The Christmas Tree Ship
Among the most fabled stories of Christmas, sailing, Michigan and Lake Michgian, are the stories of the Schuenemann family and the ill-fated, Christmas tree-laden schooner Rouse Simmons. The loss of the Simmons in late November 1912 marked the begining of the end of the seasonal schooner transport of Christmas trees from Michigan to Chicago. No Michigan Christmas should be complete without telling the tale of the Schuenemann's many voyages and ultimate sacrifice. There are several accounts of the Rouse Simmons and biographies of Herman Schunemann (center in photo)
which are worthy reading for the season. In addition, there are several excellent books on the topic, among which Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships, provides a historical perpective on schooner life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These books are available below. The spirit of the Rouse Simmons still lives today through a non-profit organization and the Coast Guard Cutter Alder. The Alder delivers thousands of Christmas trees to need families in Chicago.
Photo: DN-0006926, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum
Below are articles and accounts of the Christmas Tree Ships
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