Pioneer Christmas traditions to be
showcased by historical association
By Lyle Fletcher
Dec. 7, 2017
MT. PLEASANT—Pioneer Christmas traditions are in the spotlight at the Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop at 150 S. State Street in Mt. Pleasant each Monday night before Christmas.
The volunteers and staff will be presenting ways pioneers celebrated Christmas long, long ago.
Dale Peel, president of the Mt. Pleasant Pioneer Historical Association, explains: “This year, for the first time ever, on the four family nights (Mondays) before Christmas, we are keeping the doors of our Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop open late, until 8 p.m., so visitors can learn about the different ways our area’s early settlers, in the 1850s and 1860s, celebrated Christmas with different customs.”
Judith Jackson, coordinator for the pioneer Christmas open houses, said they didn’t know how many people would come to the first one: “All our volunteers were pleasantly surprised to see so many visitors interested in learning about the different ways our area’s diverse group of pioneers went about celebrating the same holiday with some of the very different customs they brought with them from their different homelands overseas.”
The first open house was held on Nov. 27, and Kim Rosier’s family of Mt. Pleasant was the first to arrive. Rosier said, “My husband, Larkin, and I really liked the idea of devoting a family night to learning more about the different Christmas traditions among the early settlers here.”
She added, “What I really enjoyed was seeing the inside of the Relic Home, but Larkin and our daughter, Savannah, were fascinated by the demonstration out in the Blacksmith Shop.”
Volunteer blacksmith Peter Hafen had a fire burning in the forge and introduced visitors to the special “ice traction” horseshoes pioneers used in the winter.
Marcia Nay, also of Mt. Pleasant, came to the first open house. She smiled as she recalled, “My grandchildren were amazed to learn that some pioneer children would have set out a wooden shoe to receive the Christmas goodies that arrived in the night, instead of hanging up a stocking.”
As coordinator of the open houses, Jackson mentioned something visitors could do: “One of our goals is to inspire this year’s visitors to give our organization copies of their pioneer ancestors’ diaries, journals, letters and other documents to help us provide a better, more complete picture of the many different Christmas traditions practiced back then.”
Two more open houses are scheduled for this year on Monday, Dec. 11, and on Monday, Dec. 18.