Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Christmas Truce of 1863

"Christmas Eve," an illustration by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly, January 3, 1863
Christmas on the Rappahannock

The story below is from the Civil War. It was published in Harper’s Weekly in 1886 by Rev. John Paxton who himself served as a Union soldier with the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His story takes place on Christmas Day just after the Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg. 

While on patrol, his unit came upon a group of Confederate soldiers standing across the Rappahannock River. It is said that instead of fighting, they declared a pause, an unofficial truce, in the fighting for Christmas. Then they met to share the Christmas spirit.

Christmas on the Rappahannock
Story by Rev. John R. Paxton, D.D.

“Gentlemen, the chair of the Professor of the Mathematics is vacant in this college; permit me to introduce to you, Captain Fraser.” Rah! rah! rah! and away we went and enlisted – to go to Richmond. It took us three years to get there. No wonder; there were so many Longstreets to make our way through; so many Hills to climb; so many Stonewalls to batter down; so many Picketts to clear out of the way. It was as hard as a road to travel as the steep and stony one to heaven.

No preaching, sir! Can’t you forget the shop? Don’t you know that you have squeezed yourself into that faded, jacket, and are squirming, with a flushed face and short breaths, behind that sword belt, which had caused a rebellion in media res?

I started for Richmond in July 1862, a lad eighteen years old, a junior in college, and chafing to be at it, – to double-quick it after John Brown’s soul, which, since it did not require a knapsack or three days’ rations or a canteen or a halt during the night for sleep, was always marching on. 

On the night before Christmas, 1862, I was a dejected young patriot, wishing I hadn’t done it, shivering in the open weather a mile back of the Rappahannock, on the reserve picket and exposed to a wet snowstorm. There was not a stick of wood within five miles of us; all cut down, down, even the roots of trees, and burned up. We lay down on our rubber blankets, pulled our woolen blankets over us, spooned it as close as we could to get to steal warmth from our comrades, and tried not to cry.

Next morning the snow lay heavy and deep, and the men, when I wakened and looked about me, reminded me of a church graveyard in winter. “Fall in for picket duty. There, come, Moore, McMeaus, Paxton, Perrine, Pollock, fall in.” We fell in, of course, No breakfast; chilled to the marrow; snow a foot deep. We tightened our belts on our empty stomachs, seized our rifles, and marched to the river to take our six hours on duty.

It was Christmas Day, 1862. “And so this is war,” my old me said to himself while he paced in the snow his two hours on the river’s brink. “And I am out here to shoot that lean, lank, coughing, cadaverous-looking butternut fellow over the river. So this is war; this is being a soldier; this is the genuine article; this is H. Greely’s ‘On to Richmond.’ Well, I wish he were here in my place, running to keep warm, pounding his arms and breast to make the chilled blood circulate. So this is war, tramping up and down this river my fifty yards with wet feet, empty stomach, swollen nose.”

Alas, when lying under the trees in the college campus last June, war meant to me martial music, gorgeous brigadiers in blue and gold, tall young men in line, shining in brass. War meant to me tumultuous memories of Bunker Hill, Caesar’s Tenth Legion, the Charge of the Six Hundred, – anything but this. 

Pshaw, I wish I were home. Let me see. Home? God’s country. A tear? Yes, it is a tear. What are they doing at home? This is Christmas Day. Home? Well, stockings on the wall, candy, turkey, fun, merry Christmas, and the face of the girl I left behind. Another tear? Yes, I couldn’t help it. I was only eighteen, and there was such a contrast between Christmas, 1862, on the Rappahannock and other Christmases. Yes, there was a girl, too, – such sweet eyes, such long lashes, such a low tender voice.

“Come, move quicker. Who goes there?” Shift the rifle from one aching shoulder to the other.

“Hello, Johnny, what are you up to?” The river was narrow, but deep and swift. It was a wet cold, not a freezing cold. There was no ice, too swift for that.

