Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1896 Chocolate Prices

I thought it might be interesting to post what Sears & Roebuck was listing in their 1896 catalogue. Below is a copy of the information from an 1896 catalogue. I've enlarged the image.

Milk Toast, Milk Biscuits & Yeast

Today I'm including an old recipe for Milk Toast and Milk Biscuits from Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book ©1857

Milk Toast.—Boil a pint of rich milk;  then take it off the fire and stir into it a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, with a small tablespoonful of flour, and a teaspoonful of salt. Let it come again to a boil. Have ready two deep plates with 6 slices of toasted bread in each. Pour the milk over them hot, and keep them covered till they go to table. Milk toast is generally eaten at breakfast.

Milk Biscuit—Take three-quarters of a pound of flour, and put in a wine-glassful of yeast, half a pint of milk, and a little salt. Roll the dough into small balls, and set them to rise. When risen sufficiently, bake them in a quick oven.

I have to wonder from the above recipe what the size of their wine-glasses were. It seems like a lot of yeast. Today, I use one or two teaspoons for an entire love of whole-wheat bread. Mrs. Cornelius in The Young Housekeeper's friend ©1846 says 1 teaspoonful of saleratus (baking soda) for butter-milk biscuits. However in The Improved Housewife ©1847 it says a half pint of yeast.

So I searched further and found this information in Mrs. Hale's cookbook about Yeast:
Yeast.—It is impossible to have good light bread, unless you have lively, sweet yeast. When common family beer is well brewed and kept in a clean cask, the settlings are the best of yeast. If you do not keep beer, then make common yeast by the following method :—
Take 2 quarts of water, 1 handful of hops, 2 of wheat bran: boil these together 20 minutes ; strain off the water, and while it is boiling hot, stir in either wheat or rye flour, till it becomes a thick batter; let it stand till it is about blood-warm; then add a half pint of good smart yeast and a large spoonful of molasses, if you have it, and stir the whole well. Set it in a cool place in summer, and a warm one in winter. When it becomes perfectly light, it is fit for use. If not needed immediately, it should, when it becomes cold, be put in a clean jug or bottle; do not fill the vessel, and the cork must be left loose till the next morning, when the yeast will have done working. Then cork it tightly, and set in a cool place in the cellar. It will keep 10 or 12 days.
Obs.—Never keep yeast in a tin vessel. If you find the old yeast sour, and have not time to prepare new, put in saleratus, a tea-spoonful to a pint of yeast, when ready to use it. If it foams up lively, it will raise the bread ; if it does not, never use it.
To Preserve Yeast.—Lay the yeast with a brush on a board or tub, and as it dries, lay on more, and continue to do so till it cracks and falls off; put it into clean bottles, and cork it well. This is excellent for taking to sea, where sugar-beer with little trouble might be made in any quantity, and always fr«sh.
To Assist Yeast.—When there is a scarcity of yeast, use the following method: Work into half a pint of water a spoonful of flour, until it becomes smooth, and boil it; put it into a jug, and stir it till it cools. When milk-warm, put in a spoonful of yeast, and a spoonful of moist sugar; stir them well, and put in a warm place, and if well made, there will be as much in a short time as will raise 3 pecks of flour; the bread made of this yeast requires to be laid 5 hours before it is baked.
To Extract Bitter from Yeast.—Beat it up with the white of an egg; add a double quantity of water; beat all well together : cover it; let it stand all night, and pour off the water, when it will be sweet; 1 egg is sufficient for a quart of yeast.
Milk Yeast.—Take 1 pint of new milk; 1 tea-spoonful of fine salt, and a large spoon of flour—stir these well together: get the mixture by the fire, and keep it just lukewarm ; it will be fit for use in an hour. Twice the quantity of common yeast is necessary ; it will not keep long. Bread made of this yeast dries very soon; but in the summer it is sometimes convenient to make this kind when yeast is needed suddenly.
Hard Yeast.—Boil 3 ounces of hops in 6 quarts of water, till only 2 quarts remain. Strain it, and stir in while it is boiling hot, wheat or rye meal till it is thick as batter. When It is about milk-warm, add half a pint of good yeast, and let it stand till it is very light, generally about 3 hours; then work in sifted Indian meal till it is a stiff dough. Roll it out on a board; cut it into oblong cakes about 3 inches by 2, and half an inch thick. Lay these cakes on a smooth board, over which a little flour has been dusted; prick them with a fork, and place the board in a dry clean room, where the sun and air may be freely admitted. Turn them every day. They will dry in a fortnight, unless the weather be damp. When the cakes are perfectly dry, put them in a coarse cotton bag ; hang it up in a cool, dry place. If rightly prepared these cakes will keep a year.
Two cakes will make yeast enough for a peck of flour. Break them into a pint of lukewarm water, and stir in a table-spoonful of flour, the evening before you bake. Set the mixture where it ceo be kept moderately warm. In the morning it will be fit for use.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mason Dixon Line

We've all heard and possibly have used this phrase when referring to the North and South of the United States. However, we've come a long way from what or rather how this phrase came into use. It's from an old surveyors map, one produced by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon from 1763-1767. Below you can see a short explanation of it from the 1884 copy of Houghtaling's Handbook of Useful Information, also I have a link to The History of Mason & Dixon's Line ©1855 for even more information.

Mason and Dixon's Line.
A name given to the southern boundary line of the Free State of Pennsylvania which formerly separated it from the Slave States of Maryland and Virginia, It was run—with the exception of about twenty-two miles—by Charles Mason and Jei emiah Dixon, two English mathematicians and surveyors, between Nov. 15, 1763, and Dec. 26, 1767. During the excited debase in Congress, in 1820, on the question of excluding slavery from Missouri, the eccentric John Randolph of Roanoke made great use of this phrase, which was caught up and re-echoed by every newspaper in the land, and thus gained a celebrity which it still retains.

Conestoga Wagon

Below is a brief excerpt from Development of Transportation systems in the United States. ©1888 As some of you are aware I'm currently working on a non-fiction resource book for Historical Fiction writers revolving around the Carriage and Wagon industry of the 19th century. In my research I've found the Conestoga wagon was the foundation for the birth of the well known Prairie Schooner. There are differences between the two wagons but the Conestoga is the earlier wagon.

