Stockings Hung
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Chapter 1: The Mouse in Henry Livingston's House

The winter of 1804(1) was harsh and cold for New York but, in the town of Poughkeepsie, a spirit of optimism filled the air. It was the Christmas season, a time for children's songs and happy visits between friends and distant relatives. In the snug, stone house of Henry Livingston, the smells of cooking and the sounds of laughter filled the air. At 56 years old, Henry was once more the head of a growing family.

A metallic bang from the direction of the kitchen startled him. Helen! The little one was into her mother's pots again. Henry put down his quill, stopped to dab at the drop of ink he had splattered on the paper, then got up from the desk, ducking so as not to hit his head on the stairway above him, his desk being tucked under the staircase, and started to hurry toward the sounds that were getting louder by the minute. So loud, in fact, that they almost drowned out the small tapping on the big front door. Pausing in midstride, Henry smiled broadly at the familiar, tentative little sound, then turned around and headed to the door. Instead of pulling open the whole Dutch door, he opened only the top half and leaned out into the cold wind, making sure not to look down as he peered carefully this way and that.

"Who is at my door?" he shouted gruffly into the wind. A muffled giggle replied.

Shielding his eyes against the sun-bright snow, Henry grumbled loudly, "It must be elves. Who but elves would disturb a man at his work?"

The giggle grew louder. Looking down in feigned surprise, Henry exclaimed, "Dunder and blixem, it is an elf!"

The little multicolored pile of woolen scarves and shawls wiggled happily and a pink happy mouth appeared beneath bright blue eyes. "It's not an elf, Mr. Livingston. It's too cold for elves. They'd freeze their wings."

Henry pulled open the bottom part of the Dutch door and scooped the little girl into his arms, correcting her as he did, "Elves don't have wings, sweetness. That's fairies." Hugging her close in one arm, he closed the doors against the wind and set her back on the floor. Crouching down, he looked seriously into her bright eyes. "Well," he continued, tapping the side of his head and nodding, "if it's not an elf and it is Christmas eve," his own eyes grew suddenly wide with his discovery, "then it must be Santa Claus!" Henry used the broad Dutch form of the name, Sin' tur Claahhs.

Layers of woolens fell to the floor as the little bundle shook itself vigorously in denial. "I'm not Santa Claus, Mr. Livingston. I'm Eliza!" The last of the shawls fell to the floor revealing a seven year old girl with cherry pink cheeks, dressed in a snow-caked long dress.

Henry sat back on his heels. "Heavens, it is Eliza. And so bundled up I'd never know." He looked closer at her pink little hands, then took them in his and lightly rubbed them. "But you're so cold, child. Come with me." Henry rose to his feet and, one small hand still in his larger one, began to lead her down the long hall toward the kitchen. The rich odors of breakfast cooking made his stomach growl with anticipation. "What you need is a nice, warm fire to toast you like a piece of bread. Your grandmother would toast me if I let you freeze."

The little feet dug into the carpet and stopped their progress cold. Eliza Brewer patted her waist until she felt something and, from the folds of her skirt, triumphantly pulled out a small and slightly dirty piece of paper that she presented to Henry. "Grandma gave me this," she explained. Henry turned it over and saw that the scrap was blank. Putting back on his serious expression he turned it around and around as the little girl anxiously watched their familiar game unfold. Finally Henry nodded in decision. "Yes, it's a very good piece of paper. It's not big enough for a poem," he warned, "but it's just big enough for a little picture." Eliza smiled in shy pleasure. Like all the neighborhood children, she loved the fanciful creatures that Henry drew.

"What shall it be," Henry asked, "a mermaid perhaps?" Eliza shook her head. "What about a tree filled with tulips and roses and lots of spring flowers to warm us up." The little girl shook her head again. "Santa Claus," she said decisively. "I want a picture of Santa Claus."

Surprised by the request, but happy to please the child, Henry walked over to his desk and laid down the little scrap of paper. Eliza followed and climbed familiarly up onto his chair to peer at the black lines that filled the ink-blotted sheet on which he had been earlier writing. Running her finger along a line she slowly read, "But, hark what a" At her pause, Henry nodded and added "clatter." Eliza repeated the word and continued, "the jolly bells." She looked up again. Henry smiled. "Ringing."

He put his own finger at the start of the line and read out for her, "But hark what a clatter, the jolly bells ringing, the lads and lasses so jovially singing. 'Tis New Year's they shout and then haul me along in the midst of their merry-make juvenile throng."

"But tomorrow's Christmas." Eliza corrected. "You can't write about New Year until you write about Christmas." Before Henry could reply, a shout from ten year old Charlie interrupted them, and Henry could see from the look that came over Eliza's face that their conversation was over. From the time she could toddle, Eliza had adored this oldest son of his newest family. "Go off with you then," Henry encouraged her down from the chair as she ran off toward the kitchen with never a backward look.

Instead of following, he sank slowly onto his chair and looked at the poem, not really seeing it. Thoughts of New Year paper boys were completely gone from his head, crowded out by images of Santa Claus - a very small Santa Claus with very pink cheeks. Opening a drawer, Henry swept the half done piece onto a pile of other writing fragments and shut it again. Before pulling over a fresh sheet, though, he carefully filled his long clay pipe, lighted it with the small ceremony that the moment deserved, and let the smoke drift along the stair-tread ceiling above his head. Slowly and carefully he cut a new point onto his quill and dipped it into the glass inkwell, tapping off the excess ink. He stared at the paper for another moment and then began to write, "Twas the night before Christmas." He paused in indecision, pen raised, waiting for the poem to rush from his mind into his fingers as the good ones always did. His concentration was so deep that he almost didn't notice when something brushed his foot. Startled, he glanced down in time to see a small brown mouse disappear into an almost invisible hole deep under the lowest stair. A smile creased Henry's face and the pen returned to the paper, "And all thro' the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

The mouse, as well as the rest of the above story, is pure fiction, of course.

But so, too, are many of the richly detailed stories of Clement Clark Moore, the son of an Episcopalian bishop who was also rector of Trinity Church, going out on Christmas eve to buy a turkey, seeing a rotund Dutchman, and composing the entire 56 lines of An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas in his head, then memorizing it while he was being driven home from the market. The outline of the story was created by Moore,(2) and later embroidered by other writers. The purpose of the stories was to explain why no one had ever seen an original, handwritten copy of the poem with all the crossouts and corrections that writers invariably make while they're composing. If there was no manuscript, then it must have sprung fully grown from Moore's head, much like the Goddess Athena was born from one of Zeus's Excedrin headaches. No birth pains, no crossouts. All the loose ends neatly stowed away. So much for The Case Of The Missing Manuscript.

The poem as first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823 came from the home of Clement Moore by way of a visitor who took away a copy of the poem, which was later submitted to the paper(3) for anonymous publication. The testimony of Moore's children is that their father read them the poem as his own creation.

When the verse very quickly became popular, his proud children must have been crying, "Father, father, tell them you wrote it." But Father Moore was cornered. If he told his children that he hadn't really written it, it would dampen the light in their eyes, as well as shake his own position as their moral guide. If he took credit for the piece, the real poet might step forward and then it would really hit the fan. And then there was the third option. He could just sit and do nothing, leaving his dearly loved children frustrated but proud, and his reputation intact. And that was the path Moore chose. In a moment of weakness and love he cornered himself, and as an only child who never had to learn how to get out of embarrassing situations that siblings got each other into, Moore found himself, as an adult, not knowing how to get out either.

When the poem was published in 1823, Moore didn't step forward to claim it, but then neither did Henry Livingston. For Henry, it would have been out of character. None of his poetry or prose, going back to 1787, had been published under his name. Instead, his writing appeared anonymously or under a pseudonym. Drawings were the only works that Henry signed, so there was no reason for him to treat the Christmas poem's appearance any differently.

The story of what Henry's children knew and when they knew it was shared between his descendants in visits and letters. Once they knew that someone else was claiming their father's poem, which wasn't until after 1859, the descendants compared their memories in the hope of finding some proof so strong that it would explode Moore's false claim.

The first exchange of letters occurred in 1879, the women of the family being the first to attempt to make Henry's case. At that time, only two of Henry's children were still alive, Eliza Livingston Thompson Lansing and Susan Livingston Gurney. Both girls had been too young to hear their father read the poem, but both grew up with the understanding from their brothers and sisters that their father had, indeed, written it. Eliza explained this in a letter to Henry's great-great granddaughter, Anne Livingston Goodrich.

Your letter has just reached me, and I hasten to tell you all I know about the poem 'Night Before Christmas.' It was approved and believed in our family to be Father's, and I well remember our astonishment when we saw it claimed as Clement C. Moore's. My father had a fine poetical taste, and wrote a great deal both prose and poetry, but not for publication, but for his own and our amusement; he also had a great taste for drawing and painting. When we were children he used to entertain us on winter evenings by getting down the paint box, we seated around the table, first he would portray something very pathetic, which would melt us to tears, the next thing would be so comic, that we would be almost wild with laughter. And this dear good man was your great-great-grandfather.

Many years after my father's decease, which took place more than fifty years ago; at that time my brother [Sidney] in looking over his papers found the original in his own handwriting, with his many fugitive pieces which he had preserved.

And then, too, the style was so exactly his, when he felt in a humorous mood. We have often said, could it be possible that another could express the same originality of thought and use the same phrases so familiar to us, as Father's!(4)

It's rather shocking to realize that the poem wasn't read to the children year after year, that the poem didn't have the same status within the Livingston family when it was first written that it had later when it became so famous. But, to the family, it was just another of the wonderful pieces that poured from Henry's pen. The appearance of the poem in the Moore and Livingston families are mirror images of one another. Within the Moore family, the poem leaped out from the background because its joyous charm was such a contrast to Moore's poetic morality lessons. But, for the Livingston family, that same wonderful piece had only blended into the body of Henry's other joyous works, such as his sugarplum vision of a baby house.

DESCRIPTION of the Baby House, &c. of Miss Biddy Puerilla, intended to be constructed in the southwest corner of her Mamma's garden By Seignior Whimsicallo Pomposo.

The whole ground to be improved, is 16 feet from north to south, and 11 1-2 feet from east to west. On an eminence, made by one of nature's pioneers, a mole, is to be erected the principal edifice, for the accommodation of Miss Biddy's doll Fanny. The five architectural orders are to be stripped of their choicest beauties to decorate it; and obelisks, statues, and columns, are to stand sentinels all around.

The principal street leading from Miss Fanny's palace to that of Miss Clarinda, the next doll in favor; is to be 7 inches wide: and all the diverging lanes 4 1-2 inches broad.

Gigantic trees, of the whortle berry and current tribes, are to shed a pleasing gloom over the most important avenues: while the river before mentioned, enriched with delightful tadpoles, is to meander thro' every part of the paradise.

Melodious wrens are engaged to warble from a gooseberrybush, and several well-instructed frogs are to croak the bass. Two elegant kittens will bound along the streets,and Miss Biddy's pied lap-dog Cupie, is to stalk the mammoth of this new creation.

Upon the whole, Miss Biddy is determined, that her improvements shall be so stupendous; as would overwhelm the builders of Palmyra, the constructors of the appian way, and William Penn, himself, with shame and confusion were they present to behold them.

There are not wanting however some captious carping people, who arraign the economy and prudence of Miss Biddy's mamma, for going to such enormous expense to gratify a capricious little minx. This, they observe is to be her third baby house; into a fourth. Besides say they, the old lady should consider, that at the very moment she is fostering these dreams of puny splendor, the garden fence itself is by no means secure; for twice has the great black bull broke through, near the very spot where Miss Biddy is to be indulged in this wonderful wonder: and, add they, should he rush thro when the plan is perfected; adieu in a moment to the palaces, the temples, the obelisks, the naval pillar, the statues, the triumphal arches -- and -- the unfortunate gooseberry bush. R(5).

Eliza wrote again(6) to Anne Goodrich on March 28, 1879 to report that sister Susan had replied to Eliza's letter with the information that while Susan had no first hand knowledge of the matter either, she agreed that her older brothers had all taught her that the poem was Henry's. Susan was only a year old, and Eliza about three, when Henry most likely wrote the poem. Eliza's letter refers to two other members of their correspondence circle, Gertrude Thomas, the daughter of Henry's daughter Jane, and Jane Livingston Hubbard, the daughter of Henry's son Charles. Since Anne was the great granddaughter of Henry's daughter Catharine(7) ( twenty-four years older than Henry's other children), with daughters Eliza and Susan this makes five different lines of Henry's descendants all sharing a belief in Henry's authorship. We can add two more lines to that with the addition of the stories of Henry's sons Sidney and Edwin.

In 1900, Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Anne's sister, wrote to a Henry Livingston whom she had read was contesting Clement Moore's claim. Her introduction makes clear that she didn't know his relationship to her, though his name must have been very familiar

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.(8)

Cornelia must have been thrilled when she realized that she had found the son of her ancestor Henry Livingston's son Sidney!

My father as long ago as I can remember, claimed that his father was the author: that it was first read to the children at the old homestead below Poughkeepsie, when he was about eight years old, which would be about 1804, or1805. He had the original manuscript, with many corrections in his possession, for a long time, and by him was given to his brother Edwin. Edwin's personal effects were destroyed when his sister Susan's home was burned at Kaskaskia, Wis., about 1847 or 8.(9)

So now there were seven different lines of Henry's children who believed that their father was the author of the poem. There were only two other children of Henry's who grew to adulthood, but neither of those had children to whom the story would have been related, and both were long dead. From the fact that Cornelia didn't know her cousin Henry, Sidney's son, it's also clear that the family stories went down the lines of descendants mostly independently of one another, that is, not all the stories originated with a single story told by a single child.

There were, in fact, three different people who had first-hand memories of Henry reading the poem - Sidney, Charles, and Charles's wife, Eliza Clement Brewer, the little girl of the fictional story above. Charles's daughter, Jane Paterson Livingston Hubbard, wrote to Sidney's son Henry in 1895 to compare their fathers' stories.

Your Father's story of the Christmas poem tallies with mine except my Father heard it read in the evening. Being older, he was probably allowed up later, but he had the newspaper in which it was printed and used to occasionally read it to guests. I am sixty-six years old and it was one of my earliest remembrances. Yes, there is no doubt that Grandfather wrote the now famous poem.(10)

Jane's daughter, Jeanne Hubbard Denig, agreed.

My grandmother, Eliza Livingston, lived as a child with her grandparents Mitchell in their home Russ Plass on the banks of the Hudson, near Poughkeepsie. The Mitchell property was near the Livingston property. The two families were on friendly & visiting terms. ... One Christmas she was present at the Livingston home as a guest, & heard Henry Livingston read aloud "The Night Before Xmas" which he had written the night before. ...

My mother, Jane Patterson(11) Livingston, their child, said all during her early childhood she often listened to "The Night before Xmas" recited to her by both her parents, who individually told her that her grandfather Livingston had written the verses.(12)

Because the first attribution of the poem to Moore in 1837(13), and Moore's implied claim of the poem by including it in his own book(14) in 1844, have such historical importance today, it's hard to remember that this wasn't big news in New York. The story of Moore having written the poem wasn't on the evening news, and it wasn't printed in the morning paper. The Cosmopolitan Art Journal, for example, was still publishing the poem anonymously in 1858(15).

The first time the Livingston family learned that the poem was being attributed to Moore was, in fact, in 1859 when Jane Livingston Hubbard brought the poem to her mother Eliza, Charles Livingston's wife.

In 1859 a paper covered edition of it was put upon the market & it was then grandmother Livingston saw it & was indignant that it was not attributed to its author, Henry Livingston!(16)

My mother was greatly excited when the first edition of the "Night Before Christmas" was published in the name of Clement C. Moore. She bought a copy & brought it to my grandmother, who calmly said 'Some one has made a mistake. Clement Moore did not write the "Night Before Christmas." Your grandfather Henry Livingston wrote it.'(17)

Sidney's son, Henry Livingston of Babylon, Long Island, said that his side of the family didn't know of Moore's claim:

... until after 1862, when it was published and credited to Clement C. Moore. Moore was then a very old man, and died the same year. It does not appear, however, that he ever laid claim to the authorship, and it is said he was displeased at first when it was attributed to him!(18)

What Henry's descendants were doing was coming up with excuses for Clement Moore. They had trouble believing someone so rich and so prominent would have laid claim to work that wasn't his. The story of Moore's displeasure with being named as author probably stems from a commonly told anecdote of Moore being displeased with the poem leaving his household.

By 1859 Moore was eighty years old and well-known in the Episcopal church. Sidney's granddaughter Julia Livingston had a more cynical explanation for the family's not coming forward to contradict Moore's claim.

Curious, is it not, that the fame of a great theologian should rest upon a few rhymes that he probably did not write. It seems strange, too, that when the lines first appeared in print over Clement Moore's name, the children of Major Henry Livingston did not enter a protest. It has been said, however, that they felt sensitive about disputing any claim made by Mr. Moore. He was in the Episcopate. They were all loyal to the Church.(19)

It's probably more accurate to say that many of the family were getting their bread and butter from the church. Daughter Catharine's daughter Susan Breese became the wife of Rev. Dr. Pierre Alexis Proal, the rector of Utica's Trinity Church. Daughter Jane's husband was Rev. William Barber Thomas and her son, William Reed Thomas, rose to the level of Episcopalian Archdeacon. Calling the son of the Bishop of New York's Trinity Church a liar, himself a part-time professor at the Divinity School, was probably not the best way for family members to stay in good with the church hierarchy.

When Henry Livingston's descendants compared explanations of how the poem moved from the Livingston household to that of the Moore's, they found similar explanations in the various descendant lines. The story was that a friend of the Livingstons was traveling south to become a governess in a Moore household, not necessarily Clement Moore's, and was stopping off first to spend the Christmas holidays with the Livingstons. When Henry read his poem, the woman was so pleased that she asked for a copy, which Henry was happy to provide(20). One line of descendants remembered that she was heading south of New York City(21), and another that she was Canadian or English(22). Still another version of the story again relieved Moore of any blame by explaining that its attribution to Moore was a mistake that Moore would have corrected had he learned of it(23). In this version, the governess visited Moore's home while he was away, and left a copy of the poem on his desk for his later amusement. Then, someone who assumed that anything on Moore's desk must be his, picked up the poem and passed it on to the Troy Sentinel. Its presence in Moore's book of poems was explained away by the incorrect assumption that the book was published by Moore's family after his death.

Gertrude Thomas, the daughter of Henry's daughter Jane, related an anecdote about one of the governesses who were always part of the Livingston household when the children were young. One of these women who had left when the children had grown past the need for a governess, developed consumption. When the family learned of this, they had her return to Locust Grove so that they could take care of her, which they did until her death.(24)

But even if Henry's family had been willing to publicly accuse Moore of falsely claiming Henry's poem, what could they bring forward as proof? The original, corrected manuscript of the poem was ashes. Gradually, the letters among Henry's descendants died away, and for awhile it seemed as though the quest to prove Henry's authorship was over.

But into the hole that age was punching through Henry's descendants, another generation was growing up. Coming back from his military service in WWI, Dr. William Sturges Thomas picked up the pieces of his civilian life, and took over from the previous generation the Livingston family quest to prove Henry's case. Embued with an intelligence and passion that could have come from Henry, himself, Will threw himself into the search for proofs. The family stories and witness statements had been mostly gathered before his time, but he went back to the descendants of Henry's children looking for some new thread that might have been missed.

A noted specialist in allergies, Will worked his research passion around his patients and his family, while fitting in a book on mushrooms, and an article on Revolutionary War encampments. But it was the search for the Christmas poem proof that fired his soul. Will began pushing into the corners that no one in the family had yet explored. He haunted libraries and archives looking for newspapers that might have published the poem before 1823. He corralled journalists and spread his case out before them, publishing an article on Henry in 1919, which inspired Cornelia Griswold Goodrich to give a talk on their ancestor to the Poughkeepsie DAR.(25) But, in the end, what he had just wasn't enough.

Jeannie Denig spoke for all of the Livingston family when she wrote,

Of course Henry Livingston wrote the 'Night Before Christmas.' Grandmother said he did & others Knew, remembered all about it. ... This is my only proof. The word of my stately, truthful, dependable grandmother, Eliza Clement Brewer Livingston.(26)

But the word of Jeannie's grandmother was not going to count as public proof against Clement Moore's claim, even if the circumstantial evidence was, in Dutchess County historian Benson Lossing's words to Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, "as conclusive as that which has taken innocent men to the gallows."(27) If the case was ever going to be made for Henry Livingston, it was going to take an entirely different approach to the problem.

Enter literary sleuth Don Foster.

Chapter 2: The Sugar Plums of Henry's Life - Sarah and the Children

Descendants and Witnesses

1  	Major Henry Livingston, Jr.	1748 - 1828
	+Sarah Welles	1752 - 1783
	2  	Catharine Livingston	1775 - 1808
		+Arthur Breese	1770 - 1825
		3  	Catharine Walker Breese	1798 - 1886
			+Captain Samuel Birdsill Griswold	1796 - 1830
			4  	Cornelia Platt Griswold	1821 - 1902
				+William McLean Goodrich	1808 - 1881
				5  	Cornelia "Nellie" Griswold Goodrich	1842 - 1927
				5  	Anne Livingston Goodrich	- 1902
				5  	Mary W. Goodrich	- 1918
					+Edward L. Montgomery	

	*2nd Wife of Major Henry Livingston, Jr.:	
	+Jane McLean Paterson	1769 - 1838
	2  	Dr. Charles Paterson Livingston	1794 - 1847
		+Elizabeth Clement Brewer	1798 - 1878
		3  	Jane Paterson Livingston	1829 - 1909
			+Lester Samuel Hubbard	1807 - 1875
			4  	Jeannie (Paterson) Livingston Hubbard	1856 - 1945
				+Commodore Robert Gracey Denig, U. S. N	1851 - 1924
	2  	Elizabeth Davenport Livingston	1805 - 1886
		+Judge Smith Thompson	1768 - 1843
		+Judge Richard Ray Lansing	1789 - 1855
		*2nd Husband of Elizabeth Davenport Livingston:	
	2  	Sidney Montgomery Livingston	1796 - 1856
		+Joannah Maria Holthuysen	1804 - 1862
		3  	Henry Livingston	1837 -
			+Augusta Carrl	
			4  	Julia Thompson Livingston	1864 -
			4  	Elbert Carrl Livingston	1862 -
		3  	Lavinia Clarkson Livingston	1835 -
			+Unknown Haugen	
		3  	Julia T. Livingston	
		3  	Maria Clarkson Livingston	1832 -
			+Unknown Hewitt	
	2  	Jane Paterson Livingston	1800 - 1870
		+Reverend William Barber Thomas	1797 - 1876
		3  	Gertrude Fonda Thomas	1833 - 1926
		3  	Henry Livingston Thomas	1835 - 1903
		+Alice Rebecca Phinney	1831 - 1897
			4  	William Sturges Thomas	1871 - 1941
				+Emma Rhein (Ellsie) Frank	1870 -
	2  	Edwin George Livingston	1798 - 1863
	2  	Susan Catherine Livingston	1807 - 1889
		+Abram Gifford Gurney	1809 - 1880
		3  	Jeannie Livingston Gurney	- 1920

Witness Timeline

1791-4    Henry publishes in New-York Magazine, to which Clement Moore's father subscribes
1793 Henry takes for 2nd wife Jane McLean Patterson
1793 Daughter Catharine Livingston marries Arthur Breese
1794 Son Charles Patterson Livingston born
1796 Son Sidney Montgomery Livingston born
1798 Granddaughter Catharine Walker Breese [Griswold] born
1798 Son Edwin Livingston born; daughter-in-law-to-be Eliza Clement Brewer [Livingston] born
1800 Daughter Jane Patterson Livingston [Thomas] born
1802 Daughter Helen Platt Livingston [Bradley] born
1805 Daughter Elizabeth Davenport Livingston [Thompson Lansing] born
1807 Daughter Susan Catherine Livingston [Gurney] born
1804-8 Charles, Sidney, and Eliza hear Henry recite the poem
1821 Great granddaughter Cornelia Platt Griswold [Goodrich] born
1822 Clement Moore recites the poem to his children
1823 "An Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas" published in the Troy Sentinel
1828 "An Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas" published in the Poughkeepsie Journal
1828 Henry Livingston dies
1829 Granddaughter Jane Paterson Livingston [Hubbard] born; raised hearing poem
1829 Granddaughter Gertrude Thomas born; raised hearing poem
1829 Grandson Henry Livingston Thomas born; raised hearing poem
1829-30 Son Sidney Montgomery Livingston finds manuscript of poem among his father's papers;
some years later gives them to his brother Edwin
1837 The poem is attributed to Moore by C.F. Hoffman
1837 Grandson Henry Livingston of Babylon LI born [Sidney's son]; raised hearing poem
1842 Great granddaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich born; raised with story from her grandmother,
Catharine Walker Livingston Griswold
1844 Clement Moore publishes the poem in a book of his poetry
1847 Son Charles Patterson Livingston dies
1847-8 Manuscript of "An Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas" belonging to Son Edwin burns in a fire
at the home of sister Susan and her husband, Abram Gurney, with whom Edwin is living
1851 Great granddaughter Anne Livingston Goodrich born; raised with story from her grandmother,
Catharine Walker Livingston Griswold
1851 Henry Livingston Thomas quotes poem in a letter to Abraham Lansing
1856 Son Sidney Montgomery Livingston dies
1859 Granddaughter Jane Livingston [Hubbard] discovers Moore attribution and shows it to her mother,
Eliza Clement Brewer [Livingston]
1859 Grandson Henry Livingston of Babylon LI discovers Moore attribution
1862 Clement Clarke Moore dies
1862 Great grandson William Sturges Thomas born; raised hearing poem
1862 Daughter-in-law Eliza Clement Brewer [Livingston] dies
1879 Daughter Elizabeth Davenport Livingston [Thompson Lansing],
Daughter Susan Livingston [Gurney],
Granddaughter Gertrude Thomas,
Granddaughter Jane Livingston [Hubbard], and
Great granddaughter Anne Livingston Goodrich
compare the claims of Henry on the poem that have come down each of their different lines
1886 Daughter Elizabeth Davenport Livingston [Thompson Lansing] dies
1886 Great grandaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich exchanges letters with historian Benson Lossing
1886 Granddaughter Catharine Walker Breese [Griswold] dies
1889 Daughter Susan Catherine Livingston [Gurney] dies
1900 Grandson Henry Livingston of Babylon LI makes first public rebuttal to Moore claim
1900 Great granddaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich and grandson Henry Livingston of Babylon LI
exchange letters
1900 Great granddaughter Anne Livingston Goodrich dies, leaving witness letters to sister Cornelia
1905 Granddaughter Gertrude Thomas and great granddaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich
still researching Henry's claim
1917 Great grandson William Sturges Thomas begins researching Henry's claim
1917 Granddaughter Gertrude Thomas finds poetry MSS book in desk that had belonged to
daughter Susan Livingston [Gurney]; Susan thought it had burned in the same fire that consumed
Henry's manuscript of the poem; Gertrude gives the book to her nephew William Sturges Thomas
1917 Great-great granddaughter Mary W. Goodrich [Montgomery] sends WS Thomas the witness letters,
a few inches of Daughter Catharine Livingston [Breese]'s wedding dress, and a letter from
Catharine's husband, Arthur Breese, to Henry on the death of Henry's son, Henry Welles Livingston
1919 Great grandson William Sturges Thomas publishes DCHS Yearbook article on Henry
1920 Granddaughter Jeanne Gurney sends a book that belonged to Henry, and Henry's decanter, to
great grandson WS Thomas; she bemoans the loss of her mother's (Susan Livingston [Gurney]'s)
poetry MSS book of Henry's in their house fire, not knowing that it still exists
1921 Great granddaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich gives talk on Henry to Poughkeepsie DAR
1926 Granddaughter Gertrude Thomas dies
1926 Great granddaughter Cornelia Griswold Goodrich dies
1941 Grandson William Sturges Thomas dies, leaving Henry's materials to his son, W. Stephen Thomas
1942 Son Sidney's granddaughter, Julia Thompson Livingston, gives her heirlooms of Henry to W. Stephen Thomas
1944 Historian Helen Wilkinson Reynolds publishes DCHS Yearbook article on Henry
1958 Vassar President MacCracken publishes ringing defense of Henry's claim
1977 Great-great grandson W. Stephen Thomas gives talk to DCHS on Henry
1977 Unicover publishes First Day Cover attributing poem to Henry
2000 Vassar Professor Don Foster publishes literary analysis of the claims of Moore and Livingston,
coming down on the side of Henry

Chapter 1 Notes:

1. Professor Don Foster believes that the date Henry's son Charles remembers hearing his father recite the poem, about 1808, is more plausible than the approximately1805 date remembered by Charles's younger brother Sidney.

2. Casimir de R. Moore requested Maria Jephson O'Conor to make a statement on December 20, 1920 (Museum of the City of New York, Doc #54.331.18 and 19) to counter an article published in the December 1920 issue of The Bookman by Henry Litchfield West, "Who Wrote 'Twas the Night before Christmas'?" The story was told to Ms O'Conor by her father, Colonel Henry C. Post, the son-in-law of Elliot Taylor, who was the brother of Clement Moore's wife.

