Christmas at the Turn of This Century

Dublin Core


Christmas at the Turn of This Century


The practice of having a community Christmas tree in Richmond started in 1915. The Richmond Woman's Club recommended that a large, electrically lighted Christmas tree be erected in front of the courthouse. A committee of 70 citizens was organized, headed by Robert R. Burnam. The Elks Club donated the tree, and Kentucky Utilities furnished the colored lights. At 10:30 on Christmas morning 1915, several choirs of the Richmond churches left their houses of worship, all singing O Come All Ye Faithful as they converged on the courthouse lawn. Accompanying them as they sang carols around the tree was the First Regiment Military Band. On Christmas evening a pageant including shepherds and wise men delighted the large crowd that spilled out into the street. Another interesting practice in the early years of this Century was the raising of turkeys for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. It was a money-raising business of sizeable proportion in Madison County. Not only did farm families raise them for a "cash crop," but many housewives and children raised a few in their back yards to make some spending money for Christmas. In 1913, poultry dealer F. H. Gordon advertised for 5,000 turkeys for the Christmas season to be delivered to his pens on Estill Avenue. He was paying from 11 cents to 13 cents that year. Older residents say that they can remember seeing large flocks of turkeys on foot being driven toward town on the various roads leading into Richmond. In 1915, a cooperative effort of six local poultry dealers processed enough turkeys to ship one or two railroad carloads a week to eastern markets during November and December of that year. Each car held about 1,500 dressed holiday birds in containers covered with ice. Live birds were worth about 17 cents a pound in 1915, and it was estimated by a local newspaper editor that Madison County earned an annual total of about $20,000 from the turkey business. Mrs. John Doty on her Irvine Road farm raised the biggest turkey of the year, a Mammoth Bronze gobbler which weighed an even 50 pounds! Happy Christmas greetings to all our faithful readers from Fred A. Engle and Robert N. Grise.


Dr. Robert Grise




Content may be freely copied for personal and educational purposes with appropriate citation. Permission is required to reprint.



Dr. Robert Grise, “Christmas at the Turn of This Century,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 19, 2024,