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As It Was: Ashland Pioneers Prepared for Christmas in 1865

Eighty-three-year-old Mrs. A.J. Russell recalled the Christmas of 1865 when she was 27, married and living on Ashland’s North Main Street.  The town had 16 business and professional men at the time.
Russell said a town meeting planned the Christmas celebration that included a community tree in the town offices located in the wooden Odd Fellows Building that burned in 1879.  Russell said she skipped the meeting because she didn’t want to get involved, but she ended up with a task, anyway.

It was her job to find gifts for the community’s children.  The planners had collected $40 for gifts and the names of all the children in town.  Russell prepared a bag of candy and purchased a small gift for each of them. 

The costliest presents were a hat for an orphan boy, and a silver thimble for a girl whose classy mother would have been displeased with a cheaper present.  These two gifts were a dollar apiece.  The Christmas tree was easy to find in the nearby forest. 

A.V. Gillette accompanied the carol singing with his flute, the only instrument in town.

Source: Ashland Daily Tidings, 28 Dec. 1921 [Ashland, Ore.].

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Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.