Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas in Bryson City, 1888

In the past, I have published a blog piece on Christmas in 1929 in Swain County. I thought it would be fun to go back another 41 years to see how Christmas was celebrated in Bryson City's early days.  Happy holidays to you all!

"The Union Sunday School of Charleston (the name of the town was changed to Bryson City in 1889) celebrated Christmas on Christmas evening. The services were held in the court room (see pictures below of the courthouse) which had been tastefully decorated by a committee of citizens, the chief decoration naturally being a tree, which was weighed down with gifts. In addition to those on the tree, two tables were covered and nearly an hour was occupied in the distribution of them.

Second Swain County Courthouse (destroyed by fire, January 1908)
Source: Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society

Second Swain County Courthouse, year unknown
Source: Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society

At seven o'clock  the court room was crowded, the members of the Sunday school occupying seats on the rostrum, the body of the house being filled with their friends and relatives. The services opened with an instrumental duet on the violin and organ by Mr. J.H. Everett and Miss Jennie Collins. Next came a chorus from Gospel Hymns which was received with much satisfaction. Rev. Geo. H. Church read a selection from the Scriptures and led the audience in prayer. Miss Collins and Messrs Everett and Henry McLean rendered another instrumental piece. Rev. Church gave the children a short Christmas sermon and wound up with a chicken story that was received with great hilarity. The choir then sang another selection from Gospel Hymns. H. A. Hodge made a few remarks on the origin of the name Christmas, and the custom of having Christmas trees. 

Jennie (nee' Collins) Bailey (1874 - 1965)
Source: Dawna Carlton

John Henderson Everett (1857 - 1937)
Source: member dwilkins0316

After another instrumental piece, D.K. Collins, superintendent of the school, briefly but feelingly recounted the efforts to build up the Sunday school and spoke of the interest he took in such work. Then came the distribution of gifts, when many hearts were made glad and the audience dispersed in great good humour. Everything passed off quietly and orderly and the committee having the arrangements in charge, and particularly the superintendent of the school are to be congratulated on the success of the evening's entertainment.

Reverend George H. Church (1849 - 1928)
Source: member John M. Campbell

David Kimsey (D.K.) and 'Mattie' (nee' Franks) Collins;
Mattie was his first wife and the mother of Jennie.
Source: Dawna Carlton

A good many humorous hits were made in the selection of gifts. The biggest laugh being raised when Miss Mary Battle opened a large box and a live rabbit popped out. 

Swain County Herald, 03 January 1889


Note: I have embedded active links for some of the individuals named in the article so that the reader may find out more about them. Two links to Friends of the Bryson City Cemetery articles (J.H. Everett and D.K. Collins) are particularly detailed. 


Dawna Carlton
Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society
www.friendsofthe (Swain County Herald, 03 January 1889