Ranch’s ‘Family 4th’ fetes patriotism, bolsters LHA membership

Ranch docent Katie Harmon as Patrick Henry's eldest daughter.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site celebrated its Family Fourth with close to 1,700 visitors.
       The event on July 4 celebrated patriotism, including traditional marches by the Fountain Creek Brass Band and readings of “America the Beautiful,” the Declar-ation of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and Patrick Henry's “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech to the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War.
       In good news for the ranch's tight finances, 150 of the attendees decided to become members of the Living History Association (LHA), according to its president, Ron Wright. This raises the LHA total to about 1,400 in all, he said. Different kinds of discounts are possible, but a one-year family membership is $30 (which counted toward entry at the event).
       Wright did not yet know the total earnings for the Family Fourth, which is one of Rock Ledge's major summer fundraisers, but believes it did better than last year. The 2009 attendance about the same, but free passes were given then to members of the military - 600 in all. This year, no longer supported by city funds, the LHA had to shelve that benefit, Wright said. “We've got to make as much money as we possibly can,” he explained.
       The 150 memberships resulted from Wright and other LHA representatives talking to attendees as they paid for admission. He said he never did get to see any of the event, but was pleased that someone brought him a piece of pie (chocolate cream) from one of the 40 that was baked and sold as part of the fundraising.
       Particularly impressive among the speakers was Katie Harmon, a long-time ranch docent. After being tabbed as a speaker substitute less than a week beforehand, she portrayed Henry's eldest daughter Martha, delivering an emphatic version of her “father's” speech from memory. “She just practiced that a couple of times and did it,” Wright enthused.

Westside Pioneer article