Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tornados & Whirlwinds - Reading Outdoors in 18th-Century America

Well, it has been a glorious day, until the weather turned to tornado warnings about an hour ago. By the way, I had suspected that tornados were usually called whirwinds in 18th-century America. As one man wrote in the 1739 Boston Newsletter, "...we had a violent Whirlwind or Tornado (as some all it)." But when I searched, I found mention of 851 torandos in American newspapers from 1733 to 1800. Whirlwinds were noted in the same newspapers 1054 times between 1719 and 1800. I was surprised.

The 1st time the English word "tornado" appeared in print was in Richard Hakluyt's (c 1552-1616) Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries in 1589, when W Towerson noted, "We had terrible thunder and lightening, with exceeding gusts of raine, called a Ternado." The term "whirlwind" had been used in print since 1340.

Well, anyway, before the high winds and storms, it would have been the perfect day here in the Chesapeake for reading outdoors. Here are a few 18th-century American ladies doing just that.

1750 Joseph Badger (American Colonial Era artist, 1798-1765) Mrs. Nathaniel Brown (Anna Porter Brown)

1750-1760 Joseph Badger (American Colonial Era artist, 1798-1765)Mrs. John Edwards (Abigail Fowle)

1755 Benjamin West (American colonial era artist, 1738-1820). Mrs Geo Ross Anne Lawler Franklin & Marshall

1764 John Singleton Copley (American Colonial Era artist, 1738-1815) detail Mary Greene Mrs Dan Hubbard

1767 James Claypoole, Jr. (American Colonial Era artist, 1743-1814) Ann Galloway Mrs Joseph Pemberton Phil Acad of Arts

1789 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Esther Boardman

1789-1795 George William West (American artist, 1770-1795) Sybil West Holland Mrs Francis Utie Holland

1793 James Peale (American artist, 1749-1831) Ramsey Polk Family in Cecil County MD

1798 William Clarke (American painter, fl. 1785-1806) ) Mrs William Frazer Delaware

Cookbooks & Food in 18th-Century England Spread to the Colonies Reflecting Changes in Society

Burgeoning cities in England

During the 18th century, English life started to breed the money-fuelled materialism that we are familiar with today. As landowners forced peasants off their land, freeing up the opportunity for commercial farming, the industrial revolution was taking hold. Consequently there were huge population shifts, as vast numbers of people moved from the countryside to the towns. Cities swelled, stretching out to incorporate both dilapidated slums and elegant new vistas. Britain was developing a consumer culture, and city life throbbed with activity. Glinting shops, market stalls, cattle traffic, puppet shows, dog fights, fops, prostitutes, and pickpockets, all packed out the streets. Street vendors sold everything from scissor grinding and matches to oranges, hot gingerbread, and love songs. It was an age of gambling on both a large scale (on the stock market) and a small scale (in domino games or cockfighting). As a result, fortunes were frequently made and lost overnight.


It was also a century of great technological innovation, and the activities of the kitchen were affected just as much as society at large. Rolled sheet iron produced improved kitchen utensils, superior fire grates, and modern novelties like the clockwork spit. In earlier times cattle were killed at the beginning of winter when fodder ran out. Therefore meat had to be salted so that it was preserved during the winter months. In the 18th century, however, the English adopted new winter feeding methods, which enabled fresh meat to be available all year round. Improved seeds from Holland brought new varieties of fruit and vegetables to England, while better transport allowed fish to be brought inland fresh from the sea, and regional foods - such as cheddar cheese - to be enjoyed all over the country.

English favourites and flavours from abroad

Although the Whig aristocracy employed French chefs, the swelling ranks of middle England liked their simple, plain fare, enjoying roast and boiled meats, pies, and puddings. Roast beef became part of the construction of a British national identity, in opposition to the fancy sauces of France. The invention in the late 17th century of a muslin cloth for steaming, fed England's obsession with puddings - previously, a cook would have had to obtain fresh animal guts in which to steam her pudding. And the English had an enormous appetite for puddings, whether stuffed with meat or game, or oozing with butter or custard.

