Monday, February 14, 2011

New England Women

But back to Aunt Emily. New England women, left behind, had few men to pick from except the Irish, Portuguese, Italian, and French Canadians, all of them religiously, economically, and socially unacceptable. Some women turned mannish and assumed roles that their men had once preformed. Some espoused causes, affiliated themselves with Abolition or Susan B. Anthony or the antivivesectionists, marched in parades, got themselves arrested, wrote strong letters to the press, addressed meetings, and generally became characters without ever forgetting they were ladies. Even those who found mates among the reduced numbers of New England men found themselves doing things unfamiliar to their grandmothers. These matured as matriarch, the others as old maids. The clear lesson of New England's history is that when there are not enough suitable men around to run the world, women are perfectly capable of doing so.
--Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

William De Normandie

William De Normandie
b:14 Oct 1024; Falaise, Calvados, Basse-Norma
d: 09 Sep 1087;
Hermentrube, near Rouen, Franc

son: King of England Henry I
b: 1070; Selby, Yorkshire, England
d: 01 Dec 1135; St Denis, Cher, Centre, France

granddaughter 1. Empress Matilda Of England
b: 05 Aug 1102; London, Middlesex, , England
d: 10 Sep 1167' Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-N

grandson 2. King of England Henry II
b: 25 Mar 1133; Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loir
d: 06 Jul 1189; Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, Fr

3. King of England John
b: 24 Dec 1167; Kings Manor House, Oxford, Engl
d: 12 Oct 1216

4. King of England Henry III
b: 01 Oct 1207, Winchester
d: 16 Nov 1272, Westminster

5. Earl of Lancaster Etc Edmund Planb: 16 Jan 1245
d: 05 Jun 1295

6. Earl of Lancaster Henry Plantagen
b: 1281, London, England
d: 22 Sep 1345, Bayonne, Normandy

7. Lady Eleanor Plantagenet
b: Bet. 1302–1328
d: 11 Jan 1372

8. Alice Fitzalan De Arundel
b: Bet. 1327–1355d: Bet. 1362–1437

9. Eleanor De Holland
b: 1373; Upholland, Lancashire, England
d: Bet. 1409–1468

10. Alice De Montacute
b: Bet. 1345–1427
d: Bet. 1376–1504

11. Alice De Neville
b: Abt. 1430; Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
d: Bet. 1408–1515

12. Elizabeth Fitz Hugh, Baroness Vau
b: 1451; Ravensworth, Yorkshire, Englandd: 28 Feb 1513; Harrowden, Northamptonshire, Englad

13. William Parr
b: 1480, Kendal Castle, Westmoreland
d: 10 Sep 1546, Horton, Northamptonshire, England

14. Elizabeth Parr
b: 1499, Kendal, Westmorland, England
d: 05 May 1531, Thenford, Northamptonshire, England

15. Fulke Woodhull
b: 1530, Thenford Manor, Northamptonshire
d: 25 Nov 1613, Thenford Manor, Northamptonshire

16. Lawrence Woodhull
b: Bet. 1569–1598, Thenford Manor, England
d: Bet. 1623–1683

17. Richard Woodhull
b: 13 Sep 1620, Theuford, Northampton, England
d: 17 Oct 1691, Setauket, Town of Brookhaven, L

18. Jemima Woodhull
b: Abt. 1646, Southampton, Suffolk, New York
d: Unknown, Suffolk, Long Island, New York

19. Daniel Halsey
b: 31 Aug 1669, Southampton, Suffolk, New York
d: 28 Feb 1734, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

20. Henry Halsey
b: 28 Feb 1700, Wickapogue NY
d: 1740

21. Jesse Halsey
b: 18 May 1739, Southampton, Suffolk, New York,
d: 1818, 21st great grandson

22. b: Charles Fithian Halsey
d: 25 Oct 1814, Southampton, Suffolk, New York
11 Feb 1771, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

23. Henry Halsey
b: 19 Aug 1803, Southampton, Suffolk, New York
d: 11 Apr 1880, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

24. Charles Henry Halsey
b: 10 Oct 1830, New York, New York
d: 09 Aug 1906, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

25. Jesse Halsey
b: 03 May 1882, Southampton, Suffolk, New York
d: 12 Jan 1954, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

26. Charles Henry Halsey
b: 16 Apr 1911, Newfoundland and Labrador, CA
d: 07 Aug 1993, Southampton, Suffolk, New York

[Ed note: record courteous genealogist Con Crowley.]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Impressions: Letters of Caspar Henry Burton, Jr.

