School Kids in 1903 Explain Why Thanksgiving Turkeys are Important

Cartoon from the Sioux City Journal Nov. 26, 1903

School Kids in 1903 Explain Why Thanksgiving Turkeys are Important

School children in the 1910s
School children in the 1910s often celebrated Thanksgiving with a concert or presentation

Kids Say the Darndest Things may be a television show, but kids have been saying what’s on their minds –  and amusing adults – for centuries.  In 1903, the Sioux City Journal in Iowa asked the city’s school children to pen an essay on Thanksgiving turkeys.

A sampling of the essays were published on Nov. 26, 1903.  They were written by second and third graders at Armstrong and Bancroft schools.  The published selection, the paper said, were “the most excellent” essays.

So what did the children have to say?  Here are some examples.  The misspellings are the children’s.

Kids Explain Thanksgiving Turkeys

Thanksgiving turkey essays like this were published in the Sioux City Journal
Thanksgiving turkey essays like this were published in the Sioux City Journal

“When Thanksgiving comes the turkey does not like it very much, because we kill him and eat him.”  – Martlia McGinnis

“People eat turkeys for Thanksgiving… People eat turkeys and punkin pie for dinner.  The turkey’s head is chopped off at Thanksgiving.  The turkey does not like it very well.”  – Donald Bruce

“The turkey is a big bird that struts like a proud lady.  It has a big butful tail and a long neck and a thing that hangs over its bill.” – Eugene Rice

“The Turkey is very fat when yow lay him owt he lays flat.  When  yow take him to the bauarn he screak like a storm. Whem he is feis his best he does not think he is going to be dress.”  – Jean Dager

“I like the turkey for dinner.  He comes to visit us.  He makes a good feast.  The peopel suff him with dressing.”  – Lawrence Kirke

“Turkeys have beautiful feathers… Turkeys catch people some time.  Some turkeys are called gobblers because they gobble.”  – May Flournoy

“First the turkey is killed.  Second the turkey is cooked.  Third the Hard girl puts in a platter and rushes to the table.  People have minced pie for dinner.  The have sauce, cranberries, turkey and then the all gobbled it down.  We have preserve things too.”  –  Nathan Reingold

“Papa gave me a turkey and I thank him very much for the turkey and he said your welcome.  I like Thanksgiving day because we have good things to eat.  I like Thanksgiving very much, don’t I?  We can have company and ants, uncles and Grama and Grampa.” – Ella Waitt

Instagram
Twitter
Amazon
Youtube
Goodreads
LinkedIn
Pinterest

Enjoy history and historical fiction?  Join the mailing list and stay up-to-date on book releases, news, beta reading opportunities and more.

Updated:  28 October 2020
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
Back To Top