Whilst the poor depended increasingly on bread and cake, the wealthy were enjoying such delicacies as vermicelli and macaroni from Italy, curry, pilau rice and mango pickle from India, and even turtle soup containing freshly imported turtles from the West Indies. They grew exotic fruits in their hothouses, and kept ice-cream in their ice houses.

Spirits such as gin and brandy were extremely popular.


The government had given enormous financial backing to the distilling industry at the beginning of the century, having realised that the production of spirits offered a solution to the problem of the corn surplus. Spirits were hugely profitable and were produced in abundance. Consequently they were dirt cheap, and as gin and brandy shops spread like rashes over the cities' poor districts, the incidence of alcoholism among men, women and even children became appallingly high.

This age of indulgence led to widespread health problems, with a high incidence of gout, diabetes, heart and liver disease. And many foods were secretly or unwittingly made with poisonous ingredients. Pickles were made green, sweets multi-coloured, and cheese rind red, all with the use of copper and lead. Pepper was mixed with floor sweepings to bulk it out, and alum (a toxic mineral salt) made bread whiter. Even copper and brass pans were dangerous - when mixed with acidic food, they produced a poisonous layer of verdigris.

Cookery Books

Throughout this period booksellers churned out popular recipe books, fully aware of the commercial viability of recipes linked to prestigious chefs. Unfortunately many of the books were thrown together by money-making charlatans who had simply filched their material from existing publications.

With the growth of the middle classes during the course of the 18th century, there was an increasing demand for books designed to save the lady of the house from the tedious duty of instructing her kitchen maids. So recipe books such as The Art of Cookery by Hanna Glassie were directed at the servants rather than the mistress, and were written in plain and accessible language.

From the British Library.

The Art of Cookery by Hanna Glassie

The first American edition of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse was published in Alexandria, Virginia in 1805. The English edition of the cookbook had been available in the colonies for decades.

The Art of Cookery, written by Hannah Glasse, was published in 1747. It was a best seller for over a hundred years, and made Glasse one of the best-known cookery writers of the eighteenth century.

As Glasse explains in the preface, the book was intended to be an instruction manual for servants - 'the lower sort' as she called them. During the 1700s there was a fashion for books of this kind, which were designed to save the lady of the house from the tedious duty of instructing her kitchen maids. As Hannah Glasse puts it, the book should 'improve the servants and save the ladies a great deal of trouble'. She is dismissive of the fanciful language used by other cookery book writers, which she feels simply confuses the servants: 'the poor girls are at a loss to know what they mean,' she writes. In contrast, her style is precise and direct.

Glasse was a housewife, rather than a professional cook, and according to her biographers her primary aim as a writer was to make money. She wrote the book quickly and methodically - in fact 342 of the 972 recipes are taken directly from other books. However, she does show a great deal of skill and originality. Firstly, her writing style is lively, intelligent and amusing. Also, the book contains one of the earliest references to Indian curry in an English cookbook. Asian food first became popular in Britain during the eighteenth century, reflecting the tastes developed by the employees of the East India Company.

Glasse is scornful of the elaborate and extravagant French recipes of the period - 'If gentlemen will have French cooks', she writes, 'they must pay for French tricks'. However, many of her recipes will have been influenced by French cuisine which was becoming increasingly fashionable at the time. Her deliberate hostility towards the French was probably intended to please English readers of a lower social status, who would have disapproved of the excessiveness and conspicuous consumption of French culture.

For the decades following its publication, there were widespread rumours that The Art of Cookery had been written by a man. For a woman to have written such an eloquent and well-organised work seemed implausible to many. James Boswell's diary records a party at the house of the publisher Charles Dilly, at which the issue was discussed. He quotes Samuel Johnson as saying, 'Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of cookery.'

Information from The British Library.

