Gifts requested by children in the 19th century tended to be simple and practical. It’s believed the tradition started in the 1870s, in 1871 Thomas Nast depicted Santa sorting letters from “Good Children’s Parents” and “Naughty Children’s Parents” in the widely read Harper’s Weekly magazine. Soon newspapers began to publish the letters, with some even offering gifts for the best entry. The following letters to Santa Claus appeared in the Mansfield News on December 17, 1899.
Dear Santa Claus: I will be 7 years old Jan. 26, but, although some little boys at school told me you were dead, yet I still have great faith in you. Please bring me some author building blocks, some warships of the U. S. Navy (I can draw good boats myself) and a nice gun. Good-bye. RUSSEL PETER BISSMAN, 458 Park avenue west, P. S. Please remember the lady that lives at 49 Mulberry street.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy 7 years old. I am so glad that you live in Mansfield, so you can come and bring me what I want. I want a drum and I can beat as large a one as you can carry. I want a horn, a wagon, a bicycle, and some candy. Please remember all the very poor children. Your loving boy. RUSSELL STUMP
Dear Santa Claus: I want a pair of No. 9 skates and a pair of boots so I can wade in the mud, but I want a suit of clothes and I want some candy and some cream nuts and some English nuts. You know my brother wants a pair of skates. Yours truly, MERLE CLINE
Dear Santa Claus: I want a screw driver and a shaver, too, and chalk, a set of tin dishes and some cloth books that you brought me, for Elizabeth, that is the kind I want, because she is a small baby, and she would like a doll if you have any. I want some walnuts and oranges, a writing desk and a velocipede. I would like some pictures, too. Don’t try to climb the chimney if its icy, but just ring the bell and papa will let you in. HERBERT HARROUN CARTER, 175 Marion avenue.
Dear Santa Claus: As I am a pretty good little girl I would ask you to please bring me a doll, a buggy, a cradle, dishes and a table, some candy and nuts. Now, good-bye. Be sure and bring them. You will find me at 187 East Fourth street, city. BLANCHE RUTH McCULLOUGH. P. S. – I am 5 years old.
Dear Santa Claus: I would like to be a dude. Will you bring me a plug hat, gold headed cane and a pair of patent leather shoes and a story book and a gun and a fire engine. A new doll baby for sister Ruthie. TRELL CALLIN, 21 Pleasant avenue.
Dear Santa Claus: I would like to tell you what I wish for Christmas. I would like a new dollie and a little go-cart for my dollie and a sled, a pair of overshoes, a tub and a washboard. I have a little brother, his name is Willie; he is too little to write, so I will tell you what to bring him. Please bring him a new coat, a pair of shoes and a cart. Of course, Santa, you must not forget to bring us both some candy and nuts.
Dear Santa Claus: I would like you to bring me a train of cars, a picture book, a pair of leggings, a Christmas tree, lots of candy and nuts. I will go to bed real early and sleep tight and, don’t forget the place, 38 Willow street. Your little boy, DON GORHAM
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy 3 years old and I want you to bring me a black board, a reefer, a train of cars like my papa works on and a goat and a horse. And don’t forget my little brother Earl over in Shelby. I don’t know what he wants. I am your little boy, RAY COPELAND, 47 Harker St.
Dear Santa Claus: Please come and bring me a book with nice pictures, a chemical engine, a little dog, a little pony, and some harness for it. We’re going to take the stove pipe down so you can get in. I am three years and a half old and live at 239 W. Fourth St. HARRY McNIECE.
Dear Santa Claus: I would like a red dress, a pair of kid mitts, an iron sled, the book of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a speaker, and some fine candies, and nuts. Do not forget I live at 89 Orchard street. HELEN TICKNOR.
Dear Santa Claus: I am 5 years old. I want a magic lantern like the boys got by selling soap, a toy monkey, a grind organ and a parrot. P. S. – And I almost forgot a calendar with dogs on. HAROLD UMBARGER. Please leave these at 303 West Bloom street.
My Dear Old Santa Claus: I live at 276 Newman street. I was 4 years old Sunday. Won’t you please bring me some presents for Christmas? I would like a doll baby, some picture books, a rocking horse, a blackboard and lots of candy and nuts and then some more candy and nuts. I guess I am a very good little boy; my papa says I am quite a brick. You may bring my sister Mabel, some presents, too. She is quite a big girl, but guess she would like some presents. Please don’t forget me. DWIGHT ICKES
Dear Old Santa Claus: I am your same good little boy, been so good all year and I know you will surely come. I want a drum and horn, a mouth organ, so I can make noise to try my poor old grandpa. He don’t won’t me to make a little bit of noise. So now I will have some fun. A pair of gum boots, a pair of skates, a sled, a watch and chain. I must close for I must, I am very sleepy. I will go to bed at 7 o’clock, will not peep. Fill my tree to the top with nuts and candy. I am your ever same little boy, 8 years old, your boy. IRVIN DUNMORE, 93 West First street. P. S. – Bring my papa just one present, you forgot him last year. My grand[a don’t need anything; he is too old to eat candy and nuts.