Famous Historical Figures

Jule & Juliet, 1896: Madame De Ryther’s “Roast Saddle of Venison” — a recipe from the Adirondacks

Hound and Hunter (1892) – by Winslow Homer. Per Wikimedia: Homer’s watercolor sketch for Hound and Hunter showed, lying behind the boy, a rifle that the artist later painted out. When this final canvas was exhibited in 1892, its subject was condemned as a cruel sport then practiced in the Adirondacks. Some viewers believed the youth was drowning the deer to save ammunition. The artist curtly responded, “The critics may think that that deer is alive but he is not—otherwise the boat and man would be knocked high and dry.”

Hound and Hunter (1892) – by Winslow Homer. [image cropped] Per Wikimedia: Homer’s watercolor sketch for Hound and Hunter showed, lying behind the boy, a rifle that the artist later painted out. When this final canvas was exhibited in 1892, its subject was condemned as a cruel sport then practiced in the Adirondacks. Some viewers believed the youth was drowning the deer to save ammunition. The artist curtly responded, “The critics may think that that deer is alive but he is not—otherwise the boat and man would be knocked high and dry.”

One new thing I’ve learned about late 19th-/early-20th-century food writer Madame Jule De Ryther comes from the New York Times, March 1, 1896, article “The Secrets of the Carver; An Early English Dinner. Studies in the Operative Surgery of Animals” by Juliet Corson. It featured a roast saddle of venison recipe, “traceable to Adirondack hunters and guides,” that belonged to Madame De Ryther, “the descendant of a line of hunters and hosts whose forest cookery has long been famous.”

John George Brown (American, 1831-1913) Claiming the Shot - After the Hunt in the Adirondacks

John George Brown (American, 1831-1913) Claiming the Shot – After the Hunt in the Adirondacks

While Jule De Ryther, a famous concert soprano, found a second career discussing and sharing her knowledge about food, Juliet Corson (1841-1897) spent her whole career trying to educate the public about food and cookery, and healthy and economical eating, particularly among society’s poorest. She was a proponent of letting nothing go to waste and making the tastiest and most nutritious meals possible no matter how small the budget. At 35, she founded the New York School of Cookery and operated it for seven years before ill-health forced her to close it down. She traveled the country, between bouts of ill-health, to promote the need for cookery classes in public schools. The French Consul General in NYC even consulted with her to see how her methods could be adapted to France.

Miss Corson’s numerous publications included Fifteen-Cent Dinners for Workingmen’s Families, published by the author for free distribution to working-people earning $1.50, or less, a day (New York, 1877), Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six (1879), and Practical American Cookery & Household Management (1886); for links to other publications, click here. I’ve not had time to read any of them, but I am sure she has plenty of tips that could apply to us today. Many of us are always looking for economical ways to feed our families and maximize our resources. One can only speculate what else Corson may have taught us had her life not been cut short at age 56 by a debilitating tumor (NYT obituary – “Death of Juliet Corson; The Well-Known Writer and Teacher of Cookery and Dietetics Expires Almost Alone”).

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Juliet Corson (Credit: Wikipedia)

By the time Miss Corson penned this article in 1896, she was near her life’s end. You can tell from the article how passionate she is about food, and how knowledgeable. I was going to include just the portion about Madame De Ryther, but decided to include the entire article since it contains so much interesting information on the history of food and the preparation of game, an art that was already being lost in this country back then when venison was “the only wild meat ever seen freely in the New York market,” and is now in most places a great rarity, which is understandable of course, but it’s still interesting to get a sense of how our ancestors lived and worked, and what they ate. And how they may have prepared it.

Have a good Monday, all!

PS: Receipts = recipes; frumenty = thick wheat porridge usually served with venison (in Medieval times).

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Categories: Adirondacks, Corson Juliet food educator, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Hunting, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1825 newspaper reports the astounding survival story of frontiersman Hugh Glass

HughGlass

Hugh Glass, b. cir 1780, Pennsylvania; d. 1833, Yellowstone River (Credit: Wikipedia Commons; Author unknown)

If you’ve been to the cinema recently, you may have seen the brief but brutal trailer for Leonardo Di Caprio’s latest film Revenant (“one that returns after death or a long absence” per Merriam-Webster’s). Based on true events, the film recounts what happened in August 1823 to frontiersman Hugh Glass when he—at roughly age 43  (a senior citizen by early 19th-century standards)—was deliberately abandoned in what is now South Dakota by two men who had been ordered to stay behind with him after a brutal bear attack left him almost dead. The men were members of a corps of 100 men, led by General William Henry Ashley, who were traveling up the Missouri River on a fur-trading expedition. (For more on “Ashley’s Hundred,” click here.) (If you are planning to see the film and don’t want to know the back story, stop reading here!)

Seriously wounded, Glass regained consciousness to find himself alone with no provisions or weapons two hundred miles from the nearest American settlement. Determined to survive, get back his weapons, and hunt down his betrayers, Glass bound his broken leg and crawled for six weeks through the wilderness, surviving initially on berries, before making it to Fort Kiowa (in present-day South Dakota) where he recovered. Then he set off again, still in pursuit of his belongings and betrayers, surviving more near death experiences before wandering into Fort Atkinson (present-day Nebraska) in June 1824—much to the astonishment of all those who recognized him and thought him long dead. Glass had gone there because he’d heard the second of his betrayers was at the Fort (he’d already tracked down and pardoned the first). But by then that second betrayer was serving in the Army so Glass spared his life.

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“Back-Trailing on the Old Frontiers — Drawing by Charles M. Russell” (Milwaukee Journal, July 2, 1922) – Credit: Wikipedia

Out of curiosity as to what was actually reported in the press at the time, if anything, I did a bit of research on the Fulton History site, and discovered the below article from an 1825 issue (exact date not clear but sometime between June-December 1825) of the New York Spectator in which Hugh Glass’s harrowing adventures are recounted. (see below.) It’s not hard to imagine our American ancestors living at that time reading this article with rapt attention, and recounting its contents to family, friends and neighbors. Having read the article and some other materials about Hugh Glass, I can see why the film trailer looked so brutal. By today’s standards, those were extremely stark times, and what Glass went through could not look anything but raw, gritty, and downright harrowing. I’m still weighing up whether I want to see the film.

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“The 200-mile route of the 1823 odyssey by Hugh Glass” (Credit: Wikipedia)

The frontiersman, already the stuff of legends, eventually lost his life in winter 1833 to attacking Arikara Indians. Glass’s story could not help but fuel the imaginations of future generations of Americans.

In 1915, Glass’s adventures inspired John G. Neihardt, future poet laureate of Nebraska (1921), to write the 120+ page epic poem The Song of Hugh Glass. In 1923, on the 100th anniversary of Glass’s amazing feat of survival, one Nebraska English professor, Julius Temple House, announced his plans to recreate the journey exactly as it happened (of course, minus the bear attack, open wounds, real broken leg, Indian attacks, etc.): “Professor, with Leg Bound, Will Crawl 100 Miles; Would Duplicate Feat Hunter Had to Do in 1823” (Buffalo Courier, 19 August 1923). (Scroll down for the article.)

Professor House had been a contributor to Neihardt’s The Song of Hugh Glass and in 1920 published a biography: John G. Neihardt: Man and Poet. Did Professor House ever make the journey? I found no evidence of that, so, perhaps, it was a publicity stunt or the professor was simply swept up in the romanticization of the old West and the yearning for a frontier that was no more. The Professor found romance in a different form ten years later when, as a widower, he met and married his childhood sweetheart from 50 years before, and took up a teaching post in Athens, Greece (October 2, 1933, The New York Sun). Perhaps, by then, he no longer had any need to channel his “inner Hugh Glass.”

 

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Categories: Hugh Glass frontiersman | Tags: | 7 Comments

Job Angus’s daughter visits President Eisenhower on the occasion of her 100th birthday

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait, 1967 (Credit: Wikipedia)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait, 1967 (Credit: Wikipedia)

I recently came upon a remarkable little film clip showing Mrs. Nettie Angus Moulden’s February 1, 1955, visit to the White House where she met with President Eisenhower on the occasion of her 100th birthday. (Nettie was in remarkable form and went on to survive almost another 6 years.)

Nettie (1 Feb 1855 – 22 Jan 1961) was the daughter of Antoinette G. Hopper (1823-1899) and Job Angus (1821-1909) about whom much has been written in this blog, Job having been a good friend of President Lincoln, the superintendent of buildings and grounds at the White House, and the manager of many building projects in Washington DC and elsewhere. Job Angus was my 2nd-great-grandfather James Angus‘s brother.

President Eisenhower signed Nettie’s autograph book which already contained the autographs of a number of US Presidents, beginning with President Lincoln and including Pres. Andrew Johnson,  Pres. US Grant, Pres. Benjamin Harrison, and Pres. Grover Cleveland. She had been to all the inaugurations since Lincoln’s and passed away on the eve of JFK’s*.

Nettie’s secret to a long life?: “I like having a good time and being happy—and I like to eat”!

To view the clip, please click here

For newspaper clippings on the event, click on the below links:

Sarasota Herald Tribune, 2 February 1955
Ocala Star Banner, 1 February 1955
Reading Eagle, 1 February 1955
Daytona Beach Morning Journal, 2 February 1955
The Southeast Missourian, 3 February 1955

*See: Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America by Thurston Clark, Penguin 2010.

Categories: Angus, President Eisenhower | Tags: | 2 Comments

1904: Madame Melba prompts Madame De Ryther to write about puddings

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Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (1861-1931), 1896 (Credit: United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b11681–Public domain in US)

Well, it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and food is now the farthest thing from my mind. I’ve cooked and baked enough in the last week to happily sail through the next few months without doing either, but I promised you a series of “Madame De Ryther Mondays” until Christmas… So here is a 1904 article in which she discusses how to make puddings: rice pudding, tapioca pudding, chocolate pudding, and one other whose name is concealed by the Fulton History site’s logo label. Since I honestly can’t bear the thought right now of unwrapping another stick of butter or spooning heaping tablespoonfuls of sugar into anything, I am currently psychologically unable to try any of these recipes out myself. But don’t let that stop you if you have managed to remain “on your kitchen feet,” both mentally & physically, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving ;-).

In her article, professional-singer-turned-food-writer Madame De Ryther opens with a comment made by Madame Melba (1861-1931), an Australia-born, world-renowned opera star, with whom Madame De Ryther was obviously acquainted, their singing careers, perhaps, having brought them together at some point.

Who was Madame Melba?  Per Wikipedia: Dame Nellie Melba GBE (19 May 1861 – 23 February 1931), born Helen Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. She took the pseudonym “Melba” from Melbourne, her home town. And, yes, “Peach Melba,” “Melba toast,” “Melba garniture,” and “Melba sauce” were all created in her honor by a French chef named Auguste Escoffier. I must admit that I often heard mention of Melba toast and peach Melba while growing up, but it was not until writing this post that I’d heard of Madame Melba (I’m embarrassed to say) and was able to put 2 and 2 together (much like discovering Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini last year, and making the link with Chicken/Turkey Tetrazzini). (Note: Viewers of season 4 (2013) of Downton Abbey would have seen Madame Melba (played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand’s famed soprano) perform for Lord and Lady Grantham; I was not a Downton viewer at that time.)

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Australian children’s classic: The Magic Pudding (1918) by Norm Lindsay; Yes, Madame Melba was from a country that most certainly knows a thing or two about pudding! (Credit: Wikipedia – Image in Public Domain in US)

Getting back now to the article, Madame De Ryther reports that Madame Melba had once lamented to her the lack of good puddings in America, and having traveled the world and sampled desserts along the way, she indeed must have known a thing or two about the topic. In 1904, when this article appeared, everyone in America would have heard of Madame Melba, so using Melba’s opinion about America’s lack of good puddings was certainly a clever way for Madame De Ryther to hook her readers.

However, the food writer is not all that excited about replicating European puddings, more specifically English puddings, which she considers to be too heavy by American standards (and if you’re familiar with British cuisine, you know what she means—puddings here in the US are very different; Jello-type pudding comes to mind or rice pudding or tapioca, not hearty, classic fare like sticky toffee pudding, bread & butter pudding, spotted dick, and the like—puddings that I personally like, albeit usually in small doses).

The recipes Madame De Ryther includes here are for much lighter and “daintier” versions that she feels would suit the American palate better than English-style puddings which were designed to “to drive the heavy fog from [English] stomachs,” according to one French chef.

Of course, at this point neither a heavy pudding nor a light one could drive away the heavy Thanksgiving fog in my stomach! But that is neither here nor there. I’m sure Madame De Ryther’s recipes helped her readers “whip up” some divine puddings.  I’ll just wait ’til I’m fully “recovered” to give them a try! 😉

PS: With Christmas fast approaching, for a fun and superbly informative post on English Christmas puddings that has lots of great images, click here. And for a few Madame Melba YouTube videos, scroll down below the article. Have a great day, all!

New York Press, 1904 (exact date unknown) - Credit: FultonHistory dot com

New York Press, 1904 (exact date unknown) – Credit: FultonHistory dot com

Categories: Christmas, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Luisa Tetrazzini, Madame Jule de Ryther, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

1904: “Two Good Cakes” from Mme. De Ryther, “the best gentlewoman cook in America”

Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising Agents and Allied Interests, Fourth Estate Publishing Company, 23 January 1904, p. 16.

Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising Agents and Allied Interests, Fourth Estate Publishing Company, 23 January 1904, p. 16.

Two Good Cakes

New York Press, 1 January 1904 (Credit: Chronicling America dot loc dot gov)

New York Press, 1 January 1904 (Credit: Chronicling America dot loc dot gov)

To continue with “Madame De Ryther Mondays” in the run up to Christmas, I would be remiss if I did not first mention (on Thanksgiving Eve) that a post I created last year contained Madame’s recommendations for a festive Thanksgiving dinner (click here).

Now back to this post. Here is a clipping from 1904 that offers recipes for two cakes.

The first, which is for a molasses/gingerbread cake, includes ground mace, a spice that seems to be absent these days from most grocery stores. I am not sure why that is, but, in any case, you may have to go to a specialty store or order it online. Amazon carries it in both the ground and blade form. Mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed and blade form seems to be more highly praised for its flavor than ground. But for this recipe, it seems logical to go with the ground version.

The second recipe, for “Surprise Cake,” contains nothing that most kitchens would not have on hand. So I decided to try this one. It’s short and sweet, and to the point. After doing a bit of investigation, I learned that “sweet milk” simply means whole milk as opposed to buttermilk. I only had skim on hand, so that is what I used. The addition of all that baking powder resulted in a very robust-looking batter. The recipe calls for a little grated nutmeg; I only had ground on hand so I added 1/8 tsp.

After getting the batter in a cake pan, I put it in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes but checked it with a toothpick (not a “broom splint,” as Madame directs) and decided it needed an extra five minutes. That seemed to do the trick (bear in mind, we are at a very low elevation, so more time may be required for those not in low-lying locations).

For the icing, I cheated horribly and used a tub of Betty Crocker’s vanilla icing (Madame De Ryther no doubt did an eye roll) and then sprinkled chopped walnuts on top (see image below).

I served slices of the cake for dessert with a bit of pistachio frozen yogurt. My “guinea pigs” gave it “two thumbs up.” The cake was very moist and light. The nutmeg was not too overpowering, but I do think I’d use a little less next time or try vanilla or lemon flavoring, alternatives the recipe suggests. But, overall, Madame De Ryther delivers what she promised: a cake that is “cheap, easy to prepare, and much better than the store-bought article.” Well, I can’t honestly say it is better than store-bought given how many superb bakeries exist today, but—straight from your oven—it will certainly be fresher.

At the start of her article, Madame De Ryther described cake-making as becoming a lost art among city women—thanks to the rise in popularity of store-bought cakes. I don’t think my grandmother on my father’s side would have been swept up in that trend. She would have been 22 at the time this column appeared, and she was quite the baker. My Dad used to wax lyrical about her culinary specialties. She probably would have devoured anything and everything Madame De Ryther wrote. My Mom’s mom, on the other hand, would definitely have been one to head to the bakery! She just did not enjoy cooking or baking, although she had the know-how. Let’s face it, some love to bake and some don’t. As the saying goes, “To each their own,” and Vive la différence!

Well, if anyone out there tries either of these recipes, feel free to share your results below!

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Madame De Ryther’s “Surprise Cake”

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Madame Jule de Ryther, United States | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

1906: Food writer Madame De Ryther journeys to Jamaica & comments on ship cuisine

The Atrato, owned by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Atrato, owned by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

In early spring 1906, 60-year-old American food writer Madame Jule de Ryther sailed from New York to Jamaica on the Atrato, a luxurious 6,000-ton steamer belonging to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. At that moment in history, according to De Ryther, Jamaica had become “the most popular resort in the world” and was “the mecca of most of the fashionable tourists of America.” The British steamship company tapped into that burgeoning demand, sending an increasing number of its ships to the West Indies on tours ranging from 12-53 days at a price of $90-$240. Madame De Ryther was extremely impressed by the Atrato‘s steady offerings of culinary delights: “There seems to be no limit in the provision of food products on board these steamers. Table luxuries and delicacies from all parts of the globe are set out at every meal.” Below is part of an article she wrote for the New York Press that describes some of her observations from that journey. The excerpt was published on May 14, 1906, in the Rome Daily Sentinel, a month after she arrived back in New York on the ship La Plata (on April 13, 1906, per Ellis Island records).

View from Fern Tree Walk Jamaica, ca. 1870, by Martin Johnson Heade

View from Fern Tree Walk Jamaica, ca. 1870, by Martin Johnson Heade (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

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New York Press, 13 January 1908 (Credit: fultonhistory dot com)

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Rome Daily Sentinel, 14 May 1906 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Jamaica, Madame Jule de Ryther | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

1904: “Some Dainty Luncheon Dishes” by Madame Jule De Ryther

New York Press, 31 Jul 1904 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

New York Press, 31 Jul 1904 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

As promised last Monday, here is one of Madame De Ryther’s numerous food columns; this one from 1904 features “Dainty Luncheon Dishes.” She offers recipes for items with which most of us are probably familiar: chicken croquettes, turkey hash, minced ham with poached eggs, and a club sandwich which she insists must be served hot. Of those, I lean towards the croquettes (anyone remember Howard Johnson’s shrimp croquettes from the 70s?—loved them), but, as I am trying to watch my waistline, Madame momentarily lost me at “heaping tablespoon of butter” and “gill of cream.”

But once I learned that a gill of cream is only four fluid ounces, I felt I could give Madame’s recipe a try. With no chicken on hand, I opted for ground turkey. (The recipe calls for 1 pint which is about 1 lb.) And I used canola oil in a deep-fryer set to 350 degrees F. instead of “a kettle half full of fat over the fire.” I served them with some cranberry jelly, mashed potato & vegetable, and I must say, they turned out pretty well—everyone at the table thought they were tasty in spite of their truly unphotogenic appearance; and it was only after dinner that I showed them where I got the recipe.

Image from The Fun of Cooking (1915)

Image from The Fun of Cooking (1915) by Caroline F. Benton

I would definitely make these croquettes again (I’d never tried making them before this), but next time I would make my two heaping tablespoonfuls of flour more heaping than I did this time around. And, while I did let the mixture cool down, next time I would refrigerate it for a bit after it cooled down to make it easier to handle.  I might also spice it up a bit with a dash of chili flakes, or use a bit more red pepper.

So there you have it. All in all—a winner for dinner, but definitely too time-consuming for today’s world of ‘grab-and-go’ lunches.

Have a good Monday!

P.S. I would say that the recipe feeds 4-6 depending on how hungry everyone is.

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Madame Jule de Ryther | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Madame Jule A. De Ryther—Early-20th-century American food writer

ArmourIt’s already November, and simply thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas is enough to expand my waistline by several inches. Where did the year go? Blink your eyes and Christmas will be here. Yes, Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat…

This past year, while perusing old newspapers, I frequently stumbled upon early-twentieth-century food columns written by the exotic- and mysterious-sounding Madame Jule De Ryther (1845-1915). Apart from conveying her opinions on all things culinary, she touched on attitudes and social mores of the day, often with blunt humor, and even covered such topics as bacteriology and the importance of clean dishes and properly washed milk bottles1.

The Concert Singer by Thomas Eakins, 1892. Depicted artist: Weda Cook (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Expired copyright)

The Concert Singer by Thomas Eakins, 1892. Depicted artist: Weda Cook (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Expired copyright)

Over time, I quickly grew to admire Madame De Ryther, a ‘Martha Stewart’ of her time, and on further research, I found even more reason to place her on a mental pedestal: before her food career began, she had been a highly regarded soprano, performing in prestigious concerts around the United States. I assume that’s where the “Madame” came from, and while her first name may have been Jule, I suspect “De Ryther” was a stage name. I never found evidence of a marriage.

In her younger years and into middle age, Madame De Ryther was enjoying a busy musical career. She sang regularly at the Church of Divine Paternity and the Anthon Memorial Church (today known as All Souls Episcopal Church) in NYC.

Henryk Wieniawski, before 1870 (Wikimedia Commons)

Henryk Wieniawski, before 1870 (Wikimedia Commons)

She had been the celebrated soprano of the Wieniawski Troupe during its 1873 concerts in California. At that time, Henryk Wieniawski, a Polish violinist and composer, was recognized as being one of the world’s greatest violinists, having been the solo violinist of the Emperor of Russia2.

On August 23, 1874, she sang the Star Spangled Banner at a concert benefiting the Women’s Training School in Long Island, a school supported by Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant was in attendance for the event3.

From The Letters of Sidney Lanier (Cambridge University Press, 1899)

From The Letters of Sidney Lanier (Cambridge University Press, 1899)

The 1899 book Letters of Sidney Lanier, which contains correspondence of the famous 19th-century American musician, poet, and author (d. 1881), includes a January 9, 1875, letter describing an upcoming concert in which Mme. De Ryther was to appear: “Our second concert comes off to night and we are to play such beautiful music as makes my heart tremble even to think of. First comes Beethoven’s Second Symphony, one written before the dreadful deafness had come upon his ears and pierced into his heart. […] Then Mme De Ryther, a lady in form and manner and stage appearance much like our dear departed G_______, is to sing with a glorious contralto voice a noble aria, Handel’s little known opera “Rinaldo.”

New York Dramatic Mirror (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

New York Dramatic Mirror (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

During its 1879-1880 run at the Fifth Avenue Theater in New York, Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera “Trial by Jury” included the talents of Mme De Ryther who took over the role of Little Buttercup, “a manifest improvement” over the previous performer, according to the New York Dramatic Mirror.

Scene in the Arctic by William Bradford, cir. 1880, De Young Museum, San Francisco (Wikimedia Commons-Public domain in US)

Scene in the Arctic by William Bradford, cir. 1880, De Young Museum, San Francisco (Wikimedia Commons-Public domain in US)

And, in 1886 she performed in a traveling lecture series presented by prominent painter, photographer, and explorer William Bradford (1823-1892) whose seven voyages to the Arctic in the 1860s, accompanied by other prominent photographers, resulted in dozens of images—“the only complete collection of views in existence of the Arctic Regions”4. These images, which provided the basis for many of Bradford’s subsequent paintings, were projected on a large screen. As the images unfolded during the lectures, Jule would sing Eskimo and old Norse songs and hymns “in the native tongue”; her “wonderfully sympathetic voice” was “heard to advantage in this weird music”5. (To view a gallery of Bradford’s paintings, click here.)

William Bradford, painter, explorer, photographer (Image from Wikimedia)

William Bradford, painter, explorer, photographer (Image from Wikimedia)

I’m not sure when Madame De Ryther’s singing career came to a close, but it was likely sometime in the 1890s. The last mention I found made of her musical talent was in The Printing World (pub. 1891, p. 298):

Here is a specimen of musical criticism in California. The San Jose Mercury, in an article on the Wienawski troupe, says of Madame De Ryther: “She is marvellous on the low notes, and she sings with a pathos calculated to lift a sensitive reporter right out of his boots.”

Her first newspaper job was as a society reporter with the New York Recorder. Later she worked for other papers, including the New York Herald and the New York Times. Her food columns started to appear in the New York Evening Mail and the New York Press in the early 1900s6.

Jule was born in Little Falls, New York. Her father Albert W. Churchill was the proprietor of the Benton House (later known as Garvan House) in Little Falls. He managed a number of hotels in Rome NY from 1858-1870: the American Hotel, Stanwix Hall, the Railroad House, and Curry’s Eating House7. Her mother was Susan E. Churchill. Jule’s early education was in Little Falls; she later moved to NYC to study vocal music under Madame Seguin8. Jule had four siblings: Fred B. Churchill; Emma Churchill Belden; Frances Churchill Waters; and Cornelia Churchill Russ. She died of pneumonia at age 69 on March 14, 1915, at the Hotel Vanderbilt in NYC9. Funeral services were held two days later at the Church of the Transfiguration in NYC, and she was buried in the Churchill family plot in Little Falls10. When I discovered that last bit of information, I created an entry for her on Find a Grave, and did my best to link the Churchill family together.

Besse,_BesseI have accumulated many of Madame De Ryther’s columns, many of which were likely read by our ancestors who lived at that time, so, in her memory, between now and Christmas, I am going to publish “Madame De Ryther Monday” posts (on Mondays, of course!), with or without commentary on my part. I may actually attempt some of her creations, and if I do, I will surely tell you about it. Perhaps, by Christmas you will have as much admiration as I do for this wonder woman of yesteryear!

Here is the first article, from October 11, 1903: “Madame De Ryther’s Receipts for Two Excellent One-Dish Dinners”

Oct 11, 1903 - Part 1

Oct 11, 1903, Part 2

Oct 11, 1903 - Part 3

Oct 11, 1903 - Part 4

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END NOTES:
1. “The Subject of Clean Dishes”, The Springfield Union, November 20, 1913
2. Reported in the Sacramento Daily Union, July 1, 1873
3. Reported in the New York Herald, August 24, 1873
4., 5. “The Bradford Recitals,” Elkhart, Indiana, Daily Review, October 19, 1886
6. Jule de Ryther Obituary, Utica Herald Dispatch, March 15, 1915
7. William Churchill obituary, Rome Citizen (NY), January 23, 1885
8. Jule de Ryther Obituary, Utica Herald Dispatch, March 15, 1915
9. Jule de Ryther New York Times Obituary, March 15, 1915
10. Jule de Ryther funeral announcement, Rome NY Daily Sentinel, March 16, 1915

Categories: Bradford Wm. artist explorer, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Holidays & Festivities, Little Falls, Madame Jule de Ryther | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Job W. Angus (1821-1909) — temporary custodian of a Lincoln cane

Abraham

Abraham Lincoln by Nicholas Shepherd, 1846, based on the recollections of Gibson W. Harris, a law student in Lincoln’s office from 1845 to 1847. Library of Congress image in public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Prior to becoming President, Abraham Lincoln was given an orangewood cane at a July 4, 1859, Atlanta, Illinois, rally organized to celebrate the nation’s birthday. The cane was a gift of an old friend of his named Sylvester Strong. Lincoln was asked to speak at the event, but declined, recommending someone else. This orangewood cane with ‘knots inlaid with silver’ and ‘inscribed with Lincoln’s name’ later went with Lincoln to Washington, DC1.

Of course, Lincoln likely owned a number of canes through the years, as canes/walking sticks were very popular back then. Some were probably given as gifts as this one was. Eventually, this particular cane went out of the Lincoln family’s possession—I found evidence that my second-great-grandfather’s brother Job W. Angus (b. 1821) was the cane’s caretaker between 1895 and 1906. (Job died in 1909.) Ultimately, the cane found its way into the Smithsonian Institution’s collections. Whether or not it is still there, I do not know. I attempted to find out, but came up empty-handed.

As you may recall from previous posts, Job was a well-known and highly regarded building contractor and superintendent, based in Washington for much of his life. One of the construction projects he oversaw was of the iconic Smithsonian building known as ‘The Castle’. Job was a friend of Lincoln’s, providing the venue for the first inaugural ball and erecting the catafalque on which Lincoln’s body lied in state. While Lincoln himself did not give Job the cane, I am sure it was a possession that Job treasured immensely for the short period it was in his hands.

I learned of the cane’s existence on the Internet Archives site, after coming across a booklet entitled Curios and Relics. Clothing Accessories. Canes Owned by Lincoln. It contains excerpts from newspapers and other sources that are held by the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection. The booklet contains a letter dated June 4, 19742, that was sent by Herbert R. Collins, Associate Curator, Division of Political History, Smithsonian Institution, to Mr. Mark E. Noely, Jr., Editor of the Lincoln Lore newsletter, Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The cane, located within the Smithsonian’s collections, was allocated Accession no. 203979, and was donated by Samuel J. Prescott. The description of the cane was given as follows:

The cane is made of orangewood and painted black but has since been sanded down and refinished in natural. The wood is studded with U4. knots, each having a top of silver upon which one letter of Lincoln’s name is engraved, so that the whole name is engraved, so that the whole series of letters from the handle to ferrule spell “Abraham Lincoln.”

There is a slight indenture on the top of the cane before the bend of the handle which indicates that a medal band was once there. Although this has been sanded extensively it is still visible. Two tacks and a rough unsanded end at the very end of the handle indicates a medal plate has been lost from that location.

This cane fits the description of one given to President Lincoln on July 4, 1859, when the city of Atlanta, Illinois asked him to speak for their celebration at Turner’s Grove for the Nation’s birth. Lincoln did agree to come but refused to speak. On the occasion Mr. Sylvester Strong, an old time friend of the President presented him with an orangewood cane with knots topped in silver spelling “Abraham Lincoln.”

First of all, the cane before it was sanded down and refinished would have had the appearance of buckthorn. Although, the stories of the owners of this cane since Lincoln are conflicting, it seems most unlikely that Abraham Lincoln would have owned two canes so unusual and yet so similar.

By the omission of the original plates, it seems as though someone might have gone to great effort to destroy the original documentation of the cane.

An account by Mr. Prescott states the cane was sold in Washington, D.C. in 1906 to Samuel J. Prescott for $50.00. Another account states it was sold at auction to H.H. Wibert for $145.00. The latter newspaper article seems to bear out the facts best as it states President Lincoln gave the cane to Frank B. Carpenter, the artist who spent six months in the White House studying Lincoln’s likeness. Carpenter died in the early 1890’s and the cane was auctioned by Fannie Mathews on at that time. Miss Mathewson held the cane as security for a loan she had made to Carpenter.- In view of these facts the newspaper article must date prior to 1895. The fact which now needs documenting is the transfer of the cane from Wibert to Job W. Angus sometime between 1895 and 1906. This would establish that the cane in the Smithsonian Institution is indeed the cane presented to Lincoln by his friend Sylvester Strong on his visit to Atlanta, Illinois on July 4, 1859.

Page 42 of the publication contains a black and white photographic image of the cane. A link is provided below (see endnote 2), if you would like to view it.

I found a further description of the cane in a book3 published in 1911 about the history of Logan County, Illinois, the county in which Sylvester Strong presented the cane to Lincoln:

LoganCo

In the overall scheme of things, I realize that Job’s association with the cane is an infinitesimally small footnote in history, but I thought it worth sharing this information with the Angus descendants who are among this blog’s readers. When it comes to researching one’s family history, even the smallest of details can be interesting, I think!

Have a great weekend!

***********************************************************************************

1. Mr. Lincoln’s Country, from Illinois by Lincoln Financial Foundation, 1965, p. 111.

2. Curios and Relics. Clothing Accessories. Canes Owned by Lincoln. Excerpts from newspapers and other sources. The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, 1865, p. 39-42.

3. History of Logan County, Illinois: A Record of Its Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Volume 1, by Lawrence Beaumont Stringer (Logan County, IL: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911), p. 227.

Categories: Angus, Lincoln, President Abraham, Washington DC | 2 Comments

Visiting Henry Flagler’s “paradise” on Florida’s east coast

The Everglades along I-75, with a typical south Florida summer sky above

The Everglades along I-75, with a typical south Florida summer sky above–clouds gathering for an eventual thunderstorm

Sorry to have disappeared for a month! We just returned from our own road trip around the vast state of Oregon, taking in places like Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood, Hell’s Canyon, Wallowa Lake, the John Day Fossil Beds, & Crater Lake and Upper Klamath Lake. From Upper Klamath Lake, we veered down into northwest California to take in the majestic beauty of the giant coastal redwoods there, before traveling up about two-thirds of the Oregon Coast. Once the dust settles, I will put together a post with my top 10-15 images from our trip.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a little post I started, before leaving on vacation, about a jaunt we took to the Florida’s east coast not long ago…to Lake Worth, a fun, friendly, and eclectic little town wedged between Palm Beach to the north and Boynton Beach to the south. Lovely beach, fun downtown shops and restaurants, fabulous little Mexican food stand called Lupita’s, and plenty of nature and water activities. We stayed at a B&B called the Mango Inn, which was very peaceful and pleasant and within easy walking distance to the downtown and the lagoon. The signature breakfast dish “mango-stuffed French toast” proved to be disappointingly soggy, but perhaps the chef just had a bad day.

If you feel like taking a hike (we didn’t, given what time of year it is), you could easily walk to the ocean beach, which is clean and well cared for, by heading over the big bridge that crosses the 22-mile-long Lake Worth lagoon and deposits you close to the public beach parking lot. The old, historic casino building there has been renovated and offers a cool and pleasant spot to shop for souvenirs, grab an ice cream, or sit down for a meal.

casino

The Casino today as viewed from the pier

The Casino on the beach

The Casino on the beach, 1930s?

