Thanksgiving for Lander students featured elaborate meals, traditions

The 1902 Thanksgiving menu at Williamston College features foods unfamiliar to modern holiday tables, including “possumed potatoes” and “Saratoga chips,” as well as Carolina rice, chicken salad and the traditional turkey, cranberry sauce and fresh ham.

From services in the chapel to a sumptuous holiday meal, the Rev. Samuel Lander and his wife, Laura McPherson Lander, established festive traditions to ensure that Thanksgiving was memorable for students, faculty, and staff at Williamston Female College.

A posting in the Naiad newsletter in 1884 made note that Thanksgiving Day “was duly and joyously observed in our village, and especially in our College household. From dawn to curfew, including the holiday, the service in the church, the stately dinner — with the inevitable Boston baked beans, the traditional pumpkin pie, the turkey with cranberry sauce, and the countless other luxuries from far and near — the free and easy interchange of homely courtesies, and the closing reunion in the Erosphic Hall, everything went merry as a marriage bell.”

Submitted by Karen Petit