Holiday Memories – 52 Ancestors Challenge

This week the 52 Ancestors challenge is Holidays. I came across a newspaper article in the Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter. The headline:

Child’s Yule Imagination As Vivid in 1870 As Today

This article is about my Great Aunt Agnes Jagdfeld. She is the seventh out of eight children born to Gottfried Jagdfeld and Margaretha Schingen. They came from Germany in 1863 with 6 sons my great grandfather John being one of them. After they arrived in Wisconsin and got settled on a farm, they had 2 more children both girls, Agnes in 1866 and Katherine in 1869. Agnes married John Shafer in 1886 and had 1 daughter, Elsie in 1889. Her husband had died in 1925 at the age of 62. They had already moved to the city and were renting the farm. Her daughter died in February of 1965.

Back to the article. It was written in 1965 so Agnes was 99 years old and living in a nursing home, Rolling Meadows. She was recalling how they spent Christmas when she was a child. This is exciting to me as this is how my Great Grandfather, John Jagdfeld would have celebrated Christmas also. They didn’t have a tree in the house but the front room would have plates of homemade frosted cookies and stick candy. They believed in Santa Claus but as they got older, figured out some things and would snoop around looking for a present. This would have been in the 1860s through 1870s.

Later she recalled how she celebrated Christmas with her daughter. They would decorate the tree with popcorn strings and candles. She made rag doll toys for her daughter which Elsie adored. They had winter sleigh ride parties and occasionally the sleigh would tip into a drift. But that wouldn’t detract from the fun they were having. These memories would have occurred in the 1890’s to early 1900’s.

This year 1965 would be the first Christmas Agnes would spend without her daughter since she was born. Her room was decorated with a peppermint candy tree and she had a grapefruit and other gifts on the table with the tree. She was going to the home of her niece to celebrate. Agnes went on to tell them she is going to have dinner and supper there. I am glad that Agnes still had family that thought about her and brought her to their home for Christmas. She went on to live until 1967 so she had one more Christmas after this article to bring her to a total of 100 Christmases that she celebrated.

It is interesting to me how the celebrations changed in her lifetime but she always seemed to have wonderful memories. She shows that you don’t need a lot of decorations and gifts to enjoy the holidays.


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