Goodridge of York Helped Popularize Christmas Trees in 1840
William Goodridge’s advertisement of the public display of a Christmas tree in 1840, fairly rare for that time, has often been repeated at this time of year.
In the hope of adding a new twist, I did an internet search on Goodridge plus Christmas tree and came up with an interesting coincidence. One hundred twenty-seven years after the York, PA Christmas tree exhibit, Edward S. Goodridge of New York state received a patent for a new way of constructing artificial Christmas tree branches.
The original ad and more information on the patent are below.
For the amusement of the ladies and gentlemen of York, and its vicinity, Goodridge will exhibit at his residence, in east Philadelphia street, a
the exhibition of which will commence on Christmas Eve, and continue, (Sunday excepted,) until New Year.
TICKETS to be had at his store.
York, December 21, 1840.”
Note that Goodridge marketed the exhibit to ladies and gentlemen. It sounds like it was more of a decorative adult entertainment than an event aimed at children, although they too would have been in awe of a tree indoors, adorned with decorations and possibly lit with candles. We do not know what the fee was to view the tree. It may have just been small and used as a method of crowd control.
Although Goodridge’s son Glenalvin became a noted York photographer some years later, I know of no photos that could have been a Goodridge Christmas tree. Even after photography became widespread, nineteenth century photos of York County Christmas trees are rare. If you have any and would be willing to share copies, please contact me.
In 1967 Edward S. Goodridge was issued U.S. Patent # 3,343,357 for the “Method and Apparatus for Fabrication Artificial Branches.” The patent, which I found online through www.freepatentsonline.com states “This invention relates to a method and apparatus for the fabrication of artificial branches simulating pine, fir and like evergreens particularly used in the construction of artificial Christmas trees.”
Any family relationship between York’s Goodridge and the patent holder is extremely slim, but it is still fun to see a slight link between the tree that William Goodridge brought inside with the ubiquitous low-maintenance ones that we have in our homes today.
Click here to see what Goodridge was selling at Christmastime in 1840.
Click here to read about a later York Christmas tree and to see Lewis Miller’s illustration of a very early one.
Click the links below for York County inventions. Some worked and some didn’t.
Dowdel’s bedbug-proof bedstead.
Anstine’s threshing machine.
Frey’s flying machine.