Eighty-three-year-old Mrs. A.J. Russell recalled the Christmas of 1865 when she was 27, married and living on Ashland’s North Main Street. The town had 16 business and professional men at the time.
Russell said a town meeting planned the Christmas celebration that included a community tree in the town offices located in the wooden Odd Fellows Building that burned in 1879. Russell said she skipped the meeting because she didn’t want to get involved, but she ended up with a task, anyway.
It was her job to find gifts for the community’s children. The planners had collected $40 for gifts and the names of all the children in town. Russell prepared a bag of candy and purchased a small gift for each of them.
The costliest presents were a hat for an orphan boy, and a silver thimble for a girl whose classy mother would have been displeased with a cheaper present. These two gifts were a dollar apiece. The Christmas tree was easy to find in the nearby forest.
A.V. Gillette accompanied the carol singing with his flute, the only instrument in town.
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings, 28 Dec. 1921 [Ashland, Ore.].