Yes, Virginia, there is still a Santa Claus -- in generous heartsIn 1897, Francis Pharcellus Church, 58, a lead editorial writer on his brother’s newspaper, the New York Sun, wrote words that are still cherished by readers 120 years later.

Church, who had no children, picked up a letter to the editor one day in September 1897.

“Dear Editor,” it read. “I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

It was signed, “Virginia O’Hanlon.”

Church, who had been a war correspondent during the Civil War, sat down to write a reply in an editorial.

The newspaper thought so little of the piece that it ran it as the seventh editorial in the Sept. 21 edition — more than three months before Christmas.

But the words Church wrote struck a chord with Americans.

And nobody remembers what those other, supposedly more important, editorials said that day.

The Sun folded in 1950, but Church’s editorial is still being read today.

Here it is:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to have men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest men, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love,

See Virginia/Page B6

romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

In Owensboro, the Goodfellows Club, founded 19 years after Church wrote those words, is again trying to bring Santa Claus to the needy children of the community.

Donations can be made to Goodfellows Club, Messenger-Inquirer, Box 1480, Owensboro, KY 42302, by bringing contributions to the newspaper office at 1401 Frederica St. or online at

Dec. 15, 2017 Roll Call

Previously reported … $94,439.93

In loving memory of our grandson,

Thomas Brooks Yager by Linda and

Al Yager … $500

In memory of Stanley and Fern

Bellamy, Mikey, Butch and Marty by

Lois … $500

In honor of Joe and Mary Jane Clark

and in memory of Urban and Mary

Strobel by Kathy and Denny … $500

In memory of Pat and Dot Berry by

Joanne and Rodney Berry … $400

In memory of Kimberly Ann Davis,

Ernie Davis, Sr., Martine Davis,

Butler Turner, Mary Turner, Linda

Jones, Larry Turner, Roger Turner

and Ricky Laws … $300

In honor of our family and friends by

Jerry and KoKo Morris … $250

In honor of Dr. and Mrs. William A.

McManus by their children … $250

In loving memory of our parents, John

and Mary Jacobi, and Leonard and

Bernice Worth … $200

In honor of our grandkids, Abie,

Maverick, Sam, Ethan, and Jacob … $200

In loving memory of my son, Eric

Whitfield by Ann Ferguson … $200

In memory of Rachel Atherton and

Mary Lydia Greenwell by the After 5

Homemakers … $126

In loving memory of R.J. and

Christine Hunter, Pete Foster and

David R. Hunter … $100

In honor and celebration of Anna,

Beau, Jesse, Mills, Roselie and Sam

by Great Aunt and Uncle … $100

In loving memory of Dennis Mattingly

by the Ackerman family … $100

In loving memory of Tom Lockhart,

Aaron and Ray Watkins by Sonya

and Tony Lockhart … $100

In memory of Rachel Atherton by the

Help Office lunch bunch … $80

1957 DCHS Luncheon Girls … $75

Jubilee Homemakers … $70

In honor of Gary Sisk by the

Office Equipment Company staff … $70

In memory of Velma Nelson by Sue

Trautwein … $50

In memory of Lisa Evans by Allen

McManus … $50

Anonymous … $33

In memory of my husband, George S.

Wilson III and our daughter, Jennifer

Wilson Pund by Marian Wilson … $25

In memory of friends, Sarah Baker,

Marilyn Holder, Carolyn Massie,

Ann L. Miller, and Frances Paine Tapp

by Marian Wilson … $25

In memory of Donna Calhoun by

Tom Calhoun … $25

In memory of Curt Calhoun by Tom

Calhoun … $25

In loving memory of Susan Davis

Nichols by Francy Miller … $25

In memory of Joseph Hillary and

Dorothy Boone … $20

In memory of Lawrence and Rose

Mary Stogner, Ronnie Baird, and Eric

Hamilton by Edward Stogner … $20

David Morris … $10

Total as of Dec. 15 … $98,868.93

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