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Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Lindley House Dec. 2nd


Posted on 11/23/2018 by Robert F Henderson

Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Lindley House Dec. 2nd

For Immediate Release
November 23, 2018
Contact: Robert F Henderson, 812-653-1212

An old-fashioned Christmas is something many of us have yearned for, having heard echoes of a time when the most-celebrated holiday of the year was simpler and—perhaps—more heartfelt than in today’s busy and commercialized world. The Christmases of our ancestors were a time for family, homemade decorations and lovingly crafted gifts. Or maybe no decorations or gifts at all, but simply the gathering of loved ones to create a warmth that chased away the bitterness of winter’s chill.

Whatever the choices those people made long ago to observe Christmas, the Orange County Historical Society (OCHS) is this year once again offering the chance to revisit what might have been in those pioneer days. Through a special holiday celebration at the historic Lindley House—former home of early Orange County settler Thomas Elwood Lindley—visitors will relive a sense of what Christmas may have been like in the 19thcentury, experiencing a taste of what Christmas was like long before shopping malls and convenience stores, before gifts were purchased online and everyone felt the need to have “the latest thing”.

The OCHS will play host to an old-Fashioned holiday event at the historic Lindley Farm House on Sunday, December 2nd from 2 to 4 p.m.  The site is located on the western edge of Paoli on Willow Creek Road, just south of S.R. 565/US 150.

The 165 year old historic farm home will be decorated in part downstairs to reflect a simple 1860s Christmas past and will be open for informal touring.  OCHS volunteers will be on site to share historic tidbits relating to the home site and serving up hot cider and cookies as well.

The musical group, “Left Field String Band” will be performing old tyme period Christmas music in the front parlor of the house.

OCHS President Robert F. Henderson said “And while we are aware that traditionally the Lindley family who were Quakers would have very likely avoided any efforts of the period to commercialize Christmas.  The event simply gives us an occasion just to open up the old farm house to our visitor friends one last time at season’s end and share some of the simple holiday traditions of the time period of the home.”

Santa Claus, also sometimes referred to as Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, and/or St. Nicholas is a combination of many different legends and mythical creatures as told through the centuries by a multitude of culture and faiths.  The modern image of Santa Claus had not fully solidified in the public’s eye until the latter half of the nineteenth century when Thomas Nast’s drawing of the fat jolly elf with a bag full of presents appeared in Harper’s Weekly in the 1870s and 1880s.


Christmas literature of the time included ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, written by Clement Moore in 1822 and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which was published in America in 1843. Christmas Carols of the Lindley House era included It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, written in 1850, and We Three Kings of Orient Are, written in 1857.

Decorations during that period would have been very minimal indeed added Henderson.  Garland, holly, and evergreen boughs possibly covering the mantle, pictures, lamps and door and window frames, and perhaps a sprig of mistletoe tucked in some opportunistic spot decorated the homes.  The poinsettia became a popular decoration in the United States in the 1850s and spring bulbs “forced” to bloom were also popular.


Then, as now the Hoosier holidays were a time for special foods.  A typical menu for a special holiday season may have included boned turkey, oysters, venison, biscuits, glazed fruit, fruit cake, citrus fruit, egg nog, and hot coffee.

Popular gifts for boys in the mid-nineteenth century included wooden toys, popcorn balls, and candy. The list also included firecrackers, cannons, and horns which were used for noise making.

Adults often gave each other books, note paper, pens, fancy perfumes, and soaps.

The Lindley House is restored to reflect the period of the 1850s to mid-1860s when it was used as an actual farm home. Listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places since 1985, the house is normally open in season only by appointment.

There will be no charge to visit the house; however donations are accepted to help preserve and maintain the home site.   This will be last opportunity to visit the Lindley House for the season as it will close after the event for the winter months until next spring.