‘Twas the Day Before Christmas—remember Garden!—*
publishing Moore’s poem some Burghers took part in.
* (“The Garden” had long been a nickname for Lansingburgh)
Rev. David Butler (1762-1842) of the Trinity Episcopal Church of Lansingburgh had a daughter Harriet Butler (1791-1865) who, according to the traditional Clement Moore authorship story, provided the poem to the Troy Sentinel for what would be the first publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Rev. Butler, incidentally, also named one of his sons after Clement Moore: Rev. Clement Moore Butler (1810-1890). Rev. David Butler and Harriet are both interred in the Trinity Episcopal Churchyard in Lansingburgh.
Myron King, who did an early illustration for the poem, is buried in Oakwood Cemetery – most of which had once been within the Town of Lansingburgh. Norman Tuttle, the owner of the Troy Sentinel that first published the poem, is interred in the “Old” Mount Ida Cemetery on Pawling Avenue in Troy as is John T. Parker who related one version of the story of how the poem was published. Another version of the first publication story instead has Sarah Pardee Sackett providing the poem to the Troy Sentinel rather than Harriet Butler. Sarah Sackett’s husband Daniel Sackett is buried in the Nassau-Schodack Cemetery in Rensselaer County; it’s not clear if she is there as well or not.
“the poem seems to have had something of a Trojan origin; the circumstances of which our well known fellow-citizen, John N. [sic] Parker, thus recounts in a letter to the Times:
“Presuming you will publish, as usual, the ‘Visit of St. Nicholas,’ quoted above, I send you the enclosed history of it for the benefit of the young Trojans who sleep with one eye open on the night before Christmas.
“As it has a Trojan birth, it may interest even the editor to hear its narrative as related by me. In the year 1825, I think, the eldest daughter of Rev. David Butler, first rector of St. Paul’s church, Miss Harriet Butler, on a visit to Prof. Clement C. Moore of Columbia College, New York, found on the centre table this ‘Visit of St. Nicholas,’ composed by the Professor for his children. Miss B. brought it to Troy with her, and gave a copy of it to O. I. Holley, the editor of the Troy Sentinel, published by Norman Tuttle. It took like wildfire, and was copied through the state. The Troy Sentinel printed it for the news boys for several years on Christmas day. Myron King executed a beautiful wood cut, representing St. Nicholas on his sleigh, drawn by six reindeer prancing up a steep house-top, and entering the chimney with his presents. In proof of its popular character, I have before me a beautiful copy of ‘American Poets,’ printed in London, and the first poem is the ‘Visit of St. Nicholas—a deserved compliment to the country and author. Wishing you and yours a right merry Christmas, Mr. Editor, I remain yours,
“JOHN T. PARKER.”
“The ‘Visit of St. Nicholas’—Moore’s Poem—Some Account of Its History.” Troy Daily Times. December 23, 1871: 3 col 1.
“On Feb. 23, 1844, after [Clement Moore’s] daughters begged him to publish his poems, especially ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ for posterity, Moore wrote to Norman Tuttle, former owner of the now-defunct Troy Sentinel, with a discreet inquiry: Could Mr. Tuttle please account for the provenance of the poem? Tuttle replied that Orville Holley had received his 1823 text from a Mrs. Sackett, wife of a Troy merchant, and did not learn until much later that the poem was Moore’s.”
Foster, Don. “Who Was That Poet, Anyway?” Washington Post. December 24, 2000.