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Checking the tree crop on a Balsam Grove farm in 1961.

The modern Christmas tree, which found its way to the United
States with German immigrants in the early 1800s, dates from 16th
century Germany. 

By 1900, one in
five American families decorated trees during Christmas.  An article on the front page of the December
1, 1905 Sylvan Valley News advises setting the tree in place the day before it
is to be used.  Strings of popcorn and
popcorn balls should also be prepared a day ahead as well.  On the day of the Christmas party everyone
joined in to put on decorations including
tiny twinkling bells, golden
stars, shiny tinsel, and gleaming candles. 

Beginning in 1906 Joseph and Elizabeth Silversteen held an
annual Open House at their Rosman house for the community.  A description on the 1908 event states, “The
tree was beautifully trimmed and the yard under the tree was larger than ever
before, and contained tiny toy fowls and animals which greatly pleased the
children.  The little green and red
picket fence surrounding it, gave a touch of completeness to the whole.  All the children and old people received
oranges and Christmas stockings filled with candy and Mr. Aiken very kindly
entertained the callers with his excellent phonograph.”

This undated photo shows children at a Baptist church Christmas program.

Contact the Local History Room staff at the Library if you can identify

any of the children.

The first mention of a community Christmas tree in Brevard was
for the evening of December 24, 1907 at the court house. 

Many of the local churches and schools also had a Christmas
tree and entertainment for children and the communities they served.  The presentations typically included
readings, songs, plays, and a visit from Santa Claus who brought children a
small treat bag, as well. 

Brevard High School Christmas Pageant, 1955.

C.M. Siniard was one of the first to make a profit from the
growing popularity of Christmas trees. 
In 1912 he advertised, “Holly Christmas trees and trimmings delivered to
any part of town.  Rates reasonable.” 

The Christmas
tree industry grew quickly until nearly every family had one by 1930. 
By the mid-1900s Christmas trees had
become a cash crop in the mountains of Western North Carolina. 

Photographs and information for this column are provided by
the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs.  For more information,
comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]
or 828-884-1820.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712