Christmastime 1888: Excerpt from Emma Richards’ journal

I am happily ensconced with family this Christmas Eve and thought I would again share some excerpts from my great-great grandmother’s journal, specifically her Christmastime entries in 1888.

To refresh on the cast of characters: Emma and her husband Frank lived in Williamsburg, MA with their five children: Prescott, Mattie, Emma, Henry, and Susie. Susie, the youngest, was almost two years old at the time of this entry. They also lived with Frank’s mother and stepfather. Emma’s younger brother, twelve-year-old Arthur, is also mentioned below.

[Sat. December 22nd, 1888]

Pleasant and cold 2⁰ above 0 this morn.

Mother baked bread and pies. Things are all ready for company – they all stayed down to Mr. Wheelers to supper then came up here in the evening. Frank came on the last train bringing Christmas presents from Aunt. S. and some that he bought himself.

We had a treat on crackers, cheese and oranges. Ed. Geckler wife and children have the west chamber his father and mother had the front east chamber.

[Sun. December 23rd, 1888]

Very pleasant not quite as cold.

The friends brought a Christmas dinner for Mr. Wheeler and have gone down there to help him eat it. They all came back here before dark. We have not been to church – papa was too tired. Spent the eve looking at an old diary over 130 yrs. old it belonged to a Mr. Lemuel Snow.

[Mon. December 24th, 1888]

Very pleasant and growing warmer.

We had our Christmas dinner today had chicken pie, scalloped oysters, pickled pears, sweet pickle cucumber and sour cu. bread, butter, apple, mince and cream pies. Father, mother and Arthur came while we were eating dinner.

Christmas tree in the evening. Frank and Ed. cut one down to Mrs. O’Brien’s, they brought a little tree for Susie. Every one seemed to have a nice time. The children all had pieces to speak.

Sadness mingled with our joy. Rec’d telegram that Aunt Ruby died last Sat. Funeral is to be Wednesday noon.

[Tues. December 25th, 1888]

Very pleasant and warmer – windows and doors open to be comfortable.

The friends all left on the 10-15 train. Mother went to Montgomery. Father and Arthur went home after dinner. Frank Williams stopped here to dinner. Frank left for Huntington on the 5 o’c train.

Mother and I have been putting things to rights after the party.

Ed. gave us a picture of himself and family. We all had a great supply of presents and good time all around.

Prescott had “The Boys of ‘61” from Mrs. E. Geckler. I had a footstool, farmer’s satin apron, two white aprons, two boxes of writing paper, etc. etc.

Bookish trivia: The Boys of ’61 is a book written by journalist Charles Carlton Coffin, published in 1881. It’s full title is: The Boys of ’61 or, Four Years of Fighting; Personal Observation with the Army and Navy, from the First Battle of Bull Run to the fall of Richmond. Coffin covered the war for the Boston Journal and would stay with Union Army camps and was on familiar terms with Union Army officers.

It’s possible that Emma was related to the Lemuel Snow whose diary they read. Her mother’s maiden name was Snow. I was amused that I was reading a nearly 130 year old diary which had an entry about reading a 130 year old diary.


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6 responses to “Christmastime 1888: Excerpt from Emma Richards’ journal

  1. How charming to read an entry of your great great grandmother’s journal! I loved reading what they had for Christmas dinner too – details like that are always so fun. Glad I stumbled upon your blog today!

  2. piningforthewest

    I’m finding these diary posts fascinating, and as you say, it’s great to discover that you are repeating a family tradition of reading old diaries.

  3. Letizia – I was also very curious about what they had for Christmas dinner, since that is usually when you get to see what they regarded as special and ‘luxury’ dishes. Thanks for stopping by!

    piningforthewest – Glad you are enjoying these posts! I’ve recently come by photos of Emma and Frank which can add a face to the writing and I’ll post those in the future.

  4. Sounds like a very fancy Christmas dinner! And I loved it too that she’s reading an old diary and you’re reading her old diary. 🙂

  5. Carlton

    I believe Edward Geckler was my 2nd great grandfather. He and his family lived in Orange, MA. Wondering if you have any other information about the Geckler’s in your records.

    • Yes, elsewhere in the journal, Emma mentions that Edw. F. Geckler married Clara Foskitt in 1880 and that they live in Orange, Mass. with two boys. She mentions the Gecklers fairly often – mostly because Emma and Clara exchanged letters. There is a Charles Geckler that is also mentioned in the journal. I’m still copying over Emma’s journal into Word, but I’d be happy to send what I have so far. Just shoot me an email at agoodstoppingpoint (at) gmail (dot) com.

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