Sandburg's Hometown

December 8, 2014

Christmas Gifts--19th Century Style
Christmas Gifts--19th Century Style

Christmas 1878

by Barbara Schock

By December of 1878, Carl Sandburg, the first male child of August and Clara Sandburg, was nearly a year old. He was too young to be interested in toys or any of the excitement of Christmas.

Galesburg had been founded by Presbyterian and Congregational church members who didn't celebrate Christmas. Classes at Knox College, the establishment of which was the purpose of founding the town, were conducted on December 25th, like any other day.

The Swedish immigrants brought their Christmas traditions with them. Gradually, more and more families celebrated with decorated evergreen trees, family dinners and gifts.

In 1871, the young people of the First Church announced they were going to put up a Christmas tree for the Sunday School children. The tree was raised and the world didn't end. The children enjoyed their oranges, candy canes and sacks of peanuts. These were deemed fine gifts at the time.

The merchants of Galesburg soon began to offer goods to satisfy the needs and desires of their customers. The advertisements in the December 7, 1878, Republican-Register were short paragraphs within the news columns. The merchants seem to be speaking directly to readers about the quality of the merchandise, low prices and the variety of stock for sale. Here are a few examples:

Harris' kid gloves, in all the new shades at E. Henner's.

A choice lot of ladies muslin underwear just received at the Boston 99 Cent Store.

For a complete assortment and liberal prices you can do no better than to give Knowles' a call.

An elegant display of Holman's Family Bibles is to be seen at Knowles book store.

We shan't blind you with a great long list of prices on goods that can be varied to suit. Mind you, we will not be undersold. Market House, I.R. Greene and J. Bruington.

On December 14th, Miss B. Ferguson, 14 West Main Street, advertised that her shop had just received a large stock of the most desirable shapes in felt and straw hats, with all the latest novelties in fancy feathers and plumes. In those day, no lady went calling or shopping without wearing a hat. Decorating one's own chapeau was an art which many women considered a necessity.

Holiday Goods” was the title of two columns of print on December 21st, lauding the merchandise some of the store owners of Galesburg offered for sale. The Republican-Register wanted its readers to know that its advertisers had the largest selection and the best prices. The list included books and stationery (Fahnestock & Fuller), boots and shoes (Metz & Jackson), confectionery (Jonas F. Anderson), men's clothing (J.R. Gordon, C.C. Merrill and A. Jacobi), fancy goods for ladies (John B. Colton, G.A. Murdock, O.T. Johnson and M.C. Willard), hats, caps and furs (Solomon Spear at the northeast corner of Main and Prairie Streets), jewelry (Trask & Gentry, Merzog & Meyer), meats (A.C. Redfield on the northeast corner of the Square), wallpaper and paint (Cook & Beach) and auctioneers, L. Miller & Company who operated a “business museum” of collectable items and furniture for sale.

And finally, “If you want to be happy and prosperous..., walk into the office, and subscribe to the Daily or Weekly Republican-Register.


Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
December 8, 2014 Christmas 1878
December 1, 2014 Bunker Boots & Shoes
November 24, 2014 Galesburg, Illinois
November 17, 2014 It was Buffalo Bill's Day
November 10, 2014 The Election of 1896 (A follow-up story)
November 3, 2014 The Election of 1896 (continued)
October 27, 2014 The Election of 1896
October  24, 2014 The Rissywarn
October 20, 2014 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014 4  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013 Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity