Christmas in the 1890’s, from Catharine Niess’ Diary

Times were rough in the Niess household in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Catharine Auxer Niess, my great-great-grandmother kept a diary.  I am blessed to have a copy of that diary and this Christmas I’m sharing her entries for several different Christmas entries.  I have transcribed them exactly as written (spelling and punctuation included.)  


December 10th – This was another beautiful day, the streets were crowded with walkers, people are prepareing (sic) for Christmas.  I think we will spend a poorer christmas this year than we have for a long time . . .

December 18th – The weather to day is rough.  Yesterday it rained, hailed and snowed and the wind belw so hard that some old buildings fell to the ground.  I just got over a hard spell of head ache and feel weak, but I thank God that I am what I am and where I am.  I can scarecely (sic) realize that Christmas is so near.  I baked a few cakes to day, as we are so deep in debt I must bake sparingly.

December 28th – Clear and cold, and good sleighing.  Christmas day was cold and cloudy in the evening about ten o clock it began to snow and snowed all next day.  On Saturday it still snowed some and began to get colder.


December 26th – It has been raining all week.  Yesterday (Christmas) it was cloudy but did not rain much.  We all were out to Uncle Harries except Katie.  Her and Lou were up to my Sisters to dinner.  We got many nice presents.  This eve Katie took a few things up to Mrs. Shafers and a little cake to Mrs. McCann.  This evening it is blowing very hard and is getting very cold.  Gertie Carns is still sick, is a little better.  


December 26th – The weather is very cold.  I got a half ton of coal last friday now I can makea the house comfortable.  We had a real nice Christmas.  It being on Sunday, I went to church in the morning.  We did not have any in the evening.  Today we had a small turkey.  katie and Lou were here to dinner.  Sadie was here.  Last week two of the River Brethren Ministers were here.  They talked and prayed beautiful.  O how I love Christian people.  Everything is going better now hope it may continue.  The river is froze over.

I wish Catharine would have provided just a few more details about Christmas.  Wouldn’t it have been a great thing to have?


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