“Yank, with no overcoat, shoes full of holes, nothing to eat but parched corn and tabacco, and with this darned Yankee snow a foot deep, there’s nothin’ left, nothin’ but to get up a cough by way of protestin’ against this infernal ill-treatment of the body. We uns, Yank, all have a cough over here, and there’s no sayin’ which will run us to hole first, the cough or your bullets.”

The snow still fell, the keen wind, raw and fierce, cut to the bone. It was God’s worst weather, in God’s forlornest, bleakest spot of ground, that Christmas Day of ’62 on the Rappahannock, a half-mile below the town of Fredericksburg. But come, pick up your prostrate pluck, you shivering private. Surely there is enough dampness around without your adding to it your tears.

“Let’s laugh, boys.”

“Hello, Johnny.”

“Hello, yourself, Yank.”

“Merry Christmas, Johnny.”

“Same to you, Yank.”

“Say, Johnny, got anything to trade?”

“Say, Johnny, got anything to trade?”

“Parched corn and tabacco, – the size of our Christmas, Yank.”

“All right; you shall have some of our coffee and sugar and pork. Boys, find the boats.”

Such boats! I see the children sailing them on small lakes in our Central park. Some Yankee, desperately hungry for tobacco, invented them for trading with the Johnnies. They were hid away under the backs of the river for successive relays of pickets.

We got out the boats. An old handkerchief answered for a sail. We loaded them with coffee, sugar, pork, and set the sail and watched them slowly creep to the other shore. And the Johnnies? To see them crowd the bank and push and scramble to be the first to seize the boats, going into the water and stretching out their long arms. Then, when they pulled the boats ashore, and stood in a group over the cargo, and to hear their exclamations, “Hurrah for hog.” “Say, that’s not roasted rye, but genuine coffee. Smell it, you’uns.” “And sugar, too!”

Then they divided the consignment. They laughed and shouted, “Reckon you’uns been good to we’uns this Christmas Day, Yanks.” Then they put parched corn, tobacco, ripe persimmons, into the boats and sent them back to us. And we chewed the parched corn, smoked real Virginia leaf, ate persimmons, which if they weren’t very filling at least contracted our stomachs to the size of our Christmas dinner. 

And so the day passed. We shouted, “Merry Christmas, Johnny.” They shouted, “Same to you, Yank.” And we forgot the biting wind, the chilling cold; we forgot those men over there were our enemies, whom it might be our duty to shoot before evening.

We had bridged the river, spanned the bloody chasm. We were brothers, not goes, waving salutations of good-will in the name of the Babe of Bethlehem, on Christmas Day in ’62. At the very front of the opposing armies, the Christ Child struck a truce of us, broke down the wall of partition, became our peace. We exchanged gifts. We shouted greetings back and forth. We kept Christmas and our hearts were lighter of it, and our shivering bodes were not quite so cold.

-- end of article, Christmas Number, Harper’s Weekly, 1886.

I did not correct most of the misspellings or punctuation mistakes in the Harper's Weekly article above. Other than a coma or two, it appears above as it did in 1886.

The Civil War was a time of valor and tremendous sacrifice on both sides, but also great sorrow. During the summer months, the heat was horrible -- especially on those who lay wounded and dying on the battlefield. While that was the case, it is said that there was no worse time to be a soldier in either army than that of the dead of winter. 

The freezing cold, the mud, the dung, the lack of food and sanitation, the sickness, and of course the dead. Both Union and Confederate troops had it tough and struggled to do their duty because simple survival in the freezing cold took more of a priority than that of duty in many cases. Just the fight to survive the harsh winter weather alone killed thousands of troops. Thousands died from exposure and disease throughout the war. More died of diseases in the Civil War than gunshot wounds. 

As with troops in every war since time and memorial, horrid conditions spur thoughts of home and loved ones. Troops have always tried to bring a little Christmas spirit, that which they yearned for, into their time underarms. To fight the loss and sorrow, fellowship and camaraderie serve to help fight the melancholy that sets in during the Christmas season away from home.

