August Imgard - Christmas Tree

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Narrative

Professor William I. Schreiber, head of the German department of the College of Wooster, did significant research on the origin of the Christmas tree custom. He reported to the Wooster Daily Record in 1947 that although August Imgard introduced the Christmas tree here in Wooster, Ohio, it was not the first Christmas tree in Ohio nor in the United States. Some of his research revealed the following: [1]

  • 1832 - Christmas tree in Cambridge, later Milton, Massachusetts, erected by a German immigrant, Chas. Follen
  • 1834 - Christmas tree in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, erected by Constantin Herring, a German doctor, and Friederich Knorr, Herring's teacher friend
  • 1835 - Christmas tree in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1840 - Christmas tree in Rochester, New York
  • 1841 - Christmas tree in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 1846 - First Christmas tree in Richmond, Virginia credited to August Bodeker, a druggist.
  • 1847 - First Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio, erected by August Imgard

Another article published by Elinor Taylor in the Wooster Daily Record stated, [2] "No decorations were to be had, so the Imgard family set about to make their own. Some were cut from tin, including the bright star on the topmost branch. There were glass beads, strung for decorations."

Newspaper articles

Printed articles

There have been many articles published in a variety of papers regarding August Imgard. The following are some articles that may be found in the Lateral files of the Wayne County Public Library.

  • "Christmas Came Gradually to Ohio." Motor Travel, November 1967, p. 5.
  • "Christmas Tree Wooster Man Put Up in 1847 is Believed To Have Inaugurated Custom" Wooster Daily Record, December 8, 1934, n.p.
  • "First Christmas Tree Dates Is Now Pushed Back To 1832." Wooster Daily Record, Thursday, January 2, 1947, p. 4.
  • "Grace Goulder's Ohio: German Lad, Sad Because Ohio Had No Christmas." Cleveland Plain Dealer Pictorial Magazine, December 23, 1951.
  • Gramley, Allene. "Wooster Basked In Glory Of Yule Myth." Wooster Daily Record, n.d.
  • "Imgard and Wooster's First Yule Tree Live Again Through Disputes." The Daily Record, Thursday, December 10, 1959, p. 28.
  • "Imgard Tomb Gets Yule Tree Annually." The Daily Record, Thursday, December 18, 1958, n.p.
  • "New Bronze Tablet On Imgard Tomb Here Commemorates 1st Christmas Tree In the Nation." Wooster Daily Record, n.d.
  • "Scenes and Citizens: Trees, Cut Himself One in 1847, Established Custom." Cleveland Plain Dealer Pictorial Magazine, December 23, 1951.
  • Taylor, Elinor. "First Christmas Tree: It All Started Here 132 Years Ago." Wooster Daily Record, n.d..
  • Taylor, Elinor. "Real First Christmas Tree Please Stand Up." Wooster Daily Record, Wednesday, December 17, 1969, p. 13.
  • "Wooster Loses First Christmas Tree Honor; But 1847 Tree Here First in Northern Ohio." Wooster Daily Record, December 17, 1946, n.p.

Articles on First Christmas Tree in Wooster

The Wooster Republican Wednesday, December 27, 1899. Page 1, Column 5

First X-mas Tree Was Trimmed in Wooster Fifty-One Years Ago. Has kept it up ever since.

“August Imgard, Who Is Still Living, Has the Honor of Starting the Custom in Wooster Which Has Brought So Much Pleasure to Young and Old – Made the First Trimmings Himself – First Tree Was a Great Curiosity.

“August Imgard, of Beall avenue, has the distinction of having decorated the first Christmas tree erected in Wooster. This was 51 years ago when the custom was unknown here. Mr. Imgard came to the country a few months before and at the approach of the holiday season his thoughts wandered back to the Fatherland and he decided that the children of his brother, F. L. Imgard, should have a tree.

“In speaking of it this morning, Mr. Imgard said that he knew where some spruce trees were. He started out to get one that would be suitable. He walked up Apple creek, taking the north side to the point that in later years became known as the ‘Spruce Dam.’ On getting to where the trees were he found that the creek was so high that he could not get across, walked down the stream to where a tree had fallen over the creek and selected a tree. On getting back to the log on which he had crossed he was forced to fasten his Christmas tree about his neck and crawl across the log on his hands and knees. Mr. Imgard said that people gazed at him with great curiosity as he came into town carrying his tree. Christmas trees being unknown, there were of course, no decorations to be bought, and he made some himself and had others constructed. The people from all parts of the town came and gazed on the tree with wonderful amazement.

“During the next year Mr. Imgard prevailed on the father of H. J. Kauffman, who then conducted a notion and cigar store in the room where the Adams Express office is now located to buy some Christmas tree ornaments when he went to Baltimore to buy goods. He did so, bought a whole wheel barrow full. The next Christmas a number of others who came from Germany had trees, and the beautiful custom has been very generally adopted not only in Wooster, but all over the county.

“Mr. Imgard still keeps up the custom he started more than half a century ago. True, his children have all left the parental roof, but he finds as much pleasure in trimming the trees for his grandchildren as he did for his own. But the trees of the present are creations of art as compared to those of even 5 years ago, and those go up by “Grandpa” Imgard are marvelous affairs.”

References

  1. "First Christmas Tree Date Is Now Pushed Back To 1832." Wooster Daily Record, Thursday, January 2, 1947, p. 4.
  2. Taylor, Elinor. "Real First Christmas Tree Please Stand Up" The Daily Record, Wednesday, December 17, 1969, p. 13