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Friday, December 17, 2010

Images of Christmas Past

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. Euclid ave Pasadena Cal. 

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.]

The diary page shown above is for December 23 and 24, 1910. Transcribed here is an excerpt:

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.

Susannah's granddaughters, Katherine Minto and Lura Minto Johaningsmeier donated the photo above among other photos, family letters and diaries to the museum in 1993. The donation, known as the Minto Collection, has become one of the museum's most invaluable resources to staff and researchers.

On Christmas day 1911, the Wilton Family gathered in Avon Township for this family portrait: 

The photo was probably taken at the Wilton Farm on Drury Lane and Rollins Road. 

Pictured are: William Wilton holding William Bratzke (center of photo), Emma Wilton & Isabel Bratzke, Martha Hucker, Maggie Tweed, Eliza Elsbury, Elbert Elsbury, Joe Wilmington, Charles Bratzke, Fred Hucker, Cora Moody, Net Hucker, Anna Bratzke, Charles Hucker, Harriet Fenlon, Leo Fenlon, Everett Hucker, Marjorie Moody, George Hucker, Evelyn Fenlon, Esther Fenlon, Bessie Moody, Keneth Moody, Harold Hucker, George Elsbury, Lloyd Elsbury, Howard Moody, John Petersen, Bernice Elsbury. Photoby Corel Ruth Hucker. 

Jumping several decades, here are a couple of photographs from a Women's Army Corps holiday luncheon at Fort Sheridan, circa 1962. My mother would be pleased to see they're serving olives. That is certainly a tradition at all special meals at our house!

There's something about this young man that reminds me of my brother at that age. The cowboy look became immensely popular with the advent of television Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, so this unidentified youngster was certainly having a very good Christmas. 

Happy holidays! 

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