Cornelius and Lucy Weygandt hosted the Weygandt family for Thanksgiving Day in 1886. The families of Cornelius’ brother George and sisters Sophie, Bessie and Tilda were all there as well as his mother and aunt, everyone coming out on the nearly opened Pennsylvania Railroad line to Chestnut Hill. The large group of grandchildren ranged in age from 3 to 20. One grandchild, Jesse Godley, whom Weygandt mentions talking to was, in 1886, a student at the Philadelphia Academy Fine Arts who studied under Thomas Eakins later became a sculptor.
Thursday, 25 November 1886
Thanksgiving Day. A legal holiday – the bank closed. I awoke before seven o’clock, but did not rise until near eight, napping, chatting, etc. in the interval. To breakfast at 8.10. This will be a busy day with us. We are to entertain our family at dinner, and for the rest of the day. The weather is cloudy dark and dull, this morning; and rain, at any moment, would not surprise me. We have a colored cook with us, a woman named Bannister, who was also on hand yesterday, and is to be our “Chef” today. I believe she is a thoroughly good cook. She gave us a nice oyster omelette for breakfast, which all of us liked except Corney. After breakfast, I wrote a few lines in this diary; having to use a lamp in the library, as the daylight there was very weak. Absurdly enough, our library is the darkest room in our house. Afterwards I read “Miss Defarge” for a short time. It is an interesting novelette, by Mrs. Burnett, published in the December “Lippincotts.” My Mother turned up in the morning along with her granddaughter, Annie Peace, the first arrivals of our Thanksgiving guests. Grandma is always son hand early on these occasions; so much so, that last year, at Godley’s, she was warned by Sophie not to come so soon! All of the grandchildren were at our house today, sixteen in number; and were placed in a row in our parlor according to their ages, Emily Godley at the head, Jesse next, etc. Walter Godley was the tallest of them, and is the tallest of his family – out topping his father and mother! Our guests were as follows Sophie and Harry Godley with their three children, Emily Jesse and Walter; Bessie Peace and her three children, George, Annie and Sophie; Tilda and Sammy Behm, with their four children Harry, Edith, Albert and John William; George & Maggie Weygandt, with their four children, Lillie, Daisy, George and Helen; and Aunt Mary and “Grandma.” We had them all at dinner in our dining room, at two tables, along with Lucy and me and Rachel, and Sophie & Corney – 28. In all, of which sixteen were grandchildren, all that my Mother has. There have been four deaths among the grandchildren, viz. Susy and Ally Godley, our Lucy, and Sammy Behm, Jr. We were very closely crowded; so much so that the waitresses, Mary Costello, and a colored woman, Margaret Coverdale, found it quite difficult to get around to us. We ought to have had the small table for the youngsters set in the hall. The dinner passed off well. It included three roast turkies with oyster sauce and vegetables, with plum pudding, pies, fruit, nuts & raisins, coffee, four bottles of champagne (one, “Veuve Clicquot: and three “Rommery Sec”) olives, etc. etc. I gave the smokers segars after dinner. Showed my lately purchased rugs – especially, to Sophie & Harry. Had some talked with Jesse, upon art topics, during the afternoon. The supper was late and light; tongue, pickled oysters, etc. I took only the latter. The juniors played at “Yellow Dwarf” during the latter part of the afternoon, and in the evening; and afterwards they went to singing part music, assisted by Sophie & Harry Godley & Besse Peace – solo & chorus pieces, African Scotch, etc. Behm & Tilda went home with their two younger children by the 9.16 train; and the two younger, little, Weygandts were called for by a maid; before supper. The rest of the company, except Grandma and Aunt Mary, went home by the 10.25 train; we sending two carriage loads of the gentler sex down in our wagon, while the remainder walked to the station. “Grandma” and Aunt Mary remain over night with us. After the folks had gone to the train, and our remaining visitors had retired for the night, Lucy and I, with Rachel and the children (Sophie & Corney), sat up late, talking over the events of the day, and the peculiarities of our relatives. We think that the entertainment passed off well, all seeming to enjoy themselves. I told the elders of our guests about the conversation which I heard in the cars, a few days ago, between the Revd. Mr. Hoffman & his successor; including H’s estimate of Harry Godley’s wealth, etc. etc. as a member of Miss Benson’s Reformed Episcopal church. The day was a stormy one; rain nearly all day, and very heavy while we were at dinner in the afternoon; and blowing hard, in the evening and at bed time. I cleared up however before twelve, and became quite cold by the time that we got to bed – at about half past twelve. Temperature then 32; and the sky full of stars.
Friday, 26 November 1886
I rose this morning at half past seven. Lucy and I had been awakened much earlier by the chattering of the two old ladies, in the spare room, which is just behind ours. Mother and Aunt Mary talked loudly and right on without a stop. There was no sleep for Lucy and me after they began!. …