by Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist & Cataloger
By the mid-19th century Christmas trees were available for American households to purchase to decorate their homes during the holiday season. In New York City, one could purchase trees grown in Maine.
Collections at our library regarding Thomas W. Jackson Jr. and his son Herbert A. Jackson, nurserymen in Stroudwater (now Portland), confirm the availability of Maine trees grown to sell in New York. An advertisement states: “20,000 Christmas trees from the State of Maine, 4 to 25 feet high will be sold very low for cash. Twenty years experience collecting Christmas trees for the New York market.”
An 1860 invoice shows cash sales for Christmas trees. The business started off slow on December 13th with sales of only $2.35, but peaked by December 21st with sales of $70.18. A total of $341.04 worth of Christmas trees was sold by December 24th. (One wonders how much each tree cost).
An 1870 invoice reveals that cash was “received for Christmas trees deducting expenses after leaving home from Dec. 12th to 29th 1870” ($879.86). A bill was paid for $146.50 for “travelling expenses on acct of trees from Oct. 4th to Nov. 5th, 1870.”
Some things never change. Christmas trees from Maine are still desirable and trucked to New York and elsewhere, and pine boughs and wreaths are shipped all over the world. After all, we are the “Pine Tree State!”
Merry Christmas from all of us at Maine Historical Society! We look forward to making history with you in 2015.