Henry Livingston, Jr.
Witness Letters



Envelope containing this letter postmarked 3 Jan. 1900

Mr. Henry Livingston,
Dear Sir,

In the "Sun" of December 29th 1899 Mr. S.W. Cooper asks for a solution of the claim of Clement C. Moore to the authorship of "The Night before Xmas" and cites you as contesting the point.

I am a great-great-granddaughter of Major Henry Livingston of Po'keepsie, N.Y. and it is a long established belief in our family that our great g. grandfather was the author. We have many similar poems of his written in that vein, or rather my cousin, Miss Gertrude Thomas has, whose Mother was a daughter by the second wife of the said Henry Livingston. His son Edwin Livingston had the original poem in manuscript and prized it very highly but it was destroyed in a fire when out West with all his household articles. He and all his brothers and sisters remember distinctly their father coming from out his "den" as he called his study in the old Manor House at Locust Grove on the South Road two miles out of Po'keepsie and long since the property of my Uncle, Prof. S.F.B. Morse, and reading this poem to his children just before Xmas. I have letters in my posession testifying to this, at the time the question was asked in the daily papers about 25 years ago as to who was the author of Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, and who the author of 'Twas the Night Before Xmas'. We could find no paper in which it was published altho' all his children remember its having been published in a Po'keepsie paper at that time, between 1780 and 1800. They think the paper was called [WST: Error] "The Po'keepsie Gazette" tho it may have been the Knickerbocker Mag;--

His children declare that the Moore's must have been possessed of the poem in the following manner; a young governess was visiting in my g-g-grandfather's family at Locust Grove who was employed in the Moore family somewhere down South. She was a mutual friend of both families- At the time of her visit this poem had just been written and was read to her, she was much struck by it and asked for a copy and taking it down South after returning to the Moore family, no doubt it lay there for years without a claimant and no doubt minus a name, for in those days authors were more modest than they are now-a-days and names were not given the publicity they are at present. [WST: Error] Clement C. Moore I think was dead when his children or g. children laid claim to this poem, and I don't think either C.C. Moore himself or any of his family would knowingly lay claim to anything that was not their own, did they think it belonged to another, but in the lapse of years, a poem lying about without a name, you can easily conceive how easily it could be transferred. We have as you see, no actual proof, no mss, only the actual eye-witnesses of the birth of this charming poem on the spot and at the time I indicate, and I am sure 5 people out of a family could not have been so positive were there not truth in the assertion.

[WST: Error born 1779] Clement Moore was not born at the time this poem saw the light, it was his father or grandfather in whose family the governess lived. Benson Lossing the historian, was greatly interested when I told him these facts, and wanted to trace it out and put it in his annals of Duchess County, but alas! we could give him no proof but the family tradition

Thomas Collection


Arguments,   Quest to Prove Authorship,   Scholars,   Witness Letters,   Early Variants,   Sources,   Publicity,
First Publication,   Timeline,   Smoking Gun?,   Clement Clark Moore's Poetry,   Fiction,   Letters from You

Xmas,   The Man,   Writing,   History,   The Work,   Illustrations,   Music,   Genealogy,   Biographies,   Locust Grove

Henry's Home

Mary's Home

IME logo Copyright © 2003, InterMedia Enterprises