The "Christmas Truce" of 1863 would not be the last unofficial truce between Union and Confederate troops. It is certainly not as famous as the Christmas Day Truce between British, French, and German soldiers during World War I. Such things were discouraged by high ranking officers. They always have been. No, there was nothing official of any of those truces during the Civil War or that famous one later during War World I. 

Truces spring up when the exchange of gunfire and cannon stops. They happened entirely unofficially when soldiers decide on their own that for that moment and time, peace and goodwill towards their fellow man should prevail for at least a few minutes. 

Tom Correa

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Kansas Christmas Dinner 1886

1886 Hand-colored double-page wood engraving featured in Harper's Weekly titled, "Here's A Jolly Christmas Load."
Drawn by F.S. Church.
The scene shows a woman holding dressed 
cherubs as a crowd of them and others look on.

Merry Christmas My Friends! 

Below is an article that was sent to me from a cookbook. Yes, a cookbook. While it may or may not have been a Christmas feast that many aspired to prepare, it's a safe bet that the below directions to that feast was meant for those who were a lot more well-off than our average pioneer family whether they were farmers, ranchers, or simply merchants trying to keep their business afloat in a frontier town. 

And really, while I found it interesting how little preparing Christmas dinners have changed, can you imagine attempting to prepare this?  Good luck! 

"Christmas Dinner

This table should be laid as for any other company dinner, the necessary adjuncts being at had on the sideboard or another table, as heretofore directed. It is a modern fancy to introduce a centre cloth of embroidered linen, or squares and ovals of plush, on which the epergne is set; but practical housekeepers would generally prefer a low dish of ferns or scarlet geraniums mingled with white carnations, having for a base a round mirror whose outer edge could be hidden under a wreath of evergreen, and upon whose surface some stray leaves or blossoms have fallen as if by accident. 

In cities and towns, where raw oysters can be had, they are often used as a first course. They should be opened and the shell washed an hour or so before dinner, and be put in a cold place. When wanted for the table, if one has not proper oyster-plates, arrange six of these shells, with an oyster in each, on a dessert-plate, with the narrow part of the shell inward, all meeting in the centre, where two or three slices of lemon are laid. 

Small crackers are passed, in addition to the bread on the napkin, and the pepper and the salt should be within reach. The second course may be breaded mutton-chops, accompanied with canned French peas. A haunch of venison and boiled cauilflower, with drawn butter poured over the latter, would make an acceptable second course. 

The venison should be purchased several days in advance and hung in a cool place, and should be washed off five or six times with vinegar. On Christmas morning it should be washed with warm water, with a dash of cold water at the last. 

Then wipe it perfectly dry and enclose it in a covering of dough made of flour and water rolled into a thickness of not more than half an inch. Encase this in two layers of white wrapping-paper and secure with a string. Fill a dripping-pan a third full of hot water and baste often, adding to it from the tea-kettle as it evaporates. Frequent basting will keep the paper from scorching; and when thorougly cooked--which will require from two to three hours--take form the oven about three-fourths of an hour before dinner, remove all the coverings, rub well with butter and dredge with flour, and then return to the oven. 

Repeat this butter-basting two or three times, till the meat is nicely browned and a 'glaze' formed. Garnish the venison with alternate slices of lemon and pickled beet-root. Season the gravy with a large spoonful of currant jelly and the juice of half a lemon. Other suitable vegetables to be passed with venison are mashed turnips, mashed potato, or sweet potato. 

If a turkey is thorugh to be a necessitiy to complete the Christmas dinner, he should be perpared for the table as directed on page 119. When dished, it will be an improvement to garnish him with oysters carefully crumbed and fried. Cranberry sauce should be passed with roast turkey. Chicken salad may follow this course, cheese and crackers coming next. 

Everything save the ornamental centre- pice will now be removed from the table, and the crumbs brushed from the cloth, making the entrance of the mince-pies, fruits, nuts, and raisins now in order. Ices will be reslished after highly-seasoned pastried, and light fancy cakes may be passed with them. 

Oranges, grapes, and the late pears are ordinarily offered, and last of all should com the little cups of black coffee, accompanied by cream and sugar. it sould be of good strength, as we fuly assent to the statement that 'well-bred and sensible people do not affect pale and watery decoctions after a hearty dinner.'"

