The Thanksgiving tradition is about 400 years old. Most experts believe that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, between the Pilgrims and Native Americans as a three-day Thanksgiving harvest celebration.
Others have speculated that the settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, celebrated the first Thanksgiving (circa 1607) as their version of England’s ancient harvest festival.
If it had been up to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the turkey would have been our national symbol and not the Bald Eagle. Of course, that doesn't mean they'd be driving automobiles as portrayed in the circa 1908 holiday postcard below, sent to a friend from Miss Stella Bates.
The Brae Burn Farm in Lake Forest operated as a gentleman's farm for Robert Leatherbee, an executive of the Crane Company of Chicago. This circa 1915 photograph shows turkeys on the farm.
A handwritten poem on the back refers to the origins of the day:
“They built some rude log houses and planted some crops of corn, and then when the harvest was ripened, Thanksgiving Day was born.”