Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Yellowstone Thanksgiving

Here's a glimpse at what Thanksgiving was like for a solider stationed at Fort Yellowstone in 1898. Thanksgiving, 100 years ago, still meant a menu of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pie! This letter was written by Private Edwin Kelsey,  to his niece in California. 
soldier stationed at Ft Yellowstone 1890's

Riverside Station, Dec. 3 1898
My Dear "G"-
. . . Left here for the Post [Fort Yellowstone] the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful day when we started .It had snowed hard the day and night before and everything was covered with several inches of the "beautiful". I think that I've never seen anything look as beautiful as did the trees, most which are "Jack Pines", the same as that one in the yard at home. With their covering of snow they assumed all manner of grotesque shapes, some of them so lifelike that it required no very severe strain of the imagination to believe that they were really alive and that one was in Heaven and that they were angels, or in Hell and that they were imps.
I made 26 miles the first day, staying all night at Norris Station. The next morning it was 22 below zero, but I pulled out for the Post, which I reached about two PM after a cold hard ride of 20 miles. It is not much sport riding when the snow is so deep that your horse has to walk all the time.
Stayed at the Post for Thanksgiving dinner and it was a beaut. The cook more than threw himself. Had turkey, roast pork, sweet spuds, cranberry sauce, oyster stew, chocolate, three kinds of cake, pie, pickles, nuts and apples-how's that for soldiers?
I left soon after dinner and when I reached Norris-a little after 8 that night found no one there so was obliged to rustle around and make a fire and get my own supper .I was thinking, as I was riding along in the moonlight-there was a swell moon-how differently you were putting in the day. Am very anxious to learn the result of the game.
And so you don't see how I can find any enjoyment in such a place as this. Well I do. Of course I would like muchly to see you all and I think of Santa Cruz and the pleasant times I used to have there often. And at night when the "orchestra" plays some familiar air, it makes me wish that I could hear Flora sing. But despite your doubts to the contrary, there is something about this life in the wilderness that fascinates me. . . .

Love to all the family and Mable, and regards to friends. Edwin

Historic Fort Yellowstone
Happy Thanksgiving!

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Award-Winning Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series


  1. What an interesting letter, Peggy. I was pleased to read the menu, weren't you? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this letter. I worked a summer in Yellowstone, and this brought back lovely memories.

  3. You're right, it does sound much like the kind of Thanksgiving we have today. He should have loaded up some of that food to take along. The big difference, of course, was that he traveled by horse, but when I think about it, even today it would be better to ride a horse than travel through all that snow by some other means.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  4. My grandfather (James G. Morrison) was with Kesey at the time and the archives at Yellowstone supplied me with his personal notes taken at that time. Thanks for you post here. Jim Morrison, Hansville, WA


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