Students and teachers pose at the Bates School in this undated photo in the Teton Valley Museum archives.

An account in a file compiled by the Teton Valley Museum gives details of how the earliest settlers of Teton Valley partied.

It was July 1892.

Some 37 students had attended a summer term in the Bates school. The teacher, Ross Sandy, described how the community got together to celebrate Independence Day.

Many people gathered in a grove of trees, all with picnic dinners in hand to eat together.

“We all sang patriotic songs,” Sandy said. He read the Declaration of Independence and there was a short talk. Then the group moved to where the ground was more level and where the sagebrush had been cleared and a track readied for horse racing. After the horse racing, a dance was held at the school house, and 40 couples attended, the teacher said.

Then July 24th, “Mormon Day” rolled around. The celebration was held July 25th, a Monday, to avoid holding it on a Sunday. Horse racing was again the featured entertainment.

According to an account documented by historian Harold Forbush, Ray Kimball was thrown from his horse and nearly killed, and another racer’s horse stepped in a badger hole, nearly killing the rider.

The event was described by Sandy as “another gala day.”

It’s not known if those were the first celebrations of July 4th and 24th in the valley, but they wouldn’t be the last. That’s about 129 years of partying.

Edlefsen is a volunteer with the Teton Valley Museum.