Susan’s Thanksgivings

November 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

It occurred to me that the dining room table in the Dana-Thomas House would be an elegant place to serve Thanksgiving dinner. I could find no reference to Susan entertaining at Thanksgiving, but since the holiday was and is a private family affair, a Thanksgiving celebration at the table would probably not be public record. However, I found two newspaper accounts that give us a glimpse into a couple of Susan’s Thanksgivings before she had a Wright-designed dining room table. This report was in the December 2, 1876 Illinois State Journal:

That roller skating has become a very popular exercise or amusement in Springfield, is evidenced in the large attendance the past two days at the rink–Armory Hall. On Thanksgiving afternoon a matinée was held, affording much pleasure to the numerous participants and spectators. In the evening the regular weekly assembly or reception took place, and included in the program was the contest for the prize medal to the best lady skater of the evening. Miss Minnie Stockfield was awarded the prize by the judges, the announcement eliciting hearty applause.

Susie was 14 years old that year, and according to another newspaper account, she was awarded the medal for the best lady skater the next week.

Seemingly Thanksgiving highlighted the opening of the social season in 1901. Here is an excerpt from The Springfield News, November 16, 1901:

Persons who are mixed up in society’s whirlpool this fall are having about all they can attend to, especially the women. Everyone is remarking that they never saw Springfield so gay so early in the season, and if the round of parties, receptions and dances keeps up, society devotees will certainly have nothing to object to by the end of the season…. The Assembly committee issued invitations for the five dances to be given this season the first of the week. The first dance will be given on the eve of Thanksgiving, and the dates for the others have not been settled… The Assemblies will be conducted the same as last season. There will be dancing for those who care to dance and progressive euchre for those who play cards and do not care to dance.

Since Susan had recently lost both her husband and father, she probably did not participate in the hectic social season of 1901. However, after the Lawrence House was completed in 1904, she and the house were in the midst of Springfield’s annual social whirlpool, and I imagine she started each season with a Thanksgiving dinner at her grand dining room table with friends and family.

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