It was decades ago on Independence Day, as a child of five and the youngest of eleven siblings, that my father walked with me to Prospect Terrace the great precipice overlooking the ancient City of Providence and the forested hills rolling westward into the green New England countryside. He said from that vantage we could view the fireworks not only close by but from every Rhode Island village and town to the very Western horizon. My father spoke that night for the first time of our family line and of its long storied history and of our role in Europe, the Colonies and later America. In 1610, my family was forced to flee France and the extreme persecution of French Huguenots seeking refuge in the German Palatinate where the Counts had been ardent supporters of the Protestant cause during the conflicts in France. It was from Kirberg, Hesse-Nassau that Johann Peter Laux my great, great, great, great grandfather and lineal progenitor arrived in Philadelphia in 1748 and quickly established himself in the many German communities of Eastern Pennsylvania. Johann Peter was in Philadelphia 237 years ago today, July 4, 1776 for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and he was among the crowd during the first public reading of the bold document on July 8, 1776. My father told me that his business had already begun clandestinely sewing uniforms for the soon to be established Continental Army. This man knew Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Washington.
I can feel the excitement John Peter felt and sometimes I can actually see the event through his own eyes just as I can still see the excitement in my father’s eyes and just as my daughter and later my sons saw the excitement in my eyes. Tonight, as always, I will view the celebrations and the fireworks from Prospect Terrace, the precipice overlooking Old Providence and reflect on the courage of my ancestors, their Revolutionary Spirit and the knowledge that my sons will carry this American Spirit into the eight generation of the Laux family in America.
Dennis James Laux
July 4, 2013