This Thanksgiving holiday we decided to look to the past to see what kind of articles were published in Santa Barbara around the Thanksgiving holiday over 150 years ago.
The oldest edition we could find was the Santa Barbara Post from 1868.
To ground us in space and time, here are a few notable things that were going on in the year 1868:
- Thomas Edison applied for his first patent, the electric vote recorder
- Ulysses S. Grant defeated Horatio Seymour in the Presidential election to take the place of President Andrew Johnson
- The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is adopted, guaranteeing African Americans full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.
- The first volume of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women is published.
- Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all readmitted to the U.S.
On November 7, 1868, the Santa Barbara Post posted a column titled “About Turkeys” educating readers on the lucrative business of raising and selling turkeys.
“Who that has any savory recollections of last Thanksgiving day, or last Christmas, and who knows what large profits can be made out of these birds, does not wish to try his hand at raising a brood of them?”
In another edition on November 21, 1868, the same paper published an announcement for Thanksgiving day church services held at the courthouse and a Thanksgiving Proclamation provided by the State of California. These items were buried in the second page.
The front page of this paper mostly covered small news items from the east coast. A death of a military general, an update on a trial of a widow accused of murdering a prominent New York City judge, and a report of a man sleepwalking in Ohio titled “Freaks of a Sleep Walker.”
There were also ads for surgical and dental goods, vinegar bitters as a “great blood purifier” and for “female complaints,” as well as a travel column reflecting on how the west has changed from Monterey to Santa Barbara.
In the November 28, 1868 edition, the paper had a brief mention of the holiday.
“Thanksgiving was generally observed in this place on the 26th. All seemed to acknowledge the necessity of rendering thanks for past blessings enjoyed.”
We hope that our readers will render thanks for past blessings as well.
There was a mention of a newly built building paid for by Dr. Brinkerhoff is located on State Street and nearly ready to open with clothing and goods from Messers. Levy & Co.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of this paper are the letters to the editor.
J. Franklin Williams advocated for a new cemetery to be built for those of Protestant faith. The paper responded that a group of men convened to discuss the possibility but there was “little interest in the matter,” but agreed more should be done as the burial grounds at the Mission were “full.”
Read the full exchange below: