A Celebration of Unity and History

By The Atascadero News Editorial Board 

The Fourth of July, synonymous with fireworks and barbecues, commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a pivotal moment in American history denouncing the injustices imposed by England’s King George III upon the Thirteen Colonies. However, beyond its national significance, this date holds profound importance for Atascadero, marking the transfer of the city’s land deed amidst grandeur on July 4, 1913.

Prior to this historic event, Edward Gardner Lewis (E.G. Lewis), a prominent magazine publisher, found himself deeply engaged in the Women’s Suffrage movement, culminating in the establishment of the America Woman’s Republic in 1911. This organization advocated for women’s rights and suffrage while fostering educational and cultural opportunities. E.G. Lewis, along with his wife Mabel Gertrude Lewis, envisioned not only a utopian city but also a hub for the America Woman’s Republic. Their quest led them to Rancho Atascadero in California, which they acquired in 1912.


E.G. Lewis, known for his adeptness in public relations, orchestrated a momentous ceremony on July 4, 1913. Accompanied by his wife, who represented the American Woman’s Republic, he received the land deed for Atascadero amidst extravagant festivities, described by his nephew William H. Lewis as unprecedented in the ranch’s history.

The celebration attracted investors and residents from neighboring areas, arriving via various modes of transportation, including foot, horseback, train, wagon, and automobile. Mayors and dignitaries delivered speeches, symbolizing the warm welcome extended to the nascent town.

The climax of the event was marked by the symbolic transfer of the land deed, accompanied by the singing of the national anthem, the raising of the flag, and a resounding aerial bomb. The jubilation continued with musical performances, barbecues, daytime fireworks, and athletic competitions, immortalized in an epic poem titled“Atascadero: An Epic” by Guy E. Heaton.

Subsequent Fourth of July celebrations became a cherished tradition in Atascadero, with festivities held at Atascadero Lake Park starting in 1916. These annual events featured community picnics, recreational activities, and patriotic ceremonies, fostering a sense of unity among residents.

In 1917, the city welcomed California Governor William Stephens for his inaugural Fourth of July speech, further elevating the significance of the occasion. The day unfolded with a grand parade, patriotic songs, the governor’s address, and a historical reenactment, culminating in an operetta performance at Atascadero Lake under the enchanting glow of the moon.

The celebrations epitomized Atascadero’s hospitality and community spirit, with residents of all walks of life coming together to commemorate their shared history and aspirations. As William H. Lewis observed, the festivities of 1917 saw nearly every individual in the colony actively participating, underscoring the profound unity and camaraderie that defined Atascadero during its formative years.

Let us take this Fourth of July to honor the founding of Atascadero by supporting those who have long awaited the United States’ promise of “…unalienable Rights…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

References all quotes from William H. Lewis’ writing are sourced from: William H. Lewis, “Atascadero Colony Days”; published by Wilkins Creative Printing, 1974. The Atascadero News archives and the Atascadero Histocial Society. 


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