local citizens can effectively help in their neighborhoods and businesses BEFORE the first responders arrive to the scene.

You see, it is common knowledge among experts that at most disasters, "first responders" are not usually the first to respond.    Before professionals are able to find you and then get to you, the FIRST responders - your neighbors, family, friends, co-workers and anyone else present when the disaster takes place - are already at work doing whatever they can.  While everyone is relieved when the professionals arrive, we can't assume they will always be there right when we need them.  That's why this program is so important.

CERT - which stands for "Community Emergency Response Team" - is offered in many cities across the nation.  The Yamhill County CERT program  provides an 8-week training course to any resident or employee in the county. 

When there is no crisis to put their skills into practice, the CERT volunteers stay busy educating the public at fairs and the like and also help with crowd-control at big events.  They're going to be supporting us at our July 4th event this year and we're just thrilled about that.

If you are interested in learning more about CERT and class details, you can go to the following link and email the director.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Halloween isn't the only Holiday for Costumes

The above picture on the left shows a local Girl Scout dressed as a pioneer girl, in memory of the Lafayette pioneer women of 1854.  At a Fourth-of-July event held that year, there was no flag to to be found for the celebration (and no easy way to go get one - many had just arrived off the Oregon Trail).  So the ladies of Lafayette came together to hand sew a flag.
Thanks to the Yamhill County Historical Society who loaned us their pioneer costumes, our girls looked like real 19th Century "lassies" and learned about pioneer history in the process.

The "soldier" in the above right photo was a  Revolutionary War soldier at one of our events.  His mom used his old baseball pants for knickers and turned a cheap, kids cowboy hat into a tri-corn hat.  A seamstress altered a woman's blazer for them and 'Voile!' - he looked like a true "blue coat" (as seen in the above photo).

Letting kids dress up like historical characters is an incredible way to make history fun both for the parents and kids.  It brings history to life and helps a child make a personal connection to the past.  What better day to do that than on our nation's birthday? 

The internet is loaded with costume websites where you can browse the different characters available.  They have everything from George Washington to fictional American icons like "Lady  Liberty" and "Uncle Sam".   Here's just a few such sites:

Even if your kids won't be in a parade, these costumes would make for great conversation starters at your next Fourth-of-July bash.  Put your little tykes in charge of welcoming guests and have a party that is not only fun but educational as well!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yamhill County the Dawn of the Civil War

 "...Loving our country better than party, and ready to make any sacrifice but principle..."
Read the following transcription of an 1861 newspaper article from the Oregonian that tells about a patriotic gathering held in Lafayette - the "county seat" at that time - right before the U.S. Civil War began.

In 1861, Lafayette was still the center of activity in Yamhill County.  So when citizens came together to celebrate the election of Lincoln right before the Civil War began, they met at the Lafayette courthouse.  The devotion to American principles expressed by the pioneers at this event should be inspiring to us all!   

"The citizens of Lafayette and vicinity, without distinction of party, met at the Courthouse on the evening of the 4th last, for the purpose of expressing their love for the Union as it is, and their determination to stand by the Government. 

On motion, Dr. Henry was called to the Chair, and, on taking it, he remarked that the meeting was not to be regarded as of a partisan character; but that we had met as American citizens, loving our country better than party, and ready to make any sacrifice but principle,  for the purpose of settling the difficulty now threatening the safety of the Union.  The "Star Spangled Banner" was then sung by the choir; and short patriotic addresses were made by Messers, Woods, Forguson, McBride, Baily, and Dr. McBride; when the following resolution was offered and unanimously adopted by every man present rising to his feet, except two, who explained, as their motive for not rising, that they were not citizens of the county, but that they were for the Union.Resolved:  That we are for the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws in all sections, by every department of the Federal Government.

The meeting then adjourned, all expressing a determination to stand by the President so long as he shall support the Constitution, and maintain the laws.  The most gratifying feature of the meeting was the entire absence of all party feeling and the zeal manifested by Breekinridge and Douglas democrats, in support of the resolution. 

Every dwelling in the village was brilliantly illuminated, including the Courthouse, stores and mechanic shops;  and after the adjournment of the meeting, the young people testified their patriotic devotion to the Union, by spending the remainder of the evening attending a dancing party given by our enterprising and patriotic citizen, Morris Wolfe.

