Christmas Preparations Civil War Style

In the mid-1800s, the Christmas season was a time for family get-togethers, good cheer, and good will. It is also a time when the different cultural practices brought by immigrants from various backgrounds began to meld together into those we are familiar with today. We can find descriptions of what holiday celebrations were like in... Continue Reading →

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Sleigh-Riding Civil War Style

Brr. It's January and the snow is falling at least in some parts of the world. Are you looking out your window right now? Are you lucky enough to see expanses of white snow and to be dreaming of riding with your beau in a one-horse sleigh? How romantic you might be thinking. However, Jennie... Continue Reading →

Christmas Poems and Pictures Civil War Style

The 1864 Christmas Poems and Pictures: A Collection of Songs, Carols, and Descriptive Poems relating to the Festival of Christmas is typical of the Christmas books popular during the Civil War period. Published in New York by James J. Gregory it contains old English Christmas carols such as "A Carol for the Wassail Bowl", religious... Continue Reading →

Henry Ward Beecher on Pumpkins

As much as the pumpkin is used as a term of ridicule, who ever saw a pumpkin that seemed to quail or look sheepish? Henry Ward BeecherHenry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn. He is best known for his break with his father's hell and brimstone Calvinism to a belief in... Continue Reading →

Fun in the Snow 1860s Style

It snowed today and a white Christmas is predicted for my region. Time to have fun in the snow! Despite the war, children during the Civil War period loved snow as much as children do today. Indeed, the 1864 American Boy's Book of Sports and Games included snow play among its many healthful activities for American boys.... Continue Reading →

Sleigh Rides in the 1860s

  Why do parties choose a moonlit night for sleigh rides? Because they are pleasanter than dark nights. "Proceedings of the Farmers' Club" in the  Annual Report of the City of New York 1864 p. 165. Here it is December 15, and no snow, no snowmen, and no sleds. I am looking  out my window... Continue Reading →

A Civil War Christmas Story

There are but few children, in this matter-of-fact age, who have real faith in the jolly little man with mouse-skins and reindeer...  No this wasn't written in 2012. This is taken from the children's book  Keep a Good Heart: A Story for Christmas Time by Cousin Carrie 1864 p. 78.  What can children's books tell... Continue Reading →

Almanacs: Time, Tides, and Government Officials

Today November 11th I picked broccoli in my garden, an unheard of event in the time I have lived here on the Allegany Plateau of central New York. Usually by now successive nights in the 20s would have done even those hardy plants in. If I were to believe the Old Farmer's Almanac 2013, instead of... Continue Reading →

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