Post (c) by Doris McCraw – writing as Angela Raines
I have a novella coming out on December 8, 2016. It is available for pre-order now. It takes place in my fictional town of Agate Gulch during the Christmas season.:http://amzn.to/2h8HgiS
In honor of that story, I thought I would re-share some of the early Colorado Christmas stories I have found in my research. So here for your enjoyment “Early Colorado Christmas”
Let’s start in what is now the city of Denver. On November 22, 1858 Denver, Colorado was founded. That Christmas records show there were about two hundred men and five women, four of which were married. There were also a few children of various ages. This area was actually composed of two different camps and both were planning festivities. Both were planning meals. One German couple in one camp planned to have a tree with candles, a tradition on their native country, to be shared with others in the camp. The second camp had a meal of buffalo, rabbit, wild turkey with rice pudding, peach and apple pie. To quote one source “That Christmas morning was ‘soft and genial’ as a May-day…”. For others it was a day of partying, thanks Uncle Dick Wootton, who brought the ‘Taos Lightening’.
Another story from those early days is of a family who were living near the Arkansas river, near the cut off to Monarch Pass. In 1863 the family had been working a mining claim when they were cut off due to a heavy snow storm. With plenty of food, their biggest problem was lack of variety. The story is, one of the daughters brought out the good china, brought from Nebraska, and the family sat down to a feast of: mock turkey (made from beef), beans, and coffee made from browned bran. The children served their parents, who were the guest of honor at this celebration.
Even as early as 1842, records show that the Colorado territory had holiday celebrations. The mountain men/trappers in the northern area where Colorado and Utah meet, celebrated with the Indians of the region. Here is the record of the meal these early pioneers had: appalost (lean meat and fat roasted of a low fire on a stick), buffalo cider (liquid found in the buffalo’s stomach), washena (pulverized dried meat and marrow) and pomme blanc (a type of root vegetable, sometimes called a white apple)
By 1888 in Leadville, the meal was larger and much more festive. One advertisement for a local saloon, ‘Dick Berryman’s’ said their Christmas meal would consist of: Possum, turkey, roast pig, sweet potatoes and corn dodgers. Even at 10,152 feet, they knew how to eat and celebrate. This is especially telling, for winters at this altitude were brutal, such as the storms of 1885. It took some hardy people to stay there.
Most people loved the beauty of Colorado in winter. It can be a varied as sun on the plains and snowstorms in the mountains. Isabella Bird from her book on her trip in the 1870s commented “I think I never saw such a brilliant atmosphere. That curious phenomena called frost-fall was occurring in which, whatever moisture may exist in the air, somehow aggregates into feather and fern leaves, the loveliest of creations, only seen in rarefied air and intense cold. One breath and they vanish. The air was filled with diamond sparks quite intangible. They seemed just glitter and no more. It was still and cloudless, and the shapes of violet mountains were softened by a veil of the tenderest blue.”
Wishing each and everyone a wonderful Christmas.
Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL