Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday.  I think I love the fact that this celebration is all about being grateful.  Even though challenging times do come, there is so much to be thankful for.  Thanksgiving comes early this year.  This provides a perfect excuse to be thankful all week.

Through the years, Nebraska has definitely embraced Thanksgiving.  This holiday has possibly been celebrated in Nebraska since the beginning of the state’s history.  But the earliest record is found regarding celebrations during

Past Nebraska Thanksgivings

  • Because the 1890’s was a period of economic depression, Thanksgiving was noted but not excessively celebrated.  At least not in Omaha.  Homelessness was happening.  People were encouraged to think of others during the holidays.  A great sentiment!
  • A Thanksgiving blizzard?  Valentine definitely had one in 1896.  This article also notes the local hotel Thanksgiving menu which actually listed toothpicks.  Evidently that was a novelty?
  • Back in 1904, the Norfolk theater had a Thanksgiving Day production of “The Fatal Scar.”  The star of the show?  Frank James, brother of Jesse James.  Evidently once he was done being an outlaw, he turned to acting.  Although one newspaper noted he was not a very good actor, both shows were packed.  The troupe traveled around the state for awhile. Source: Nebraska History
  • In 1909, Omaha Mayor Dahlman challenged people to have a “sane Thanksgiving.” According to this Nebraska History article, evidently he compared the public’s tendency to overindulge as being the same type of danger as being burned by 4th of July fireworks.
  • For your 1914 Thanksgiving meal, you would have probably had oysters.  Yes, turkey and even sweet potatoes with marshmallows were still a part of the menu.  But supposedly, everyone had was the affordable oyster.  Evidently oysters and turkey are a common combination?  You will find a recipe in the Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook that was compiled by Kay Graber.  Thanksgiving Hash, which also includes cream, is found on page 114.
  • Notre Dame football, the Huskers and Thanksgiving?  You will definitely want to click over to see the pictures from this 1922 event.  I must admit that the only thing that confused me from this one is the date.  November 30th?  I discovered that the 4th Thursday did not become the standardized date until 1941.
  • Fort Robinson has served many purposes through the years.  In 1938, it was once again an active post.  During this time, the fort was an Army Depot.  Horses and mules were trained for the troops.  A commemorative program was created for Thanksgiving celebration.  Evidently the memento contained both the menu and the list of the troops.
  • Did you know that the Huskers played their first day-after-Thanksgiving football game back in 1954?  This one definitely required holiday travel.  Any guesses on the game’s location? You might be surprised.  Read the details in this Omaha World-Herald flashback.   If you enjoy the connection between the Huskers and Thanksgiving, you will enjoy this segment found on NET Nebraska.
  • In the 1967 Nebraska Centennial First Ladies Cookbook (compiled by First Lady Maxine Morrison), turkey is mentioned as being a part of the menu often served in the Governor’s Mansion.  There is also a dressing for Andy’s favorite dressing.  The official “cateress,” Mrs. Wilma Anderson, was nicknamed Andy by the Governor’s son.
Happy Thanksgiving!

No matter how you choose to celebrate next week, I hope you have plenty to be thankful for this year!


Author: neodyssey

My name is Gretchen Garrison. I started this blog about Nebraska in 2013. So far, I have written three books about Nebraska and Lincoln.