Christmas in 1869


A great, blazing campfire adorned the ridge just north of our treasured Island Park on Christmas eve in the year of 1869. No paved streets, no congested traffic informed one that Winfield was on the map. But a few days prior to Christmas a caravan of prairie schooners had topped the eastern hills and come down into the Walnut Valley to make it home for a few more heads and hands.

The valley then only possessed about 11 houses, over half of which were of sod or logs. One of these was owned by Colonel Manning. His was an eight-foot square log cabin in which he slept, but he cooked out of doors.

Intense excitement prevailed throughout the camp. The next day was Christmas! In the 67 covered wagons of the caravan lived 25 or 30 individuals, a number of whom were children.

On Christmas day the excitement ran higher until just before the feast at noon when a home talent program, Winfield's first, necessitated a little quiet.

The story of the birth of Christ was read by one of the adults from the Bible and then all joined in the singing of Christmas carols, as they sat in a circle around the log fire which was kept replenished constantly. After the program the feast, a combination of wild turkey, beef, buffalo meat and a number of other dainties, was served to hungry lads and lasses, old and young, who had been patiently waiting all through the previous program for just this instant. It was such a day as the ones we have been having lately, some snow and a bright sun.

This was Winfield's first Christmas celebration. A number of local people, who were then quite young, participated in the program and the feast and will remember that day in the dim and distant past. Robert Hudson, local jeweler, was present and related the facts for this story.

(NOTE: This was first printed in the December 24, 1925, edition of the Winfield Daily Courier and Daily Free Press.)