The Frugal Houswife Available in America 1772

Pehr Hilleström (Swedish artist, 1732-1816) A Maid Taking Soup from a Cauldron

A cookbook available in the early American republic was

Susannah Carter
The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook;...Also The Making of English Wines. New York: G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maiden-Lane. 1803

Little is known of Susannah Carter, the author of The Frugal Housewife, which was first published as early as 1765 in London and Dublin, and was first reprinted in America in 1772. The 1772 edition was re-printed in America by Benjamin Edes and John Gil, well-known Boston printers, journalists, and booksellers, famous for publishing the works of many Revolutionary writers, and for their role in instigating the Boston Tea Party.

The Frugal Housewife made no mention of colonial cooking or common American ingredients. It wasn't until 1803 that "an appendix containing several new receipts adapted to the American mode of cooking" was added. This probably was not the work of Susannah Carter, but the result of an editing job by the American publisher in order to attract American readers. the identical appendix appeared 2 years later in the first American edition of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse (Alexandria, 1805), a cookbook very popular in its native England.

The Frugal Housewife was one of several English cookbooks that sold well in America. It strongly influenced the aforementioned Amelia Simmons' American Cookery (1796), the first cookbook authored by an American, and containing not just English fare, but dishes based on American ingredients and common to the early country. Much of Simmons' work is original, but much is copied, verbatim or near verbatim, from The Frugal Housewife - a customary and acceptable practice at the time. Susannah Carter's book eventually saw six American editions; many of her British recipes became American standards via Amelia Simmons, even as the success of American Cookery inspired the Americanization of The Frugal Housewife.

This is the 1803 appendix.


To make a baked Indian Pudding.
ONE quart of boiled milk to five spoonfuls of Indian Meal, one gill of molasses, and salt to your taste; putting it in the oven to bake when it is cold.

An Indian Pudding boiled.
One quart of milk, and three half-pints of Indian meal, and a gill of molasses, then put it in a cloth, and let it boil seven, or eight hours. The water boiling when it is put in. Water may be used instead of milk in case you have none.

To make Mush.
Boil a pot of water, according to the quantity you wish to make, and then stir in the meal till it becomes quite thick, stirring it all the time to keep out the lumps, season with salt, and eat it it with milk or molasses.

Buck-Wheat Cakes.
Take milk-warm water, a little salt, a table spoonful of yeast, and then stir in your buck-wheat till it becomes of the thickness of batter; and then let it enjoy a moderate warmth for one night to raise it, bake the same on a griddle, greasing it first to prevent them from sticking.

To make Pumpkin Pie.
Take the Pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till it is quite soft, and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine, one glass of rosewater, if you like it, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nutmeg, and sugar and salt to your taste.

Dough Nuts.
To one pound of flour, put one quarter of a pound of butter, one quarter of a pound of sugar, and two spoonfuls of yeast; mix them all together in warm milk or water, of the thickness of bread, let it raise, and make them in what form you please, boil your fat (consisting of hog's lard), and put them in.

To make Sausages.
Take your pork, fat and lean together, and mince it fine, then season it with ground pepper, salt, and sage pounded, then have the offals well cleaned, and fill them with the above; they are then fit for use. When you put them in your pan remember to prick them to prevent them from bursting.

To make Blood Puddings.
Take your Indian meal (according to the quantity you wish to make), and scald it with boiled milk or water, then stir in your blood, straining it first, mince the hog's lard and put it in the pudding, then season it with treacle and pounded penny-royal to your taste, put it in a bag and let it boil six or seven hours.

To make Cranberry Tarts.
To one pound of flour three quarters of a pound of butter, then stew your Cranberry's to a jelly, putting good brown sugar in to sweeten them, strain the cranberry's, and then put them in your patty-pans for baking in a moderate oven for half an hour.

To pickle Peppers.
Take your peppers and cut a slit in the side of them, put them in cold salt and water for twelve hours, then take them out and put them in fresh salt and water, and hang them over the fire in a brass kettle, letting the water be as hot as you can bear your band in, let them remain over the fire till they turn yellow, when they turn yellow, shift the water, and put them in more salt and water of the same warmth; then cover them with cabbage leaves till they turn green, when they are done, drain the salt and water off, then boil your vinegar, and pour it over them: they will be fit for use in three days.

To pickle Beets.
Put into a gallon of cold vinegar as many beets as the vinegar will hold, and put thereto half an ounce of whole pepper, half an ounce of all spice, a little ginger, if you like it, and one head of garlic.

Note. Boil the beets in clear water, with their dirt on as they are taken out of the earth, then take them out and peal them, and when the vinegar is cold put them in, and in two days they will be fit for use. The spice must be boiled in the vinegar.

To make Peach Sweetmeats.
To one pound of Peaches put half a pound of good brown sugar, with half a pint of water to dissolve it, first clarifying it with an egg; then boil the peaches and sugar together, skimming the egg off, which will rise on the top, till it is of the thickness of a jelly. If you wish to do them whole, do not peel them, but put them into boiling water, and give them a boil, then take them out and wipe them dry.-- Pears are done the same way.

Quince Sweetmeats.
To one pound of quinces put three quarters of a pound of good brown sugar: the quinces boiled. With respect to the rest follow the above receipt.

Green Gage Sweetmeats.
Make a syrup just as you do for quinces; only allowing one pound of sugar, to one pound of gages.-- Plumbs and damsons are made the same way.

A Receipt to make Maple Sugar.
Make an incision in a number of maple trees, at the same time, about the middle of February, and receive the juice of them in wooden or earthen vessels. Strain this juice (after it is drawn from the sediment) and boil it in a wide mouthed kettle. Place the kettle directly over the fire, in such a manner that the flame shall not play upon its sides. Skim the liquor when it is boiling. When it is reduced to a thick syrup and cooled, strain it again, and let it settle for two or three days, in which time it will be fit for granulating. This operation is performed by filling the kettle half full of syrup, and boiling it a second
time. To prevent its boiling over, add to it a piece of fresh butter or fat of the size of a walnut. You may easily determine when it is sufficiently boiled to granulate, by cooling a little of it. It must then be put into bags or baskets, through which the water, will drain. This sugar, if refined by the usual process, may be made into as good single or double refined loaves, as were ever made from the sugar obtained from the juice of the West India cane.

To make Maple Molasses.
This may be done three ways.
1. From the thick syrup, obtained by boiling after it is strained for granulation.
2. From the drainings of the sugar after it is granulated.
3. From the last runnings of the tree [which will not granulate] reduced by evaporation to the consistence of molasses.

To make Maple Beer.
To every four gallons of water when boiling, add one quart of maple molasses. When the liquor is cooled to blood heat, put in as much yeast as is necessary to ferment it. Malt or bran may be added to this beer, when agreeable. If a table spoonful of the essence of spruce be added to the above quantities of water and molasses, it makes a most delicious and wholesome drink.

Receipt to make the famous Thieves Vinegar.
Take of wormwood, thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage, rue and mint, each a handful; pour on them a quart of the best wine vinegar, set them eight days in moderate hot ashes, shake them now and then thoroughly, then squeeze the juice out of the contents through a clean cloth; to which add two ounces of camphire. The use thereof is to rinse the mouth, and wash there with under the arm pits, neck and shoulders, temples, palms of the hands, and feet, morning and evening; and to smell frequently thereat, has its salutary effects. N. B. The above receipt did prove an efficacious remedy against the plague in London, when it raged there in the year 1665.

Method of destroying the putrid Smell which Meat acquires during hot Weather.
Put the meat intended for making soup, into a saucepan full of water, scum it when it boils, and then throw into the saucepan a burning pit coal, very compact and destitute of smoke, leave it there for two minutes, and it will have contracted all the smell of the meat and the soup.

