Sample text for Christmastime in Montana / compiled by Dave Walter.


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Eggs the Coin of the Realm: Bozeman, 1874
The traditional Christmas drink on the Montana frontier was eggnog, when it could be obtained. Little difficulty was encountered in providing the whiskey and rum for the concoction; it was the eggs that were scarce.
About Christmas time, this fruit looms up in price. One dozen eggs will get three pounds of coffee or four pounds of sugar at Strasburger and Sperling's. Twelve yards of the best calico only costs eighteen eggs. One egg will buy a glass of lager at Manej's; six will get a square meal at Dutch John's; two dozen eggs will get one of those nice glass jars of honey at Rich and Willson's.
And the barter continues: five pounds of hominy will be given for one dozen eggs at A. Lamme and Company's; a fancy shawl at Ellis and Davis' for two dozen eggs; six dozen will buy a sack of XXX flour at McAdow and Brother's Gallatin mills; Sheriff Clark will serve a writ for a dozen fresh eggs; Brother Iliff will marry a nice couple for two dozen; and the Avant Courier for one full year can be had for five dozen eggs. It is astonishing what can be done with eggs just now.-(Bozeman) Avant Courier, December 18, 1874

Christmas in a New House: Intake, 1910

In 1908 Edna Patterson's parents brought their five children to a homestead claim nine miles north of Intake, a small community about 15 miles down the Yellowstone River from Glendive, in Dawson County. In these excerpts from an oral-history interview, Edna tells of the family's first Christmas in their new frame house on the claim.

We moved into our new house on the homestead on the 23rd of December, 1910 . . . .We then went with the horse and buggy, and the ax, and we were going to get a cedar tree for Christmas. We went up about a half a mile or more from the house, and we found two little cedar trees in the coulee. That's all we found. They were too precious to cut for our Christmas tree, so we cut down a bullberry bush, and we took it home.
Mother had a couple newspapers that she had packed around dishes and things. She let us cut them up into little strips, and she made us some flour paste. We made those strips all into chains, paper chains. Then we decorated the bullberry bush with the chains. It was a sight to behold, I'll tell you. Daddy put a board across the bottom of it, so it would stand up. We had some crayons that we had brought from Iowa with us-some color crayons-so we colored some of those pieces of paper and made them into paper chains.
. . . For Christmas dinner, Mother had put this big prairie chicken pie in the oven to bake. And she had baked cookies the day before, so there were lots of cookies. I can't remember what they were like, but they had strings in them, so you could hang them on the Christmas tree. . . . Mother and Daddy had coffee with the chicken pie dinner, I can remember that . . . . That was our first Christmas dinner in the homestead house.



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Christmas Montana History, Montana Social life and customs