The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: “Christmas Past The Day Off, Scripture, Gifts, Other Activities”

Greetings to ever one in western Illinois and all readers of The Quill.

I’m a hope’n all had a joyous Christmas with opportunity to fellowship with friends and family. This is a special time of the year, of course.


Have ya ever wondered how Christmas was at the turn of the century–1900 that is?

Well, in 1900 there were approximately 150 miles of paved road in the United States. Automobiles were rare outside of the large cities. Horse drawn carriages and walk’n were the mode of transportation.

Even emergency vehicles such as fire trucks were pulled by horses and mail was delivered by them critters in all kinds of seasonal weather as well.

Winter meant their grain ‘n feed were delivered by bobsled. We had more snow in the winters of those days, it seems, ‘n an open winter, such as we is have’n thus far this winter, presented special problems.

It was much easier to find a drink’n fountain fer horses than one fer people.

A hand pump jack with a rusty tin can filled the bill fer most folk on many a farm.

It was a time when doctors made house calls.

The grocer in small towns and villages came in the morn’n to get yer grocery order ‘n delivered them in the afternoon. Can’t ya just imagine Wal-Mart do’n that now-a-days?

Many folk enjoyed harness race’n on a frozen lake or large pond if’n one was near by. Their horses had special shoes with spike-like additions added fer good traction on slippery surfaces like ice.

Neighborhood activities centered around a homemade neighborhood ice rink, flooded by the fire department if’n ya was in town.

Ponds and cricks sufficed fer hours of skaten fun and hockey fer the young folk. Ice skates were buckled to your day shoes.

Many games were played dure’n the long winter months with their short days and long nights. Table games that seem hard to find today, have been replaced by the Internet and T.V.

Some of the old time family fellowship has been lost to modern technology.

Snowball fights, Angels in the snow, and ever-one knew of a hill for the thrill of a steel numbered “American Flyer” sled ride. Plastic sleds were unheard of, fer plastic fer that purpose hadn’t been invented yet. If’n a hill were not nearby, the family pony could provide adequate power fer a fun filled sled ride.

Prepar’n fer Christmas involved chop’n down yer own tree, bake’n cookies, and fill’n Santa’s bag full of apples, homemade popcorn balls, an homemade candy of all types.

The main decor was popcorn and cranberry strings. After Christmas the decor was hung outside fer birds to feast on.


On Christmas morning, breakfast mostly consisted of hot biscuits, potatoes, beans, buckwheat cakes, bacon, ham, eggs, and porridge, all produced, fer the most part, on the family farm.

Routine farm chores of feed’n chickens , cattle and hogs, milk’n the cows, gather’n eggs, and thaw’n out frozen waterer’s still needed to be done, even on Christmas Day.

Fireworks was brought in along with fire start’n cobes, fer ready’n the cook stove fer Christmas dinner and warm’n the home.

And my, those homemade Christmas dinners with pies and homemade ice cream were something to behold!

Gifts were finally opened to the delight of the children, but only after holy scripture was read out loud by all the children that could read.


Luke Chapter I and Matthew Chapters I, II, III are read and discussed pertain’n to the real mean’n of Christmas which was not to be overlooked.

Isaiah Chapter 11 versus 1-9 were read to be reminded of Christ’s birth prediction long ago in the old testament.

Even the young children had their part to play in this portion of the family Christmas celebration.

Fathers were particularly important in help’n with all parts of the Christmas celebration and pass’n on the mean’n of Christmas.


Empty thread spools were strung on a bright cord fer baby. A little girl may get a wooden doll buggy. New boots, knitted pairs of wristlets, scarves, and gloves were common gifts fer ever one.

Books (there was no TV or radio), 3D stereoscopes, games such as dominoes, rock candy and clothes were welcome surprises.

Dad may get a watch and chain, a new single barrel shotgun, or some hand tool.

Store bought items were a rarity, fer spend’n money was scarce.


Relatives arrived by bobsled or sleigh fer dinner. Their arrival heralded by the pleasant sound of Jingle Bells on a leather strapped on the horse or horses.

After dinner there was skate’n on a creek, games of “Fox and Geese” and snow Angels made in the snow.

Snow was an important element in the fun and celebration.

Older family members reminisced with the family album. Some could remember when pictures of tin type first made their appearance in the community.

Indoor games were “Hunt the Thimble”, dominoes and London Bridge.

Grandparents told stories of their childhood, surprised at the changes that were take’n place. Little did they dream of what lay ahead.

Some played instruments (fiddle, harmonica, accordian, piano, pump parlor organ, melodeon) while others sang songs around the instrument of choice. There was always popcorn.

Early in the even’n, after dark and the farm chores again were completed, guests had left after a full day of fellowship.

Then it was “bank the fire” in the stove and off to bed with the hot soapstone covered with comforters on top of a feather mattress. No heat in the sleep’n quarters for the most part.

Well, that’s it fer Christmas past. Hope’n ta see ya in church this week and have yourself a “happy New Year” from the “Bruke” family to yours.

Have enjoyed share’n with you’ns fer 2015 and look’n forward to God’s bless’ns in 2016.

Remember, wherever ya is, whatever ya be a do’n, “BE A GOOD ONE!”

Keep on Smile’n,

Catch ya later,