Thanksgiving through the decades | News, Sports, Jobs


A Thanksgiving postcard is displayed. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE – Although Thanksgiving did not become an official federal holiday until 1863, when President Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as the day of “Thanksgiving and praise”, Michigan’s first official celebration was much earlier.

In 1824, 13 years before Michigan even achieved statehood, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass declared November 25 Thanksgiving Day.

And while the first Marquette vacation was mostly religious, it didn’t take long for the elements we associate with Thanksgiving today – turkeys, football, vacation travel, and even Christmas shopping – to take hold. in Marquette County.

Ellen Harlow, daughter of Amos Harlow, one of the founders of Marquette, has kept numerous journals over the years, copies of many of them are now in the Marquette Regional History Center. She was 15 on November 28, 1860, when she noticed that the last boat had arrived with provisions for the winter.

The next day she wrote “For the morning, we all attended a Thanksgiving sermon at the Methodist Church. In the afternoon, we went to Grandma’s house, had dinner and came home at five o’clock in the evening, my father and I attended the prayer meeting.

But by 1873, the secular Thanksgiving spirit was already taking hold. That year, the Mining Journal printed the full text of Governor John Bagley’s Thanksgiving Proclamation which concluded, “Through acts of charity to her suffering children at home and in sister states, let us show that our gratitude is heartfelt and sincere. “Do not reject the supplication of the afflicted; do not turn away from a poor person either.“‘Right below this solemn proclamation, however, was the”The Local Cinders column, who advised:

“Start putting your money away for the holidays.

Put a blanket on your horse when you leave it standing outside.

You, the merchants who have holiday items, should advertise if you plan to sell them this season.

Thanksgiving Day is approaching. Heads of household should have a supply of pain relievers, peppermint, etc.

In 1880, local merchants fully appreciated the warning to advertise if they wanted to sell goods. There was still a “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” on the Mining Journal on November 18, but this time it was an advertisement for Steel and Lobdell. “Never before in the history of the grocery store have the inhabitants of Marquette made available to them such a magnificent stock of beautiful imported and domestic table objects. As low as consistent prices with good quality and fair quantity.

And, even though it was still before Thanksgiving, Hager and Johnson were advertising, “Right now we’re ready for business with a huge stock of Christmas presents.

Furniture of all kinds and home decoration.“Arthur Delf and Son, at 133 W. Washington, was advertising”Thanksgiving Dinner – Oysters – fresh, cooked or fried. Fresh Newberry Celery. Minced meat, one pound packets are enough for two pies.

By 1900, travel, football, and even turkey giveaways had all entered the Thanksgiving tradition. Thompson and Russell’s Bazaar advertised sculpture sets, with prices ranging from 35 cents to $ 9.75. Palmer’s Bazaar competed with a free turkey with every dinner service sold before Thanksgiving. There were advertisements for discounted excursion fares to all locations on the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway, including at “Lower Michigan via Mackinaw City.” And if you wanted to plan ahead, there were announcements for “Cheap rates and special service” for Christmas, travel to Great Britain, Norway, Sweden and Finland with “Free on the trains from Marquette to Boston on the DSS & A for anyone who has booked any of the tours.” The trips were promised “The biggest and most beautiful ocean liners in the Atlantic with the finest third-class accommodation in the world.”

You can even go to the theater. For a dime or a quarter, you can attend The Two Orphans Thanksgiving matinee at 2:30 p.m., or you can splurge (seats up to 35 cents) for The Two Orphans’ evening show. “The world.”

The religious aspects of the holiday have not been completely neglected. The Mining Journal devoted a full column to the various scheduled religious services. As they had done for many years, the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches have organized union services [combined, ecumenical observances]. In 1900, the main service was held at the Baptist Church at 10 a.m. and included a sermon on “The Value of Gratitude in Character Development”. Prior to the service, youth groups from the three churches gathered from 7:30 am (!) And the three congregations met again at 7:30 pm for a union prayer meeting, this time at the Presbyterian Church. The Episcopal Saint-Paul and Saint-Pierre Catholic Churches have organized their own thanksgiving services.

The same article, however, mentioned a competing priority: the end of the hunting season. Noting that the last day of the hunting season was only two days away, the article continued, “Many people who wish to get away from the city will go into the woods on hunting trips…. In forty-eight hours, a man who knocks down a buck or a doe exposes himself to the penalties of the law. This fact will lead athletes who have failed to date as well as those who wish to use all of their license tags to try their luck in the woods.

The Friday following Thanksgiving, the newspaper was full of Christmas announcements. The apostle and Treas of Ishpeming announced that they had brought “20,000 pounds of candy for Christmas” and Palmer’s Bazaar said “You want a doll for your little one. Why not buy it now? But, prominently with those announcements on the homepage was a column with all the Thanksgiving football scores, titled “Michigan is outclassed.” The Chicago Bears, then still the University of Chicago team, won in the annual game, 15-6.

The University of Chicago no longer has a football team, and the U of M’s annual Thanksgiving rivalry is now with Ohio State. Vacation travel now clutters airports, instead of Duluth, South Shore, and Atlantic Railway.

But there will always be church services, turkey dinners with Grandma, vacation announcements, and possibly even a hunter or two in the woods, hoping for that last change before the season is over.

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