In December 1865, Susannah Smith of Millburn wrote in her diary:
22nd - Will have no school till Tuesday because Monday will be “Merry Christmas.”
24th - Went to Church.
25th - Cousin William, and family came to spend Merry Christmas with us and we had a merry, merry time. They stayed all night.
As a young unmarried woman, Susannah taught at a one-room schoolhouse, Grubb School, located at Grass Lake and Beck Roads one half mile east of Deep Lake Road (now part of Lake Villa). Her diary gives many insights into rural life, including a glimpse into holiday festivities, and the fact that school was back in session the day after Christmas.
In this 1908 photograph, Mildred Holloway Minto of Millburn sits with her daughters, Ruth (on lap) and Katherine in front of the family's Christmas tree. Mildred married David Harold Minto in 1905, who was the son of Civil War veteran David J. Minto and Susannah Smith.
Susannah Smith Minto continued to keep a diary for many years. In 1910, she commented on activities surrounding the coming holiday:
December 10th - I rec’d a nice box of writing papers & cards as a Christmas gift from Mrs J.M. Strong of 60 So.
December 22nd - Men got Christmas trees from our woods. [The Minto property was on Deep Lake Road north of Grass Lake Road, adjacent to Loon Lake.]
Una [Susannah's daughter] has quite a hard cold, hope it may be better tomorrow as she has promised to go to M. [Millburn] to help to decorate Christmas trees for evening. H [Susannah's son, David Harold Minto] making ironing board for K. [his daughter Katherine] on Christmas; he is working down in cellar making it this evening. I made shortbread.
On Christmas day 1911, the Wilton Family gathered in Avon Township for this family portrait: