New Hampshire Tidbits: Christmas Tree Trivia

Book: Christmas Evergreens, A collection of Poetry for the Holidays, selected and arranged by W.J. Johnston, 1878

Christmas is big business in New Hampshire, at least when it comes to those popular symbols of the season–Christmas trees. In New Hampshire there are nearly 200 tree farms that cater to providing trees, wreaths and other holiday greenery.

Having a live tree in the home for Christmas was in vogue in New Hampshire by at least 1879 when a Concord NH newspaper reported several Christmas trees on the display at the local churches.  In 1898 the Portsmouth NH newspaper reported great numbers of Christmas trees being transported through that city from Maine, on their way to Boston and other places.

In the 1850s New Hampshire’s own Franklin Pierce, then President of the United States, is said to have had the first indoor Christmas tree at the White House. Others claim that the first tree did not happen until President Benjamin Harrison’s term of office.

In 1933 Four members of the White Mountain troop of Girls Scouts conceived the idea of providing a New Hampshire Christmas tree to then first lady, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were assisted by C.S. Herr, Coos County Farm Bureau agent in picking the perfect tree.

From Book, “Celebrating the tradition: the Victorian Christmas Booklet,” by Judi Brandow for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 2001.

In 1956 “New Hampshire provided the big tree for the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas display, the first time in that center’s then 24-year history. It was offered by Gov. Lane Dwinell. Then NH Forestry Dept. officials, directed by State Forester Wiliam Messeck began the search for the big, symmetrical evergreen. They picked at 64-foot spruce on the property of Charles Elliott in Dalton, near Whitefield NH. Foresters estimate the tree weighs almost three tons and it about 65 years old.” It took a week’s work to prepare the tree for the trip.  [from Hartford Courant, Hartford CT 11 Oct 1956].

In 1960 the New Hampshire Christmas Tree industry was estimated at over a half-million dollars; the national production was estimated at about $21 million. In that year approximately 1 million trees were cut in New Hampshire, most of which were shipped to markets in Boston., New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey and as far west as Cleveland.

Today in New Hampshire you have many options when it comes to Christmas trees. You can cut your own tree, or you can order it to be delivered right to your doorstep.  You can even donate a tree to the U.S. Military and/or their families through the New Hampshire Christmas Tree Association.

==ADDITIONAL READING==

The History of Christmas Trees

Poem: The Christmas Tree by F.M. Ray [HathiTrust]

Christmas At The President’s House, from The Southern Christmas Book [HathiTrust]

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