3. Visit of St. Nicholas, W.S. Pelletreau 1897 says that it was xx, Tuttle 1844 says that it was yy

4. Elizabeth Davenport Livingston Thompson Lansing letter to Anne Livingston Goodrich, undated, Thomas Collection.

5. Henry Livingston, Jr., "DESCRIPTION of the Baby House, &c. of Miss Biddy Puerilla," (Poughkeepsie Journal, Jan 19, 1792); by R.

6. Elizabeth Davenport Livingston Thompson Lansing letter to Anne Livingston Goodrich, March 28, 1879, letter given to William Sturges Thomas by Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Thomas Collection.

7. Henry's daughter's name appears in two spellings. In his poem to his wife a week after the birth of his daughter, Henry writes the child's name as Catherine. This is the spelling in the newspaper announcement of her death, and in the bible entry written by Henry. But on her tombstone is inscribed the name Catharine. She was probably called by the name used in her marriage announcement, Caty. Except in a quote, she will be identified here as Catharine.

8. Cornelia Griswold Goodrich letter to Henry Livingston, of Babylon Long Island, Jan 3, 1900, copy of the letter loaned to William Sturges Thomas by Elbert Livingston, Thomas Collection.

9. Henry Livingston of Babylon Long Island letter to Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Jan 10, 1900, letter given to William Sturges Thomas by Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Thomas Collection.

10. Jane Paterson Livingston Hubbard letter to Henry Livingston of Babylon, Long Island, about 1895, copy of the letter loaned to William Sturges Thomas by Elbert Livingston, Thomas Collection.

11. Charles' daughter Jane was named for her grandmother, Jane Paterson. Early references during Henry and Jane's lifetime, such as in their wedding announcement, show Paterson spelled with a single t. Later, the name is often spelled with two t's, as Patterson. Except in a quote, the name will be spelled here as Paterson.

12. Jeannie Livingston Hubbard Denig letter to William Sturges Thomas, Mar 12, 1917, Thomas Collection.

13. Charles Fenno Hoffman, ed., New York Poetry (New York: G. Dearborn, 1837), with preface dated "Dec. 24, 1836."

14. Clement C. Moore, "Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas," in Poems (New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844).

15. Cosmopolitan Art Journal, 1858.

16. Jeannie Livingston Hubbard Denig letter to William Sturges Thomas, March 14, 1917, Thomas Collection.

17. Jeannie Livingston Hubbard Denig letter to William Sturges Thomas, Dec 23,1918, Thomas Collection.

18. Henry Livingston of Babylon Long Island letter to Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Jan 10, 1900, letter given to William Sturges Thomas by Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Thomas Collection.

19. Julia T. Livingston letter to William Sturges Thomas, Jan 2, 1945, Thomas Collection.

20. Jeannie Hubbard Denig [descendant of son Charles] letter to William Sturges Thomas, Mar 14, 1917, Thomas Collection.

21. Cornelia Griswold Goodrich [descendant of daughter Catharine] letter to Henry Livingston of Babylon Long Island, Jan 3, 1900, Thomas Collection. Cornelia's story came from son Edwin.

22. Mary W. Goodrich Montgomery [descendant of daughter Catharine] letter to William Sturges Thomas, Mar 3, 1917, Thomas Collection.

23. Mary Livingston Hewitt [descendant of son Sidney] letter to William Sturges Thomas, Mar 12, 1917, The Thomas Collection. Mary's story came from daughter Susan's daughter Jeanne, who was raised in a household with her uncle Edwin.

24. Gertrude Thomas interview with William Sturges Thomas in Cambridge MA, October 19, 1920.

25. Cornelia G. Goodrich, "Sketches of a Few Gentlemen of Ye Old Colonial Days," talk presented to Daughters of the American Revolution, Poughkeepsie Chapter, Dutchess County Historical Society collection, typescript MS 316 (1921).

26. Jeannie Livingston Hubbard Denig letter to William Sturges Thomas, May 4, 1932, Thomas Collection.

27. Benson J. Lossing, correspondence to Cornelia Griswold Goodrich, Nov 25, 1886, Dutchess County Historical Society MS 307.


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