Holly Johnson: How Thanksgiving looked in the year 1909

Published 6:30 am Saturday, November 28, 2020

No doubt your Thanksgiving celebration looked a little different this year.  Did you fix a turkey?  How many pies did you bake?  Were there fewer people at your table?

In 1909, the Austin Daily Herald published a bit stating where locals, including the Hormels, would be spending their Thanksgiving holidays and what they might do for fun.

“Where They’ll Eat Turkey

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The F.E. Gleason and Geo. A. Hormel families will be entertained at dinner Thanksgiving at the G.F. Burnham home.”  Fred Gleason was Lillian Hormel’s brother and Mrs. G.F. Burnham was her sister.

Several other gatherings were mentioned. “The John French family will be entertained at the John D. Smith home…

“Mr. and Mrs. Frank Helebrant have as their guests at Thanksgiving dinner Mr. and Mrs. McGreevy and daughters…”

“Kate and Willie Plummer of Madison, S.D., stopped here between trains today, on their way to Lime Springs to spend Thanksgiving.”

“A big Thanksgiving dance will be given Thanksgiving evening at Moscow hall.”

“A special Thanksgiving skating party will be given tomorrow afternoon and evening.”

In 1909, you could have sat down for a Thanksgiving meal at the Elk Hotel in Albert Lea. In the Nov. 24, 1909, Austin Daily Herald, the Elk advertised a menu featuring items such as Lobster a la Newberg on Toast Royal, Fricassee of Sweet Breads de Champignons, Roast Thanksgiving Turkey with Chestnut dressing, Mince Pie and English Plum Pudding with Golden Sauce. The price was $.75 per plate!

Science and common sense dictated that we not travel or gather with family or friends this Thanksgiving. Still, I hope you were able to find a way to focus on the blessings that surrounded you. Maybe you had fewer dishes to do and didn’t stress as much about setting a perfect table.

Maybe you deviated from the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes menu and tried a new recipe. Perhaps you found joy in staying close to home versus packing a suitcase or car to travel near or far. And, possibly Zoom or some other online platform allowed you to connect or reconnect with someone dear to you.

However you chose (or were forced) to celebrate your Thanksgiving, I hope you focused on that which you still have the opportunity to do – Giving thanks!

Upcoming events

Per the latest order of Gov. Tim Walz, the Hormel Historic Home museum and event center must be closed to the public through Dec. 18.  The house will remain decorated for Christmas through January, so hopefully we can welcome you in to see it all dressed up soon.