To follow up on that last post about oatmeal, here are a few US newspaper ads from the 1890s/early 1900s that touted its supreme benefits. This seems to be when oatmeal really took off in the US as a breakfast food. Better late than never, our Irish, English, and Scottish cousins were probably thinking!
I love old houses, and I’m sure I am not alone in that regard.
Here in Florida, it can be a challenge to find homes over a certain age, depending on where you live, of course, especially the further south you go.
Because truly old homes are not as plentiful as up north, I periodically search for ones for sale on websites like Realtor, etc., where you can filter out results based on age and other criteria. It’s fun (IMO) to look at old home interiors you would otherwise probably never get to see. I was doing that a few days ago when I came across the John B. Stetson mansion at 1031 Camphor Lane in Deland, Volusia County, Florida. We’d been in that area a couple of times in recent years, visiting nearby De Leon Springs and Blue Springs, but had no idea the Stetson mansion, celebrated for its history and its architectural mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Tudor styles, would have been within such easy striking distance.
Who was John B. Stetson? If you have not heard of him, you may still be familiar with the Stetson hat.
Born in 1830 to a New Jersey hatter and his wife, Stetson, while still a young man, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told he may not have much longer to live. He took off for the West, wanting to lay his eyes on that expansive majestic land while he still could. That’s when he came into contact with the region’s settlers and cowboys, who until then had largely been wearing caps made of coonskin and other furs, not very practical. Returning home to Philadelphia, he came up with the Stetson hat, and started turning them out in 1865. They sold like hotcakes and became known as “the boss of the plains.”
Stetson lived well into his seventies and along the way became known for his generosity as an employer and a philanthropist. His hat-making business had treated him well. His company survived and thrived, and it’s still going strong today: https://www.stetson.com
Seeing as how Stetson’s Florida mansion, built in 1886, is up for sale (for $4.7 million), this is an ideal time to get a look inside at the interior without paying an admission fee and without having to physically go there. The sellers purchased the house a decade ago and completely restored and renovated it. The result is stunning, and although this is a private residence, they have generously been permitting people to tour the estate and experience this very interesting piece of history. In fact, it’s the #1 Deland attraction on Trip Advisor. Hopefully the eventual buyers will want to keep this up.
To go to the listing and its 122 photographs, click here: John B. Stetson house. For the Stetson Mansion website, click here.
Thanksgiving—a century ago: Teddy Roosevelt, turkey, football, ragamuffin parades, and ‘Black Friday’
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and I enjoy thinking about how our ancestors may have gone about their own Thanksgiving Day preparations and celebrations.
I came across some ads and articles from 1904. What would have been going on back then? Grandma (not yet married) and her five sisters were likely cooking up a storm in the Woodruff family home in Hillside, NJ. The Andrew Jackson Brodhead family was marking its first Thanksgiving without family matriarch Ophelia. Did they spend the day at son James Easton Brodhead’s gloriously big home in Flemington, NJ? Did my great-grandfather Andrew Douglas Brodhead (James’ brother) and family of Perth Amboy, NJ, join them? And, on my mom’s side, the Trewin family was celebrating in Elizabeth, NJ. Did they get together with other family in nearby Bayonne or Jersey City, or have a quiet day at home? Did ‘Thanksgiving maskers’ come by to beg for pennies? (A tradition described very well in this Huffington Post article “A Forgotten Thanksgiving Custom: Masks, Mischief and Cross-dressing” – pub. 11/20/2012.)
In the early 20th century, the household radio had yet to exist, not to mention all the other devices available to us today—devices that, dare I say it, often distract us from interacting with the very family members in our midst? I imagine that back then, our ancestors enjoyed listening to the phonograph, dancing, playing games, and exchanging news and views on all sorts of topics. There’d certainly have been no TV football games to watch or fall in sleep in front of! But apparently high school Thanksgiving football games had become popular by then; so perhaps, our ancestors enjoyed watching a game or two in the crisp November air…or ventured into the Big Apple to watch a ‘ragamuffin parade‘—popular back then (see the below article “Turkey Feasts for Everyone”) and still a feature of many autumn festivals today.
It would seem safe to say that many of my ancestors would likely have read the text of the inspiring and patriotic Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (below) by President Theodore Roosevelt (Rep-NY) who had won reelection by a landslide that year. The ladies in the respective families may have poured over Jule De Ryther’s cooking tips. De Ryther, celebrated soprano turned food maven, provided instructions in the newspaper for the ‘little woman’ on how to make a ‘Yankee Thanksgiving Dinner’ (see below). And, yes, it seems likely that our ancestors had some shopping on their mind. I found one full-page ‘Black Friday’ ad (shown below) with a headline screaming “Give Thanks Today For These Bargains Tomorrow.” It would seem that not much has changed after all these years, except for the items on sale and, of course, the prices!
Anyway, back to 2014. Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m still debating a couple of turkey recipes (Tyler Florence’s ‘Buried Turkey with Gravy‘ or Sandra Lee’s ‘Roasted Butter Herb Turkey‘). Both are excellent recipes. Tried Sandra’s last year and Tyler’s the year before. His is very handy if you want to get the bird cooked fast. It’s quick and easy and the meat comes out wonderfully moist and flavorful. Stuffing must be cooked separately however, and (for me) it’s a bit of a struggle to split the bird in half. Sandra goes the traditional stuffed-bird route, and rubs a garlic-herb-butter mix under the skin. The result is pretty delicious.
Feel free to share any favorite recipes in the comment box below. And, enjoy your Thanksgiving 2014!
P.S. What an ideal time to talk about family history and family traditions!
PROCLAMATION By PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT:
It has pleased Almighty God to bring the American people in safety and honor through another year, and, in accordance with the long unbroken custom handed down to us by our forefathers, the time has come when a special day shall be set apart in which to thank Him who holds all nations in the hollow of His hand, for the mercies thus vouchsafed to us. During the century and a quarter of our national life we as a people have been blessed beyond all others, and for this we owe humble and heartfelt thanks to the Author of all blessings.
The year that has closed has been one of peace within our borders as well as between us and all other nations. The harvests have been abundant, and those who work, whether with hand or brain, are prospering greatly. Reward has waited upon honest effort. We have been enabled to do our duty to ourselves and to others. Never has there been a time when religious and charitable effort has been more evident. Much has been given to us and much will be expected from us. We speak of what has been done by this Nation in no spirit of boastfulness or vainglory, but with full and reverent realization that our strength is as nothing unless we are helped from above. Hitherto we have been given the heart and the strength to do the tasks allotted to us as they severally arose. We are thankful for all that has been done for us in the past, and we pray that in the future we may be strengthened in the unending struggle to do our duty fearlessly and honestly, with charity and good will, with respect for ourselves and love towards our fellow men.
In this great Republic the effort to combine national strength with personal freedom is being tried on a scale more gigantic than ever before in the world’s history. Our success will mean much, not only for ourselves, but for the future of all mankind, and every man or woman in our land should feel the grave responsibility resting upon him or her, for in the last analysis this success must depend upon the high average of our individual citizenship, upon the way in which each of us does his duty by himself and his neighbor.
Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart Thursday, the twenty-fourth of this November, to be observed as a day of festival and thanksgiving by all the people of the United States, at home or abroad, and do recommend that on that day they cease from their ordinary occupations and gather in their several places of worship or in their homes, devoutly to give thanks to Almighty God for the benefits He has conferred, upon us as individuals and as a Nation, and to beseech Him that in the future His divine favor may be continued to us.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of November, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and four, and of the independence of the United States, the one hundred and twenty-ninth.
Food writer Jule De Ryther turns up the heat in the 1904 Thanksgiving kitchen:
A little Black Friday shopping anyone? Men’s sweaters – 98 cents; Kashmir rugs – $8.75; women’s coats – $6.95 [CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE]:
PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES: New York City, Thanksgiving holiday scenes, 1911. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; VISIT: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675293/