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Monday, June 11, 2018

1888 letter from Cornelia Griswold Goodrich to Benson J Lossing

Here is another letter from Cornelia Griswold Goodrich to historian Benson J. Lossing with content related to the family legend that Henry Livingston, Jr. wrote "The Night Before Christmas." I am grateful to Nan Card, Curator of Manuscripts with the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums for expert help with locating this item in the Benson Lossing Collection, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Fremont, Ohio.
Intervale N. H.
Oct. 18. / 88.

My dear Mr. Lossing

Pardon my delay in answering your very kind letter in the early summer. I was in hopes of sending you a sketch of the old manor house of my G. G. G. Grandpa Henry Livingston but no one seems to possess one, & as I only have a very poor water color of the back view all crumbling to pieces I cannot recall vividly enough the front view from memory & so it must remain un-immortalized by your historic hands!

I wrote to Miss Gertrude Thomas (whose mother Mrs. Jane Livingston, daughter of Henry by second wife) in regard to it.  She says,
"speaking of the old place, I am carried back in spirit to it, where Aunt Eliza (Mrs. Lansing & afterwards Mrs. Smith Thompson) and her brothers & sisters spent their young lives so happily together. "Locust Grove" never had any other name. Grandpa Livingston planted all the trees with his own hand, and named the place accordingly. And right here, in its proper place, let me say that "The Night before Christmas" was written in that same old stone house at Locust Grove. As to the time of its publication in the Poughkeepsie papers, I know nothing & I do not suppose it will be possible to make the discovery, unless one knew the exact date.I have lately visited Sandusky & have talked it over again with cousin Jeannie Hubbard (daughter of Charles Livingston) who showed me the secretary and the very drawer where her father used to keep the old paper containing this poem which his father wrote-- & which, many & many a time, she had seen him take out & read to guests with a good deal of filial pride as the production of his father. She says she has no more doubt of the authorship than she has of her own existence!" G. T.
I am so sorry, my dear Mr. Lossing, that I can give you nothing more definite. We are still in the White Mountains unable to get away on account of my dear Mother's very severe illness. She is better now, & we hope by the 1st of Nov. to be able to move on towards New York.
Remember us most kindly to Mrs. Lossing please, & with kind regards to yourself.
Very sincerely Yours
Cornelia G. Goodrich
 P. S. I have neglected to answer one or two of your questions;
I. The date of those letters enclosed were March 1879. Hudson.
II. place written - Eton College - Hudson N. Y.
III. Mrs. Eliza Thompson - wife of Judge Smith Thompson - daughter of Henry Livingston.
IV. The old stone house at Locust Grove, was built in 1735. & demolished about 15 years ago - [or ab. 1873]
V. -- He was of the Gilbert branch of Livingstons, the youngest-- & [undeciphered word or words] cousin to the Chancellor--
Very sincerely
C. G. G.
--Benson Lossing Collection, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Fremont, Ohio.
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