Celebrating the Holidays with the Cumings

Thomas B. Cuming. NSHS RG2411-1134

Omaha in 1854 was a village without churches and social organizations, but Margaret Cuming, widow of Thomas B. Cuming, who was acting governor of Nebraska Territory (1854-55, 1857-58), remembered celebrating Christmas there. “As I now recall it, we had no place of public worship here then,” she told the Omaha Evening Bee on December 24, 1906, “We were just a small settlement and visited back and forth during the day. In the evening there was a dance at the Douglas house [hotel] and I attended it.”

Several years later, on Christmas Day Mrs. Cuming lived in a cottage at the southeast corner of Eighteenth and Dodge Streets, where she said the family enjoyed a feast of turkey and partridges. She remembered the following New Year’s Day “through the association of three dozen eggs for which Governor Cuming paid $1 each, and with which she made Virginia egg nog, Mrs. Cuming being a Virginian.”

On New Year’s morning, “Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Cuming’s mother, called and suggested the egg nog. Mr. Cuming took a walk down the village road and met a man from Council Bluffs with a basket of eggs. The best dicker Governor Cuming could make was $36 for three dozen.” When Cuming later told Mrs. Murphy that he had bought “extra fine” eggs for the beverage, “Mrs. Murphy said she thought they seemed to be just every-day eggs. Then the governor quoted the price.”

Want to see photos of Nebraska Territory’s chief executives, including Thomas Cuming, from 1854 to 1867? Check “A Governors’ Gallery” from the Winter 2003 issue of Nebraska History magazine. Receive current copies of the magazine as a benefit of membership in the NSHS. Both full members and subscription-only members receive four issues yearly. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications



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