Is Lewis Miller’s drawing the first to show a Christmas tree in America?
Do a online search looking for the first American Christmas tree and you come up with a wide range of answers. More than one of the answers can be correct, depending on how you ask the question.
Is the Lewis Miller drawing above the first know depiction of an American Christmas tree? Possibly.
The drawing seems to depict the family of blue dyer Seifert with their Christmas tree in 1809. What we don’t know for sure is when Lewis Miller (1796-1882) drew the picture. Miller seems to have done many of his water colors later in life, in a conscious effort to chronicle his world. He would have only been 13 at the time of the depiction of the Seiferts and their tree, but other drawings of his seem to accurately depict people and events that happened when he was even younger than that. Whatever a photographic memory really is, Miller seems to have had it.
So this may not have been the earliest drawing of an American Christmas tree, but the tree may have been the earliest American tree to have been drawn by an eye witness.
What are the decorations? Probably Springerle, the hard cookie usually flavored with anise or lemon. They were, and still are, stamped with designs using a special carved rolling pin or by pressing into wooden molds. The red ornaments may be small apples, possibly crab apples. Nuts were also used as decoration on early American trees.
Click here to read previous posts about Adam Seifert, his trade and his family.