The primitive condition of carts and wagons could scarcely have remained unimproved during a very protracted period in any of the numerous communities in which a blacksmith and a wheelwright were established and busily engaged in prosecuting their labors. As compared with the other colonics the early industrial development of Pennsylvania necessitated extra efforts to utilize wheeled vehicles, on account of the absence of tidewater, except along a small portion of her south-eastern boundary, and the great extent to which interior regions were traversed by mountainous systems. The presence of a large German population in interior localities where they would have been shut off from access to markets for surplus produce if roads had not been constructed and carts or wagons used, also gave an impetus to progress which had as one of its results the invention or construction of the Conestoga wagon. It was regarded for a considerable period as the highest type of a commodious freight vehicle in the country, especially for traversing hilly or mountainous roads, and was first used about 1750. One of its peculiarities was a decided curve in the bottom, analogous to that of a canoe, the object of which was to prevent freight from slipping too far to the front when wagons were going down hill, or too far to the rear when they were going up hill. By this device a gain in effective power in movements over the mountains was attained. The Conestoga wagon received that title either because the four, five, or six horses by which it was drawn were usually of the breed of heavy draft horses that had been developed in the Conestoga valley of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, or because the wagon itself was first constructed there, or because the teams came most frequently from that locality. Although the use of Conestoga wagons gradually extended to a number of sections, the farmers of the Conestoga valley owned an exceptionally large number of them during their period of special usefulness, which was that preceding the construction of canals and railways over important interior routes of trade. Hon. John Strohm, in an article on the Conestoga horse, contributed to the United States Agricultural Report for 1803, says that "the immigration to and settling of the western states created a demand for the transportation of large quantities of dry goods and groceries to supply the wants of those engaged in opening up and settling these new countries; and many farmers in the Conestoga valley occasionally employed their teams in hauling 'store goods' from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, the latter place being the terminus beyond which eastern teams seldom went. During the war of 1812 these noble teams rendered essential service to the country in the transportation of arms and ammunition, and supplies to the army on the frontier. Long lines of these teams were frequently seen wending their weary way to the theatre of action, and contributing greatly to the comfort of the army and the defense of the country. Their usual route of travel was from Philadelphia through Lancaster, crossing the Susquehanna at Columbia or Marietta, and thence over the mountains to Pittsburgh, and sometimes northward to lake Erie. The capacious wagons which the Conestoga farmers then had in use, and the heavy teams of large, fat, sleek horses attached thereto, were the best means of land transportation which the times and circumstances of the country then afforded. These wagons and teams attracted attention and commanded admi ration wherever they appeared; and hence the origin, as I conceive, of the horse and wagon to which the appellation of 'Conestoga' has been attached. The farmers of those days seemed fully to appreciate the importance of these teams, and evinced considerable taste and no little pride in their style of fitting them out. The harness "was constructed of the best materials, with an eye to show as well as utility. In the harness and trimmings of these teams they frequently indulged in expenses that approached to extravagance. In addition to what was indispensably necessary, articles that by some were deemed decorations were sometimes appended, and served to increase the admiration which the noble animals to which they were attached so universally attracted. It was, indeed, an' animating sight to see five or six highly-fed horses, half covered with heavy bear skins, or decorated with gaudily-fringed housings, surmounted with a set of finely-toned bells, their bridles adorned with loops of red trimming, and moving over the ground with a brisk elastic step, snorting disdainfully at surrounding objects, as if half conscious of their superior appearance, and participating in the pride that swelled the bosom of their master and driver."

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Brides of Kentucky

This is a collection of three of my earlier books, Raining Fire, Hogtied and A Place of her own. All set in eastern Kentucky. I remember making the trip up to the Cumberland Gap, then over to the Cumberland Falls and then up to the Lexington area where I visited with an old friend. Paul and I lived in Kentucky for two years while he attended Asbury Seminary. Naturally the place had changed and was more built up.

One of the exciting aspects of the trip was to actually walk on the Wilderness Road used by Daniel Boone. I was fortunate enough to have a park ranger give me a tour when the park was closed down for some renovations. In the first book, Raining Fire, the opening scene takes place at Indian Rock, which I was able to walk up to and see. The ranger told me the legend of how the rock got it's named. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened. hehe

Brides of Kentucky releases in a few days. I hope you enjoy.
Here's a Link to Amazon to order your copy today.
And Here's a Link to Barnes & Noble

On This Date during the 19th Century

With the span of a hundred years, there were many things to choose but I decided on two. In 1878 the first being the first manuel telephone exchange in New Haven, CT. It served 21 subscribers. As much as I love to write about the 19th century I'm definitely a 20th & 21st century gal. When I was a kid I love talking on the telephone, I still enjoy speaking one on one with people but not with the same zeal as when I was a teen.

The second date I picked out to highlight is the same day in 1878 the first college newspaper was printed at Yale.

Of course there were more important events on this date in the 19th century but these go to my writer's heart. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Occasionally it is cold in Florida and making stews and chowders is wonderful to warm us. So, I thought I'd add an old recipe of a New England Fish Chowder. This comes from De Witt's Connecticut Cook Book by N. Orr ©1871

Having sliced very thin some salt fat pork, season it with pepper, lay it in the bottom of a large iron pot, set it over the fire, and let. it fry. When done, take out the pork, leaving the liquid fat in the bottom. Next, peel and slice some onions, and lay them on the fat. Pour in sufficient clam or oyster liquor to stew the onions. Have ready a sufficient quantity of sea-bass, blackflsh, tutaug, porgie, haddock, or fresh cod. Cut the fish in small pieces,. and put it into the pot. Add plenty of potatoes pared and quartered. Then some clam liquor; and lastly, some crackers (soaked and split), or some soda biscuit; the crackers to cover the top. If you wish to fill a large pot, repeat all these ingredients, arranging them in layers. If there is not gravy enough, add some boiling milk, poured in at the last, and enriched with bits of butter mixed, with flour. Cover the pot closely, and let it strew half an hour, or more, till all the contents are thoroughly done. You may bake the chowder in an iron oven, over a wood fire, heaping liver coals on the oven lid. '.

Common Cold

A few years back when I was hit with a chest cold and I thought it only fitting to choose the subject of having a cold. I found this article interesting. My great grandmother died of influenza in 1918 leaving behind five children, the youngest being only 3 months old.

Below is an excerpt from Six Discourses on the Functions of the Lungs by Samuel Sheldon Fitch. ©1853
I have before hinted that a common cold will occasionally cure consumption. It may seem paradoxical that a cold will cause consumption, and will also at other times cure it. I will endeavor to make you understand how this can be. Suppose I stick a nail in my hand, and suppose inflammation follows; should this inflammation run over the skin of my hand, and be superficial, my hand would swell very much, but I should not lose it; but if the inflammation should attack the bones and deep-seated parts of my hand, I might lose the hand. It is the same with a cold; at one time it will attack the deep-seated parts of the lungs, and cause consumption; at other times it will only run over the skin, lining the air-pipes and air-cells of the lungs; in this way enlarging the lungs very much, and will prevent and even cure consumption, as I have witnessed in many cases. The case of Mr. McNeil, of Hillsboro', mentioned in heart cases, at page 04, is an illustration of consumption retarded, and its fatal termination prevented by a cold on the lungs; or, as it is called, pulmonary catarrh. General McNeil had a cough and seeming consumption for thirty-five years before his heart became affected; when for five years the heart affection and cold acted together, and both cured the consumption upon the lungs; when, the exciting cause being removed, all got well, both the heart disease and the lung affection, &c
In Liverpool, England, I met a lady whose mother died of consumption, and, as her only child was very delicate as she grew up, all thought she would, at an early period, fall a prey to consumption. At nineteen years of age, she took a bad cold, as it was thought, and as it actually was: soon her health became good. When I knew her, she had had a cough and daily expectoration for twentyseven years; saving its inconvenience, she enjoyed excellent health, with a full, well expanded chest, without any symptoms of a decline. In November, 1842, I lectured at Burlington, Vt., upon consumption; after the lecture, a respectable lawyer of that town, Griswold, Esq., came to see me. He told me that if he could have thought I had previously known him, he would have believed that I had lectured upon him; as my various remarks so strikingly corresponded with his experience. He had suffered from a cough for more than thirty years, and raised a great deal from his lungs. At one time he had a bad influenza, and joined to his old cough, presented strong symptoms of rapid consumption. It was in March, a very cold, windy month. He was attended by two extremely well educated physicians, both professors, teachers and practitioners of medicine. They adopted the usual practice, a very warm room; as if cold were a mortal enemy to the lungs, and emetic tartar, confinement to his bed, and all accessible remedies, to reduce the strength of the patient, and thus drive off his disease. Under this treatment his strength rapidly declined; cough and expectoration became profuse, and every symptom of rapid consumption appeared. In this state his two physicians, knowing the extent of his business, felt it to be their duty to make known to him that he was near his end. On this announcement, he said at once, "If that is the case, why have you kept me so long in bed? I should have much preferred to have been up." He immediately had an arm chair brought to him, that had wheels on its feet, and caused himself to be dressed, and was wheeled into his parlor—a large, well aired room. This was on Thursday; on Saturday after, his physicians called; he told them that the next Monday morning he should start for Montreal, capital of Canada, about eighty miles north from Burlington—"For," said he, "as you say, I have a great deal to do, and but a short time to do it in." They remonstrated against this unheard of temerity, as a species of suicide; that his death must be the result in a very short time. Their entreaties and positive advice had no effect upon his resolution. He went to Montreal, and returned nearly well. I saw him eighteen years after this transaction, in vigorous health, although still subject to his old cough and expectoration. As a very strong intimation of his consumptive habit, I may mention he has lost two sons by consumption.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fictitious Names of Cities