 Saturday, December 11, 1912.

St. Anthony, Nfld.
I HAVE just time to write you a few lines. Never have I met more fascinating people. Just how the general tone of this place could be improved I do not know. Dr. Grenfell(3) is even more charming than I had pictured him. I have put in a very busy day. Owing to a great lack of doctors and nurses I am posing, Dr. Armstrong's orders, as Doctor Burton. I have worked all day in the operating-room and etherized at two of the operations.
The hospital is crowded and Dr. Grenfell looks all in, but is the most buoyant man I have ever seen.
You can walk across the harbor on the ice and dog teams are everywhere.
My quarters are palatial and Dr. Armstrong has fixed it up so that I am to have my meals with him instead of with the mob.
Do not think that I am trying to fool people here. Dr. Armstrong quizzed me from A to Z and then with a wink dubbed me his assistant.
There is a boat due in a few days. So I will write again.
Sunday, December 10, 1912.
I AM going to try to keep a sort of diary; this you may like to read, and I think I may find it amusing in years to come. . .
On Sunday afternoon we went to the hospital and had a service for all the patients. Dr. Grenfell gave a little talk which I consider the most perfect Christian talk it has ever been my good fortune to listen to. In the evening we went to the Methodist Church where Dr. Grenfell conducted the service, as the pastor was away. He did this equally well.
Dr. Grenfell is very different from all descriptions of him. He is primarily an overgrown boy. He is very enthusiastic one minute and depressed the next, and takes no pains to conceal either condition of mind.
Now I am not a hero worshipper, in the Carlyle sense, but this man has one quality raised to the nth power. He literally sheds pleasure. Whoever he meets leaves him feeling more optimistic than before. I believe that Dr. Grenfell loves his neighbor in a simple boyish way more than anybody I have ever seen. This is the secret of his great power.
LATE yesterday night a man died of T.B., which is the curse of this country. Dr. Grenfell is such a Believer that he looks on the matter of "A man's body dying" in about the same way that Fr. Field(4) does. We did a P.M. and then went off rabbit shooting for the day --- Dr. Grenfell, Grant,(5) three men who live in St. Anthony and I.
Komatiking, or dog-sledging, has become my passion. It gives you the feeling of being in danger while you are perfectly safe. I have not an idea of how fast we went, but I don't think I ever went so fast in a runabout or rig of any sort. And the steering arrangements are crude, to put it mildly. We tramped on snowshoes all day after we left the dogs. This was also excellent sport. And Dr. Grenfell! He was as happy as a school-boy getting an unexpected holiday on account of the sudden death of the principal's wife. My outfit kept me perfectly warm and comfortable. Anything woolen is useless. Canvas and skins make you perfectly comfortable.
Tuesday, 12th.
I HAVE been on the jump in the hospital all day. Everything has gone badly. Every patient seems determined to have fever. Dr. G. "lit into a man" who was moaning. The man stopped. I went across the harbor with Dr. A. We found a girl in hysterics. She was artificially making her mouth foam. Dr. A. said to her, when we were alone, "Sit up, you can't fool me." She did. She then said she "warn't bein' treated right" and called Mrs. Tilley, her boss, names. Then Mrs. Tilley called her names, then Dr. A. told them both to shut up. Mr. T. walked along with us in silence, then he said, "Well, Doctors, they'se both women and they don't somehow like each other. They'se genrilly Hell to pay when that's the case, ain't there now, Doctor?"
IN hospital all day. Two operations O.K. I spent the evening with Dr. Grenfell at his house doing some blood counts, etc. He was using some of my blood for a trial. He made a mistake in arithmetic and got a terribly high count. He then looked in a book and turned to me and said, "I am sorry to break the news to you, but the book says 'such a condition is found only in pregnancy." Mrs. Grenfell said, "Wilf!" and the pretty, English governess blushed.
Thursday, 27th.
DR. G. has got the scientific bee in his bonnet for the time being. He and I have spent the entire day doing perfectly useless things in the laboratory while Dr. Armstrong has been able to get the hospital straightened out. Dr. Grenfell has made me sick laughing. When we weren't able to get a certain stain right, he counted out "eenye, meeny, miney, mo" down a line of bottles and tried the one he came to. The slide was ruined.
Dr. Armstrong and I have made a list of provisions which we are sending to St. John's for. It will chew up most of my money, I fancy. He is of a very donative nature and keeps producing gifts from his dozen trunks for the nurses.
IN hospital all day. Dr. G. is growing tired of "science." He forced himself to it this morning, but has just gone off with a dog team to have a "mug up" (tea) with some crony of his across the bay.
I am eating like a horse and enjoying it, why I don't know, as the food is well below par.
WE took out an eye. We had some trouble getting this man etherized this time, although he went under easily a week ago. After we had given him a whole can he murmured, "It don't seem to work, Doctor, although it tastes just as good."
I had dinner at the Grenfells'. We (the editorial we) will have to concede more and more to Mrs. Grenfell.(6) She has rare tact and sense. She never talks about the hospital or work and appears to take no interest. She does a lot of good without trying to get the credit of doing any. This species of human is a "rara avis."
Miss ------ is very pretty, every inch a lady, and well educated. I kept thinking, 'Here is all the stage set for a real romance. The lady knows nothing of your past. With a little effort, old boy, you might appear a pretty fine sort of chap. You might even, after things had gone a certain distance, tell of what a wild devil you had been, and let her think she had reformed you.' . . . But she is both sweet and shy. Either of those traits alone would hopelessly cramp my style and the combination bores me to tears. Why didn't she stay in England and be the poor Vicar's daughter? 

. . . 

DR. G. has a fit on for doing heart work. We have been making blood pressure curves, etc., of hearts. He pulled out two old tracings of men who died. Then he said, "Now we will see if we can't make you give one like these." He seemed terribly annoyed when I gave the most normal tracings of anybody. He says he knows I cheated, how, I don't know. But, joking aside, I certainly did get a good heart. My circulation is so good that one ear is all I have frozen so far. Everybody else is continually freezing fingers and particularly toes; these parts keep perfectly warm with me, and, by the way, just as sea-sickness is for some reason, unknown to me, considered a good joke, so freezing something is considered terribly amusing.
I had to go across the harbor this afternoon. I was blown back by a wind which I am sure came from the North Pole without stopping. As I came in the Guest House Grant was playing on the Victor a song from a comic opera "The Arcadians":
It's nice and warm, I think, that we shall have a lovely day,
Very, very warm for May, eighty in the shade they say --- just fawncy!
It really really looks as though we'll really have a lovely day,
Oh, what very charming weather!
But at my request he gladly took this off and played "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" sung by the Trinity mixed choir, which fitted the occasion better.
I am going to Griquet (eighteen miles) with Dr. Grenfell tomorrow to give a Christmas tree. Mrs. G. is also going if we can find a "woman-box" (I love that phrase) to put on a komatik.
This place was wrongly named. St. Anthony would never have had his chance to become a saint here!

The East End

by Jesse Halsey

The atmosphere changes when one crosses the Shinnecock canal. It is always cooler out there; and then besides, one comes to the New England part of Long Island. The East Riding of Yorkshire in the old days, it has still a flavor not found on the west end of the Island where Dutch influence predominated.

Although the modern cottager has come in numbers and with affluence, these “Yorkers,” as the native used to call them, have not changed the scene essentially as many of the summer homes follow the old lines of the colonial or farm house type though there are notable exceptions in Mr. Atterbury’s [ed note: architect Grosvenor Atterbury ] shingled houses that hug the dunes and in an occasional Italian villa or other importation.

Cement construction has appeared on the main highways only and one misses the real beauty of the countryside if he follows these after he reaches “The East End.” In the last twenty years the local road-masters have developed a road of loam, sand, and oil, which, smoothly honed after each rain, make a perfect highway much more resilient and easy riding than cement or macadam. Southampton and East Hampton towns are threaded with such roads, almost unknown to the motorist who goes flying through on the numbered state highway, missing the ponds and bays and almost missing the ocean itself until he reaches Nappeague, that long narrow Cape-Cod-like-sand-dune-stretch that leads to Montauk. Aside from this one piece of cement it is better to keep to the dirt roads and spend a little time seeing the natural beauty of the Island’s southeastern fluke.

For like a great leviathan, Long Island throws itself out into the ocean paralleling the Connecticut shore, with its head safely anchored to Manhattan island by the Bridges, bathed by the Sound on the starboard, and the Atlantic on the port side, its tail.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Summer 1912

Another important event for all of us is associated with that year. This was romance, the marriage of Dr. Little and Ruth Keese (L.M.K.) after three years of happy association. They were married by Mr. Jesse Halsey at the assistant doctor’s house, and the union of two persons so beloved by everyone was hailed with joy. The wedding was one of the simplest and most beautiful I ever witnessed, just a small gathering of friends brought together informally in the little room decorated with spruce boughs and yellow-leaved birch branches. Ruth Keese, in her familiar blue linen gown, and Dr. Little, in well known tweeds, entered the house together and after chatting with guests came forward with joined hands to stand before Mr. Halsey when he entered in his clerical gown to perform the short ceremony. In the dining room, Mrs. Grenfell had prepared a beautiful table for the wedding feast, to which all members of the staff contributed. Then, after congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds, we left them.

Another exciting event of that summer was the arrival at St. Anthony of a beautiful three-masted schooner with a party of Mrs. Grenfell’s friends aboard, bound for a trip down the Labrador coast. The ship, donated to the Mission by Mr. George B. Cluett of Troy, N.Y., and built with special reference to its requirements, had been chartered by Mr. W.R. Stirling of Chicago for a Labrador cruise, and this was her maiden voyage. At Boston, she had taken on a cargo of Mission supplies, and her stop at St. Anthony was to deliver them as well as to pay a social visit.

Mr. Stirling’s small party, which included his daughter, Miss Dorothy Stirling, Miss Harriot Houghteling and other friends of Mrs. Grenfell, spent their time on shore, and St. Anthony was gay until they sailed away after a brief visit, taking Dr. Grenfell with them as skipper for the northern voyage. One can imagine the enjoyment of such a trip under the Doctor’s guidance and the thrilling anticipation of possible hazards from icebergs or shoals along the uncharted coast.

For my own part, the hazards of a voyage on the George B. Cluett became my most notable experience of the following year, 1912. In late June, with other Mission personnel—doctors, nurses, collegians going north for a summer of volunteer service—I sailed from Boston for St. Anthony on the schooner instead of taking the conventional route by rail and steamer. The voyage was uneventful, but the last day our calm security vanished as we faced threatened disaster from fire, shoals, fog, heavy seas and finally near collision with an iceberg, a twenty-four-hour experience which, in detail, would be worth telling.

"Sure cure for sea sickness."

from "Back to My Whalers" Jesse Halsey's reminiscences on Southampton sea captains
On the first trip I made to Europe, among my steamer letters marked “first day out” was a package “From Cap’n Hugh (White).” I opened it. The inside box was inscribed—“Sure cure for sea sickness.” I was sick—very sick. With difficulty I opened the box. It was a half dozen pieces of salt pork the size of a quarter, strung on a stout string and with directions “Swallow while you hold the string, regurgitate) (those old fellows, many of them knew the dictionary and the Bible by heart) “regurgitate and try again until cured.” Disgusted, I threw the contraption out the port hole, but in the box I found a note—a real cure. “Get some soda crackers, eat all you can, when they come up, eat some more and so on—the only cure.” And I have found it works, time on end.

'38 Hurricane Damage in Southampton

from East Riding of Yorkshire

by Jesse Halsey

Long Island, which sprawls like a great Leviathan across New England’s south shore, with its substantial head abutting rock ribbed Manhattan and its flukes kicking out to sea. It was once named Nassau, indication its Dutch attachments. But the Dutch influence, except for gambrel roofs, never reached beyond the west end, nor did they long hold there. The east end belonged to Connecticut and later to New York (when the Netherlands disappeared) and was known as the East Riding of Yorkshire. There was I born—though the name had long since been changed.

