One of the most popular Christmas stories was originally authored by a man from Poughkeepsie who died before ever getting credit for writing it.

"The Night Before Christmas" has become one of the most recognizable holiday poems of all time. Families have been gathering together to recite the story of Santa's yearly visit for generations. The words, however, have a mysterious origin with local ties that still generates debate amongst literary scholars.

According to an article from, the poem was originally called “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and was published in a Troy newspaper back in 1832. At the time, the submitted story was uncredited. The author remained anonymous until Henry Livingston Jr., a farmer and former military officer from Poughkeepsie, died and his family discovered the original poem in a letter. It was an early draft marked up with cross-outs and corrections.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Legend has it that the original handwritten poem by Livingston was lost by family members in a fire. Because of this, any solid evidence proving the actual author was from Poughkeepsie has been lost forever.

Other people have claimed to have written the story throughout the years, most famously Clement Clarke Moore. The father from New York State stepped forward years after the poem was published to say he was the original author. He claims that he wrote the story for his family and a visitor to his home took the poem and sent it to the newspaper anonymously.

Of course, it's likely that we'll never know the true story of who actually wrote "The Night Before Christmas." But many scholars tend to believe that one of the world's most famous poems was written right here in Poughkeepsie and who are we to argue?