Happy Birthday, Antioch! July 4th is also the 169th anniversary of its naming, and we have much to celebrate

The July 4th 1851 picnic scene with Rev. William W. Smith, in black holding a Bible, and townspeople of Smith’s Landing when they gathered together and renamed the town Antioch. Located at F and W. 2nd Streets on the 505 Building wall in historic downtown Rivertown.

By Allen Payton

This year’s Independence Day, today, July 4, 2020 marks the 244th birthday of our nation. It was on this date in 1776 that our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence sending a message to England that we would no longer be ruled by their king, that we would be a sovereign nation and each of our citizens sovereign people, as well.

In Antioch, we also celebrate the 169th anniversary of the naming of our city, today. It was on this date in 1851, 75 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that the townspeople gathered together with co-founder Rev. William Wiggins Smith to rename the town from Smith’s Landing to Antioch, after the city in Syria where the followers of Christ were first called Christians. They did that out of respect to Smith’s twin brother, Rev. Joseph Horton Smith who had died the previous year. In 1849, after traveling from Boston, the Smith brothers each purchased 160 acres from Dr. John Marsh along the Antioch waterfront, where the city’s historic, downtown Rivertown District is located, today.

According to the book entitled, Looking Back – Tales of Old Antioch and Other Places by Earl Hohlmayer, “On the fourth of July, 1851 a basket picnic was held at the residence of W.W. Smith, then standing on the high ground…The all-absorbing topic of the day was ‘What shall we name our town?’ Between thirty and forty men, women and children gathered together from far and near… W.W. Smith proposed that, inasmuch as the first settlers were disciples of Christ, and one of them had died and was buried on the land, that it be given a Bible name in his honor, and suggested ‘Antioch’, (a Syria town where two important rivers meet and where the followers of Christ were first called Christians), and by united acclamation it was so christened.”

A historic mural was commissioned by the Antioch City Council in the late 1990’s which includes a scene from the July 4, 1851 picnic which can be seen above. It’s located on the wall of the 505 Building next to the parking lot at F and W. Second Streets in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown.

Although our community, state and nation currently face health, economic and other challenges, the future looks bright and we can celebrate our freedoms, enumerated in the Bill of Rights, although somewhat restricted, lately. Enjoy celebrating and remember to thank God for the freedoms we get to exercise and experience each day in our country.

Happy Independence Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Freedom!

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July 4th 1851 picnic scene in mural 2nd & F Street 505 Building


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2 Comments to “Happy Birthday, Antioch! July 4th is also the 169th anniversary of its naming, and we have much to celebrate”

  1. walter ruehlig says:

    Never been a fan of Pollyanna but refreshig to see soe egood news and patriotism amidst all the professional negastivists and the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Wow! Highway 4 widening, e-Bart and only thing missing for a perfect trifecta is a ferry.

    Have you been by 18th and Cavallo and seen that magnificent net-zero energy school that Rocketshiop is opening in August?…. Watch that neighborhood revitalize.

    Nice seeing how the 4th of July number of floats has gone counting in the 40’s to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s……. Gave Captain America costume a break this year but it was fun marching with my wife and the Fil-American Cultural Society in my pineapple-fiber shirt. Mahbuhay! and celebrate America and Antioch.

    • Publisher says:

      It’s the Payton Perspective, not the Pollyanna Perspective, Walter. LOL 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting and yes, the new Rocketship school, plus the two other charter middle and high schools that will soon open in Antioch. Also positive things happening in our community.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

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