I think it may be safely asserted that in the event of a conflict at arms being forced upon the Government, every man in Yamhill County will be found rallying around the Stars and Stripes, ready to peril his life in defending the honor of his country's flag."

 (The Daily Oregonian, "Inauguration Celebration at Lafayette on the 4th.", March 15, 1861.)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teach America's Story...through Music

Recently, a gentleman was telling our parade team about a fun little-known story behind the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy".   Most Americans know that the song has something to do with the Revolutionary War but the details to this story have been mostly forgotten.  They deserve to be brought back out of hiding though...especially for those who live in a town called "Lafayette".  Read on to learn why. 

Richard Shuckburgh, a British Army doctor, wrote the words of this song during the French and Indian War (which took place BEFORE the Revolutionary War) to make fun of the ragged, "country bumpkin" American soldiers.  The British, of course, were from one of the most powerful and prestigious nations on earth at the time and the Americans, in their mind, were backwards, uncultured simpletons.

As the British marched into battle at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, they sang this song.  However, what was meant to mock the Americans ended up uniting them.  The Americans took the song as their own - after changing some of the lyrics - and the song became a source of national pride for the rugged American colonists. 

At the end of the war, after the British surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, a young general named "Lafayette" ordered that the Army band play the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to show the British it was the Americans who had the last laugh.  The British soldiers were furious.  At least one soldier even wrote about the humiliating experience in his diary.

American anthems and folk songs are just loaded with these kinds of stories.  The following link will take you to a blog with a great list of patriotic songbooks.  Some of these are written as storybooks for children and others offer a more in-depth look at how these songs came to be symbols of American culture.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Little Help to Get the Kids Motivated...


Did you know your children can earn medals just for learning about America's past?  Read on to learn about just one specific program that allows you to help your children do this.

"Youth Patriotism Awards"  was started by a Cub Scout Cubmaster in the state of Virginia on September 11, 2008.  Since that time, Brian Kale has awarded 1,443 medals, 657 elective stars, and 250 patches to youth throughout the United States.  A few of these medals are shown above.

His program has become an officially recognized award in the American Heritage Girls program and is also used by Scout units, home school co-ops, social studies classes and other groups like them.

Basically, families can choose to pursue an award in any or all of the following four categories:  Heritage, Citizenship, Freedom, and Service.  The children can earn a silver or for more of a challenge they can do more work to earn a gold medal.  Adults can earn the medals too and he has a separate set of requirements for them.

The website has all the listed requirements and more program details and can be found at this link:   Youth Patriotism Awards.

What a great activity for families to work on together and a great way to get children excited about history!   Wouldn't it be fun to hide the medals from your kids when you receive them and then present them to your children on July 4th?  Just an idea...


Monday, February 18, 2013

Lincoln's Link to Lafayette - a President's Day post for our town

 Abraham Lincoln

Library of Congress.

In 1849, a little-known politician named Abraham Lincoln turned down an offer to be territorial governor over the Oregon Territory.  Even after he became president, Lincoln never made it out to the Pacific Northwest for a visit.  But he had some good friends out here who he corresponded with and one of those friends lived and practiced medicine in Lafayette.  His name was Dr. Anson G. Henry and in addition to being one of Lincoln's closest friends, Dr. Henry was also Lincoln's personal physician.

Henry's relationship with Lincoln began in Springfield, Illinois in 1834.  In 1852, the doctor left Springfield behind and brought his wife and 5 kids to Oregon to settle in the thriving town of Lafayette, where some of their friends were living. But he was a frequent guest to the white house once Lincoln became president and maintained a close friendship with the Lincolns until the president was assassinated in 1865.

You can read more about Dr. Henry's active political life in the Pacific Northwest and his life-long friendship with Lincoln at the following link (and many other places online as well):

When speaking about Dr. Henry to an Oregon politician, the president once said the following words about this Lafayette pioneer:
"What a great big-hearted man he is. Henry is one of the best men I have ever known.
He sometimes commits an error of judgement, but I never knew him to be guilty of 
a falsehood or of an act beneath a gentleman. He is the soul of truth and honor."
 (quote source can be found at the above link)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

President's Day fieldtrip Idea: Visit Hoover's boyhood home

Commons;Herbert Hoover, Wikimedia
Did you know President Herbert Hoover lived in Yamhill County for part of his boyhood?  He became an orphan at 9 years of age and was sent to Newberg, Oregon to live with an uncle.  He lived there for four years and the house where he lived is still standing and has been restored and preserved as a memorial to the president.  

