Thursday, December 22, 2016

A 1924 View of an 1840s Christmas

Ever wonder what Christmas was like in Ohio during the pioneer times of the early 1840s? You'll find the answer in this interesting interview that reporter Rhea Soper Eddy conducted with a 90-year-old Elyria resident back in December 1924.

It appeared in the Lorain Journal on Dec. 18, 1924.

Christmas 80 Years Ago Is Recalled by Elyrian
Half an Apple Made the Children Happy in Yule Season
in the Forties, Mrs. Thayer Says


ELYRIA, Dec. 28 –– Suppose you were just a little girl and you were sure there was a Santa Claus but you were equally as sure that when you woke up on Christmas morning you would be mighty lucky if he had left you a stick of candy or an apple.

The Santa Claus of ninety years ago was not the generous old fellow that the boys and girls of today are familiar with, and the Christmas in those days was celebrated in a far different manner from that of today, according to Mrs. Charlotte Johnston-Thayer, 249 Gates-av, Elyria, who observed her 90th birthday anniversary early this month.

"Christmas trees and an abundance of yule-tide gifts were unknown in the olden days," says Mrs. Thayer. "Our Christmas celebration consisted in a reunion of relatives with a mid-day feast of roast pig instead of turkey. Oftentimes there were church services in the morning and following dinner the men would spend the remainder of the day hunting while the women would quilt. In the evening everybody danced."

When She Was Seven
The earliest recollection the aged woman has of Christmas was when she was seven. There was nothing unusual about the day except that the family was together and each child was given a half an apple for a Christmas treat.

"Did you believe in Santa Claus?" Mrs. Thayer was asked.

"Oh my, yes," she replied, "we believed there was such a person but we never thought of him as one who came laden with great quantities of gifts nor did we specify beforehand, what we wanted, for we knew we wouldn't get them if we did."

"Did you ever receive a doll on Christmas when a little girl?" was the question asked the little white-haired woman.

"Mercy sakes, no," was her emphatic answer, as she laughed at the idea. "I never had a real doll in my life. All little girls in those days possessed a corn cob with a rag wound around it which we mothered with as much maternal love as the children of today do with their most up-to-date mamma dolls with real hair and eyes that close.

Born in Medina-co
This interesting little lady, who, despite her advanced age, can boast of the fact that scarcely a day passes that she doesn't read the daily paper from beginning to end, was born in Brunswick, Medina-co. She was one of seven children and the last of that number living. When but 17 she taught school in Hinkley and among her pupils now living is Newman Van Deusen of Hinkley, father of Atty. C. E. Van Deusen of Lorain.

When 22 years of age she resigned her position as teacher to become the wife of Linus Smith Thayer of New York. The first 18 months of her early married life were spent on a farm in Michigan, after which the young couple returned to Medina, where Mr. Thayer continued farming. Thirty years ago, they moved to Elyria, where they have since resided. Mr. Thayer passed away in 1899.

Three children were born to the couple, two of whom, Frank J. and Eva May, are living and reside with the mother. Mrs. Thayer has been an active member of the Church of Christ of Elyria, altho of late her health has not permitted her to attend services.

Altho automobiles, rouge or the marcel wave have never figured in this interesting little woman's life, she is not adverse to anything that brings happiness into the lives of others. As for bobbed hair, she is a firm believer in it to the extent that she has her own hair bobbed but not because of the fad but for comfort and sanitation.

"One thing that does vex me" says Mrs. Thayer, confidentially, "why don't the girls of today dress warmer? How can they brave the wintry winds and snow with such scant clothing as the majority of them wear?" and she drew her shawl closer about her at the thought of it.

"Girls of today really are sensible, too," she continued, "and yet they risk their health every time they go out with so little around them. You bet they didn't dress like that 80 years ago. Our clothing was warm and we had plenty of it."

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