New Year's Day Custom

In the old days in Americus and other places, people opened their homes on January 1st to callers with whom they visited and toasted the New Year, often serving syllabub, a tradition we have continued in our family at Christmas and New Years to this day.


As was the custom in those days, one would leave a card when calling. We are fortunate to have many of the cards dropped by callers at my great-great grandfather Speer's home, and I have scanned a few to share. 



During the 1880s, Americus men created special cards for the New Year's open houses. Friends, business associates, law partners, groups of investors, and others designed cards, some rather clever, recognizing their association and bidding all a "Happy New Year." The cards represent a who's who of business and civic leaders in late 19th century Americus, including the investors in such enterprises as the Windsor Hotel, the Savannah, Americus, and Montgomery Railroad, and several banking firms.


One clever group of young friends and business associates known as "The Gang" designed one of the best of the New Year's calling cards--a check payable to the bearer and drawn on the Time Savings Bank for 366 happy days. The signers of the check appear together in a photograph from the period, among them my great grandfather, Charles L. Ansley, who would become Major Speer's son-in-law.


"The Gang"--Standing left to right: Charles L. Ansley, Arthur Rylander, and Ed Ansley. Seated: Arthur Bivins and Oscar Ansley.

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