The Story Behind Clement Clarke Moore and “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

I’m very proud of the series of holiday related historical articles I was able to write for Chelsea Community News thanks to Covid-19 grant money. The previous two were on the Ghosts of the Chelsea Hotel and the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Today the third piece premieres, on Clement Clarke Moore and “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

I’m distantly related to Moore and found myself really drawn into this story. Some cool bits I uncovered but couldn’t work in organically include the fact that he passed away on my home turf (Newport, R.I.) and the first pastor of Trinity Church, around which the Moore family’s life revolved, William Vesey was from Puritan Massachusetts and a protege of Increase Mather (another relation). Vesey went to Oxford and was ordained in the Church of England (making him a sort of traitor to Puritanism, but a definitive founder of New York’s distinctly non-Puritan culture, which was quite different from New England’s.) Vesey Street is of course named for him. As an Episcopalian, the story felt very personal to me. And of course, as we say in the article, Moore’s ancestor Reverend John Moore also started out in New England, becoming a pioneering pastor on Long Island.

Furthermore, Roseanne Cash, whom I revere, belongs to the church Clement Clarke Moore founded and did the reading mentioned in the story, aided by my old pal Hilda Regier whom I worked with during my New-York Historical Society days!

The article is here: