Archive for November 24th, 2010

Thanksgiving – by Elizabeth Akers Allen

November 24, 2010

In the pleasant days when we went to school
We read, in a well worn history book,
How, restless under a despot’s rule,
A band of pilgrims their land forsook,
And, crossing a wide, mysterious main
To a country strange and little known,
Began, with hardship and toil and pain,
The home and nation we call our own.


The tale rehearsed how they strove with fate,
They and their meek and patient wives,
And rose up early and labored late
To keep and comfort their lonely lives.
They felled the forests with fire and ax,
They dug and planted the rugged soil
And faced denials, and pinching lacks,
And constant danger, and ceaseless toil.

For nature met them with jealous mood.
She gave scant welcome to human schemes
Which tore the shade from her solitude,
And rent the forests, and dammed the streams.
Her Indian children had never dared
To spoil her shrines and to thwart her will —
The red man’s life was her own and shared,
Without a question, her good and ill.


With few of the helps we know today
To yield relief as the seasons rolled,
They paid the price that she bade them pay —
They gasped with heat, and they shook with cold.
The ills she sent them they grimly bore,
Yet none the less did that stubborn band
Hold fast to the stern, unpitying shore
Whereon their vessel had chanced to land.

One summer fiercely and long the sun
Had parched their gardens and scorched their grain,
And days and weeks had gone on and on
With never a sprinkle of saving rain.
The heat drank greedily all the springs
And dried the wheat ere the ears were filled;
It withered the corn to yellow strings,
And all the tenderer crops were killed.


And strongest spirits grew faint indeed,
Foreseeing nothing but want and woe,
Wasting hunger, and bitter need,
And actual famine with winter’s snow.
The preachers doubled their sermons’ length
And droned long chapters and prayed and prayed.
Yet, spite of their faith’s persistent strength,
Was every man of them sore afraid.

But when their courage was almost gone,
So deaf seemed heaven to their prayers and pain,
A cloud arose in the sky at dawn,
Dark and heavy with promised rain.
And when poured plenteously down at last
The crystal blessing denied so long
They changed the day from a gloomy fast
Into a service of joy and song.


And ever after their children, too,
And their children’s children after them,
With love and gratitude ever new,
Set one day separate, like a gem
Of purer luster than all the rest
In the golden round of the year of days,
When all might offer, as one, their best
Of true Thanksgiving and humble praise.

So let no spirit, though far apart
From happy fortune its path may stray,
Refuse to honor, with voice and heart,
The dear tradition we keep today.
For never a soul in all the earth,
In a hut or palace, in any clime,
But has some blessing or comfort worth
The giving thanks at this joyful time.


We who are happy, whose lot is crowned
With every favor that life can bring.
How can we fail, as the day comes round,
To offer thanks, to rejoice and sing?
We who are wretched, whose days are dark,
Void of all that can bless or cheer,
May still be glad, as its dawn we mark,
That rest and freedom are almost here.

For grain bins brimming with amber wheat,
And all the riches of harvest born;
For laden hives, with their burden sweet;
For heaps of fruits and for golden corn;
For bursting cotton and warming fleece;
For bleating flocks and for milky herds;
For home, for comfort, for thrift, for peace.
For kindly hands and for loving words;


For all the gifts of the teeming earth;
For every blessing the autumn sends;
For love, for pleasure, for tears of mirth;
For faithful hearts and for loyal friends;
For household circles still fond and whole,
Let every one in his own best way,
With grateful thought and with humble soul,
Yield thanksgiving and praise today!


The News (Frederick, Maryland) Nov 23, 1895

American Thanksgiving: Faith – Hope – Love and Squirrel Potpie

November 24, 2010

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 22, 1893

Here is another Thanksgiving Day menu, this time from Newark, Ohio — 1888:

The most interesting thing on this menu has to be the Squirrel Potpie! Hm, “hunter’s style” — I wonder what that means? Fur and all?

The following quotes, unattributed, were also on the same page of the paper:

The richest and most envied man unshorn of his wealth of money, but deprived of all the common benefits which his poorest brother man enjoys as an in alienable right, would be poorer than the poorest pauper.

To express adequate thanks for all the blessings the average American citizen enjoys would require a whole week of steady gratitude.

All may give thanks who are stirred by thoughts of the betterment of the world and can rejoice at its continuous and increasing fulfillment. God reigns and God wills, and he neither reigns nor wills for naught.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Nov 28, 1888

Humeston Gobblers

November 24, 2010


“THIS vulgar old farmyard! It must be that I,
With my talents and beauty, was born to live high.
I’m tired to death of the meaningless clack
Of these ignorant fowls, with their ‘cluck’ and their ‘quack.'”
Thus mused a lone gobbler, the last of the brood,
As he eyed his companions in quarrelsome mood,
“I long for the cultured surroundings of town
And a share of the world’s goodly praise and renown.
I’m not a mere turkey, I’m almost a bird” —
And, suiting the action at once to the word,
He flopped his great wings in excitement and flew
Just a few feet in air when he lit in a slough.
“I’m almost a peacock,” undaunted he cried,
And down went his broad double-chin in its pride.
And then, with the rustle and stir of high birth,
He spread out his feathers for all they were worth,
And strutted and trilled in his voluble way
Till the awe-stricken poultry-tribe fled in dismay.

“Look, ma, that there turkey,” quoth old Farmer Brown,
Who appeared at this moment, “I’ll take right to town;
He’ll go like a hot-cake on Thanksgivin’ Day.
Come, git on yer fixin’s, and don’t yer delay,
I’ll give yer the proceeds to git a new hat —
A snug leetle mite, fur her’s oncommon fat.”
Such low, boorish jargon of course was not clear
To this elegant bird’s most fasidious ear;
So they trotted him off the the great distant town
Where a fashionable family gobbled him down, Admired and praised as the tenderest meat
It ever had been their good fortune to eat.
‘Mid “cultured surroundings” he melted away,
His dreams more than realized — King for a day!


The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 28, 1888

Now for Turkey Jokes.

“Arn’t you afraid that you are living rather too well for your health?” asked the chicken.

“I ain’t in this for my health,” answered the turkey between the pecks. “I’m out for the stuff, so to speak.”

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 25, 1891

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 22, 1893


Thanksgiving day draws on apace and already the turkey is stretching his joints to make them tough against the festival day. A few suggestions from one of experience in carving may prove beneficial to those who are more accustomed to the easy surgical work employed in carving a round steak, than in the physical dissection of gobblers. When the fowl is placed before you, assume a pleasing smile and a confident manner. It will inspire confidence in those about you.

Keep the turkey on the platter. It is not now considered in good taste to carve it on the table cloth, or to hold it firm with one knee. Should it slip from the platter into your lap, restore it to its place before continuing to hunt for the lost joint. As before suggested, however, it is best to keep the turkey on the platter while carving. The carving fork should be inserted firmly in the breast and it is considered preferable to steady the corpse with the forth rather than by grasping its neck. In the mean time, keep the turkey on the platter. The leg is fastened to the body by a joint. Hunt for it patiently.

Don’t try to cut the bone in two. Should the joint be refractory, quietly ask the hostess for a saw. Watch the fowl suspiciously, for in such a moment as ye think not, it will take unto itself wings and fly into your fair neighbor’s lap. At this point a humorous story, told in your most facetious vein, will help matters amazingly and leave the waiting guests in good spirits, especially if you keep the turkey on the platter. Dismember a wing or two. Bear down on the joint. If the thing slips and shoves the dressing over the edge of the platter, make light of hte incident as a common place matter, and tell about how you used to carve ducks years ago. Then go for the wish bone. Promise the young miss that she shall have the straddling thing to hang over the door. Keep on cutting; the wish bone is there somewhere. Gain time by discovering a side bone or two. But keep the wishbone in your mind’s eye.

If you should find it necessary to use your fingers to secure the bone, it is considered more polite we believe, to wipe them on the table cloth rather than to suck off the grease. It is, we understand, now considered decidedly proper to transfer the dismembered gobbler to the guests’ plates with a long fork rather than to use your fingers. But this is a mere matter of taste, a simple freak of fashion, as it were. By following this simple advise, it will be easy for anyone to carve the turkey, and we have only one parting suggestion, which is that in carving a turkey,it is now considered decidedly more dignified to allow the fowl to remain on the platter.


The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 22, 1893

Family on Porch in Humeston, Iowa (Image from

This family (unknown name) looks like they could have posed for this picture on Thanksgiving day.  Deadfred states this was taken in Humeston, Iowa, which, evidently, is pronounced Hum – es -ton, according to their rather impressive website. They have a nice promotional video for their town at the link. Looks like a quaint little town with beautiful scenery.

Thanksgiving Time

November 24, 2010

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 21, 1894

And from the same newspaper, different year:


Thanksgiving time’s a-comin — 1 in hear the gobble-gobble
Of the turkeys in the barnyard on the farm where I was born.
I kin see the Shangai rooster walkin sort of wibble-wobble,
Makin b’lieve he’s feelin sick and off his feed of yaller corn.

An they’re fixin in the kitchen fer a good old fashioned dinner,
Choppin mince meat by the bushel thetis good fer hungry eyes.
Seedin raisins fer plum puddin fit to save the vilest sinner
If he ever had a mother an she made Thanksgivin pies.

Ah, the mother, she’s a smilin, standin in the doorway, lookin
Down toward the railroad station when she hears the engine toot.
Fer her by is a-comin, and the pies most burn a-cookin,
While her dear old heart’s a-thumpin fer this worthless ole galoot.

Doesn’t ‘pear to matter nohow thet I’m balk and gittin gouty,
Doesn’t seem to make no diff’rence thet I smoke and cuss a bit,
She’s the same ole lovin; mother, never cross and never grouty.
An they’ll be no more Thanksgivin’s boys, when mother hez to quit.

— New York Sun.

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Nov 23, 1898