Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa Claus, in a New Hampshire Newspaper, 1850

What is the first mention of Santa Claus you have seen in a newspaper from your area?  What is the first mention ever of Santa Claus in an old newspaper from anywhere?  If you know, please comment below, or link to a post you might have on your own blog.  Let's see who can find the oldest mention of good ol' Saint Nick!

This news clipping was found at the website, and is from The Farmer's Cabinet, Amherst, New Hampshire, Volume 49, Issue 19, page 1, Thursday, December 19, 1850 and appears to be reprinted from The Youth's Companion.  This was a children's magazine, published in Boston, that ran from 1827 to 1929,

From the Youth's Companion

Saint Nicholas Discovered

It was the day before Christmas.  The merry sleigh bells might be heard in all directions, and the keen bracing air of winter united to the brilliant whiteness of the new fallen snow, made it a pleasure to go abroad, and a shame to stay within doors, that day.  It is only in the country, that the beauty of a snow clad winter prospect can be seen and appreciated.  There the meadows are clad in virgin white, the hills glisten with an undimmed splendor, and the trees spread out their white branches, and wear their winter robe, as gracefully as their summer dress.

In the village of S-------------, the very jem we think of our New England villages, all these beauties were t be seen, on the day above mentioned. But to complete the picture must be added a party of school children, who are wending their way along the snow-path leading from the village school to their own homes.  They are talking very earnestly, and it is not about the beauty of the hills and meadows, for of this they seem quite unconscious.  Let us join the group, and listen to their excited voices for it must be something very interesting which so engrosses them.  A bright rosy cheeked boy of about eight years old, is the principal speaker, and is expressing his firm belief in the existence of Santa Claus.

"You needn't shake your head so wisely, Ellen," he continues, "for last year, Santa Claus filled my stocking with just what I wanted, and if he had not been a Saint, he wouldn't have known what to give me.  Now would he, girls?" and Charley looks round triumphantly at this conclusive argument.

"Don't you suppose I should know how to please you, as well as he?" asks Ellen, who still wishes to convince her brother that there convince her brother that there is, after all, no such person as his favorite Saint Nicholas.

"No, I'm sure I don't think any such thing.  At any rate, you never do please me half so well.  And I mean to thank Saint Nicholas as long as I live."

At this little burst of gratitude, Ellen cannnot help laughing, and the younger children seem to think that Charley has the right of it, after all.  Many are instances brought forward to prove the excellence of good Saint Nicholas, such as the rods, always found in the stockings of ill-natured children, and the certain reward of obedience.  At length, Emma Harris, a little girl of as bright eyes and rosy cheeks as those of her friend Charley, exclaims:

"Well, whatever you old girls may say," and she looks at the venerable ladies of twelve and thirteen years, "I am sure that Charley Brooks is right.  For the other night I dreamed about Santa Claus, and he lookes exactly as he does in a picture I've got at home.  He had a cloud all around him, and he was laughing, and there were all sorts of beautiful things in his lap, and I saw the wax doll, with the blue eyes and yellow hair, and pink cheeks, that I want for my Christmas present."

At this confirmation of all his hopes, Charley Brooks looks as if he would eat Ellen up with affection and delight.  Casting a triumphant glance at his sister, whom he considers completely conquered, Charley inquires "if Emma didn't see a train of railroad cars in Nicholas' lap?"

Emma's large eyes became larger than ever at this question.  "Why, of course I did not.- How could a man hold a whole train of cars in his lap?" she inquired with surprise.

"Oh, I didn't mean a real large train, Emma.  Only some painted iron cars, such as I saw once in New York, just big enough for me."

Emma had never chanced to see these new fashioned playthings; and she was sorry to say she did not see them in Santa Claus' lap, and poor Charles looked disappointed.

"Never mind that, Charley.  You have better friends than Nicholas," said Ellen in a consoling tone, and though her brother did not exactly understand to whom she referred, he still felt a sort of assurance that he should see some cars the next morning.

By this time, the children have reached their homes.  Full of glad thoughts and hopeful anticipations of the morrow, Charley retires to bed, soon after supper, "so as to make the morning come sooner,"  he says.  In his sleep he too dreams of "Saint Nicholas", and in his dream, by far the most conspicuous article is a train of cars, bearing Saint Nicholas along in triumph towards Charley's chamber.  Alas!  dreams sometimes go by contraries, and Saints disappoint their most faithful friends.

At the earliest dawn of light, on Christmas morning, our young friend had crept out of his bed, and almost breathless with excited hopes, feels in both of his long stockings.  His hand is thrust far in, till it reaches the foot, but no welcome rustling of paper is heard; there is nothing in either.  Perhaps, however, the cars are under the table, which Charley has placed near, so that if his presents are numerous, they may be arranged there.  Vain hope!  There is nothing to be found.  With a heart full of disappointment, the little fellow wipes his eyes and creeps back to bed.  One thought alone comforts him.  "Perhaps Saint Nicholas is not an early riser.  He will try to go to sleep till daylight, and then, when he wakes up, there will be something in his stockings."  Acting upon this resolution, our little friend falls asleep again, and does not awake till broad daylight.  Then springing from his bed he again, with trembling heart approaches his stockings.-  Again those little hands are thrust in, and again they are drawn out.  There is nothing there.  This is too much for the little boy's philosophy, and he sits down upon his trundle bed, and cries heartily.

At this moment of saddest disappointment, the door opens, and Ellen, all radiant with smiles, comes in to awake her brother.

"Now wipe your eyes, darling,"  she says in her kindest tone.  "Saint Nicholas, as I told you, has brought you nothing, but your own dear papa has just come from New York, with a box full of things for you and me.  So dress you quickly and come down stairs. We will open the box, and I should not wonder if we found some cars in it."

Never did sunshine succeed clouds so rapidly, as the smiles now chased the tears from Charley's face.  His dear papa had been gone many months, and now he was at home again with a box of playthings too.  Hurrying on his clothes, and running down stairs, the boy is soon clasped in his father's arms, and Mr. Brooks exclaims:

"Well, my boy, which had you rather see, papa or Santa Claus?"

Now the box is opened, and the long wished for train of cars, with a fire engine, and all the cars made to fasten or unfasten, are taken out, and as Charley delightedly views this object of his desires, Ellen says with a smile:

"You have found out after all, my little brother, that your papa is the only true Saint Nicholas."

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Copyright (c) 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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