--- Kansas Home Cook-Book consisting of recipes contributed by ladies of Leavenworth and other cities and towns, compiled by Mrs. C.H. Cushing and Mrs. B. Gray, facsimile 1886 edition [Creative Cookbooks: Monterey, CA] 2001 (p. 33-35)

By the way, as you can see, I did not correct any of the misspellings or punctuation mistakes. It appears above as it did in 1886. 

Merry Christmas! 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Did Santa Hurt His Back This Year?

Merry Old Santa Claus by Thomas Nast

Santa Claus is thought of mainly as a jolly old man in a red suit. Santa Claus, also known as Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, or simply Santa, brings gifts to well-behaved boys and girls on Christmas Eve. When good children awake during the early morning hours of Christmas Day, they find his handy work under their tree. We all know this to be true. We simply do.

Anyone who says this is not what happens during that night is positively un-American. 

Being part of our thinking is what Santa is all about. Being good should be rewarded. That's the American way. To think that Santa, or anyone else as far as that goes, would reward bad behavior goes against who we are as a people. It goes against our culture. 

We are brought up understanding that cheating is not okay, that stealing is not right, that burning and looting is something that criminals do. We are brought up to understand that condoning bias is wrong, that judges and umpires and historians not being impartial is unacceptable, and that we must condemn such things because we know that bad behavior should not be rewarded. We know Santa does not reward bad conduct. We know we shouldn't. We learn this as kids. We learn this as part of our foundation of what makes us who we are. 

Santa teaches us what kindness looks like in the faces of the children who go to see him. Santa speaks to our hearts, not about being stern or unforgiving, but about love and goodness. He does so by being giving. He does so by being understanding. He does so by being who many of us wish we could be more of -- someone who sees the world as a good place where the good are rewarded while the bad get coal in their stockings. This is pure Americanism. It goes to the heart of who we are and why the wrongs in the world bother us deeply. 

Why do I keep saying this has to do with our being Americans? Well, it does. And frankly, the world understands that's true.

The legend of Santa Claus is said to have started many hundreds of years ago during the 3rd Century when a kind monk named St. Nicholas gave away the wealth that he inherited. Besides his generosity, he is said to have traveled the countryside helping the poor and comforting the sick. He did so not out of some sort of guilt, as many today what to paint good deeds, but simply because it was morally good to do. 

Whether some understand it or not, doing something good with no strings attached makes people feel good. What's the profit in it? The profit is the good feeling one gets from doing a selfless act. That's what Santa teaches us. We can give without expecting anything in return other than a feeling that we did something good. That's what this time of year is all about. 

All of this became part of our uniquely American way of thinking almost 200 years ago.

Over the course of European history, Santa's popularity spread. And frankly, by the Renaissance period, St. Nicholas is said to have been the most popular saint in all of Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when looking up to Saints was discouraged, St. Nicholas was still held in high esteem. And really, it was for a good reason. St. Nick was loved because he showed love. 

Are you still wondering where America comes in on all of this? Well, here you go. Santa, as St. Nicholas, became part of our American culture towards the end of the 1700s. In fact, it was in December of 1773 and 1774, a couple of years before we declared our independence from England, that a New York newspaper reported how Dutch families living there had gathered together to honor and recognize the anniversary of the death of that kind monk named St. Nicholas. That day is December 6th. We get the name Santa Claus from the Dutch nickname for Sint Nikolaas, Dutch for Saint Nicholas, that being Sinter Klaas.

In 1804, the New York Historical Society distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at their annual meeting. Those engravings were of the now-familiar Santa that we know and love. Of course, the other piece to that story has to do with what else was in those engravings. The images included Santa filling stockings with toys and fruit. They were hung over a fireplace. See where this is going?

In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize Santa through stories. But really, Santa was not cemented in the American consciousness until 1822 when Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a Christmas poem for his three daughters. That long Christmas poem was entitled "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." It was printed and reprinted repeatedly over the years with a title that it became more popularly known as "Twas The Night Before Christmas."

