THANKSGIVING. Nearly 400 years ago. Wow! Imagine how the meal was prepared. Allow me to share a fascinating ‘find’ with you.
Nearly midway from the first Thanksgiving until now. I found the pages of what appeared a book in the making. But somehow, they were never compiled, or published. My grandfather was a war historian for the White House and an avid reader about the Civil War. I believe these letters were given to him to transcribe and put into a manuscript. In the shoebox I found the original writings, written in quill and ink, on onion skin paper in near perfect condition and beautifully written but not legible enough to account for word by word. The script back then was so fancy and words often spelled differently than we do today and the writer quoted entire writings from the 1600’s, in dialect we don’t use anymore. It was clear why my grandfather was unable to do it justice and finish the transcribing, though his attempts were also in the box, on paper that had begun to fall apart.
I felt duty bound to transcribe them from their original state, compile the story as it was intended, and then published it. Fortunately I had Google! I needed only to type in a few words I could understand from the poetry quoted from the 1600’s and the entire writing appeared! Too bad my grandfather was not around today. Technology in the 1930’s was limited to a typewriter… his typewriter of which I still have!
Once I finished the transcribing, which took me an entire winter, working a little everyday, I was mesmerized by the stories Adelaide told about life from a little girl and woman’s perspective. She gave accounts for daily chores and activities. She gave recipes, not quite as we see them written today but she spoke of what went into the recipe and how it was made. Nearly everything except for sugar was produced by her family or nearby farmers.
I would encourage you to pick up a copy, share with young families, or enjoy the read yourself.
I will explain the unattractive cover I chose for the book: It was not my writings, not my work, not mine and so I felt no liberties to decide a cover for her book, and so I chose a notebook paper looking cover, which is how I found the papers in the first place, written on scrap paper and held together with string.
Now on Amazon: The 19th Century Memoirs of Adelaide Hall. 1839. Amazon
This fascinating book of life in Goshen Connecticut, where it is bitter cold in the winter, was written by a women in the early 1800’s, for the account of life in her home, and her small town, and gives us a window of life far different than we know it now.
Apple Paring Bees boasts of the way in which apples were prepared, dried, and saved for the cold winter months to make pies, and applesauce. In this account for an apple day in the kitchen, she speaks of sugar, something I also found fascinating.
Please remember there was no fridge. No stove, though she speaks of the first one they eventually obtained. No supermarket with apples in December, as well as many other stories about a lifestyle we would find near impossible to live now.
Here is a short synopsis from her kitchen on Apple Paring Bees Day:
“A barrel of fine dried applesauce, more delectable than any other kind of fruit. It was sweetened with maple molasses, and a few oranges thrown in, for those days, white sugar was so expensive that it was not commonly used.” There were many in the kitchen, both girls and young men, and there was singing, and flirtations, one with the other.
Adelaide Hall was one of several children in a family in which only the boys, if fortunate enough, received an advanced education. The brother of Adelaide was Asaph Hall, who later became known as the astronomer who discovered the moons of Mars. Oddly enough, he died in 1907 right here in my hometown of Annapolis MD, as he taught at the Naval Academy in his later years.
My grandfather was a war historian for the army in Washington DC. I found the pages of this ‘would be book’ in a shoe box in his attic long after he died. An attempt to transcribe Adelaide’s story was clearly made, but difficult to make out the writing for poems and songs from the 1600’s, of which she quoted often and in great detail. Fortunately, with the help of the internet, I was able to compile the entire book, since merely typing in a few legible words from a poem brought up the entire writing.
I hope you will find this story as fascinating an account for a life we no longer have to live, as I did, and take a moment to experience gratitude for the conveniences of our life now!