Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Frontier Thanksgiving in Excelsior MN 1853

I am planning our family Thanksgiving dinner. Our house is quaint and small. Seating is limited but will somehow be sufficient for the two of us and our 10 - 12 guests. The fare will be the traditional sleep-inducing variety. If that isn't enough, I will talk.

Compare that with the first Thanksgiving celebrated in Excelsior/Chanhassen in 1853.

This following taken (and distilled) from Wilson Meyer’s “Tonka Tales”.

The small group of New York settlers (the Excelsior Pioneer Association) had just arrived a few months earlier in July, by oxcart in 1853. The were led by George Bertram, the group’s leader and organizer. It took two days of stumbling through the woods by the lake to find their proper location, staked out by Stephen Hull.
After only a few months the Reverend Charles Galpin extended an invitation to all the settlers of Excelsior and Chanhassen to his one room house for Thanksgiving. The guests totaled 18 adults and 12 children. The month was December, a traditional Thanksgiving time.
They ate at a makeshift table and chairs in three shifts; 2 adult shifts of ten and one shift of the 12 children.

They were vegetarians by default:

The menu included baked beans, potatoes, turnips, biscuits & butter, cranberry sauce. These dishes were prepared by the women. The men were assigned the dauntingtask of hunting game for the meal. After hunting for a few days the men could only muster one raccoon for meat for the dinner (a variety of excuses and or explanations were offered in the story but I think the men were just initially lousy, ill equipped hunters).
The Excelsior settlers’ first Thanksgiving meal would be almost meatless, but they would joyously celebrate their safe arrival and hope for a prosperous future. This according to the author. Let me just interject: I will bet that more than one wife was a little ticked off at the men’s hunting efforts. Lousy one racoon.


Blogger Meg Nakagawa said...

And no stuffing? Not worth going out for!!

Happy Turkey Day!

10:16 AM  

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