A Civil War Christmas

Shannon Hoyt-

“Christmas has been celebrated at Wilson Place [Mansion] since it opened as a museum in 1976,” said director of education and programming, Melissa Kneeland.

In the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, residents could view over 30 Christmas trees placed throughout the mansion. And in recent years, Wilson Place has celebrated an exhibition Christmas. In 2014, the historic building sported a Victorian theme in honor of the Stout family. In 2015, the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression were on display.

This year, the mansion celebrates with the exhibition “A Wilson Family Christmas, the Holidays During the Civil War” in honor of Captain William Wilson, founder and first mayor of Menomonie.

The Civil War may be a memory of loss and strife, but Christmas brought together the homefront and battlefront of Dunn County and the nation in spirit of the holidays. In addition to the Christmas stories behind the families during the late 1800s, the Civil War and the decades preceding brought to us familiar Christmas traditions.

The Christmas tree, brought over by Queen Victoria, holiday cards, carols, stockings and even Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” have become well-known holiday jewels.

Aside from memorable vignettes of the holiday celebrations, the exhibition displays more tangible items.

“We do have some authentic gifts that were given from Wilson family members to each other,” added Kneeland.

Christmas has since been an important celebration for the mansion and the memories of community members, Dunn County residents and Captain William Wilson and his family. The Civil War wasn’t without its Christmas, and the mansion carries on the importance of history and holiday.

The $5 guided tour will continue every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Dec. 18. For more information on the Wilson Place Mansion, please visit their Facebook page.