In the spring of 1640 a sloop with twenty settlers left Lynn, Massachusetts, sailed through the Sound and landed on the west end of Long Island. Shortly after landing there they were arrested by the Dutch Authorities, the leaders taken to New Amsterdam where they were reprimanded and let go. They promised to leave Cow Bay and go elsewhere. Back tracking, the rounded Orient Point, sailed ‘round Shelter Island, entered Peconic Bay and landed in a little harbor that they called North Sea. The first woman to alight on the meadow is aid to have ejaculated, “For Conscience sake, I’m on dry land. “ At any rate the spot is called “Conscience Point” unto this day. They landed on June 12, 1640.

Four miles to the north on the Atlantic seaboard they started their little village. “Old Town Pond” saw the first log houses: in a few years the settlement pushed west to a lake called by the Indians “Agawam.” They named their village Southampton.

Among these immigrants, one of the original “undertakers” as they were called was Thomas Halsey who came to Lynn in 1638. I have visited the ancient manor house in Hertfordshire whence he came. The English branch of the family still flourishes with a son of the present generation in Parliament, another in the Church, and a third an Admiral in the Navy. But that is another story.

These men and women were Puritans. They had come truly, for conscience sake, though hope of economic betterment doubtless had its influence. Some of them were second sons of families that would be classed as “landed gentry.” More were of Yeoman stock. Some wrote Esq. after their names, some “Mr.” before and some plain names.

Their colony was built around their church. Literally and figuratively this was true.

Here follows a sample of their laws, transcribed for the old town records still preserved in the office of the town Clerk. (Within two months I have seen and read the old Indian deed by which they bought their land—a whole township for a few coats and bushels of corn--, also the Patents granted by Governor Donghan and Governor Andrus under which South Hampton and East Hampton still in a measure operate, defying to this day in some particulars such as access to the ocean and the land under the waters, the laws of the State of New York.) These rights have been defended within my lifetime in the highest tribunals of the State by the town trustees (one of whom was my father). These ancient rights found their first expression in numerous laws like to the following, all based on Old Testament legislation but soon modified to meet a changing situation.

“1. TRESPASSES. If any man’s swine, or any other beast, or a fire kindled by a man, damage another man’s field, he shall make full restitution for the grain and time lost in securing the swine, &c. Exod.xii.5.6—Lex.xxiv.18. But if a man turn his swine or cattle into another’s field, restitution shall be made of the best he possesses, though it be much better than that which is destroyed. Exod.xxi.34.

“2. If a man’s ox or other beast gore or bite and kill a man or woman, whether child or of riper age, the beast shall be killed, and no benefit of the dead beast reserved to the owner. But if the ox or other beast were wont to push or bite in former time, and the owner hath been told of it, and hath not kept him in, then, the ox or beast shall be forfeited and killed, and the owner also put to death; or else fined to pay, what the judges and person damnified shall lay upon him. Exod.xxi.28,29.

Thus they planned and planted and thus they builded through four pioneering years houses, a school, a church. Then there grew dissension among them. The minister, Abraham Pierson (his son was the first President of Yale College) maintained that citizenship and voting rights in the town meeting were contingent upon membership in the church. This was the policy of “the New Haven” colony. Others held for a separation, that a citizen might vote though not be a communicant. This was the “Hartford” custom. The liberal element out voted the minister so he with his followers left Southampton, going to the mainland under the New Haven jurisdiction. When New Haven and Hartford joined as Connecticut (under the Hartford pattern), Mr. Pierson, true to conviction, moved onto New Jersey and planted Newark.

Our ancestor, Thomas Sr. stayed on, was elected to officers of trust in the town. A house he built still stands, older than any in Plymouth. From that day to this his descendants have held such positions as were in the gift of the citizens of the citizens of the township assembled in that pure democracy known as the “town meeting,” an institution which persisted until a couple of decades ago. (The year I left the village for a somewhat belated college training, I was nominated for town clerk. Such things were in the family tradition.)


by Jesse Halsey

Budget necessity at our house demands modest Christmas expenditures, yet there is a large circle of friends who it is a real satisfaction to remember in some simple and, if possible, unusual way.

Not of necessity, but for the sheer joy of it our household plans, through the year, its simple and [meaningful?] giving. Ingenuity rather than aggregate dictates the procedure. This is abetted by the family use of the automobile. We travel considerably. The boys, with an old car of collegiate appearance, go from the Middle West to New England [ed note: JH struck “one to Central New York”], and Father once a month has a business trip to Philadelphia. His hobbies are history and photography so he often varies the routes, coming and going.

