Merry Christmas from the Butte Record, 1857

The Oroville Daily Butte Record had some fun for its readers on Christmas Day, 1857, which it “Furnished to our readers gratuitously as a Christmas present!”

Using standard newspaper engravings that were usually seen in advertisements and patriotic announcements (“obtained at a reckless disregard of expense”), the editor, George Crosette, put together fake news stories and entertainments for his readers. I’ll share some of these for your Yuletide amusement over the next few posts.

The page starts off with a grand illustration of the new Hotel St. Nicholas, located on the corner of Montgomery and Huntoon Streets.

Oroville in 1856 had nothing so magnificent. I doubt any building in Oroville at the time was more than two stories high. The real St. Nicholas Hotel can be seen on the left in this drawing:

sc20261 Courtesy of Special Collections, CSU Chico, and the Pioneer Museum, Oroville.

Here the American eagle is shown with arrows clutched in “his right paw,” while “the vegetable productions on the other side represent roots” (actually an olive branch) as an “allegory meaning that nobody can play any root on the American people.” I am sorry to say I can’t explain the pun.

Then there is a cart and a horse, because “by giving the eagle’s picture priority to that of Franklin, we have placed the cart before the horse.” Benjamin Franklin being, of course, the patron saint of American printers.

Franklin is shown with two deer, one above and one below his portrait, because he said he once “paid two deer for a whistle.”

How the readers must have groaned at this desperate pun.

Stay tuned for more merriment from the Christmas issue of the Butte Record.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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