Rev. Moore's poem is responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus. He is the reason we see Santa as a "right jolly old elf" who has the incredible ability to do what he does. From coming down a chimney to making his Christmas Eve journey all in a single night, we can thank Rev. Moore for telling us about him. Rev. Moore's account in that poem created an American icon. 

In 1881, a political cartoonist named Thomas Nast, who is also known to have drawn the political donkey too stubborn to do what's right as the mascot for the Democratic Party, drew a Santa going along with the description in Rev. Moore's poem.

Thomas Nast's cartoon image of Santa Claus appeared in Harper’s Weekly that year. It depicted Santa as a rather stout but cheerful man with a full white beard. He was holding a sack full of toys for all of the good boys and girls. Thomas Hast gave America our Santa dressed in his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, his North Pole workshop, elves as helpers, and his wife, we all know as Mrs. Claus. That first likeness of Santa, which Thomas Nast created, is still our modern image of Santa Claus. 

Over the years, Santa has shown up at parades and stores, in malls, and even at local American Legion posts, among other places. The Salvation Army has used Santa to raise needed funds since the 1880s. But even before Thomas Nast gave us the image that we all know and love, Santa was there in the thoughts of troops fighting in the Civil War. Yes, just as he was with those in the trenches of World War I and on the minds of those fighting World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was with the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as he has been with the families of those far from home. 

As during the hard times of the Great Depression when there was very little to look forward to, Santa has been a joy and respite when a short period of rest and relief from the difficult and unpleasant is yearned for. This year, Americans have had to deal with the Coronavirus, isolation, quarantines, masks, unreasonable government mandates, unemployment because of business shutdowns, and of course, the loss of loved ones. Americans have weathered hardships before, and we will meet such challenges again in our future. Yes, challenges in our future are what life is all about. And yes, indeed, our history shows us that we meet them head-on. 

But whether it's this plague or some other calamity, Americans will not only endure, but we will prevail. That's who we are. And while this is happening, even though it may seem as though Santa may have slipped and hurt his back while feeding reindeer this year, he will be here to visit good boys and girls this Christmas. We know that's true. And yes, we know there will be a lot of coal handed out this year. 

So while we remember that the reason for the season is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, knowing Santa will carry on is a blessing to us all!

Tom Correa

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Attack On December 7th Also Hit Civilians

Dec 7th Japanese Planes Strafed Civilians

A few days ago, I entered into a conversation with some friends regarding the December 7th, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. As I told my friends, being from Hawaii, I was raised hearing many stories from my relatives who were there on December 7th, 1941. 

My mom and I were talking about Pearl Harbor the other day. She was a little girl of eight just walking to church with my grandmother that morning when the planes came over. The civilian population was hit on that day. Frankly, most don't know that the population was both terrified and angry. And civilians were indeed strafed and bombed in an attempt to instill terror on the public. This was part of why everyone expected an invasion by Japanese troops after the main attack on the Navy and Army installations on Oahu.

My mom said she never cried so hard or was so scared until that day. My family lived on Oahu and was less than 4 miles from Pearl Harbor's base gate during the attack. While it must have been scary for all, it must have been especially frightening for a little kid. As for my grandmother, she said she only thought about getting home and to safety. My grandmother worked at the Naval Supply Center at Pearl Harbor starting in 1942 as a clerk typist. She said that all through the war, there was a sense of people working together -- of everyone doing their part.

My grandfather often talked about how the soldiers at Schofield Barracks didn't have enough rifles and ammunition to go around during the attack. All of the military cutbacks during the Great Depression meant that our soldiers were not prepared to defend Hawaii. Many people do not realize that when we entered World War II, America's military ranked 17th in the world. Yes, those were the days when our military trained with wooden rifles. 

The attack on Pearl Harbor took place at 7:55am that Sunday morning. The attack lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. By 10:00am, Territorial Governor Joseph B. Poindexter created The Hawaii Territorial Guard. On December 7th, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the territorial government of Hawaii was already organizing and ordering the mobilization of a Home Guard. 

