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!
Holidays & Festivities
A Florida Friday: Enjoying our painted buntings’ return and treasuring Mom’s childhood Christmas decorations
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
Easter 1915. Ever wonder what things may have ‘looked like’ back then? Thanks to the Library of Congress and the Fulton History website, I’ve been able to gather a few items to share with you today that give a glimpse into that moment in the past.
I love old photos—I enjoy seeing the outfits and faces, and, in this case, checking out all the ladies bonnets floating about the images of Easter parades and throngs of churchgoers. This was the big opportunity for those of means to show off their new spring wardrobes and a chance for bystanders to witness quite a spectacle. Irving Berlin’s 1948 musical Easter Parade, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and set in the Manhattan of 1912-1913, brings to life the fabulous parades of that era.
And what would Easter be without bunnies? Check out the article about the ‘bunny trade’ back then—it was quite a brisk business. American bunnies. Bunnies from Australia. Bunnies from Belgium. The Australian bunnies ruled supreme. And apparently some folks took their bunny purchases very seriously, accommodating their tiny, new little friends in elaborate apartment-like ‘digs’! Thankfully I think (and I hope) a bit more common sense prevails nowadays when it comes to acquiring—or should I say ‘not acquiring’ bunnies at Easter time. Back then, it appears to have been de rigueur.
And, as always, the advertisements are very revealing. Ladies, don’t forget to purchase the ‘hair switches’ you’ll need to enhance the look of your Easter bonnet! And, gents, it may be time to invest in a new $15 balmacaan*!
Anyway, I hope you find something of interest here~ Best wishes to you all for a very Happy Easter!
*Per Merriam-Webster’s: “a loose single-breasted overcoat usually having raglan sleeves and a short turnover collar”
Easter Bunnies in Great Demand (The Troy Times, 1 April 1915)
Rabbits for Easter souvenirs are unusually large and varied this season. The prices are comparatively high. A little bunny, which would be dear at a quarter of a dollar at any other time, is quickly snapped up for a dollar, sometimes more, just before Easter. As is customary at this time of year, the supply is far behind the demand.
The little fellows are offered for sale in expensive nests in great variety. These vary from simply little baskets just large enough for a single occupant to miniature kennels or houses with every modern convenience. These little homes often contain several apartments, carpeted with cotton or even raw silk. It often costs many dollars, to provide an Easter rabbit with one of these luxurious homes.
The pure white rabbits, as is customary, bring the best prices. They are generally preferred above any other color. The supply of white rabbits is very limited. They are imported especially for the Easter trade from Australia. This particular market is very difficult to supply, since it is necessary for the little bunnies to be not more than a few days old on Easter Sunday They quickly outgrow the size most in demand by the Easter trade.
The young of the native-born American rabbits are a grayish white in color. The color makes all the difference in the world when it comes to selling them at Easter.
The growth of late of the Belgian hare industry has made a large supply of their young available at Easter, but the color is not satisfactory. They are reddish brown in color and slightly larger than the older breeds. It is hoped by the trade that the young of the Belgian hare will eventually come into favor, thus solving the difficult problem of the Easter rabbit supply.
Illustrated is an Easter bunny that came to live with two little boys. These little boys have a game which they invariably play, on Easter morning. “Hunting the eggs” it is called. Their mamma buys candy eggs in beautiful colors, and on the night before Easter when the kiddies are slumbering she makes little nests of hay, using as a foundation old hats; then she fills these nests with the colored candy Easter eggs and secretes them in the most unheard of places. With shouts of glee these youngsters pass the early morning hours of Easter day searching for these nests.
Easter will soon be upon us. Seems an appropriate moment to post some vintage Easter cards. These belonged to my mother’s side of the family. Two are from her Aunt Jessie Trewin—the top card and the one with the little girl holding the yellow bonnet full of chicks. The rest are unlabelled or from ‘aunties’, i.e., friends of my grandmother’s. I think I like the top one and the one used in the blog’s header the best. Very sweet!