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White Pine connected to Jingle Bells

James Lord Pierpont, writer of perhaps the most famous Christmas carol in history, has strong family ties to Ontonagon County. Pierpont penned Jingle Bells in the 1850’s, pretty close to the version that is sung to this day. He called it ‘The One-Horse Open Sleigh’ when he first put it on paper in Georgia, wistfully reminiscing about the courtship of his first wife, who hailed from Massachusetts.

That marriage would produce a son John who eventually spawned a branch of the family tree located in White Pine and Gogebic Range. Perhaps it is fitting for a family whose last name will forever be tied to the Christmas holiday, that they hail from a community named after a Christmas tree.

Jingle Bells also has a connection to technology and the aerospace industry. In 1965 the Gemini 6 astronaut crew played the song from space. It was the first tune ever performed off the planet and the harmonica and bells used to create that rendition can be seen on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

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