Some don't know that during the bombing when Japanese planes were still in Hawaii's skies when the public was alerted. And by 11:00am that morning, a call when out to the population in Hawaii for civilian help to form what became known as the Hawaii Territorial Guard, also known as the Home Guard. 

Here's something some don't know, it was at 11:00am on December 7th that all members of the American Legion were also called to duty via constant radio broadcasts. Their activation instantly added more than four hundred combat-experienced members to the ranks of the Home Guard. Before the month was out, Hawaii's Home Guard saw membership of about 100 officers and over a thousand enlisted men. All veterans recalled to service.

The Hawaii Territorial Guard served strictly as a replacement for the National Guard because the National Guard of Hawaii was commissioned and made part of the federal government for the duration of the war. The Territorial Guard was the only military force available to the Territorial Governor during the war. In reality, he held the rank of Captain-General because the Hawaii Territorial Guard only answered to the governor.

The Hawaii Territory Guard -- The Home Guard with Springfield Rifles 1943

According to an uncle of mine, when some of those there tried to join the Army or Navy that next day after the attack, they were told that men were needed for duty with the Home Guard -- at least at first. 

Supposedly, he and others who owned a firearm, handguns or hunting rifles and shotguns, were told to show up with their weapons. It was later during the war that members of the Hawaii Territorial Guard would be issued M1903 Springfield rifles. Before that, they used whatever arms they could muster to use for duty. 

We forget that the Territory of Hawaii was placed under martial law as soon as the attack took place. Volunteers for the Home Guard assembled at the public parks and were organized by the Army. They were used to supplement the military while all there waited for the invasion that never came. Besides preparing for an invasion force to hit after the attack took place, the Home Guard also stood guard against a potential paratrooper assault. 

After the immediate threat had passed, they were assigned to guard key buildings and infrastructure against sabotage. My grandfather told me that as a member of the Home Guard, he was used to relieving the servicemen from doing mundane duties like the security of the docks and shore watch. They did not disband until two years after the war was over. 

My grandfather and dad, and uncles were all part of the Home Guard. In the case of my grandfather, he was a Merchant Marine seaman since the late 1920s. He would leave the Home Guard and return to the sea. When Merchant Marines were asked to stay put during the war, he had two ships sunk from under him. Many people don't know that America lost more Merchant Marine seamen than we did Navy sailors. The reason for that is that our merchant ships were the primary targets, not their Navy escort ships.

As for my dad, like others, he tried to join the Army the day after the attack. While he was referred to the Home Guard, where men were needed, he also worked at Pearl Harbor during the war. The fact is my dad was 4F because of a condition that he had since he was 3-years-old. The story goes that his condition didn't stop him from going with his friends to enlist. But while he was in line, an officer who knew my dad asked him if he wanted to do his part for the war effort. 

My dad told him that he did, and it was then that the officer took my dad to Pearl Harbor. That officer got the shipyard to take him on right then and there as a welder. It was "on the job training." My dad told me how that officer told him that he could be just as important as carrying a rifle. 

My dad used to tell me about how everyone worked to resurrect the fleet. It took everyone and not just the military to do that. My dad worked at Pearl Harbor well past the duration of the war, all while serving with the Home Guard. My dad's last job for the military was welding re-bar to the front of jeeps after the war. 

Since it was common for American troops to drive with their jeep windshields down, the re-bar welded to the front bumper was used to break any wires that the Japanese may have strung across their roads in Japan. They did that intending to cut the heads off of our troops who were stationed there during the occupation after the war. 

My dad once told me how the dire straits and hardships of the Great Depression made Americans more than willing to get to work and do whatever was needed for the war effort. But their motivation was more than just having jobs again. After years of tough times, years of mental anguish and depression, years of uncertainty and despair, Americans saw they were needed, and they're being needed lifted their spirits. That in itself made them want to make the sacrifices, to go without so the troops would have what they needed, to be a part of the team. 

