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History of Klickitat, Yakima, and Kittitas Counties, Washington

published in 1904

Yakima's First Christmas Celebration

"The first special Christmas celebration in the Yakima valley that I can remember," says Mrs. Martha (John P.) Beck, "took place the year of our arrival, 1869. The few of us that were living in the isolated region at that time were invited to spend Christmas eve at the home of Columbus Goodwin, near the site of Yakima City. The Goodwins, the doctor, his brothers, and a large family of boys and girls, came in 1865; the mother, Priscilla Goodwin, had died December 18th of that year, her death being the first in the settlement.

"Columbus, or as he was generally called 'Lum,' Goodwin had a fine two-story log cabin on his ranch. The spacious kitchen served also as a dining room, and there we women loaded down a long L shaped table with all the good things we were able to cook with the limited supplies at our command. The luxuries were few. Everybody dressed as well as possible, which was not very fastidiously compared with the present standard, but we were not thinking as much of our appearance as of having a jolly time.

"After the children had been gladdened by numerous gifts brought principally by the bachelors of the community, they were given a place by themselves, and the customary dance began. One of the fiddlers was Lum Goodwin; the other's name has escaped my mind. At midnight the crowd sat down to our crude banquet, evidently the climax of the celebration, judging from the avidity and apparent satisfaction which which the dancers cleared the table of its supplies.

"Then came some impromptu speeches by our local orators. Our toastmaster was a lawyer named Randolph, the pioneer attorney of Yakima. He was witty speaker and withal a good one. On this particular occasion he fairly outdid himself, having braced for the event by a frequent resort to liquid inspiration. Lawyer Randolph's Christmas speech will never be forgotten by those who heard and saw him that night. For years afterward a reference to it was enough to put the bluest kind of crowd into circus-day humor. He left us in 1870.

"More dancing and merrymaking followed the dinner and finally brought our Christmas affair to a close. It was one of these happy events that marked a bright spot in our peaceful existence."

© 1998 by Cayuse Press

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