Continuing with the them of fictitious names of places in the 19th century, today's tidbit comes from Houghtalings Handbook of Useful Information ©1884.

BLUFF CITY.—A descriptive name popularly given to the city of Hannibal, Missouri. 
CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE.—Philadelphia is sometimes so called, this being the literal signification of the name. 
CITY OF CHURCHES.—A name popularly given to the city of Brooklyn, N.Y., from the unusually large number of churches which it contains. 
CITY OF ELMS.—A familiar denomination of New Haven,
Conn., many of the streets of which are thickly shaded with lofty elms.
CITY OF MAGNIFICENT DISTANCES.—A popular deidgnation given to the city of Washington, the capital of the United States, which is faid out on a very large scale, being intended to cover a space four miles and a half long, and two miles and a half broad, or eleven square miles. The entire site is traversed by two sets of streets from 70 to 100 feet wide, at right angles to one another, the whole again intersected obliquely by fifteen avenues from 130 to 160 feet wide.
CITY OF NOTIONS.—In the United States, a popular name for the city of Boston, Mass., the metropolis of Yankeedom.
CITY OF ROCKS.—A descriptive name popularly given, in the United States, to the city of Nashville, Tenn.
CITY OF SPINDLES.—A name popularly given to the city of Lowell, Mass., the largest cotton-manufacturing town in the United States.
CITY OF THE STRAITS.—A name popularly given to Detroit, which is situated on the west bank of the river or strait connecting Lake St. Clair with Lake Erie. Detroit is a French word, meaning " strait."
CRESCENT CITY.—A popular name for the city of New Orleans, the older portion of which is built around the convex side of a bend of the Mississippi River.
EMPIRE CITY.—The city of New York, the chief city of the western world, and the metropolis of the Empire State.
FALL CITY.—Louisville, Ky.;—popularly so called from the falls which, at this place, impede the navigation of the Oldo River.
FLOUR CITY.—A popular designation, in the United States, for the city of Rochester, NY a place remarkable for its extensive manufactories of flour. 
FLOWER CITY.—Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the State, which is distinguished for the beauty of its surroundings. 
FOREST CITY.—1. Cleveland, Ohio;—so called from the many ornamental trees with which the streets are bordered. 2. A name given to Portland, Maine, a city distinguished for its many elms and other beautiful shade-trees. 
GARDEN CITY.—A popular name for Chicago, a city which is remarkable for the number and beauty of its private gardens.
GARDEN OF THE WEST.—A name usually given to Kansas, but sometimes applied to Illinois and others of the Western States, which are all noted for their productiveness.
GATE CITY.—Keokuk, Iowa;—popularly so called. It is situated at the foot of the lower rapids of the Mississippi.
GOTHAM.—A popular name for the city of New York.
HUB OF THE UNI VERSE.—A burlesque and popular designation of Boston, Mass., orignating with the American humorist, O. W. Holmes.
IRON CITY—A name popularly given in the United States, to Pittsburg, Pa., a city distinguished for its numerous and immense iron manufactures.
MONUMENTAL CITY.—The city of Baltimore; — so called from the monuments which it contains.
MOUND CITY.—A name popularly given to St. Louis, on account of the numerous artificial mounds that occupied the site on which the city is built.
PURITAN CITY.—A name sometimes given to the city of Boston, Mass., in allusion to the character of its founders and early inhabitants.
QUAKER CITY.—A popular name of Philadelphia, which was planned and settled by William Penn.
QUEEN CITY.—A popular name of Cincinnati;—so called when it was the undisputed commercial metropolis of the West.
QUEEN CITY OF THE LAKES.—A name sometimes given to the city of Buffalo, N. V., from its position and importance.
RAILROAD CITY,—Indianapolis, the capital of the State of Indiana, is sometimes called: by this name, as being the terminus of various railroads.
SMOKY CITY.—A name sometimes given to Pittsburg, an important manufacturing city of Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Franklin's Words of Wisdom

In honor of Benjamin Franklin's Birthday last week I've selected this list of quotes from Houghtaling's Handbook of Useful Information ©1887

Ben. Franklin's Words of Wisdom.
Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost, and for want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For age and want save while you may, no morning sun lasts all the day.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.

Lying rides upon debt's back; it is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

Women and wine, game and deceit, make the wealth small and the want great.

What maintains one vice would bring up two children.

Plough deep while sluggards sleep; and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.

Work to-day for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow.

Fly pleasure and it will follow you. The diligent spinner has a large shift.

Now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody bids me good morrow.

Keep they shop, and they shop will keep thee.

If you would have your business done, go, if not, send.

Who dainties love shall beggars prove. Fools lay out money and buy repentance.

Foolish men make feasts, and wise men eat them.

He that by the plough would thrive, himself must either hold or drive.

The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands.

Silks and Satins, Scarlet and Velvets, put out the kitchen fire.

Always taking out of the meal tub and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom.

Drive thy business, let not that drive thee. Sloth makes all things difficult, industry all easy.

Early to bed and early to rise; makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

If you would know the value of money, try to borrow some.

When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.

Not to over see workmen, is to leave them your purse open.

If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.

By diligence and perseverance the mouse eat the cable in two.

Diligence is the mother of good luck; and God gives all things to industry.

Industry needs not wish, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting.

There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no lands.

Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou wilt sell thy necessaries.

