Christmas in Early America

The first colonists to introduce celebration and merriment to the holiday were the early settlers of Virginia.  The traditions they brought would likely have been reflected in a sixteenth century poem by Thomas Tusser: At Christmas play and make cheer For Christmas comes but once a year Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall Brawn, pudding and souse, and good mustard withall; Beef, mutton and pork, shred pies of the best; Pig, veal, goose and capon and turkey well drest; Cheese, apples and nuts, jolly carols to hear, As then in the country is counted good cheer. One tradition brought by the English colonists of Virginia was noise-making with horns, drums and fireworks, which had been introduced in England in the fifteenth century.  In 1486 the first fireworks display took place in celebration of King Henry VII’s marriage.  This tradition continues in the South even today. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Quakers in Texas: Part Two

By 1895, Frank Jacob Brown and Thomas Hadley Lewis must have felt that Paris Cox (see Part One here) had steered them down the wrong path when he encouraged fellow Quakers to come and settle on the “staked plains” of West Texas (Llano Estacado) in the late 1870’s.  This especially after Cox died in 1888 of throat cancer and the disagreements with other non-Quaker settlers in the area – plus the harsh conditions they faced such as grasshoppers and drought. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Quakers in Texas: Part One

Like yesterday’s Surname Saturday article, today’s article is inspired by my visit to historic Estacado Cemetery in Lubbock County, Texas.  Quaker colonists who arrived in late 1879 were some of the first settlers on the High Plains of Texas, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Paris Cox was born on October 17, 1846 in Asheboro, North Carolina to parents Gideon and Huldah (Mendenhall) Cox.  According to Quaker Meeting Minutes, Gideon and Hulda had married on September 6, 1843 at the Holly Spring Monthly Meeting.  Before her death in 1857 Huldah bore Gideon five children: Anson, Paris, Larkin, Esther and William.  On September 30, 1858, Gideon married Asenath Barker and to their marriage were born five more children: Huldah, Orlando, Manly, Oliver and Lydia. Most Quakers of that day were pacifists, so when Paris was drafted by the Confederate Army he purchased an exemption and moved to Indiana.  In 1870 he was living with the Mills family in Hamilton County, Indiana, employed as a sawyer.  After marrying school teacher Mary C. Ferguson, Paris worked at a sawmill with his father-in-law. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...