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Christmas Trees in San Antonio

December 17, 2012

Even though Christmas trees had become popular in America in the later part of the 19th century, there are few images of them due to the limitations of photography at that time.  In San Antonio, newspapers give us a hint of their appearance.  W. H. Kellner published an ad in The Daily Express on December 12, 1871 that reads:  “Attention Public!  Persons wishing to get up Christmas Trees, in fine style, will find it in their interest to inspect our stock of candles, candies, glass balls, glass fruits, and ornaments of all kinds.”   An article in The San Antonio Light on December 28, 1883 describes a tree at the First Presbyterian Church that “was the cynosure of all observation.  Its boughs, like a heavily laden pear tree, russet and bountiful as an Autumn benefaction, bent heavily with the strain of gladsome presents.  Its gifts were numerous and rich…”  And the December 23, 1891 Daily Light lists items for decorating a Christmas tree:  “…a number of rosy cheeked apples…some pieces of string, some tapers and holders, bits of tinsel, colored cornucopias, balls, strings of popped corn, lemons, oranges, bright candies, colored strips of paper, a piece of red cloth and a tree stand are needed.”

The following are photographs from our collections that illustrate Christmas trees displayed in San Antonio from 1900 to 1990.

Cedar tree decorated with factory-made ornaments, paper chains, and American flags in the Dahlgrun house on Matagorda Street, circa 1900.  (MS 362:  081-0225)

Cedar tree decorated with factory-made ornaments, paper chains, and American flags in the home of Pauline Dahlgrun Curry on Matagorda Street, circa 1900. (MS 362: 081-0225)

Miniature scenes beside a richly decorated cedar tree in the partlor of Harry and Hulda Seele on E. Crockett Street, circa 1900.  (MS 362:  072-3127)

Miniature scenes beside a richly decorated cedar tree in the parlor of Harry and Hulda Seele on E. Crockett Street, circa 1900. (MS 362: 072-3127)

Rotary Club Christmas tree on Alamo Plaza, 1920s.  (MS 362: 082-0625)

Rotary Club Christmas tree on Alamo Plaza, 1920s. (MS 362: 082-0625)

A.G. Sherrer with three electric trains that move on tracks around his Christmas tree, 1936.  (MS 359:  L-1527-E)

A.G. Sherrer with three electric trains that move around his Christmas tree, 1936. (MS 359: L-1527-E)

Illuminated tree outside the home of Mabel  Lay on E. Whittier Street, 1940.  (MS 359:  L-2626-K)

Illuminated tree outside the home of Mabel Lay on E. Whittier Street, 1940. (MS 359: L-2626-K)

Louise Yuse  with Christmas tree decorated with banknotes that will be used to purchase war bonds, 1942.  (MS 359: L-2877-F)

Louise Yuse with Christmas tree decorated with banknotes that will be used to purchase war bonds, 1942. (MS 359: L-2877-F)

Christina, Jana, and Eugene Ng with Christmas tree beside Chinese wall hangings, circa 1960.  (MS 362: 076-0465)

Christina, Jana, and Eugene Ng with Christmas tree beside Chinese wall hangings, circa 1960. (MS 362: 076-0465)

Christmas tree for the homeless on Nolan Street at US 281, 1990.  (MS 359:  L-7308-26)

Christmas tree for the homeless on Nolan Street at US 281, 1990. (MS 359: L-7308-26)

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 30, 2015 5:36 pm

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    AN OLD—BUT GOOD —POST!!!

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