At a great pennyworth pause awhile; many are ruined by buying bargains.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fictitious Names of States

Today's tidbit again comes from the 1884 edition of Houghtaling's Handbook, available at Google books. I thought this list would be helpful when writing dialogue for some of our characters. Someone who has grown up in an area might use some of these terms rather than use the actual name of a state. Enjoy!
BADGER STATE.—A name popularly given to the State of Wisconsin.
BAY STATE.—A popular name of Massachusetts, which, previous to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, was called the Colony of Massachusetts Bay,
BAYOU STATE.—Aname sometimes given to the State of Mississippi, which abounds in bayous, or creeks.
BEAR STATE.—A name by which the State of Arkansas is sometimes designated, on account of the number of Bears that formerly infested Its forests.
CREOLE STATE.—A name sometimes given to the State of Louisiana, in which the decendants of die original French and Spanish settlers constitute a large proportion of the population.
DIAMOND STATE.—A name oometlmes given to the State of Delaware, from its small size and great worth, or supposed Importance.
EMPIRE STATE.—A popular name of the State of New York the most populous and the wealthiest State in the Union.
EXCELSIOR STATE.—The State of New York, sometimes so called from the motto "Excelsior" upon Its coat of arms.
FREESTONE STATE.—The State of Connecticut;—sometimes so called from the quarries of freestone which it contains.
GRANITE STATE.—A popular name for the State of New Hampshire, the mountanlous portions of which are largely composed of granite.
GREEN-MOUNTAIN STATE.—A popular name for the State of Vermont, the Green Mountains being the principal mountain range in the State.
HAWKEYE STATE.—The State of Iowa;—said to be so named after an Indian chief, who was once a terror toVoyageurs to its borders.
HOOSIER STATE.—The State of Indiana, the inhabitants of which are often called Hoosiers. This word is a corruption of Husher, formerly a common term for a bully, throughout the West.
KEYSTONE STATE.—The State of Pennsylvania ;—so called from its having been the central State of the Union at the time of the formation of the Constitution. If the names of the thirteen original States are arranged in the form of an arch, Pennsylvania will occupy the place of the keystone.
LAKE STATE—A name popularly given to the State of Michigan, which borders upon the four lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie.
LONE-STAR STATE.—The State of Texas;—so called from the device on its coat of arms.
LUMBER STATE.—A popular designation for the State of Maine, the inhibltants of which are largely engaged in the business of cutting and rafting lumber, or of converting it into boards, shingles, scantlings, and the like.
MOTHER OF PRESIDENTS.—A name frequently given. in the United States to the State of Virginia, which has furnished six presidents to the Union.
MOTHER OF STATES.—A name sometimes given to Virginia, the first-settled of the thirteen States which united in the declaration of independence.
NUTMEG STATE.—A popular name, in America, for the State of Connecticut, the inhabitants of which have such a reputation for shrewdness, that they have been jocosely accused of palming off wooden nutmegs on unsuspecting purchasers, instead of the genuine article.
OLD COLONY.—A name popularly given to that portion of Massachusetts included within the original limits of the Plymouth colony, which was formed at an earlier date than the colony of Massachusetts Bay.
OLD DOMINION.—A popular name for the State of Virginia.
OLD NORTH STATE.—A popular designation of the State of North Carolina.
PALMETTO STATE.—The State of South Carolina;—so called from the arms of the State, which contain a palmetto.
PENINSULAR STATE.—The State of Florida;—so called from its shape.
PDXE-TREE STATE.—A popular name of the State of Maine, the central and nothern portions of which are covered with extensive pine forests
PRAIRIE STATE.—A liame given to Illinois in allusion to the wide-spread and beautiful prairies, which foron a striking feature of the scenery of the State.
TURPENTINE STATE.—A popular name for the State of North Carolina, which produces and exports Immense quantities of turpentine.

New Yorke & The Brooklyn Bridge

There are events and items in life that you take for granted. One of those items for me was made clear from the movie Kate & Leopold when referencing the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. With that in mind today's excerpt comes from Houghtaling's Handbook ©1884.

First talked of by Colonel Julius W. Adams about 1855. Act of incorporatlonpassed April, 1866. Survey begun by John A. Roebling, 1869. Construction begun January 2,1870. First rope thrown across the river August 14, 1876. Master Mechanic Farrington crossed in a boatswain's chair August 25, 1876. Depth of the New York foundation below high water mark, 78 feet 6 inches. Depth of the Brooklyn foundation below high water mark, 45 feet. The New York tower contains 46,945 cubic yards of masonry; the Brooklyn tower, 88,214. Weight of the Brooklyn tower, about 98,079 tons. Weight of the New York tower, about a third more. Size of the towers at high water line, 140x59 feet; at roof course, 186x58 feet. Height of the towers above high water mark, 278 feet 6 inches. Height of roadway in the clear in the middle of the East River, 185 feet. Grade of the roadway, 8 feet 8 Inches to 100 feet. Width of the promenade in the centre of bridge, 16 feet 7 inches. Width for railway on one side of the promenade, 12 feet 10 inches. Width of carriage way, on the other side of the promenade, 18 feet 9 inches. Width of bridge 85 feet. Length of main span, 1,595 feet 6 inches. Length of each land span, 930 feet. Length of the Brooklyn approach, 971 feet. Length of the New York approach, 1,560 feet. Length of each of the four great cables, 8,578 feet 6 inches; diameter, 15% inches: number of steel galvanized wires in each cable, 5,484; weight of each cable, about 800 tons. Ulti.nate strength of each cable, 15,000 tons. Weight of steel in the suspended superstructure, 10,000 tons. Total cost, 15,000,000 dollars. Opened for traffic in 1888.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Yesterday, I received an email request for information concerning the 19th century salamander. In Mrs. Hale's New Cookbook ©1857 I found a diagram and brief description of a salamander, pictured below. This 19th century kitchen tool was the beginnings of what Salamander ovens are used for today. Enjoy.

Donati's Comet 1858

I stumbled across the article below while researching for "Historical Fiction Writer's Guide to Carriages & Wagons of the 19th Century." The article that was published in the Nov. 1858 issue of the New York Coach-Maker's Magazine.

Donati's comet, which at this date so beautifully adorns the western sky from dusk until half-past eight in the evening, and again is seen in the northeast at about four in the morning, was nearest the earth about the 9th of October, at which time it was very large and brilliant, probably more so than any that may be seen again by the present generation. Its distance, when nearest the earth, was about fiftytwo millions of miles. The nucleus was near the constellation Arcturus, and nearest the earth's orbit on the 20th of October. Dr. Bond, of Harvard College Observatory, says that the cause of this comet's appearance again in the morning is owing to the considerable northern declination of the comet, with a right ascension differing but little from that of the sun.
The following very interesting observations on the progress of the comet, at an early date after its appearance, are from the pen of Professor Mitchell, of the Cincinnati Observatory, and will, no doubt, be read with interest at this time:
"On the evening of the 25th of September, the appearance of the comet, in the great refractor of the Cincinnati Observatory, was especially interesting. The central portion, or nucleus, was examined with powers varying from one hundred to five hundred, without presenting any evidence of a well-defined planetary disc. It was a brilliant glow of light, darting and flashing forward in the direction of the motion toward the sun, and leaving the region behind in comparative obscurity. But the most wonderful physical feature presented, was a portion of a nearly circular nebulous ring, with its vertex directed toward the sun, the bright nucleus being in the centre, while the imperfect ring swept more than half round the luminous centre. This nebulous ring resembled those which sometimes escape from a steam-pipe, but did not exhibit the appearance which ought to be presented by a hollow hemispherical envelope of nebulous matter.

