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HomeAmerican HistoryTalkin' Turkey: 19th Century Thanksgiving Newspaper Reports

Talkin’ Turkey: 19th Century Thanksgiving Newspaper Reports


A 19th century Thanksgiving postcard“Let us talk about turkey,” proclaimed a New York Tribune humor column republished Nov.23, 1888 in The Granville Sentinel. Not Turkey in Europe, nor but Turkey in Asia. But turkey in America – the esteemed fowl that goes so properly with cranberry sauce.”

The bald eagle, nationwide fowl of the United States, will get outstanding consideration for months at a time as soon as each 4 years, when there’s a presidential election, however the turkey is heralded yearly, the columnist quipped.

“The eagle has had his full fling this year. He has ruled the roost ever since early summer, when the presidential conventions were held,” the columnist wrote. “Now that the election is over, let the eagle fold up his wings … and give way to the turkey. … The turkey stands for the refreshing calm that succeeds a quadrennial election. The turkey holds himself aloof from political parties, cares nothing for public life.”

The Granville Sentinel, on Nov. 7, 1890, reiterated the philosophy extra succinctly. “The Thanksgiving turkey is nearly ripe. Politics will now take a rest for a while.”

Julius Caesar, within the Shakespeare play, was warned “Beware the ides of March.” In the 19th century, turkeys round Washington County turned cautious across the ides of
November, because the Thanksgiving vacation was approaching.

“In view of the near approach of Thanksgiving, fat turkeys are looking with feelings of envy upon scrawny fellows, and forming bony clubs, and studying how to get rid of their adipose tissue and reduce themselves to their old fighting weight,” The Granville Sentinel reported on Nov. 17, 1876.

The folks of Boston ate fairly a little bit of Washington County turkey for Thanksgiving in 1886. “Carmi C. Farr of Fort Ann shipped four tons of turkeys to the Boston Thanksgiving Market,” The Morning Star reported on Dec. 3.

The Civil War didn’t cease Glens Falls residents from being grateful, or consuming poultry. “Thanksgiving Day was generously observed by the good citizens of this burg in a quiet,
uncontentious manner,” the Glen’s Falls Republican reported on Dec. 3, 1863. “More than the usual number of turkeys, chickens and goslings came to a premature untimely end.”

A Pennsylvania philanthropist set a mannequin for others on the finish of the Civil War. “Some large-hearted citizen of Lewisburgh, Pa. proposed to give a Thanksgiving turkey to every
soldier’s widow in his county, and to every widow who lost a son on whom she depended for support,” the Glen’s Falls Republican reported on Dec. 5, 1865. “Let us have his
name and pass it around as one of nature’s noblemen. Let some of our rich men ‘go and do likewise’ and know that it is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Thanksgiving charity needn’t be restricted to the wealthy. “Help your poor neighbor to a Thanksgiving dinner,” The Morning Star editorialized on Nov. 25, 1884. “One little act of practical charity is worth a whole book full of prayers without the proper spirit.”

It might or might not have been the editorial that impressed George Montee, a saloon keeper in Lake Luzerne, to provide away turkeys in a raffle that night. “About twenty of the birds were distributed to those who were lucky,” The Morning Star reported.

Stealing a Thanksgiving turkey will not be beneficial. “A young lad named Russell went into O’Connor and Brother’s Market, and, taking a nice fat turkey in each arm, started down Glen Street,” The Morning Star reported on Nov. 26, 1884. “Claude Tillotson espied the lad, and, following him, discovered him secreting the turkeys at the read of Sherman’s store. Mr. Tillotson compelled the youthful pilferer to return the turkeys.”

Illustration: A 19th century Thanksgiving postcard.

 

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