If you wish to roast a piece of meat on the spit, you must put it into water until it boils, and after having scummed it, throw a burning pit coal into the boiling water as before; at the end of two minutes, take out the meat, and having wiped it well in order to dry it, put it upon the spit.

To make Spruce Beer out of the Essence.
For a cask of eighteen gallons take seven ounces of the Essence of Spruce, and fourteen pounds of molasses; mix them with a few gallons of hot water; put it into the cask; then fill the cask with cold water, stir it well, make it about lukewarm; then add about two parts of a pint of good yeast or the grounds of porter; let it stand about four or five days to work, then bung it up tight, and let it stand two or three days, and it will be fit for immediate use after it has been bottled.

To make Spruce Beer out of Shed Spruce.
To one quart of Shed Spruce, two gallons of cold water, and so on in proportion to the quantity you wish to make, then add one pint of molasses to every two gallons, let it boil four or five hours and stand till it is luke-warm, then put one pint of yeast to ten gallons, let it work, then put it into your cask, and bung it up tight, and in two days it will be fit for use.

To make an Eel Pie.
Skin your eels and parboil them, then season them with pepper and salt, and put them into your paste, with half a dozen raw oysters, one quarter of a pound of butter, and water.

To make a Pork Pie.
Take fresh pork and cut it into thin slices, season it with pepper and salt, and put it into your paste.

To make a raise Pork Pie.
Take six ounces of butter to one pound of flour, and so on in proportion, boil the butter in a sufficient quantity of water to mix with the flour hot, let the paste be stiff and form it in a round shape with your hands; then put in your pork, seasoned to your taste with pepper and salt, and then bake it for about an hour.

To make a Bath Pudding.
Take one pint of new milk, six eggs beat well in the milk, four table spoonfuls of fine flour, three table spoonfuls of yeast, three spoonfuls of rose-water, and three spoonfuls of Malaga wine; grate into it a small nutmeg, sweetened with fine soft sugar to your taste; mix them all well together, and let them stand
one hour before they are to be baked: bake them in eight small patty-pans, and one large one for the middle of the dish; butter the patty-pans; put them in a fierce oven, and in fifteen minutes they will be done.

To make a pot Pie.
Make a crust and put it round the sides of your pot, then cut your meat in small pieces, of whatever kind the pot-pie is to be made of, and season it with pepper and salt, then put it in the pot and fill it with water, close it with paste on the top; it will take three hours doing.

To make Short Gingerbread.
One pound of superfine flour, to half a pound of good fresh butter, and so on in proportion to the quantity you wish to make, beat your butter till it froths, half an ounce of ginger, a few carraway seeds, and one pound of sugar, roll it out thin and bake it.
Common gingerbread is made the same way, only molasses instead of sugar.

To make Whafles.
One pound of sugar, one pound of flour, one pound of butter, half an ounce of cinnamon, one glass of rose water; make it in balls as big as a nutmeg, and put them in your whafle iron to bake.

To make Crullers.
One pound of flour to half a pound of good brown-sugar, and half a pound of butter, let your hog's lard be boiling, then make them into what form you please, and put them in to fry.

From The Historic American Cookbook Project: Feeding America

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Short Tea Story

Anna Green Winslow (1759-1779) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the daughter of Joshua Winslow & his wife Anna Green. In 1770, at the age of 10, she was sent south to a finishing school in Boston, where she lived with her aunt & uncle, Sarah & John Deming.

During her separation from her family, she kept a diary sporadically from November 1771 to May 1773. Her aunt encouraged the diary as a penmanship exercise & as a running letter to her parents. Most entries detail her daily routine. She writes of sermons; weather; entertainments; current fashions; & family matters. And this 11-year-old girl writes of taking tea with friends & family of all ages.

Winslow was reunited with her parents in 1773, when Joshua Winslow moved them to Marshfield, Massachusetts. In 1775, he was exiled as a Tory; but his family remained behind. Before the end of the Revolution, Anna Green Winslow died of tuberculosis in Hingham, Massachusetts. Anna was 20, when she died.

