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The State Parks of Arkansas - The Natural State: E-Newsletter

The Declaration of Independence to be Read July 4th and 6th
(and signed) 

In keeping with early American tradition, the Declaration will be read from the balcony of the 1874 Courthouse and Visitor's Center on July 4, 2013 and, again, Saturday, July 6th, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Join us in hearing the call to freedom loudly proclaimed and answer with your resounding shouts of "HUZZAH!"Then, add your "John Hancock" to a copy of the Declaration of Independence using quill pen and ink from an ink well.

30 star flag official on July 4, 1848

July 5, 1848
  " The day passed by, with us, without any celebration; without any thing to show that it was the anniversary of Freedom's birth day. The boys, it is true, had holiday, and a few more persons were in from the country than is usual so early in the week but this was all that distinguished it from other days. This should not be, we like to see the Fourth celebrated in some way, and the glorious associations connected with it, yearly revived in the bosoms of freemen. Hundreds no doubt, feel in secret, the influence of the day,but it is a national day, and the patriotic enthusiasm which it excites, individually, should find sympathy and expression in some public manner. A speech, or a barbecue or a ball - or parties of recreation - or any thing to throw off the monotony of business and proclaim that we regard the Fourth of July as no ordinary day, would have answered. We believe our people are as patriotic as any, while they are not excelled in industry, and to the incessant rains which have thrown them behind with their crops, and to their laudable efforts to put them in a better condition, must be attributed the dullness of the anniversary just past."
[Source: "The Fourth of July" WT, July 5, 1848.]
29 star flag official on July 4, 1847
Maybe the day was influenced by the sermon of the previous year.
"We are requested to state that Elder Wade will deliver a sermon on Total Depravity, at the Court House on next Sunday [July 4, 1847] at half past 10 o'clock A.M."
[Source: WT, June 30, 1847]

Photograph credit
To this, let us add an earlier description of the delights awaiting one during July in Hempstead County in 1842.
"And then, when you come to the eating part of the country's glory - if you have mouths, prepare to smack them now. In the first place what think you of a huge watermelon, right out of an ice-cold spring of a hot July day? Icecreams and julip hailstorms aint [sic] a priming to it. - Then come aromatic muskmelons which melt in your mouth, like butter, and cause you to eat till the pigs turn away, surfeited, from the rinds which you throw them."
[Source: July 20, 1842 WT]

Newsletter Inspirations
Ever wonder how I get ideas for the items in the newsletter? I often wonder myself. Yet, each week new inspiration comes along and I wonder what do I need to cut to keep this a manageable size. This week, I was inspired first, by the date, to see what was noted in the newspaper, Washington Telegraph, on past Independence Day events. I found the mention of the days passing too quietly lamented in the article above. I admit that last picture is not historical but it shows the delights of Hempstead County have not changed much.

The next inspiration came from the local quilters guild. They had a special day devoted to quilting at the Washington Library to assist those in Moore, Oklahoma hit by the recent tornadoes. It was great to see the volunteer effort and the new generation of quilters learning the craft. While donating fabric to this cause, the subject turned to marvelously intricate quilts and historic quilts. I am always tempted by the words "easy" and "historical" mixed together in a project, so we began discussing Chronicle (newspaper) Quilts. I added instructions to the Park Enews pinterest board. While not confirming the design going back to the heydays of Washington, it is a project easily done today in the same theme as a traditional "Crazy Quilt." So with that in mind, check out the instructions and think of doing some historic quilting with or for someone you love.

Then next thing to cross my mind was the heat, so I looked up the article below. Just about the time I got it ready the temperatures moderated significantly. Maybe I should have checked this subject out sooner, if this is the result.

And my finally inspiration, (because it is time to get this ready to send out) is the photograph sent in by visitors of the Lubber Grasshopper nymph (teenage grasshopper!). Hope you enjoy learning a little something about our natural side as well as our culture.

Historical Air Conditioning
In case you have not been outside lately, let me tell you that it is hot. In the heat, we like cool (or less hot) places to spend our time. This is nothing new, but they degree of cool and the way to change the temperature inside a house has changed.
Most, 19th century homes used a passive cooling system. This included cross flow ventilation by placement of large operable windows and an adjustable louvered shutter system to block heat while allowing for breezes. Wide overhanging porches shaded the windows and high ceilings allowed hot air to rise above occupants heads. Light colored exterior paints to reflect heat and avoid solar gains were also used. Strategically placed shade trees assisted in keeping house temperatures cooler as well as offering a shade to sit in.
Today, many of these techniques can be seen in the house museums of Historic Washington State Park. They are more than just charming features of architecture. Most of these buildings have been retrofitted with modern cooling systems. This helps preserve the collection. We hope this increases your comfort when you visit, too.

Photograph Credit: James and Pat Skaggs
Lubber Grasshopper Nymph at Purdom House
Historic Washington State Park gets all kinds of visitors. Recently, some of our human visitors and some of our natural visitors had a nice meeting. Learn more about the Lubber Grasshoppers and then look for them when you visit for a special meeting of your own.

Sign up for Red River Symposium and/or Teachers Workshop, Summer Camp Days, and Trial by Jury by calling 870-983-2684

Receipts and Recipes

Watermelon Mint Agua Fresca

Serves: 10


  • 8 cups cubed seeded watermelon, (about 6 pounds with the rind)
  • About 8 sprigs fresh mint (1 small .66 ounce package)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cups water, or to taste
  • Lime slices, for garnish


  If using a juicer, juice the watermelon, mint and limes. Transfer to pitcher and add water. Serve over ice.
 If using a blender, blend the watermelon and mint leaves in batches. Pour into a pitcher through a fine sieve or strainer. Add lime juice and stir in water. Serve over ice.

Frozen Root Beer Float Pie

Yield: 8 pieces of pie


  • 1 tub (8 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed
  • 3/4 cup cold diet or regular root beer (I used regular)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free or regular milk
  • Root Beer Extract to taste. (strength can vary greatly by brand)
  • 1 package (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade)
  • 8 Maraschino cherries


  1. Combine the root beer, milk and pudding mix in a large bowl.
  2. Mix with a whisk until it begins to thicken. Fold in half of the whipped topping and desired amount of root beer extract. Start with just a little of the extract and give it a taste. You can continue adding more until desired flavor is reached. Spread into the pie crust. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Top with remaining whipped topping.
  3. Slice the pie into 8 even slices (this makes it really easy to cut when it's frozen). Add a cherry on each slice.
  4. Freeze 8 hours or overnight.


This pie will seem a little bit runny prior to freezing. Prior to freezing, slice the pie, this makes for easy serving once ready!


Ways to Be Involved
Volunteer! Call Vicky at 870-983-2558 or email.

Special Rates
Coupon - $1.00 off Horse drawn surrey ride.
Group Rates
- Book a reservation for your group of 20 or more and everyone gets $1.00 off.
Annual Passes - Unlimited visits and special events-Individual -$20.00 or Family- $30.00
For more information - 870-983-2684

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  Historic Washington State Park
P.O. Box 98
Washington, AR 71862

Phone: (870) 983-2684
Fax: (870) 983-2736

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