Noteworthy Events That Happened On Christmas Day

For a unique look at Art History, try this contemporary Christmas classic.

This page features Chapter 6 of YULE LOG. Additional chapters are linked below. 

For related links and and other free printable items, scroll further down the page. 


by Judee Shipman


1831 – Louisiana and Arkansas become the first entire states to observe Christmas as a holiday.

1832 – Mormon Joseph Smith receives a revelation and a prophecy of war.

ABOVE: Painting of Mormon Joseph Smith      

image credit:

1833 – Birth of Eugene McLanahan Wilson, member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

1834 – Bank receipts are issued for money deposited to fund the construction of the Erie Canal.

1835 – Charles Darwin celebrates Christmas in New Zealand.

Also on this day, Gilbert Woodward is born. He will eventually become a member of the Wisconsin House of Representatives.

ABOVE: Painting of Charles Darwin in 1835

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1836 – Birth of Lucien Coatsworth Gause, who will later become an Arkansas lawyer and politician.

1837 – In the battle of Okeechobee, US forces fight Seminole Indians under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor. This smart move resulted in the deaths of 26 soldiers and 11 Indians. 

ABOVE: A depiction of the Battle Of Okeechobee

Image credit: Great Warriors Path

1838 – Birth (in Wisconsin) of James Henry Cabanis, an American merchant and politician.

1839 – Birth of Pedro Nolasco Gandarillas, a Chilean politician.

Same day, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a letter to JB Boyd of Cincinnati, Ohio. The letter contains a shortened version of Poe's sonnet called Silence. 

Above: A color portrait of Edgar Allen Poe by "Holllywood"

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1840 – Henry David Thoreau writes the following journal entry: The thought there is in a sentence is its solid part, which will wear to the latest times.

1841 – A Philadelphia merchant pays some guy to dress like Kris Kringle and climb the chimney of his store.

1842 – A soldier's journal reveals being captured by Mexicans at Mier. He was released from Perote about a year and a half later.

This day also sees the death (in Prague) of Bohemia-born composer Bedrich Divis Weber.

1843 – America's first theater matinee is shown at New York City's Olympic Theater.

ABOVE: A vintage photo of the Olympic Theater, located at 624 Broadway in New York City. The building has since been demolished.

image credit: wikimedia commons

1844 – Birth of Nathan Jewett, a professional Major League baseball player for the Brooklyn Eckfords in 1872.

1845 – A pioneer lady named Esther Clark Short settles with her family in present-day Vancouver, Washington, hoping to start a potato farm. They are the first white settlers in the area.

1846 – Patrick Breen, a member of the doomed Donner party, writes in his journal, “Friday 25 th , began to snow yesterday about 12 O'clock snowed all night and snows yet... Great difficulty in getting wood... Offered our prayers to God this Christmas morning. The prospect is appalling but hope in God, amen.” A fellow traveler named Reed simply writes, “25 th. Antonio and Mr. Graves died; remained in camp.” 

Above: A painting of the Donner Party, by Jim Carson

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1848 – The opening of the New Haven Railroad. 

Also on this day, composer Johann Erik Nordblom dies.

1849 – Birth of Nogi Maresuke, later to become a Japanese General.

1850 – The steamboat Lot Whitcomb is launched in Milwaukee.

Above: This photo image of the steamboat "Lot Whitcomb" was taken on Christmas Day of 1850.

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1851 – Henry David Thoreau describes Christmas morning in his journal:

Thursday. Via Spruce Swamp on Conantum to hilltop, returning across river over shrub oak plain to Cliffs. A wind is now blowing the light snow which fell a day or two ago into drifts, especially on the lee, now the south, side of the walls, the outlines of the drifts corresponding to the chinks in the walls and the eddies of the wind. The snow glides, unperceived for the most part, over the open fields without rising into the air (unless the ground is elevated), until it reaches an opposite wall, which it sifts through and is blown over, blowing off from it like steam when seen in the straight onward, but curves gracefully upwards into fantastic shapes, somewhat like the waves which curve as they break upon the shore; that is, as if the snow that passes through a chink were one connected body, detained by the friction of its lower side. It takes the form of saddles and shells and porringers. It builds up a fantastic alabaster wall behind the first – a snowy sierra. It is wonderful what sharp turrets it builds up, builds up, i.e. by accumulation though seemingly by attrition, though the curves upward to a point like the prows of ancient vessels look like sharp carving, or as if the material had been held before the blowpipe. So what was blown up in the air gradually sifts down into the road or field, and forms the slope of the sierra. Astonishingly sharp and thin overhanging eaves it builds, even this dry snow, where it has the least suggestion from a wall or bank, --less than a mason ever springs his brick from. This is the architecture of the snow. On high hills exposed to wind and sun, it curls off like the steam from a damp roof in the morning. Such sharply defined forms it takes as if the core had been the flames of gaslights.

Above: Henry David Thoreau, and the nature he adored. 

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1853 – Death of Brookins Campbell, an American politician.

1854 – A New York City butcher named Robert Allen accidentally kills himself with his own revolver, which he kept under his pillow at night. 

Two thousand miles to the west, a drunken Mormon in Salt Lake was knocked down by a passing soldier, somehow resulting in a brawl that involved 800 men, including the 16-year-old son of Brigham Young. 

1855 – Soldiers of the Royal Canadian Rifles at the Tete du Pont barracks invented a game using field hockey sticks and lacrosse balls, while clearing the ice from Lake Ontario. The game is now known as ice hockey.

1856 – Birth of Hans von Bartels, a German painter, and also Pud Galvin, an American baseball player.

1857 – Birth of Manuel Jesus Ximenes in Graytown, Texas. He later served as a tax assessor, tax collector, county clerk, deputy sheriff, and United States Marshall in Wilson County.

1858 – Birth of Herman P. Faris, a leader of the American temperance movement.

Also on this day, documents are drawn relating to an unratified treaty with the Navajo people.

1859 – A page from the Social Security Death Master File lists two people born on this day. Their names are Isaac Burrell and Jefferson Coursey.

1860 – The Pony Express arrives in San Francisco from Fort Kearney, Nebraska on December 25th , carrying mail dated December 12th. 

Meanwhile, back east, news outlets covered the story of 3 million dollars in coupon bonds vanishing from the Indian trust fund and resurfacing on the New York Stock Exchange, arousing much suspicion. 

Also the birth of Manuel Dimech, a Maltese philosopher and social reformer. 

Above: Reproduction of a map from 1860 showing the route of the Pony Express.

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YULE LOG: Additional Chapters

Yule log - Introduction

Yule Log - Chapter One

Yule Log - Chapter Two

Yule Log - Chapter Three

Yule Log - Chapter Four

Yule Log - Chapter Five

Yule Log - Chapter Six

Yule Log - Chapter Seven

Yule Log - Chapter Eight

Yule Log - Chapter Nine

Yule Log - Chapter Ten

Art History And Related Links

Free Christmas Printables And Gifts 

Christmas Coloring Pages

Christmas Snow Scenes

Snow Sculpture Competition Winners

Worst Christmas Gifts Ever! 


Crazy Horse Appearing - Introduction

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 1 

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 2

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 3

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 4

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 5

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 6

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 7

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 8

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 9

Crazy Horse Appearing - Chapter 10

Crazy Horse Appearing - Appendixes

What Is A Novel?

Here are some Classic Short Stories from the public domain:

Told in the Drooling Ward, by Jack London

The Ransom of Red Chief, by O. Henry

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

Go here for selected Moral Stories.  

See this page for Aesop's Fables, other short stories, printable poems, and more.

Click this link to learn Why Reading Is Important

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