"There was an evident concentration of light in the central portions of the ring, while, in the case of a hollow envelope, the brightest portion should be at the outer edge. By micrometrical measurement, the distance from the central point to the circumference of the ring was found to be about nine thousand miles. This would give a diameter of eighteen thousand miles, in case the ring was entire. Similar measurements, made on the evening of the 26th of September, indicated a decided increase in the radius of the ring, which was now not less than twelve thousand miles in length. On the same evening, I noticed the fact that the luminous envelope did not blend itself into the head portion of the tail, but appeared somewhat to penetrate into this nebulous mass, especially on the upper part, presenting the appearance of about 200 degrees of a spiral. The tail, on the 25th, was decidedly brighter and better defined on the upper than on the lower portion, while on the evening of the 26th there was a much nearer approach to equality in brightness, especially near the head of the comet. Through the telescope, and near the head, the tail presented the appearance of a hollow nebulous envelope, under the form of a paraboloid of revolution, the edges being brightest and well defined, while there was a manifest fading away of light towards the central region. Through the vast depth of nebulous matter composing this wonderful appendage, the faintest telescopic stars shone with undiminished brightness.
"The only comet which has presented an appearance resembling the one now visible is the one known as Halley's Comet, as seen by Sir William Herschel and others, in its return in 1836. There is a marked difference between the two: that while the envelope of Halley's Comet is described as a hemispherical hollow envelope, this shows more the shape of a nebulous ring; there is a faint, misty light, of irregular outline, but not to be mistaken by even a casual observer. Mr. J. R. Hind, the English astronomer, who has earned the appellation of the 'Planet-catcher,' is good authority on the comet. He expresses the opinion that its increase in brightness will go on, in conformity with theory, so that about the epact of maximum brilliancy in October it will be visible with telescopes in full sunshine. The nucleus is of the appearance of a star of the second magnitude, and the tail, which points nearly due North, although rather faint, is about five degrees in length. The comet is about 120 millions of miles from the earth, or a little farther from us than the sun, and the diameter of the nucleus is estimated to be rather more than 3,000 miles, or nearly one and a half times larger than the moon. The length of the tail, judging from its appearance, is estimated at fifteen millions of miles. The path of the comet is that of a parabola, and it is conjectured that it will not appear again for some hundreds of years."

We have had our engraving made expressly for this Magazine, and which gives a very fair representation of it as it appeared on the evening the drawing was made.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Keeping Flies Away

I found this tidbit while researching my Historical Writers Research of 19th Century Carriages & Wagons I ran across another use for "train oil." Train oil or Fist oil is made from whale blubber and/or codfish oil. 

From The Western Druggist Vol. 16 pg 209 ©1894 we find:
Almost any greasy substance will keep the flies away for several days. A number of experiments were tried in the field, with the result that train-oil alone, and trainoil with a little sulphur or carbolic acid added, will keep the flies away for from five to six days, while, with a small proportion of carbolic acid, it will have a healing effect upon the sores which may have formed. Train-oil should not cost more than 50 to 75 cents per gallon, and a gallon will anoint a number of animals. Common axle grease, costing 10 cents per box, will answer nearly as well, and this substance has been extensively and successfully used by Mr. William Johnson, a large stock dealer at Warrenton, Va. Tallow has also been used to a good advantage. The practice of smearing the horns with pine or coal tar s'mply repels from them these pests. Train-oil or fish-oil seems to be more lasting in its effects than any other of the substances used.

Apples & Preserving

In 1874 Haydn's dictionary of dates was printed. It is filled with all kinds of interesting tidbits. Below is what it had to say about apples.

APPLES. The Romans knew of 22 varieties of apples, according to Pliny. Ray reckons 78 kinds in his day, in England (1688). In the U. S. 200 varieties exist Apple-trees of finest quality last 80 years. Some reach the age of 200 years. Throughout the U. S. the following appear to be the favorites: For summer apples, the Early Harrett, Sveet Bough and Red Astrackim ; for autumn, the Fall Pippin, Porter andGravenslein; for winter, the Baldvin and 'Rhode Island Greening. The demand for the fruit is greatly in advance of the supply, and in London the American apple commands fabulous prices. In 1860, the yield of orchard fruit amounted to $19,000,000, the greater part of which was derived from the apple product. In 1865, the orchards in the State of New York yielded 16,275,505 bushels of apples.

In 1872 the publication "A Dictionary of Every day wants:" came out and gives two methods of storing apples for later use.

APPLES, To Dry.—The most general method adopted in drying apples is, after they are pared, to cut them in slices, and spread them on cloths, tables, or boards, and dry them out-doors. In clear and dry weather this is, perhaps, the most expeditious and best way; but in cloudy and stormy weather this way is attended with much inconvenience, and sometimes loss, in consequence of the apples rotting before they dry. To some extent they may be dried in this way in the house, though this is attended with much inconvenience. The best method that I have ever ased to dry apples is to use frames. These combine the most advantages with the least inconvenience o( any way, and can be used with equal advantage either in drying in the house or out in
the sun. In pleasant weather the frames can be set out-doors against the side of the building, or any other support, and nights, or cloudy and stormy days, they can be brought into the house, and set against the side of the room near the stove or fire-place. Frames are made in the following manner: Two strips of board, 7 feet long, 2 or 2 1/2 inches wide—two strips 3 feet long, 1 1/2 inches wide, the whole 3/4 of an inch thick—nail the short strips across the ends of the long ones, and it makes a frame 7 by 3 feet, which is a convenient sire for all purposes. On one of the long strips nails are driven 3 inches apart, extending from the top to the bottom. After the apples are pared, they are quartered and cored, and with a needle and twine, or stout thread strung into lengths long enough to reach twice across the frame; the ends of the twine are then tied together, and the strings hung on the nails across the frame. The apples will soon dry so that the strings can be doubled on the nails, and fresh ones put on or the whole of them removed, and others put in their place. As fast as the apples become sufficiently dry they can be taken from the strings, and the same strings used to dry more on. If large apples are used to dry, they can be cut in smaller pieces. Pears and quinces, and other fruits that can be strung, may be dried in this way.

APPLES, Preserving. —l. By selecting the best of fruit, and carefully enveloping each specimen separately in paper so that the air cannot pass through, the time of keeping in a sound and eatable condition can be greatly prolonged. After covering each apple with paper, select a light wooden box and cover it on the inside, or outside, with paper either before, or after putting in the fruit, as the case may be. Those persons who are desirous of preserving a small quantity of apples will be amply repaid for their trouble by trying the above experiment. The fruit should not be disturbed after packing until the box is opened at the time the fruit is to be eaten.—2. A layer of dry sawdust was sprinkled at the bottom of the box, and then a layer of apples placed in it so that they did not touch each other. Upon these were placed a little layer of sawdust, and so on until the box was filled. The boxes, after being packed in this way, were placed on the wall in the cellar, up from the ground, where they kept, perfectly retaining their freshness and flavor, until brought out.—3. Apples for keeping should be laid out on a dry floor (or three weeks. They then may be packed away in layers, with dry straw between them. Each apple should be rubbed with a dry cloth as it is
Put away. They should be kept in a cool place, ut should be sufficiently covered with straw to protect them from frost. They should be plucked on a dry day. They also keep if packed in dry sand.—4. An excellent method for preserving apples through the winter is to put them in barrels or boxes, surrounding each apple with some dry mould or gypsum (plaster of Paris)— not the calcined used for casts, models, etc.— and kept in a dry, cool outhouse.

Another method I've come across but can't find the source right now, was using the husks of the corn, wrapping the apples in the husks and put them away in a similar method as above.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wagon Builders

I stumbled on this bit of information from Law Notes: Vol. 5 Pg 147 ©1886 while researching various wagon builders. What I found interesting about this was the practice of the "financing" of the purchase of a wagon.

Throughout the kingdom are many wagon companies, so called, that never build a single wagon; in fact, were they to do so, it would actually be ultra vires. In reality, these companies are "financing" companies only; they are no more wagon companies than bodies that lend money on bills of sale of furniture are furniture companies.
A person wishing to buy wagons, but to pay for them by instalments spread over a term, say, of seven years, will go to a wagon builder and get him to build the sort of wagons he (the intending purchaser) requires. Application is then made to a "financing" wagen company, by whom the wagons are purchased from the builder at the price the intending purchaser agreed to give; the builder invoices them to the company; and then they are let by the latter to the intending purchaser on the hire and purchase system. The rent fixed by the agreement for hire is calculated on the basis that the payments made during the term shall at its expiration have recouped the company the cost of the wagons and interest at the rate agreed upon; and in the agreement is contained a license to seize and retake possession of the wagons on non-payment of the rent and in certain other events. A proviso is also inserted that the property in the wagons shall, at the expiration of the term, when all moneys due under the agreement shall have been paid, vest in the bailee for hire, or, as he is generally termed, "the tenant."

Sears & Roebuck Shipping Rates 1896

Below is a very small selection of the shipping rates for Sears & Roebuck from their 1896 Spring catalogue. Note the prices are set for a per 100 lbs. A fellow writer, from one of the writing groups I'm in, mentioned how her grandmother told stories about how items came to the farm from their orders to Sears and other places. The train simply stopped on the tracks (at the edge of their farm) and left the items on the side of the tracks then continued on their way.

Sears & Roebuck went into detail about the way to order, how to figure the shipping charges, etc. By placing a freight rate chart they not only helped their customers but saved themselves the headache of extra billing for freight.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tar For Greasing Wagons

I stumbled across this brief editorial comment made in "The American Agriculturist" in the August 1842 issue. Can't you just see your characters or ancestors mixing up a batch of axle grease for the wagons with this historical gem?

Tar for greasing wagons, we think an absurd article. In the hottest weather it soon gums up and becomes adhesive, and in cold weather is always so. Wherever iron axletrees are used, black lead mixed with grease is best:—or Flour mixed with Lard.

Wages For Farm Labors in NJ 1852

In 1852 David Walker, at $7 per month. Rent house at $25 per year; wages, at 50

cents per day. Peter McHugh, at $9 per month for four months, and seven months at $10 per month.

Average for the state was $10 per month with board for the year. $12 per summer months. $1. to $1.75 for days of harvest. And with board the average was .65 cents per day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Snow Shoes

Living in Florida we don't have any need for snowshoes. However, the temps this past week have been low enough that if there were rain we might just have snow. Which led me to this post this little tidbit about snowshows, enjoy. Below is an excerpt from "The Tribune Book of Open Air Sports" by Henry Hall ©1887

The snowshoe and toboggan might readily be called twins of the snow. The snowshoe is the only contrivance ever invented to facilitate walking on soft snow, and probably never will bo surpassed. It was formerly in universal use among the American Indians, and the Esquimaux and Laplanders still use the shoe to-day. Some of the tribes in Central Asia also employ it. Travellers have found the snowshoc all through the North of Europe and in Siberia and Tartary.
The American shoe is made of a piece of light ash, about half an inch thick, bent to a long oval, and fastened closely with cat-gut where the two ends meet. A strip of flat wood is fitted across the the frame about four inches from the large end, and other pieces about two feet from the ends, to give it spring and strength. The interior of this framework is woven with cat-gut, which allows the shoe to press on the snow without sinking. A hole about four inches square is left behind the centre of the front cross-bar for the partial protrusion of the toes in lifting the heel. The centre bears the weight of the body. The Indian shoe measures from two to six feet in length, and from thirteen to twenty inches in width ; but for club races it has been reduced to the regulation measurement of not less than ten inches in width, without limitation as to length. A short, broad shoe is preferable for the forest or long tramps on soft snow. The Indian's shoo was always broad, adapted for the chase. Some of the tribes turned up the shoe at the toe.
A member of the Montreal Snowshoe Club applied the shape of the poinied turned-up too of thei shoe used by the Sioux to that made tand used by the Iroquois; and this modification is now the shoe in general use. Moccasins are worn on the feet, and by means of an ingenious tie, also introdued by the Montreal Club, the snowshoes can be slipped on and off with greatest case.
To the accomplished snowshoer walking is a delightful pastime. He tramps over fields and buried fences unmindful of drifts or obstructions. In all Canadian cities there are numerous snowshoe clubs that take weekly tramps in costume. Baces and sports are also carried on on these shoes. In the Western parts of our own country the snowshoe is much used. It is said that the most expert runner, "Snowshoc Thompson,'' once made 1,600 feet in 22 seconds, and he is also said to have jumped into a snow-drift from a height of 180 feet.

Hop Yeast

Today we think mostly in terms of making beer. However, it wasn't the only use for this plant. Wikipedia will give you a good description of the plant and it's many uses.

Below is a recipe for Hop Yeast that comes from The Appledore Cook Book ©1872 by Maria Parloa.

Hop Yeast.
Pare and boil one dozen mealy potatoes (they will boil in thirty miuutes) ; as soon as you put the potatoes on to boil, put a handful of hops into another kettle with three quarts of cold water, cover and boil (watch it that it may not boil over). When the potatoes are boiled, drain and mash fine; then strain the hops through a fine sieve on the potatoes (be sure that the hops are boiling when they are strained on the potatoes), and stir well; then add one half a cup of sugar, one fourth of salt, and one pint of flour; mix this well and strain through a cullender; let it stand until it is milk-warm, then stir in one cup of go"od yeast, and set it to rise where it will be warm. It will rise in five hours if the yeast is good. You can tell when it is risen by the white foam, which will rise to the top. When risen, put it in a stone jug, and stop tight. It is a good plan to tie the cork down, as it sometimes flies out. Set in the ice chest or on the cellar bottom. Make one third this quantity in summer if your family be small.
• Hop Yeast, No. 2.
In the spring and the first of the summer, when potatoes are poor, it is better to make yeast without them. Boil one fourth of a cup of hops in one quart of water, and strain it upon half a pint of flour; stir this well, and add two spoonfuls of sugar and one of salt, then strain through a cullender, and let it become milk-warm, when add one cup of good yeast. You need just as much yeast for one third the quantity made without the potatoes, as you would for the whole made with potatoes. Rise and bottle the same as the preceding.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Character & Manners