If you like to fish, the Lake Worth pier supposedly gets you closer to the Gulf Stream than anywhere else on Florida’s east coast; we saw some very big fish swimming below. The Snook Islands restoration project is underway in the Lake Worth lagoon which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. The fishing is supposed to be very good here as well. We gave it a try one evening and walked away empty-handed, but have heard good things about the location. You can launch a kayak from this spot too. Studies of the lagoon and its inlets over the last twenty years have registered a whopping 261 species of fish!

Day's fishing, Palm Beach, Fla. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Day’s fishing, Palm Beach, Fla. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

But the Lake Worth area of yesteryear was considerably different. While the fishing was probably just as good, if not far better, the population was vastly smaller. In 1920—only about 1,100. Today some 35,000 live in this small town which is surrounded on three sides by a sprawling metropolitan area that includes over five million people.

For a glimpse of how this area of Florida looked 100 or so years ago, you can view the Library of Congress images to the left and below. Most were taken in Palm Beach which is adjacent to where the town of Lake Worth lies today. The 1890 map below shows Lake Worth, the town, positioned north of Palm Beach, but today’s town is definitely to the south. But back in 1890, the entire area around the twenty-two-mile-long Lake Worth lagoon, was referred to as Lake Worth, so I suppose it did not really matter where the mapmaker plopped their little Lake Worth circle on the map.The current town was incorporated in 1912, twenty-two years after this map was created.

Township map of Peninsular Florida issued by the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida. 1890 ... Copyright, 1890, for the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida, By D.H. Elliott, General Land Agent. Matthews, Northrup & Co., Buffalo, New York.---segment showing Lake Worth and Palm Beach on the East Coast (Credit: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - www.davidrumsey.com)

Township map of Peninsular Florida issued by the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida. 1890 … Copyright, 1890, for the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida, By D.H. Elliott, General Land Agent. Matthews, Northrup & Co., Buffalo, New York.—segment showing Lake Worth and Palm Beach on the East Coast                                                    (Credit: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection – http://www.davidrumsey.com)

In 1892, millionaire oil tycoon/industrialist Henry Flagler discovered this corner of Florida, declaring it “paradise” and deciding that it would make an ideal tourist destination for super-wealthy northerners (such as the Wm. A. Rockefeller family—see clipping below). And, with that, the ‘Flagler Era,’ which was well underway in places further north in Florida, stretched south to encompass Lake Worth. In 1894, his east coast railway was extended south to reach West Palm Beach, ensuring a steady flow of tourists. That coincided with the grand opening of his Royal Poinciana Hotel, a luxurious winter haven on the barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the lagoon, where the beaches are. You can see pictures of the Royal Poinciana Hotel below; it was built to face the lagoon. A train track constructed over Lake Worth lagoon delivered guests straight to the hotel. Gargantuan in size (allegedly becoming the largest wooden structure in the world), it was able to accommodate up to two thousand guests; bellhops made deliveries on bicycles. A daily three-mile walk could be achieved just by traversing the hotel’s labyrinth of corridors. Two years later, Flagler opened the nearby Palm Beach Inn (today known as the Breakers, so named because of its position on the beach where the sound of waves breaking can be heard). It has undergone numerous renovations over the years and is still welcoming guests today.

1926-movie-poster

Poster for 1926 film starring Bebe Daniels: The Palm Beach Girl

Like many massive and grand Victorian hotels, the Royal Poinciana Hotel did not survive. It fell into decline in the 1920s and a 1928 hurricane and the 1929 stock market finished it off. The palatial hotel, an icon of the Gilded Age, was demolished in 1935.

I’d love to travel back in time to catch a glimpse of life in and around the hotel during its heyday, and of early Palm Beach / Lake Worth in general. Unfortunately, it appears that hardly any films exist from that period. Two directed by accomplished actress Pearl F. White (1889-1938), one in 1916 (Island of Happiness) and one in 1917 (Isle of Tomorrow), have apparently been lost—for an interesting article about them, click here. Also lost to the sands of time was the 1926 film starring actress Bebe Daniels, The Palm Beach Girl. It and some other early films (all lost, apart from one which is in a private collection) were mentioned in the Palm Beach Past blog. For that article, please click here. Perhaps Hollywood will some day produce a film that captures that era, in all its grandeur. Until then, I guess we just have to view the existing images and use our imaginations!

CLICK ON THE FIRST IMAGE, AND THEN USE THE ARROWS; for an interesting article containing more images and information about early Palm Beach, click here.

TO VIEW AS A SLIDE SHOW, CLICK ON THE FIRST IMAGE, AND THEN USE THE ARROWS.

Categories: Advertisements, Florida, Nature, Rockefeller Wm A. | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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