November 25, 2013
November 25, 2013
Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries
By Barbara Schock
The people of Galesburg, many of whom were originally from the New England states, celebrated Thanksgiving in the traditional manner. An abundance of food and relatives being the primary ingredients. The Pilgrims of 1620 had days of thanksgiving when droughts ended, or other times when they felt God had treated them favorably. After the harvest was in, the townspeople of New England would celebrate the bounty with a festival of food, games and sporting events.
President George Washington set the last Thursday of November, 1789, as a day of thanksgiving for the adoption of the Constitution. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed the idea of a day of thanksgiving to remind citizens of the blessings they enjoyed in spite of the Civil War. Prayers for peace and restoration of the Union would be appropriate as well.
The Galesburg Daily Mail reported on November 28, 1893, the day before Thanksgiving, that turkeys were plentiful in the shops. Dressed turkeys were 12 cents a pound. Those with “feathers and in possession of all their faculties” were 7 to 8 cents a pound. Of course, the businessmen were prepared to also sell duck, goose and chicken. Cranberries and oysters were selling at reasonable prices. Some business houses closed for the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day and others gave their employees the entire day off.
On Wednesday, students in the city schools were let out for Thanksgiving Day. They didn’t have to return to school until the following Monday. As was the custom, the students presented musical selections and recitations in their classrooms before being dismissed for the holiday.
Many of the children brought apples, canned vegetables, potatoes and clothing which were to be given to the poor. The City Poormaster and the Dorcas Society would see to the distribution of the goods.
Miss Rilla C. Meeker’s grammar school class gave readings and recitations in their classroom beginning and ending with singing. The last person on the program was Martin Sanburg, who gave a presentation on conundrums. Carl Sandburg’s younger brother was just about the right age to be in the class even though the newspaper may have misspelled the surname.
Central Primary School had an extensive program of recitations, short skits and songs about Thanksgiving. Hitchcock, Weston, Bateman and Lincoln Schools had similar programs under the direction of classroom teachers.
August and Clara Sandburg doubtless made plans for Thanksgiving. August’s cousin Magnus Holmes lived on North Seminary Street in Galesburg. Clara’s cousin, Lena Kranz and her family lived on a farm north of Galesburg. The families often got together for meals and visits.
We hope every family in the city had an enjoyable holiday. Soon the effects of the Panic of 1893 would begin to be felt by many families in the city. For example, the railroad would cut workers hours to less than half of what they had been the year before. Such a large reduction would diminish the living standard of many families through much of the rest of the decade.