My dad said he learned a lot during the war years. He found that people were more resourceful and willing to pitch in. For him, he saw his welding as an important factor in keeping ships in action. He learned that doing even the smallest job could help save lives. The war effort taught him that doing what might seem meaningless or seemingly minor can be extremely important in the bigger scheme of things.

It was something my dad never forgot. 

Tom Correa 

Dec 7th fire started by incendiary bombs dropped on Lunalilo School

Dec 7th Attack on Civilians in Honolulu

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Rose Kingsley's Colorado Christmas 1871

Rose Georgina Kingsley, 1845-1925, was the oldest daughter of controversial clergyman, English novelist, Rev. Charles Kingsley. If someone wants to know the extent of her family's wealth and influence, it should be understood that her father was once chaplain to Queen Victoria, Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, and a private tutor to the Prince of Wales.

As for Rose Kingsley, she was an author in her own right. Among her books are "South by West; Or, Winter in the Rocky Mountains and Spring in Mexico" [1874], "A History of French Art, 1100-1899" [1899]; "Eversley Gardens and Others" [1907]; and "Roses and Rose Growing" [1908]. 

During a visit to America in October of 1871, Rose was met by her younger brother Maurice in Denver. In one of her letters later published in her book "South by West; Or, Winter in the Rocky Mountains and Spring in Mexico" [1874], she described how she and her brother spent Christmas in Denver with friends. Her description of what took place gives us a snapshot of what could be expected by affluent visitors in Denver, Colorado, in 1871: 

"As Christmas comes but once a year, and it is many a long day since we spent it together, we determined to give ourselves a treat. So on the 20th of December, Maurice shut up his books and papers; I wound up my affairs . . . and at 12:30 we were in the cars enroute for a week in Denver.

Denver looks wintry enough, under six inches to a foot of snow; but it is full of life and bustle. The toy-shops are gay with preparations for Christmas-trees; the candy stores filled with the most attractive sweet­meats; the furriers display beaver coats, and mink, ermine, and sable, to tempt the cold passer-by.

The streets are full of sleighs, each horse with its collar of bells; and all the little boys have manufactured or bought little sleds, which they tie to the back of any passing cart or carriage; and get whisked along the streets till some sharp turn or unusual roughness in the road upsets them.

We found plenty of old friends up here, and have made many more since we came. In the frank unconventional state of society which exists in the West, friendships are made much more easily than even in the Eastern States, or still more, in our English society; and, if one wants to have, as the Americans express it, ‘a good time,’ one must expand a little out of one’s insularity, and meet the hearty good-will shown with some adequate response.

On Friday evening . . . we went out for a sleigh-drive, the first I have ever had; and most delightful it was. We were muffled up in blankets and buffalo robes and all our furs. The thermometer was 2° below zero; the moon as clear as day; and, with a capital pair of horses, we flew over the smooth sparkling snow, our sleigh-bells jingling in the frosty air.

I was asked to eat my Christmas dinner . . . where Miss J. boarded; and, simply because I was her friend, every one in the house made me welcome. Dinner of the orthodox turkey and mince-pie over, we were sum­moned to the Christmas-tree in the parlour, which was decorated, in place of our hollyberries, with strings of raw cranberries and snowy popcorns, pretty to look at, and nice to eat.

The evening passed with games and music, and constant refreshments in the shape of candy and hickory-nuts; and suddenly our host turned round to me and said, 'Now, I’ll sing something for you:' and began the first verse of "God save the Queen."

It sent a thrill over me, hearing it a thousand miles west of the Mississippi for the first time since leaving England. And then I was made to sing it all through; for, though the tune is familiar enough in America, no one present knew the right words. It was a pleasant ending to a pleasant evening."

In October of 1871, Rose joined her younger brother Maurice who is known as one of the pioneers who helped to develop Colorado Springs in the 1870s. After spending time there, the two returned to Denver to celebrate Christmas. As for Colorado Springs, it is said that so many British immigrants had settled in that area by the early 1870s that Colorado Springs was referred to locally as "Little London." 

Imagine that.

Tom Correa