While this might not be the place to take your very active 3 year old, the tours they offer would be a great educational experience for older children, maybe 8 and older.    

Click on the link to be taken to the museum's website for more information. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Polish your Pennies for President's Day!

With a different president on each coin, money can make for a great object lesson when wanting to teach children about our presidents.   Here are just a few things you could do with the coins:

Clean them:  Follow the above link for details on how best to clean them.  Basically, fill a few bowls with water and/or baking soda or vinegar and let the kids clean coins with old toothbrushes until the presidents are shining brightly again.

Stack them:  See how high the kids can stack their coins without coins falling.  

Study them and quiz each other on them:  Do a review of which president is on which coins and dollar bills.  Then, let them "earn" some money by quizzing them on this information.  If they can identify which president is on a coin, they get to keep the coin (or dollar bill!).  Start with the penny and work your way up.  This is a good activity for the older kids.

Do crafts with them:  Let kids use paintbrushes to glue pennies onto a giant letter "P" for president or onto a paper picture frame, with a picture of a president in the center, of course.

Treasure Hunt with them:  Have everyone sort through pennies to find their birthday year.  Once the kids find their own, give them a bigger challenge by helping you find yours!  Keep everyone's birthday pennies in a special place. You could also see who can find the oldest penny.

Collect them:  Start a coin collection with your kids!  Here is the link to the U.S. Mint website:   "U.S. Mint" website coin collecting tips.

Ideally, in the middle of these activities, you will have some great opportunities to teach the kids who are on the coins and why.    

U.S and Canada Sing "Happy Birthday" Together

  Public domain. Photo of Detroit's event.  Courtesy of Vito Palmisano

Did you know that in some of America's most northern states there are celebrations that bring Canada Day and our Independence Day into one combined event?  That's because Canada Day is the day Canadians celebrate THEIR independence (Although they didn't receive complete independence from Great Britain, this is when they officially became a recognized country,) and they do so on July 1, just 3 days before our own nation's birthday.

Not only do they celebrate their freedom together but these cities also use this event to celebrate their mutual commitment to friendship.  Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada do an event called the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival.

Another celebration that unites the 2 neighbors is the Friendship Festival, that brings together citizens of Fort Erie, Canada and Buffalo, New York.

Next posts on this blog will be focused on President's Day and ways we can use this often-overlooked holiday to learn - and teach - about our nation's past leaders.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Activity Idea: Patriotism Around the World

Front CoverWorld Holidays: A Watts Guide for Children (Watts Reference)

On Merrium Webster's online dictionary, patriotism is defined as "love for or devotion to one's country".  One great activity to do with children ANY time of year is to teach them about patriotism, what it means, how Americans express their patriotism AND how people from other parts of the world express patriotism in their own countries.

One great way to study this topic with your kids is to look at Independence Day celebrations both here in the states and around the world.  

The book on the top right, "World Holidays", can be checked out at Mcminnville Public Library and offers great summaries about some of these patriotic gatherings.  Canada, Mexico, the Philippine Islands, Poland, Turkey, and Bangladesh are just some of the countries who have their own "Independence Day" celebrations.

The other book is just one example of many that look at America's patriotism.  The book is not shelved at Mcminnville Library but can be ordered there from another library in the same system.

Once you have learned about a country's Independence Day, have your children find that country on a globe or atlas! 

"American Patriotism":

"World Holidays - A Watts Guide for Children":

link to Wikipedia's list of national Independence Days around the world

Monday, January 28, 2013

Liberty's Kids - "Gem" of a cartoon

For those parents who feel completely at a loss for how to teach their children about American history because they can't remember any of it themselves, here is a cartoon series that will make your job much easier.

The link below takes you to, where you can read some of the many 5-star reviews of this well-loved show.   The voices of the characters were done by celebrities like Walter Cronkite, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal to name just a few.

Here is a You Tube preview from one of the episodes, titled:  "First Fourth of July":