Back in time: First Christmas in Stillwater

This photo from Christmas past shows Christmas at the warden's house in 1909. (Photo courtesy of Washington County Historical Society)

This photo from Christmas past shows Christmas at the warden’s house in 1909. (Photo courtesy of Washington County Historical Society)

Time moves on. Soon the magical event of Christmas will be over, and the residents of Stillwater will prepare for the next several months of winter before the expected blanket of snow and ice will be shed and the green of the trees and grass will once again dominate the St. Croix Valley.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember our childhood Christmas. When the first time we realized that Santa wasn’t real (or is he??) or our first taste of rice pudding — these events all seem to run together. Can we remember our first Christmas? How about the first Christmas ever celebrated in Stillwater? Actually, yes, the first holiday season in Stillwater was told many years ago and is still being told today.

The first Christmas celebrated in Stillwater has been a story that handed down from family to family. It has been reprinted in newspapers and books, but this first Christmas, celebrated more than 170 years ago needs once again to be handed down as a heritage present to the readers of the Gazette.

It was Lydia Carli, who traveled from Chicago to what is now Stillwater in 1841. She came here and lived in the Tamarack House that was constructed by her half-brother, Joseph R. Brown. It was that Christmas that Mrs. Carli would later tell to Mr. A.B. Easton, the publisher of the Stillwater Gazette and the two volume “History of the Saint Croix Valley” published in 1909 by Easton …

Want to read more? Check out the Dec. 20 edition of the Gazette, available at newsstands through Monday, Dec. 23, or at our office, 1931 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater. Brent Peterson is the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society in Stillwater.

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