Holidays & Festivities
Another treasure has surfaced, this one found within a stack of extremely old newspapers and magazines. And I wanted to share it in the event it helps others locate an image of an ancestor (or two).
My grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff, graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, on June 21, 1898, and the wonderful find is a fabulous and fascinating group photo of her with all of her classmates.
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see that I have labelled it with the names listed by my grandmother on the reverse side. I have marked her with a little red heart. A second red heart appears on her cousin Frank W. Russum whose mother was Cecelia Angus, a younger sister of Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, Fannie’s mother.
Every little detail makes this photo special—the expressions on the faces, the clothing, the architecture, the lettering on the sign followed by a period, the big wooden chair in the open window, the little flowers (dandelions?) on the lawn, the flower pot… A true slice of life from June 1898.
When it came to trying to match faces to the list of names, I was initially somewhat confused with regards to the order in which she listed the young men (starting from the left, but from the top or the bottom? Same question for the right side). I found a way to match them to her list by first finding photos of a handful of them in Rutgers College yearbooks (searching in the yearbooks for students from Elizabeth) and then matching the faces. That worked out well, so I feel quite confident that the young men are labelled correctly. (One young man – second from the left in the top row – is not identified—my grandmother left a space where his name should be; read further for my theory on him.)
By the way, those I found who went on to Rutgers were the following:
- Rutgers ‘02: Frank Winner Russum; Charles Ernest Pett; and Charles Warren Stevens Jr.
- Rutgers ’05: Emil Eisenhardt Fischer and Frederick Alton Price, Jr.
The yearbooks are available for free online via Rutgers (click the above links) and contain a wealth of information and images, Definitely worth a leaf through if you have time and are interested in getting a glimpse of college student life circa 1900, at what was once an all-male school.
With the ladies, identification was more cumbersome and not entirely successful. First, my grandmother refers to ‘rows’ with the 1st row being the top step and the 6th row being the bottom step. For me, it was difficult, if not impossible, to decide where rows 3, 4, and 5 start and end given the way the young women in those areas are not seated in neat rows. Second, you’ll notice that four are not labelled at all, and that is because my grandmother left empty space at the start of ‘row 5’ as if she planned to go back and fill in the names later. So, I have done my best guessing. (Names that are my best guess are in regular font; those I feel confident about are in bold.)
Two names of these ladies (Edith Denman and Ethel M. Hall) don’t appear in the commencement brochure (shown below), but they DO appear in the Elizabeth Daily Journal article about the 1897 graduation (that article is also below). Why that is, I have no idea.
There are names in the commencement brochure that likely match five of the people in the photo:
- Wilbur Van Sant Coleman* / Ora Kenneth Mizter / William John Millin / Richard Pollatschek / Ida Hand / Blanche Irene Hess* / Edna Winifred Lawson / Elizabeth Landrine Reeve / Elizabeth Winifred Roolvink* / Mary Elise ‘Sadie’ Fozard*
Pollatschek would have been a very unusual name for my grandmother to remember and write/pronounce, so perhaps the young man second from the left up top is Richard Pollaschek, who, I discovered, was born in Bohemia and emigrated from Austria to the US with his family.
To throw an additional spanner into the works, the above individuals marked with an asterisk also appear in the newspaper article for the previous year’s graduation… (as do names of some of the others in the photo)… Why that is, I don’t know. What makes things stranger is that Blanche Hess is listed as a participant in the ceremony in the 1898 brochure.
It occurred to me that the group photo could have been taken in 1897 when my grandmother was a junior, but that would not explain the presence in the 1897 newspaper article of so many names of people who aren’t in the group photo. If anyone out there has a theory as to the overlap, let me know.
Anyway, what matters most is that the photo exists, and we are still far ahead of the game of identification thanks to my grandmother who wrote down the names she did, and to my parents who kept the photo since her death in the mid-1960s.
Grandmother’s graduation ceremony was held on Tuesday, 21 June 1898, at 7:45 p.m. at the Star Theatre (which later became Proctor’s Theatre and had numerous other names over the years; it was eventually demolished and replaced by the Ritz Theatre) located at 1146 East Jersey Street, less than a mile from the school. At the time she lived on the family farm on Conant Street, Hillside; this must have been a big night out for her parents and five sisters, and of course, for the many other families whose children had grown up together in, what was then, a quickly evolving city.
You can read the article about the 1897 graduation (credit: Digi-find) to get a sense of what the 1898 ceremony may have been like. Apart from the article, below you will also find the 1898 commencement brochure and an excerpt about Battin High School from the 1889 book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated which contains hundreds of interesting photos and descriptions of Elizabeth during that period.
You may have noticed the two young black students in my grandmother’s group photo—James Morris and Mattie Thomas. James looks exceptionally scholarly in his spectacles and student attire. He is listed in the 1897 article as one of the students who was graduating. The article further stated: “As the graduates went forward to receive their diplomas each received applause. There were two young colored people in the class, and they were especially favored with the expression of the delight of the audience.” That was very gratifying to read and I have no doubt that Mattie and James were just as warmly received in 1898.
A-ha! Lightbulb moment! I noticed that James appeared in the 1897 list as a student in the Commercial Course and in the 1898 brochure as a student in the Regular Course. If I am not mistaken, the same appears to be true of the other students who appear to have graduated twice. So, perhaps, it was common for students to take an extra year to complete the regular course after graduating from the commercial course. That seems like a possible explanation.
I hope you find this post interesting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment if you have anything to correct, add, or share. Thank you!
Update: As luck would have it, I just came across the Elizabeth Daily Journal article for the 1898 graduation. It is included below at the very end. Unfortunately it is not entirely legible, but I can make out my grandmother’s name, and many of the others.
A Florida Friday: Enjoying our painted buntings’ return and treasuring Mom’s childhood Christmas decorations
Well, I have been laid low with a nasty cold this past week and haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. So this will be a quick post. First, I’m happy to say that “our” painted buntings have returned from the Carolinas to winter with us. They are elusive little critters, but I catch them pretty regularly coming to the feeder. They always wait for all the other birds to disappear before making their dash to the seeds. Sometimes they try to compete with the cardinals but the latter usually swat them away. Below is a little video of one of the males. And, second, I’m posting some photos of Mom’s surviving childhood Christmas decorations. They must be from the 1920s and 1930s. Her father used to build a little village out of them every Christmas that went up a ‘mountainside’ to the family Christmas tree in the house’s big bay window. Too bad no photos exist of that scene, but at lease some of the decorations have survived. Mom is enjoying seeing them on display again all these years later. Have a great weekend, all!
My great-grandfather William Trewin’s first marriage (1868) ended tragically on December 7, 1879, when his wife Edith H. Fry died in childbirth. He remarried and his two sons Bert and Clarence became the beloved sons of my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent. I’d never been able to find an exact date of William and Elizabeth’s marriage until earlier this summer when I found an envelope containing the original marriage certificate. The William Sargent listed as a witness was probably Elizabeth’s father rather than her brother who shared the same name. It appears that her brother Samuel, a Methodist minister, performed the ceremony. These new details, as few as they are, combined with images we have of these four, help paint a faint picture of the happenings of July 31, 1882, in the lives of these ancestors and those closest to them.
This is to Certify
That William Trewin of Elizabeth, NJ
and Elizabeth Sargent of Jersey City, NJ
were by me joined together in
in Jersey City according to the ordinance of God and the Laws
of the State of New Jersey on the 31st day of July 1882
Samuel Sargent, Minister of the Gospel
Lavinia Pratt Angus, youngest daughter of James Winans Angus and Wealthy Ann Jaques, was married briefly to John Philip Marthaler, who went by his middle name. They wed in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on 24 May 1879. Lavinia (“Vean”) was twenty years old and Philip was about 28 at the time. I have come upon a labelled photograph of Philip who died sometime before 1885. It was taken at Bogardus’ Souvenir Card, at 872 Broadway in New York City. He was a very handsome fellow with very kind eyes, and I think this solves the mystery for me of who the fellow was in one of my past posts in which I thought perhaps the man shown was a Jaques family member. No, it’s Philip—sans beard! Now I just wish I could find a photo of Aunt Vean…
Well, Christmas is fast approaching—there are cookies that need baking and carols that need singing, so…
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support this past year and to wish you and your families a very peaceful Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.
May 2016 bring new discoveries that excite, entertain, and educate us about the lives of our ancestors whose traditions & values have been passed down to us and remain woven into the fabric of who we are. I’ll leave you with a couple of quick, easy recipes for any last-minute baking. See you in 2016!
Grandma’s Ice Cream Patties
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg well-beaten
1/8 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup walnuts/candied cherries (cut into quarters/eighths)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and salt together and add to the creamed mixture, blending well. Measure small spoonfuls of batter (1/2 tsp) onto well-greased baking sheets. (If you use parchment paper, they don’t spread out as much and the edges are more widely browned). Place a piece of walnut/candied cherry in middle of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (as early as 6 minutes, especially if you are at a low altitude). Yield: 4-5 dozen patties.
• One cup of cranberries
• One cup of walnuts
• One-half cup of sugar
Put mixture in a greased pie pan.
Then, mix together:
• One cup flour
• One cup sugar
• One melted stick of butter
• And two eggs
Dump on top of cranberry mix and spread out.
Bake at 325 degrees F. (163 degrees C.) for 50 minutes. Serve with large dollop of whipped cream.
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.)
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!
It’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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
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.
I 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”
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
I don’t know what the fishing is like today in Pike County, PA, but here is an 1877 article from The Country, Vol I & II describing the experiences of one visitor to that area from April 1-4, 1877. During those 4 days, this visitor caught 400 fish weighing 45 pounds and brought back to New York 234 fish that “scaled 33 pounds honest weight.” Roughly 88 of them were between 8 – 13.5 inches in length; the other 150 or so, he said, were small trout, but not “fingerlings” — “fat as butter and excellent eating.” Obviously these were the days before any limits were introduced! Today he’d be able to walk away with just 5 trout per day, and each would have to be at least 7 inches long.
I love the great outdoors and that includes “escaping mentally” to the great outdoors of yesteryear to imagine what things must have been like in a certain location at a certain point in time. If you’re like me, and you enjoy fishing, perhaps you will find this article of interest too. Present-day fishermen and women in Pike Co., feel free to comment about your experiences fishing in that part of PA.
Happy 4th of July, All!
Credit: Google Books