Noteworthy Events That Happened On Christmas Day

Unlike many history books, Yule Log is a breezy, colorful, quick and easy read. 

This page features Chapter 7 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


1861 – Birth of Madan Mohan Malaviya, Indian educator, politician, and founder of Banaras Hindu University.

US Army soldiers decorate an evergreen tree with hardtack and salted pork.

1862 – In Minnesota, 38 Santee Sioux Indians say goodbye to their families before being hanged the next day in America's largest mass execution. Apparently, it was considered rude to hang people on Christmas Day. 

Meanwhile in South Carolina, 40,000 people watch Union army men play baseball at Hilton Head. 

ABOVE: A rendering of the mass execution of 38 Santee Sioux (Lakota) people.     

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1863 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes “Christmas Bells,” (a.k.a. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”).

Meanwhile, in Memphis, the U.S. Army commends Negro soldiers.

1864 – President Abraham Lincoln orders the creation of a drawing of Santa interacting with U.S. Soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy has a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army. 

Born on this day is Thomas Cahill, American soccer coach.

ABOVE: Painting of a confederate Santa, by Dan Nance     

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1865 – Birth of Fay Templeton, a Broadway musical comedy star, and also Evangeline Booth, fourth General of the Salvation Army. 

Above: Fay Templeton around 1870.

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1866 – Death of Henry Wise, a merchant sailor associated with the Far East. 

Also, the birth of John (“Jack”) Marshall Slaton, the 60th Governor of Georgia. 

1867 – Birth of Elisabeth Coit Gilman, an American civil rights advocate. 

Also born on this day were 27 other people, according to the Social Security Death Master File. Only people with social security numbers made the list. The name of Elisabeth Coit Gilman is not on it.

1868 – President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Confederate soldiers involved in the Civil War. 

This day also sees the passing of Linnus Yale Jr, an American engineer and inventor, born in 1821.

Also on this day is the birth of Eugenie Besserer, a well known silent film actress. 

Above: Eugenie Besserer with blackfaced Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927).


1869 – While arguing over a card game, 16-year-old John Wesley Hardin shoots and kills James Bradley in the street. 

1870 – Christmas becomes a Federal holiday throughout the United States.

Also on this day are the births of Lloyd Hildebrand, a French cyclist, and Helena Rubenstein, a Polish-American businesswoman who lives to be 94. 

1871 – Missionaries establish the First Indian Presbyterian Church in Kamiah, Idaho.

Meanwhile in England, the Reading Football Club is formed. 

Born on this day is Katherine McKinley, daughter of President William McKinley. She dies at the age of three. 

1872 – The first game of rugby is played in India, and eventually becomes a regular event known as the Calcutta Cup.

ABOVE: Recent winners of the Calcutta Cup.

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1873 – On this day is the birth of Otto Frederick Hunziker, a SwissAmerican educator.

Also, the passing of Heinrich Gustav Hotho, a German art historian.

1874 – TJ Nevin, a Tasmanian photographer, legibly produces the front page of The Mercury newspaper on a 3x2-inch card, with margins included. Despite its small size, ads could be read without a magnifying glass.

On a separate note, a famous Italian soprano named Lina Cavalieri is born. 

1875 – Birth of Theodor Innitzer, an Austrian Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Vienna.

Also, the tragic death of Young Tom Morris, a professional golfer from Scotland, at age 23. He had returned from a golf match to find his wife and newborn child both dead. He died a few months later on this Christmas day, presumably of a heart attack.

Above: Young Tom Morris with his father, Old Tom Morris.

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1876 – Muhammad Ali Jinnah is born, and will eventually become the founder of Pakistan. 

Also born on this day is Nobel Prize winning German chemist named Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus.

In America, an Iowa farmer named Henry Stephens dies when he falls (or is pushed) from a bridge. 

1877 – Birth of Noel Bas, a French gymnast.

1878 – Louis Chevrolet is born in Switzerland, eventually to become a renowned race car driver and automobile manufacturer.

In Russia, future movie executive Joseph Schenck is born.

Dying on this day is Henry Hoff, an American Admiral.

1879 – Birth of Grace George, an American stage actress.

1880 – Birth of Layne Hall, destined to be known as the oldest licensed driver in the United States at the time of his death in 1990 at the age of 110.

1883 – Birth of Hugo Bergmann, a German-Israeli Jewish philosopher. 

Also born is Samuel Berger, an American boxer who dies at the age of 40.

Meanwhile in America, LIFE magazine prints its first Christmas issue. 

1886 – The Arsenal Football Club is founded in London.

On the same day, Kid Ori is born, destined to become a well known American Jazz musician.

1887 – The first batch of Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whiskey is produced. Probably also on this day, the first batch of Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whiskey is consumed. 

Born on this day is Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels.

ABOVE: A young (and very handsome) Conrad Hilton

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1888 – The first indoor baseball game is held in Philadelphia.

1889 – A new comet is discovered in Geneva, New York.

Birth of Lila Bell Wallace, American publisher who co-founded Readers Digest. She lives to the age of 95.

Also on this day, Thomas Edison sends a phonographic (talking) doll as a Christmas gift to a lady he likes.

The weather is primarily warm in America, with temperatures topping 60 degrees in (of all places) Chicago and Washington DC.

1890 – Spotted Elk and the One Horn Clan are making their way to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, where most of them will be slaughtered on December 29 th in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Elsewhere, England witnesses the birth of Noel Odell, an acclaimed geologist and mountaineer who lives to the age of 96.

Also, Robert Ripley is born in Santa Rosa, California. He will forever be known as a collector of odd facts and artifacts (Ripley's Believe it or Not).

1891 – Birth of Clarrie Grimmett, an Australian cricket player. 1892 – A New York newspaper called The People publishes an article by Dan de Leon, in which he explains that politicians are idiots.

1893 – President Grover Cleveland and his wife enjoy a quiet Christmas dinner at the White House, followed by a tree lighting and gifting ceremony. Kids at the event included children of the Secretary of War, and the Treasurer's grandchildren.

In New York City, Christmas was as warm as a fine spring day. This resulted in unprecedented alms for the poor, offered by other poor and middle class people, as the rich luxuriated in opulent comfort.

1894 – San Francisco's Cliff House burns to the ground.

Meanwhile, in Palo Alto, University of Chicago defeats Stanford 24-4, in the first trip made by a midwestern football team to the west coast.

1895 – LIFE magazine prints a Christmas issue with a fantasy cover by TS Sullivant, and a poem by James Whitcomb Riley.

1896 – Stars and Stripes Forever is written by John Philip Sousa.

1897 – Francis P. Church of the New York Sun pens the famous letter entitled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

1898 – An ad in the Washington Times promises “Health for 10 cents” with Cascarets, a candy laxative that claims to “regulate the liver.” Many people suffer colon cancer and liver damage from using this product.

1899 – Immortal actor Humphrey Bogart is born in New York City, to a commercial artist who designed some of America's first mass produced Christmas cards.

Also born on this day is another, less famous actor named Frank Ferguson. 

Above: Humphrey Bogart's mother, Maude, designed this Christmas card and many others. 

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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

Related Links

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Christmas Snow Scenes

Snow Sculpture Competition Winners

Worst Christmas Gifts Ever! 

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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

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