Thanksgiving Dinner with O.C. Marsh
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Above: O.C. Marsh’s house on Prospect Street in New Haven. Below: The inside of Marsh’s home.

In late November 1884, paleontologist George Baur wrote to his family in Germany that
he and his new wife were about to be introduced to an American tradition by Professor
O.C. Marsh, his employer:

“Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Augusta and I are invited to have dinner with him.
Every year, on the last Thursday in November, America celebrates this festival.
Tremendous amounts of food are consumed.”*

The details of Marsh’s feast were described in Baur’s next letter home:

“The dinner on Thanksgiving was very elaborate.

1) Oysters.
2) Fish with tiny potatoes.
3) French soup.
4) Turkey with green peas, celery, potatoes.
5) Plum pudding, ice cream, fruits.

We drank red wine with the dinner, followed later by champagne. Then he offered us
Sacci, Chinese wine [sic] which he served in very little bowls—just about a thimble full.
Professor Marsh told us he only served Sacci on state occasions and had served it
in honor of my wife.”

O.C. Marsh entertained expansively in his mansion on Prospect Street (now occupied by
Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies), which was crammed with mementoes of
his fossil-hunting adventures in the American West. As Baur noted (“Marsh is a great lover
of art. He has quite a valuable collection.”), it was also luxuriously furnished with oriental rugs,
paintings, and many Japanese wall hangings—more evidence of Marsh’s strong interest in
Japanese culture.

*Translated from the German by Baur’s daughter, Frances Baur Henkel.
George Baur Papers, Archives of the Yale Peabody Museum.