We often buy along the road. For examples, our apples come from Western Maryland, or the Shenandoah Valley, or Northern New York depending on the most recent travel adventure of the family. When in Deerfield, Mass., some fancy onions are added to the cargo. Vermont or Northern Ohio or Western Pennsylvania furnish maple syrup. The list is long, and more or less obvious, as we visit Canada and all the North Eastern seaboard and the south highlands, Green Mountain, NC.

To be more specific, one of our most successful ventures in this ingenious friendly economic game has latterly, been with cereal products. If I were in this business I should assemble some mill producers and sell them in combinations. But we have acted as our own jobbers and this is the line.

Buckwheat comes from Western Maryland, “Friendship” mill, to be exact. The Maple Syrup that went with it last year came from “Confluence” not far from where Lieut. Washington led his troops to safety across the Great Meadows after Braddock’s defeat. This year we had Vermont Syrup, some of it from the Coolidge Farm in Plymouth.

Our corn meal comes from Nettle Carrier Creek in North Central Tennessee Mountains. Here is an old water mill where white corn is ground between mill stones. The whole corn is used with the chit or germ included. In commercial products this is often eliminated as it causes corn meal to turn rancid after a little (unless it is kept in the dark). The slow motion of the cold stones doesn’t “burn” the corn as is done in the high speed burr mills (where steel teeth at a terrific rate turn the corn into powder). When we want yellow meal—not popular in the South—we get it from a water mill on Long Island, where corn bread is known as “Johnny Cake” since Civil War days.

Whole Wheat or Graham flour (there is no difference) comes from the Nettle Carrier Mill as does our Rye flour. We go there once or twice a year to visit a Mountain School and spend some hours at the mill watching the process—and Father is always taking pictures of the mill and the old miller. We have a movie of that mill. As the water is turned on the buckets fill and the wheel begins to turn.

White flour (needed in most recipes), we have not attempted to add; the great mills of the country have perfected this process; we wonder that they don’t feature other things.

Bran we get in quantity from a country mill thirty miles from our city. There are two kinds; one fine for cooking, and another coarser and heavier such is fed to live stock. This we use for baking hams. Finally there is a cracked wheat cereal from another country mill fifty miles away on the Ohio River. This we value highly.

At Christmas, packages of some of our cereals were neatly tied up and marked. Some tested family recipes were typewritten by one of the daughter of the house and added to the collection. Pancakes of several kinds, Indian Pudding, Bran Muffins, Graham Gems, and Johnny Cake, these and others.

Our most ambitious basket was prepared for our family doctor; the others were less ambitious but similar.

To All The Mitchells

The Goose came from Felicity; The Buckwheat from Friendship.
The Maple Syrup came from the Coolidge Farm, Plymouth, Vermont.
The “Injun” Meal, for Johnny Cake, came from Nettle Carrier, Tenn.
So also did the Graham Flour.
            The Recipes were Grandmother’s.
                The Basket was made by a Shinnecock Indian.
                     The Juniper came from Cody, Wyoming.
And the Halls Add Their Good Will.

Mary Ann

by Jesse Halsey

Thanksgiving is the Great Day in New England, or was so in my boyhood. We lived on Long Island, the east end of which is pure New England, while the wet end is Dutch---with a Kriskingle. So we had, both; Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandfather was much of a Puritan and frowned on Christmas celebrations—in theory. Being a deacon he had to agree with the Parson who never would preach a Christmas sermon at Christmas nor an Easter sermon at Easter! (“It was papish.”)

But our grandmother was different. SHE was supreme in her own domain, indoors, and knew, moreover, just how to handle grandfather who was naturally fat and jolly and, as a young man, had lived in New York where Christmas and New Years were real celebrations that centered largely in the home. This was the beginning of the Nineteenth century—our grandfather’s boyhood; while our childhood was in the years near its close.
Mary Ann Cuffee

We were lucky, I say, with a New England Thanksgiving and a Dutch-flavored Christmas. And then we were blessed with Mary Ann.

She came to help on all great occasions. Funerals, births, butchering days, Town Meeting, Thanksgiving, the Christmas week, and many other times in between. No family occasion was complete without her. The little “back chamber,” a half attic over the kitchen, was her room, never used by another so far as I know.

