July 4, 1878, was a red letter day for Graham. People had come for miles around to hear the speaker, Texas Gov. Richard B. Hubbard. The day was special for other reasons. The year had seen a dramatic upswing in Young County's fortunes. And Graham was growing and being advertised as the Gem City of the West. Young County was recovering from the most threatening event in its history when the county was dissolved in 1865 and attached to Jack County. Graham was established in 1872, but Young County was not reorganized until 1874. The new city of Graham was platted in 1873 and chosen as the new county seat. A boom period began in 1874 and continued. By 1876, a state census reported that Young County had 300 inhabitants, and the population in Graham had doubled. The Graham Leader, established in 1876, reported that there were 20 families in tents and more homes under construction. The Graham Hotel and the first Young County Courthouse was also built in 1876. The town enjoyed more years of progress. By 1878, Graham boasted three extra-wide major streets, Oak, Elm and Cherry, and the town square was the largest in the state. The new two-story wooden courthouse (24 by 40 feet) was used until the stone courthouse was built in 1884. The courthouse was located at 620 Oak St., the present location of The Graham Leader. Commerce Park, on the courthouse lawn, was where the Fourth of July celebration took place in 1878. Farmers had raised a bumper crop of corn so tables were groaning with roasting ears, boiled in the large iron vats from Graham Salt Works.


Barbecued beef, homegrown vegetables and homemade pies and cakes tempted the crowd. The Methodist Church set up booths selling coffee, lemonade and ice cream and raised $240 in funds. Dinner was followed by a riding tournament, one of the most popular forms of frontier entertainment. Men from Tonk Valley, Gooseneck, Caddo Springs and other communities rode and tried to capture the most rings which were attached to tall poles. Als Kirtley, of Gooseneck, was the winner and had the honor of crowning Palestine Timmons as the Goddess of Liberty and Love and Bell Burket as the Queen of Life and Liberty. But the highlight of the celebration was yet to come. The Independence Day program committee had dreamed up entertainment that was one-of-a-kind. They had arranged for a re-enactment of an Indian scalping, most likely by the friendly Tonkawas. The program began when the crowd was startled by what looked like hostile Indians dressed for war. They wore long war bonnets, war paint and were armed with tomahawks and hatchets. While tom-toms beat out a steady rhythm, the Indians dragged a man from the crowd named Pete Randolf. A huge bon fire illuminated the courthouse lawn where Randolf awaited his fate. As the drums grew louder, the war whoops increased. The captive was tied to a tree and the Indians began to dance around him. Suddenly, he was untied and thrown to the ground, all the while the Indians were dancing and brandishing tomahawks. The Indian chief stopped above Randolf and raised his hatchet while the crowd held its breath. The tomahawk came down, and the Indians vanished in the darkness, just as suddenly as they had appeared. To the crowd's relief, Randolf got to his feet with a wide grin. The crowd went wild with applause. So the exciting day ended. Folks were impressed that the Texas governor himself had celebrated July 4 with them. That day in 1878 raised people's spirits and gave them proof that Graham was indeed becoming the Gem City of the West.