Diaries offer a wonderful way to glimpse an individual’s thoughts and feelings on a specific day in time. Let us take a walk through history with the words and writing of Miami Valley residents, some at home and one away, on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day 1863, James F. Overholser, a Preble County resident, was stationed 12 miles south of Pulaski, Tennessee, with Company D of the 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His unit marched to Pulaski in November 1863 and was tasked with rebuilding a Tennessee & Central Alabama Railroad Bridge. James, in his December 25 entry, wrote “Cool and cloudy had a big turkey roast there was a lot of citizens in to take dinner with us.”
54 year later, on December 25, 1917, the Miami Valley celebrated a white Christmas with roughly 1.6 inches of snow on the ground. The Dayton Weather Bureau entry for December 25, 1917, described the day as cloudy and cold.
Joseph Graham Crane Schenck, Sr., a cashier at NCR, and his wife, Alice Elizabeth, resided at 228 N. Ludlow in 1917. His diary entry for Christmas Day 1917 opened with the weather:
“Tuesday 1917 turned cold in night & snowed so that the ground was white & frozen. After breakfast we took Caroline in to see her tree etc. I went for Aunt Clara in my car 9:30am. AES gave me a wonderful picture of carolers for my Xmas present. I was crazy about it. I gave AES Xmas ck $50.00 & a few other necessities. B 7 Club 3 PM till 9 PM TP- won $5.00. We had a very fine Christmas.”
The final entry from Christmas Eve, December 24, 1933, reads like many of our holiday preparations today, staying up all night to finish wrapping, baking, or candy making! Florence Brown, her husband Ed, and two children were living at 932 Kammer Avenue in 1933 when she described her day and night on the 24th.
“Sun. Had our Xmas dinner today-chicken but fried it it was nice too_Ed & Mary and I went to Ray’s tonite. I come home & made candy till 3:08 A.M. Heard the singers sing Xmas carols. But I do wonder where Mon is at.”
All of the above diaries can be viewed by visiting our reading room during regular hours (we’ll be back on January 2, 2018, at 8:30 A.M.). The James F. Overholser diaries have been digitized and can be viewed anytime on CORE Scholar. We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!