One of the ways Character and Manners were taught in the 19th century was through the use of stories. The paragraphs below come from Pencil Sketches: or outlines of character and manners © 1835 by Eliza Leslie

Some there be that shadows kiss.—Shakespeare.
Selina Mansel was only sixteen when she took charge of her father's house and entered on the arduous task of doing as she pleased: provided always that she duly attended to his chief injunction, never to allow herself to incur a debt, however trifling, and to purchase nothing that she could not pay for on the spot. To the observance of this rule, which he had laid down for himself in early life, Mr. Mansel attributed all his success in business, and his ability to retire at the age of fifty with a handsome competence.
Since the death of his wife, Mr. Mansel's sister had presided over his family, and had taken much interest in instructing Selina in what she justly termed the most useful part of a woman's education, Such was Miss Eleanor Mansel's devotion to her brother and his daughter, that she had hesitated for twelve years about returning an intelligible answer to the love-letters which she received quarterly from Mr. Waitstill Wonderly, a gentleman whose dwelling-place was in the far, far east. Every two years this paragon of patience came in person: his home being at a distance of several hundred miles, and his habits by no means so itinerant as those of the generality of his countrymen.

On his sixth avatar, Miss Mansel consented to reward with her hand the constancy of her inamorato; as Selina had, within the last twelvemonth, made up two pieces of linen for her father, prepared the annual quantity of pickles and preserves, and superintended two house-cleanings, all herself—thus giving proof positive that she was fully competent to succeed her aunt Eleanor as mistress of the establishment.
Selina Mansel was a very good and a very pretty girl. Though living in a large and flourishing provincial town, which we shall denominate Somerford, she had been brought up in comparative retirement, and had scarcely yet begun to go into company, as it is called. Her understanding was naturally excellent; but she was timid, sensitive, easily disconcerted, and likely to appear to considerable disadvantage in any situation that was the least embarrassing.
You can read the rest of the story at Google books.

Soap Substitute Receipt(recipe) 1810

Substitute for Soap, easily prepared in small Quantities, by private Families in the Country.
Collect, before the time of seeding, thistles, nettles, fern, and such other weeds as usually infest the borders of high roads and hedges, and burn them in a large heap, gradually, till the whole are consumed, and carefully preserve the ashes in a dry place, ready to make the ley (lye) wanted for the purpose of making a substitute for soap.
The requisite materials and utensils should be prepared, which are but few in number. They consist, 1st, Of a small tub of white wood, nine inches in width, and as many in height. This tub should be perforated near the bottom; its use is for mixing the leys. (Were it made of oak it would colour the leys.) 2d, A small copper bason, with a round bottom, a foot in diameter, and seven or eight inches in depth; or where this cannot be procured, an iron pot, or earthen vessel, that can bear the fire, may be used. This vessel is intended for boiling the mixture. 3d, For this small manufacture are finally required a skimmer, a spatula of white wood, and two earthen pans.
The materials necessary are, 1, some good ashes; 2, lime; and 3, oil, tallow, or kitchen fat. Method of preparing the leys (lye).
Take three pounds of ashes and one pound of lime. First, moisten the lime with a small quantity of water, in order to slake it; and after it has completely crumbled down, mix with it the ashes, and put this mixture into the tub, having previously spread a piece of canvas at the bottom; carefully close the hole at the bottom of the tub ; after which pour upon the materials a quantity of water sufficient to soak it well through, and rise above it in the vessel, to the height of about three finger breadths. Then stir it well with a slick, and suffer it to stand for some hours; then open the hole, in order to let the ley run off, which is collected and kept by itself. This is the first ley (lye); then again put fresh water in the tub, stir the materials with a stick, let them stand for some hours, and then draw off the second ley (lye), which is also kept separate ; the third ley (lye) is obtained in the same manner, by pouring fresh water upon the remainder of the ashes, which will now have been sufficiently exhausted of its saline particles.
Take equal quantities of the first ley (lye), and of kitchen fat, tallow, or oil, and melt them together in your copper bason, over a gentle fire, till they are well incorporated, by constantly agitating them with your wooden spatula. When the ley (lye) and grease are well united, you may add more ley (lye) of the second quality, and digest them for some time with a gentle heat, till the mixture is completed, taking care to stir it well all the time; then pour it into your earthen pans to cool and preserve for use. A few trials will enable you to make it in a perfect manner; and a little of this composition will be found to answer all the purposes of soap for family use. The surplus ley of the stronger kinds may be preserved for future use, and the weaker ley will serve to put upon fresh ashes on a future occasion, or a little of any of these leys (lye) will form a useful steep, with a considerable quantity of warm water, for the dirty plain linen intended to be washed, but will be too strong for printed calicoes or dyed articles.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Preparing Writing Quills

For those of you who are writers you might find this tidbit of interest. This information comes from The New Family Receipt Book: Containing Seven Hundred truly Valuable Receipts ©1810. This book sold for seven shillings and Sixpence when it first came out in London.

Dutch Method of preparing Goose Quills for Writing.
The process consists in immersing the quill, when plucked from the wing of the bird, into water almost boiling; to leave it there till it becomes sufficiently soft to compress it, turning it on its axis with the back of the blade of the knife. This kind of friction, as well as the immersions in water, being continued till the barrel of the quill be transparent, and the membrane, as well as the greasy kind of covering, be entirely removed, it is immersed a last time to render it perfectly cylindrical, which is performed with the index finger and the rhumb; it is then dried in a gentle temperature.

Telephone Timeline for 19th Century

March 10, 1876 Alexander Graham Bell yelled those now famous words "Come here Mr. Watson, I want to see you!" We all accept that to be the first monumental moment of the invention that would change our lives for ever. Below are a few other dates surrounding the history of the telephone during the 19th century.

1877 July The Bell Telephone Company was formed by Gardiner Hubbard. Watson oversaw the production of the first telephones in The Charles Williams Shop. Bell left for England opting out of the day to day operations of the company.

By the end of 1877 three thousand telephones were in service.

mid 1878 10,000 phones in service. Hubbard named Theodore Vail as the new general manager of the Bell Company.

1878 manuel switchboard was invented.

1879 Telephone subscribers begin to have designated telephone numbers

1880 Long distance service was established

1880's first "metallic" circuits were installed. Changing from one wire to two wire to reduce the extreme static noise from one wire.

1885 The American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) is formed.

1891 Almon Strowger invented an "automatic" telephone allowing him to dial a number without waiting for an operator. The first one Strowger switch goes into operation in 1892

1899 Bell company had 800,000 phones in service.
Rural independent territories had 600,000

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Bronx Zoo

On Nov. 8, 1899 the Bronx Zoo opened as the New York Zoological Park. In 1899 there were 261 acres. New York purchased the property for a mere thousand dollars from Fordham University with the condition that the area be used for parks and no further building (for private homes, businesses, etc) of the area.

Google Books has a copy of the second addition of the Popular official guide to the New York Zoological Park ©1900 the following year of the Parks opening. Below is the preface. Here is a link to the entire guide book.

The opening of the Zoological Park marks another great step toward the education of the people of the City of New York. It will bring the beauties and wonders of living Nature within reach of hundreds and thousands who are unable to travel. Like its predecessors in this field of popular education, the Park is maintained by the City, while its collections of animals and all of its present buildings are due to the generosity of citizens of New York. "We look to the continued and increasing support of all classes of people for whose education and amusement the Park is designed, rather than for the exclusive interests of science.
Although the Park is only one-third of the way toward completion, the Zoological Society believes that visitors will welcome a popular and reliable guide to what has already been accomplished. One year ago we began active work, and after two years of planning and organization ceased to speak publicly of our plans for the future. This handbook describes and pictures only what has actually been accomplished up to the day of going to press.
We bespeak for the Director and his colleagues on the Zoological Park staff, as well as for the Architects, indulgence for such shortcomings as are inseparable from such a difficult undertaking as this, during its first year. As rapidly as possible the incomplete parts of the Park will be taken in hand and brought to a finish. It has been no trifling matter to provide plans and surveys, building materials and workmen for our twenty-two installations, proceeding simultaneously with the construction by the City of miles of walks, roads, sewers and water-lines ; to finish-Bonds and entrances, trim the forests, establish a nursery, grade and plant miles of walk - borders, and build retaining walls ; to select a staff of assistants, collect animals, write labels, disburse $170,000 in small sums, without loss or dispute, and finally, during the last few weeks to improve Lake Agassiz sufficiently to make it a full and wholesome body of water.
That all the above has actually been accomplished in one year's time, without costly mistakes, or losses on account of changes in plans, and with no friction whatever, is certainly a cause for congratulation. We have enjoyed the constant and capable co-operation of the Park Department for the Borough of the Bronx and its engineers, as well as the generous support of the Mayor and other City authorities.
Executive Committee
Of The Zoological Society

The Bronx 1874

The Bronx is as familiar to us today as New York City. However, it wasn't until 1874 that the Bronx was annexed into it's own county. Below you'll find a brief history of the Bronx and the last paragraph points out the dates significant to the 19th century. The excerpt comes from Historical guide to the city of New York ©1909 pg.179

The Borough of the Bronx derives its name from the first white settler, Jonas Bronck, who settled near theBronx Kills in 1639 and called his home Emmaus. An adjacent river became known as Bronck's (shortened later to Bronx) River and in recent times the same name was applied to the whole borough. Many Indians of the Moh1can nation, Suwanoy tribe and Weckquaeskeeks local tribe, branches of the Algonquin race, made this borough their home, dwelling on the shores of the Hudson, the Sound and the Bronx River. They left various Indian names behind them, such as Acquehaunck, Mannepies, Quinnahoung Kekeshick, Laap-hawach-king, Mosholu. Many of the old titledeeds date back to early purchases from Indian sachems.
The earliest Dutch settlement was probably in 1654 at Westchester. The English soon followed, some of the first titles being granted by Governor Nicolls.
Many Revolutionary scenes were enacted in this borough and a full quota of its citizens went forth to serve and die in defence of their rights. The dreaded Neutral Ground extended from the Harlem to the northern limits of the present borough. Pelham saw the " Battle of Pelham Neck," while Westchester may well boast of its Battle of Westchester Creek (see Section V). Other sections could tell of individual engagements with the King's forces.
The early and middle parts of the Nineteenth Century brought great changes. Extensive farm lands were made to bring forth the fruits of the earth; then came the successful business men, who located here their country , estates and elegant mansions, many examples of which are yet to be found, in spite of the advance of the city.
The year 1874 brought annexation to the city of New York of 13,000 acres of the western part of the Bronx,followed in 1895 by the remaining 20,000 acres. And now these 33,000 acres of hill and plain are fast merging 1nto that wonderful city that is proud to style itself " America's Metropolis."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Milling Wheat

For the past year I've been buying organic whole wheat grain and grinding the wheat to make bread. The process is quite easy and the entire grain is reduced to a very fine flour that can be used in making cakes. All of that is to say, it made me wonder, how did our ancestors grind their wheat? Now, I've known about grist mills and have even visited a few but the flour from their was often course.

Here is an excerpt from The Book of Wheat written in 1908 by Peter Tracy Dondlinger. It helps to explain some of the history of the 19th century and the development of grain milling process. He goes on to explain other types of milling processes, high milling, and roller milling.

"Low" Milling.—Before 1850, the millstones in the United States were run at a comparatively low speed, and the grinding was slow. By this date the milling industry had assumed such commercial importance that it was necessary to increase the speed of the stones in order to get the work done. From 1850 to 1875, hard, low grinding was the rule, and the prime object was to make the largest possible percentage of flour at the first grinding. The change in process, due to greater speed, increased the output and improved its quality, "the outcome being a white, soft flour that met with favor in all he leading markets of the world where American winter wheat flours were handled." By this process, however, it was impossible to get the • flour entirely free from contamination, and some of the bran always remained. There were two parts to this old process, reducing the wheat to flour by passing it through a run of stones, and bolting the resulting material in order to separate the flour from the bran and other undesirable parts of the kernei. The percentage of flour obtained by this single grinding depended on four things: (1) The dress of the millstone; (2) the face of grinding surface; (3) the balancing of upper or runner stones; and (4) the speed of the runner. As there was but one grinding, the making of middlings was avoided as much as possible. By this method of milling, some of the bran was pulverized so that it could not be separated from the flour. This gave the flour a darker color, and caused it to gather more moisture, which injured its keeping qualities, especially in moist or hot climates.

Shrimp Sauce

A secondary character in a novel I worked on, went shrimping. In Florida, shrimp go through canals, play in the shoals of the shore line and during the fall, they run in large groups. The fact that my character is fishing for shrimp, I was dwelling on what he would do with all that shrimp and how he'd eat it. Below are a couple of recipes from the 19th century for Shrimp Sauce.

Shrimp sauce is made as follows: make some melted butter, with which mix a little essence of anchovies; throw in the shrimps, some cavice, and send up in a sauce-boat. The French Cook by Louis Eustache Ude © 1822

Cavice is a traditional British recipe for a classic Victorian sauce of anchovies, and shallots with spices and lemon zest in a white wine and white wine vinegar base. 

SHRIMP SAUCE. Wash half a pint of shrimps very clean—mince and put them in a stew-pan, with a spoonful of anchovy liquor, and a pound of thick melted butter; boil it up for five minutes, and squeeze in half a lemon. Toss it up, and put it in a sauce-boat. 
The Virginia housewife: or, Methodical cook
By Mary Randolph ©1838

SHRIMP SAUCE, for Various Kinds of Fish
Ingredients.—1/3 pint of melted butter, 1/4 pint of picked shrimps, cayenne to taste. Mode.—Make the melted butter very smoothly, shell the shrimps (sufficient to make 1/4 pint when picked), and put them into the butter; season with cayenne, and let the sauce just simmer, but do not allow it to boil. When liked, a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce may be added. Time.—1 minute to simmer. Average cost, 6d. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons. 
Mrs. Beeton's Dictionary of every-day cookery By Mrs. Beeton ©1865