Friday, November 19, 2010

1900 - Rhode Island Turkey for the President

A Rhode Island Bird Picked Out for Thanksgiving at the White House

PROVIDENCE, R. I. The Westerly turkey king has picked out the turkey which it is expected will grace President McKinley's table at the White House on Thanksgiving Day. The turkey is a magnificent-looking gobbler and is now strutting around showing its pride in its 35 pounds of superiority. The bird was selected after a careful inspection of every flock in the neighborhood of Westerly and North Stonington.

The fame of the town of Westerly rests upon the fact that for years and years it has furnished the turkeys for the Thanksgiving Day dinners of the Presidents of the United States. The late Senator Anthony, of Rhode Island, first established the custom of sending a Rhode Island turkey to the President for Thanksgiving consumption, and he kept up the practice until his death. Then Nathan F. Dixon, a close friend of Senator Anthony, took up the work, and after his death the dealer through whom the turkeys had been ordered continued the custom in his own name.

Some handsome and toothsome birds have gone from Westerly to the White House, but tradition holds no record to equal the 38-pounder sent by Senator Anthony to President Grant. A picture of this bird is still preserved.

Dealers say that the supply of Rhode Island turkeys, which are declared to be the finest in the world, will be limited this year. The shipment will be about the same as last year, but ten years ago three times the present number were regularly marketed. The outlook for the Rhode Island turkey industry is said to be very dark and growing worse each year. Dealers cannot account for it all. In the spring the hatch is good, and the farmer and farmer's wife build castles in the air with the money that is coming in the fall. But castles crumble away as summer advances and the young turkeys die off, victims of cold, damp weather, skunks and other ills to which tender turkeys are heir.

The Reading Eagle
Reading, PA
Nov. 21, 1900

For more stories about Westerly and the ancestors who lived there, visit Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island