1902 was a great year for Billy Goat and Fireworks salespeople. That is what I learned from my analysis of to children’s letters to Santa that were published in the December 23, 1902 Richmond Evening Leader. The Library of Virginia’s Newspaper Project has made these available on line which you can visit by clicking here.
A review of the letters shows some familiar toys like trains and dolls as well as some less familiar ones like a blanket for the family horse. One little boy, Herbert Greenstreet, actually identified himself as having “been right bad.” To get a sense of just how bad, he went on to request a drum, a horn and fireworks. How would you have liked to live next to little Herbert Greenstreet?
It is interesting that the most requested items were fruit and nuts telling us that these were scarce commodities at the time. The number of requests for fireworks makes you wonder what and when they did with them; was it for New Year’s Eve?
I am not aware of any Billy Goat with Wagon companies still in existence so if you are in that business please let us know. Also, were there Billy Goat accessories for sale and could you buy a used Billy Goat?
But I digress, here is a list of the toys requested with the number of times for which they were wished (there were 9 letters in all).
Billy Goat with Wagon 2
Thanks to Matt Gottlieb for making me aware of these great letters.