By Naomi Hatch —
Once again the Town of Taylor will celebrate Independence Day to the beat of a famous bass drum and the blast of an anvil.
The celebration will open with a newer tradition, though, a Cowboy Poetry and Cowboy Music Program scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at Taylor Rodeo Park. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy the program.
The firing of the anvil on Saturday, June 30, will begin waking up residents at 4 a.m. and at 5 a.m. will begin at the Taylor Ball Park on Center Street and Love Lake City and go to Freeman Park, the LDS Stake Center on Willow Lane and end at the City Ball Park on East Center Street, firing at 6 a.m. to begin the 10K and two-mile runs.
The patriotic program begins at 10 a.m. at the Taylor Stake Center.
There will be country music at 10 a.m. at Rodeo Park, where they will have barrel racing, and the barbecue begins at 12 noon and again at 5 p.m.
The Taylor Museum located on Center Street and Main Street will be open from 1 to 4 p.m., and the historic home sites will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. They will be closed Monday, July 2, and open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, including Wednesday, July 4.
This year Taylor will host its 58th annual Rodeo, with pre-rodeo entertainment at 6:30 p.m., followed by barrel racing, calf roping, team roping, bareback riding, saddle bronc and bull riding beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12 and $25 for family tickets. Fireworks are slated at 9 p.m., followed by a dance from 9:30 p.m. to midnight on the pavilion.
The Hayride Jamboree sponsored by the Taylor-Shumway Heritage Foundation begins at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 2, at the Margaret McCleve Log Cabin. Come and enjoy a horsedrawn wagon tour of the historic homes, a cowboy dinner and entertainment. There is no cost, but donations are welcome and will be used to maintain the homes.
Taylor’s Independence Day Celebration is steeped in tradition.
James Pearce, the first Mormon settler on the Silver Creek, came to Taylor with his wife, Mary Jane, and their four children on Jan. 23, 1878. Cyrus Jennings came to Taylor in 1887, which was the beginning of the Jennings Band that played on the Fourth of July every year until his death in 1909.
Major Edwin P. Duzette supervised the making of the Jennings drum, which is made out of cowhide, birch and hickory, in 1840 in Nauvoo, Ill. It crossed the plains in 1847 with Brigham Young on the trek to Salt Lake City, Utah. Jennings told how Brigham Young suddenly halted his team during the trek and because the driver behind him was following too close, the wagon tongue went through the drum that hung on the back of President Young’s wagon. Snowflake resident Ralph Ramsey, who carved the horse head on the Flake Mansion in Snowflake and Salt Lake City’s Eagle Gate Monument, repaired the drum.
The Boy From Taylor, an autobiography of Renz Jennings, notes, “A young man by the name of Cyrus Jennings (my father) was spellbound when he watched Major Duzette play the drum and lead the band: There was one thing Major Duzette did not realize, and that was that every 4th and 24th of July when Major Duzette led the band, My Father’s eyes were glued on him, the drum sticks.”
Major Duzette taught Jennings how to play the drum and to throw the sticks. When he was getting older there was a contest to see who would get the drum and Jennings won. The drum came with Jennings to Taylor in 1887.
Jennings could not let the drum remain quiet and so on the 4th of July before dawn he awoke the town by strains of patriotic music on a rack wagon that was drawn by two decorated, prancing farm horses, and the band drove all around the town with Jennings leading the band and playing the drum. Through the years the drum became popular for holidays, especially July 4th and 24th.
The Jennings tradition of beating the drum is carried on today by grandson Steve Johnson, who comes to Taylor every year to play the famous Jennings Drum, which is on display at the Taylor Museum, located at Main and Center Streets in Taylor. The museum will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 30.
Taylor’s Fourth of July celebration has been known to be a “blast,” an anvil blast that is. There were no cannons in Taylor in the early days, so they became very resourceful and came up with a unique substitute. The anvil traveled with the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican War in 1847 as they marched 2,000 miles from Iowa to San Diego, Calif. The 100-pound anvil was brought to Taylor by Joseph Smith Hancock and was used in his blacksmith shop. The other anvil is an 85-pounder that belonged to Taylor founder John Henry Standifird. They used the head of a sledgehammer filled with gunpowder between the anvils in early days, then Gordon Thornhill, a metallurgist, came up with the six-inch cylinder they use now.
The tradition of firing of the anvil stopped for a period of time, but began again in 1952 when the A.F. “Quill” Standifird family, with the help of Jodie McCleve, began waking up the town at 4 a.m. Taylor has become famous for having the loudest and earliest method of beginning the Fourth of July celebration.
Eventually Standifird’s son Jack and son-in-law Monk Frost took over, and Thornhill, a grandson of Standifird carried on the tradition from 1997 to his death in 2005. Thornhill’s children now keep the tradition alive.
The anvil traditionally began firing at 4 a.m. at Taylor Elementary School, and at 5 a.m., the procession began. The anvil, followed by the ringing bell that was at the old Taylor schoolhouse, began its ride through town, followed by the Jennings Band. The procession grew as it made its way felt this part of the tradition was not safe, so they now fire the anvil at Taylor Elementary School, Freeman Park, the Taylor Stake Center through town firing the anvil on each corner.
The Jennings Band played a patriotic song and the anvil blasted as everyone honked their horns, yelled or made whatever noise they could.
In 1997 the town council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Taylor City Park.