Tom Wilson: Family of pioneer merchant gone

From The Register Mail:
How Galesburg founders gave thanks

…During the founding of Galesburg in the 1830s the Thanksgiving tradition varied from state to state and our early settlers gave thanks in various fashions.

One of the early settlers in Galesburg, Henry Sanderson, who served as mayor, fondly remembered the old-time customs of early residents. He recalled as a 7-year old attending church during Thanksgiving in the old schoolhouse on the corner of Main and Cherry streets. Families gathered for church services and then indulged in the eating. Women prepared the Thanksgiving meal for several days ahead. Families visited until twilight and then went home to care for their stock.

Mrs. Harvey Jerauld shared that Galesburg colonists brought with them from New York the old Puritan way of observing the day of giving thanks. She observed that Thanksgiving was the day of all days and Christmas was nothing compared to it.

When Dr. Blanchard was president of Knox College he would have nothing of the Christmas observance. He declared it popery and said it smacked too much of Catholicism. W. Selden Gale, son of Galesburg’s founder, said that when he moved here in the 1880s Illinois for all intents and purposes was a southern state and Thanksgiving was under the influence of New England customs.

Marcus Belden remembered his first Thanksgiving spent in Galesburg during 1840. He was taken ill for several weeks and his family lived in a log hut, plastered with mud. His mother stood over him as he lay in bed on Thanksgiving Day, holding a dishpan to catch water dripping through the roof during a rain storm. This being his first Thanksgiving in Galesburg, it always stuck in his mind.

In the early years people would come to Galesburg from all over the country to celebrate the day. It seemed that families gathering at church in the morning, followed by a fabulous meal and socializing in the afternoon were the norm of the times.