Cora’s Christmas Doll: 1879

 girl and dollCora Norwood’s Christmas Present.

Press and Knickerbocker, Albany, N.Y.

The brightest and pleasantest story of Christmas season comes to the Press and Knickerbocker, from Maine. Indeed it is a veritable romance, and almost like a fairy tale. In a village of the Pine Tree State, which bears the prosaic name of “Buckport” lives Cora Norwood, the heroine of our story, who employs her busy little nine-year-old fingers in knitting mittens and gloves, to assist in meeting the expenses of the family. One day last year, while Cora was deftly and swiftly engaged, not in “spinning yarns,” but weaving their varied colors into the useful articles which were to protect some brawny hands from the biting frost and the cutting wind, visions of the ice and the snow of Christmas frolics and Santa Claus with his reindeers, came flitting through the little maiden’s mind, until she seemed transported into the winter days. When the gloves into which she had woven so many dreams and airy visions were at last completed, she wrote a little note, saying:

“This pair of gloves were made by Cora S. Norwood, aged nine years, of Buckport, Maine. As my parents are too poor to give me a Christmas present, I would be much pleased to receive a wax doll for Christmas and hope that the person who buys these gloves will think enough of it to comply with my request.” This note she placed on the inside of one of the gloves. Together with others, the glove, with its precious message, passed through many hands unnoticed, to Boston, to New York, and finally to Chicago. There, in the Phoenix City of the Great West, a clerk in the store of Keith Brothers & Co. found the wish so modestly and prettily expressed, and calling the attention of the proprietors and his fellow clerks to the matter a purse was raised, the doll procured, and given into the sure hands of the United States Express Company to deliver to the little girl by the sunrise sea. To Mr. B. Schermerhorn, President of the United Express Company was related the story of the little girl’s request and the purchase of the doll, which so pleased him that he determined at once to secure the free delivery of the present to the hands of its intended recipient. The following is a copy of the way bill, as made out by him, and to which he attached the note found in the glove:

United States Express Company: one box. Consignor, Keith Bros & Co, furnishing goods, Chicago, Ill., Address, Cora S. Norwood. Destination, Buckport, Maine. Advance charges, gift. United States charges, gift. Kansas Pacific charges, gift; collect nothing. Prepaid, with love. Remarks: Be happy.

The letter pasted on, is a request found in a pair of gloves and this box contains the desired wax doll, being the gift of employees of the firm selling the gloves. Please let this way-bill go through and be delivered with doll. Those who handle the way-bill may indorse on the back their Happy new Years, etc.

[Signed] B. Schermerhorn

Chicago, Ill.

The back of the way-bill bears the following indorsements:

“Merry Christmas to Cora B. Shermerhorn.”

“A Carleton sends his compliments, Michigan Southern route.”

“Schneider wishes that all your requests in life be granted as readily as this. Dunkirk and Toledo route.”

J.C. Rae: “Heaven’s blessings be with you, hoping you a Happy New Year.”

“To Miss Cora: As you gently glide down life’s rugged river, be ever watchful of the many deceitful rocks that so thickly line its banks and you will always have a Happy Christmas.” A Shaw, train 12, December 17, 1879.

“W.H. Phelon wishes Cora a Merry Christmas.”

“A Merry Christmas and Happy new Year to Cora Norwood. William Hutchinson and partner, Boston, December 21, 1879.”

“I fully concur in the above. A.D. Heith, Boston and Bangor route.”

The last messenger through whose hands this bill and its precious package passed, wrote.

“Respectfully referred to Cora’s young man.” The doll thus brought and carefully carried to its destination, came to hand on Christmas eve, and the delight in the house of Norwood may be imagined, but not described. We are sure all who read this little poem of real life will join in the wishes for a Merry Christmas, and many of them, to little Cora Norwood in the far east State of Maine.

Wheeling [WV] Register 17 January 1880: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is recorded elsewhere that young Cora was delighted with her present and wrote the following thank-you letter:

Bucksport, Dec. 24,1870. Dear Sirs: I received a postal from you Monday, saying that you had sent me a wax doll in answer to my letter I put in a pair of mittens, which I knit about six weeks ago. Tuesday I received the wax doll that I have wished for so many times. It is very pretty, and I thank you over and over again for being so good.

I also got the way-bill with many kind endorsements, and I thank them for their pretty compliments.

I wish you kind employes, and all concerned, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I have named my handsome doll Lulu Keith. I never shall forget you.

Your little friend,

Cora S. Norwood.

Mrs Daffodil sends the compliments of the season to her kind readers and wishes them all the best in the New Year. She will return 7 January, 2015, with more jottings on the fads, fancies, and ephemera of history.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.

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