An Indian of the Poosepatuck tribe, she was born before Eighteen hundred, near Montauk Point, but in our time lived on the Shinnecock Reservation, where she had married. Her features were as severe, as my faded snap-shot will show, but she was the soul of goodness and withal a most excellent cook.

Snow sometimes came with Thanksgiving, and almost always by Christmas time was continuously on the ground. It was my greatest joy, as a boy, early Thanksgiving morning to drive (with some of my cronies), in the old apple-cart, or in a sleigh, to the Indian reservation, two miles away “to fetch Mary Ann.” She had a grandson just my age who always came along.

Her mind was full of old sayings—this old woman; old traditions and superstitions. She believed in ghosts “and such like;” had hard common sense, stoic discipline, but a soft spot for us boys. She remembered wigwam days and knew the nature-lore of her ancestors, could predict the weather and, as I said, she could cook.

The simplest fare became ambrosial at her touch. I mean this in a countrified sense for she knew nothing of salads and appetizers. None were needed. The odors that hung round the home for hours before a meal, though kitchen doors were closed, these were enough to set one’s appetite agog.

She had no written recipes. Like all good cooks, she just guessed, but when my oldest sister was married “Aunt Mary Ann,” as we children called her, consented to be questioned regarding her art and with Grandmother’s help the bride got some semi-recipes on paper. With the passage of the years we came to think that sister “Nynne” had caught some of the culinary secrets of Mary Ann. From her cookbook and other family sources I have tried to write down some of the old Indian’s best dishes best suited to the Holiday Season.

Historic image courtesy Abigail Fithian Halsey Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center.

saleratus [ˌsæləˈreɪtəs]

n: (Chemistry / Elements & Compounds) another name for sodium bicarbonate, esp when used in baking powders [from New Latin sal aerātus aerated salt]

from Practically Edible:
Saleratus was a chalk-like powder used as a chemical leavener to produce carbon dioxide gas in dough.

To make it, pearlash had carbonic acid added to it, changing the potassium carbonate in it to potassium bicarbonate. The chemical formula for this is KHCO3.

Strength varied by brand. All brands needed something acidic to react with.

Substitutes for Saleratus: Per teaspoon of saleratus, 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda.

History Notes for Saleratus: Saleratus first hit the market in 1840, sold in paper envelopes.
The paper envelopes had recipes on them, to educate people about how to use it. By the 1850s, it had replaced pearlash to produce carbon dioxide gas in dough.

However, it only had a brief moment in the sun, as it was muscled out in turn by the start of the 1860s by baking soda.

For a while, some people called the new baking soda which replaced Salterus "saleratus", too.

Literature & Lore:
"Saleratus is said to be injurious to the human system, and that it destroys thousands of children and some adults every year. In New Brunswick, contiguous to Maine, the physicians are wont to say that half the children are killed by the use of saleratus. The evil is fast spreading throughout the Union. Families of moderate size already use from ten to twenty-five pounds yearly. Remarks of the New England Farmer -- Storekeepers who have been engaged in the business for many years, have told us formerly they used to purchase three or four small kegs of saleratus for a year's supply in a country village, but that they now purchase more than as many large cases weighing six or eight hundred pounds each. Large quantities are used in making bread, the most common food, and of which all partake. Milk should take its place there. Many persons are in the habit of adding a little saleratus to most kinds of pastry. We are inclined to believe the remarks quoted above have much truth in them. We do not know how far the powder of saleratus may be neutralized by a mixture of other substances used as food, but it may be known by the chemist, and should be explained to the people.

What is saleratus? Wood burnt to ashes. Ashes are lixiviated -- lye is the result . Lye is evaporated by boiling -- black salts are the residuum. The salts undergo a purification by fire, and the potash of commerce is obtained. By another process, we change the potash into pearlash. Now put this into sacks, and place them over a distillery wash-tub, where the fermentation evolves carbonic acid gas, and the pearlash absorbs and renders it sold, the product being heavier, dryer and whiter than the pearlash. It is now saleratus. How much salts of lye and carbonic acid can a human stomach bear and remain healthy, is a question for the saleratus eaters." -- The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Monday, 15 August 1853. Page 5.

Language Notes: "Saleratus" meant "Sal aeratus", as in "aerated salt."
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