A historic mansion in Bloomington is offering a look at what Thanksgiving was like in 19th century Illinois. The home of U.S. Senator and Supreme Court Justice David Davis will be portraying both the differences and the similarities between the modern and post-Civil War Thanksgiving throughout the month of November. Assistant site manager Jeannie Riordan says it was once a much quieter holiday.
Click here for summary
“You go to church, and then you come home, perhaps play some games or cards or read aloud to each other in the afternoon, and then have a few friends over for dinner,” Riordan said. Even then, the holiday revolved around food, with a few differences. Riordan says dishes that wouldn’t be served during most Thanksgiving meals today, such as oysters, were common in the 1870s, alongside the usual staples like turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving wasn’t widely celebrated in Illinois when the Davis family moved into the mansion in the 1870s. It had only been proclaimed as a national holiday in 1863, but Davis’ wife, Sarah, had grown up in New England, which had a stronger Thanksgiving tradition predating its national acceptance.