Sane & Safe Fourth: Doll Buggy Parades

“Even today, after a century and a quarter of national progress, we find the ideals of the Declaration of Independence still unrealized. The great woman’s movement is teaching us that women come within a proper construction of that document and we are coming to know that there is something fundamentally wrong in the idea of exclusive male suffrage. And it is to the everlasting story of American womanhood that we are being forced into that position, not by means of the destruction of property and the taking of human life, but by such things as the establishment of kindergartens and public playgrounds and the promotion of a sane Fourth of July. No other argument for woman’s suffrage is needed than the fact that Davenport has gone for years without a civic Fourth of July celebration until the women took it into their heads that we should have one and now we’ve got it.”

Realff Otteson, orator at 4th of July celebration in Vander Veer Park on July 4, 1913

Davenport’s first “Sane Fourth” was celebrated on July 4, 1913, at VanderVeer Park. The morning program was organized by a committee led by Mrs. Seth J. (Alice) Temple of the Davenport Woman’s Club. More than 1,500 people, the great majority of them children, gathered under the shade of the trees at Vander Veer Park to eat; listen to a band play patriotic songs; attend the speech by local attorney Realff Otteson; watch and/or participate in the little girls’ doll buggy parade, Swedish folk dances, the girls and boys wand and dumbbell drills, or participate in boys’ races in the afternoon.

The doll buggy parades continued to be an attraction at Sane Fourth celebrations through 1918. The parades were so popular that they became their own summertime celebration at not associated with Independence Day through the 1930’s and were brought back in 1999-2009.

The following are newspaper accounts of these adorable baby doll stroller processions from the 1910s.

Doll Buggy Parade, Vander Veer Grandstand [1914] Gift of Lorena Clayton 2003-43.02.48

1914 – 44 girls and 10 boys, led by a team of 2 children pulling a third in a go-cart, marched around the grandstand. The leaders were Marian Frahm, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Frahm, 1230 Arlington Avenue and Raymond Sandford, son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard W. Sandford, 18 Roosevelt Flats. Miss Maxine Knowles, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert R. Knowles, Arlington Avenue rode in the go-cart.

1915 – 73 girls ages 2-5 years and 1 boy (Albert Weston Kerker, 3-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy P. Kerker, 2315 Ripley Street) pushed their buggies while a band played for 10 minutes. Some of the buggies were covered in hollyhocks, poppies, and cornflowers, some with tiny American flags and some with brightly colored bunting. The parade was directed by Mrs. Edward H. (Mabel) Sandford assisted by Fred Wenentin, chairman of the committee in charge of the celebration.

The Daily Times, July 5, 1916. Pg. 4.

1916 – Nearly 50 little girls participated in the parade. Madelyn Baxter, dressed to represent the Goddess of Liberty, gowned in the national colors and wearing a gold crown on her head, led the parade. Her buggy was also decorated in the national colors.

  • Margaret Bischoff – purple buggy
  • Barbara Balluff – buggy with pink background decorated with roses
  • Mary Sanford – poinsettia dress and buggy decorate in white and blue with poinsettias
  • Mildred Berger – pink buggy
  • Lucille Downs – red, white, and blue buggy with matching dress
  • Ruth Carroll – buggy decorated with daisies and a blue background
  • Beatrice Longworth – buggy decorated with white and pink rosettes
  • Lucy Roney – buggy decorated in pink with two large pink rosettes on the handle
  • Jane Roney – little chariot decorated in red, white, and blue with matching dress
  • Eva Charvat – buggy decorated with green and white poinsettias
  • Audrey Cummins – buggy decorated in blue and white stripes
  • Ursula Estes – buggy decorated with pink roses
  • Pauline Carlson – buggy decorated with flags
  • Bernadine Brennan – buggy decorated in dark red roses
  • Ella Matthews – buggy decorated with ferns
  • Carmela Brantzel – decorated with red, white, and blue flags
  • Margaret Bewley – buggy decorated in blue and white
  • Evelyn Doyle – buggy decorated with white and blue poinsettias
  • Katherine Anderson – buggy decorated in green and white with dark red roses
  • Katherine Keiber – pink buggy
  • Margaret McDonald – buggy decorated with flags
  • Helen Trede – buggy decorated in red, white, and blue colors
  • Helen Denger – pink and white buggy
  • Beulah Martin – white and yellow buggy

1917 – 25 little girls participated in the parade. Many of the buggies were decorated with American flags and the flags of the allies while others were decorated as Red Cross ambulances. A boy’s patriotic parade led by Uncle Sam and Columbia followed the doll buggy parade.

1918 – The girls wore red, white, and blue dresses and their doll buggies were prettily decorated in the national colors. Older children from area schools presented military and patriotic drills.

(posted by Cristina)


  • “First Sane Fourth Day Is Big Success,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Friday, July 4, 1913.
  • “Thousands See First Daylight Fireworks Here,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday, July 5, 1914.
  • “Thousands Crowd Parks to Celebrate Glorious Fourth in Davenport,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, July 5, 1915.
  • “Thousands Go to Parks for The Public Fourth of July Celebrations,” The Daily Times, Monday, July 4, 1915.
  • “Sane Fourth a Glorious Event at Vander Veer,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Tuesday, July 4, 1916.
  • “Thousands See Fine Pageants at Vander Veer,” The Daily Times, Tuesday, July 4, 1916.
  • “Some of The Participants in The Doll Buggy Parade,” The Daily Times, Wednesday, July 5, 1916.
  • “Independence Day in Davenport Celebrated by Children at Parks,” The Daily Times, Wednesday, July 4, 1917.
  • “Many Celebrate The Fourth at Two City Parks,” The Daily Times, Friday, July 5, 1918.

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