First 4th of July 1841 Monument
Name: First Fourth of July 1841 Monument
Erected: 1906 by Pierce County Pioneer Association, assisted by Mary Ball Chapter, NSDAR; granite monument, approximately 6 ft x 4 ft.
Location: GPS 47.1125 -122.59444444444443, in front of the water treatment plant, Bldg. 07999, Vancouver Rd, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, 98433.
Inscription: 1841 Fourth of July 1906. Commemorating the 65th anniversary of the first public observance of our national birth day on the Pacific coast or west of the Missouri River by Capt. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. and the officers and marines of his fleet on Monday, July 5th, 1841, on these grounds. Erected by the Pierce County Pioneer Association. Assisted by the Washington State Historical Society, Washington State Pioneer Society, Daughters of American Revolution, Sons of American Revolution, Loyal Legion, and C.A.R. Mr. and Mrs. George Lyon, Jr. of Nelson, Nebraska, donated this site.
Comments: “The monument on JBLM was dedicated in 1906 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the first Fourth of July celebration held west of the Missouri River, in 1841 by Charles Wilkes.”(1) Lt. Wilkes, USN, was the commander of the US Exploring Expedition whose mission was to survey the southern Puget Sound. He had set up an observation post near the Sequalitchew Creek and Ft. Nisqually, a Hudson Bay Co. outpost. While LT Wilkes and his crew were in this area during the summer of 1841, they celebrated Independence Day on Mission Prairie, now part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), on 5 July 1841 because 4 July was a Sunday. By 2011 the monument to this event had so much moss on it that the letters were almost unreadable. Mary Ball Chapter spearheaded the effort to clean and rededicate the monument with the help of the officials at JBLM. The monument was rededicated 5 July 2011. “Representatives from several local historical societies attended the elaborate ceremony, which also featured guest speaker Clinton Cannon, a retired lieutenant colonel who gave an oral history dressed as Captain Charles Wilkes.”(1) The Stadium High School Navy JROTC program commander and cadets also participated in the ceremony.
1. Various contributors, “Charles Wilkes,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Wilkes: accessed 10 January 2016).
2. Tyler Hemstreet, “DAR chapter cleans up monument on JBLM,” Northwestmilitary.com (http://www.northwestmilitary.com/news/focus/2011/07/northwest-military-ranger-airlifter-newspaper-JBLM-tacoma-mary-ball-chapter-of-daughters-american-re/: accessed 9 January 2016), 15 July 2011.
3. Scrapbook #1, 1894-1916, Mary Ball Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, WSSDAR Collection, Yakima Valley Genealogical Society, Union Gap, WA.
Listed on the National Historical Markers Database 16 Apr 2023