Some excerpts from Anna's diary:

Nov'r 18, 1771 ...Mr. Beacon ask'd a question. What is beauty--or, wherein does true beauty consist? He answer'd, in holiness--and said a great deal about it that I can't remember, & as aunt says she hasnt leisure now to help me any further--so I may just tell you a little that I remember without her assistance, and that I repeated to her yesterday at tea

Jan'y 31, 1772 ... I was at Aunt Sukey's with Mrs Barrett dress'd in a white brocade, & cousin Betsey dress'd in a red lutestring, both adorn'd with past, perlsmarquesett &c. They were after tea escorted by Mr. Newton & Mr Barrett to ye assembly at Concert Hall...

Feb. 18, 1772 ...Saterday I din'd at Unkle Storer's, drank tea at Cousin Barrel's, was entertain'd in the afternoon with scating...

March 9, 1772 ...It's now tea time--as soon as that is over, I shall spend the rest of the evening in reading to my aunt. It is near candle lighting...

April 14, 1772 ...I went a visiting yesterday to Col. Gridley's with my aunt. After tea Miss Becky Gridley sung a minuet. Miss Polly Deming & I danced to her musick...

April 16, 1772 ...I dined with Aunt Storer yesterday & spent the afternoon very agreeably at Aunt Suky's. Aunt Storer is not very well, but she drank tea with us...

April 24, 1772 ...I drank tea at Aunt Suky's. Aunt Storer was there, she seemed to be in charming good health & spirits...

May 11, 1772 ...I had the pleasure of drinking tea with aunt Thomas the same day, the family all well, but Mr G who seems to be near the end of the journey of life...

May 16, 1772 ...Thursday I danc'd a minuet & country dances at school, after which I drank tea with aunt Storer...

May 31, 1772 ...I spent the afternoon at unkle Joshua's. yesterday, after tea, I went to see how aunt Storer did...

To read more of 11-year-old Anna's diary go to this posting on this
18th Century American Women blog.

Source: Diary of Anna Green Winslow, A Boston School Girl of 1771 (edited by A. M. Earle 1894).


A Tiny Tea Story

Creamware Tea Pot from Leeds c 1780

In America during the 18th century, young & the old from all levels of society occasionally spent their leisure time taking tea together.

Elizabeth Fuller (1775-1856) was 14 years-old, when she started keeping a diary. She made regular entries from October 1790 through December 1792, while living with her family on a farm in Princeton, Massachusetts.

Unmarried young women in rural New England, often spent their days at home engaged primarily in textile production for both their own family's use & to trade for other items. In her diary, Elizabeth Fuller writes of washing, carding, & spinning wool, while assisting with everyday chores such as making cheese & cooking.

Dec 1, 1790 I went to Mr. Perry’s to make a visit this afternoon, had an excellent dish of tea and a shortcake. — Betsey Whitcomb at work there. Had a sociable afternoon.

May 8, 1791 — Sabbath. I went to church A.M. Mr. Thurston preached. Mr. John Rolph & his Lady & Mr. Osburn her Brother & a Miss Anna Strong (a Lady courted by said Osbourn) came here after Meeting and drank Tea.

To learn more about the difficult life of this 14-year-old farm girl in New England go to this posting on this 18th-Century American Women blog

Chelsea Fable Tea Pot, C.1752-3. Painted by Jeffreys Hamett O'Neal. Aesop's Fable of "The Goat In The Well."

Stirring the Revolutionary Teapot

1765 Joshia Wedgwood Success to Trade in America and No Stamp Act

1765 No Stamp Act and American Liberty Restored

Tea Embargo Is Over! - Tea Pots for a New Republic

c 1780 LEEDS Creamware Tea Pot with Traditional Black Transfer Decoration

c 1780 Seth Pennington Liverpool Tea Pot.

c 1780 Wedgewood Creamware

c 1780 Worcester Tea Pot

c 1785 New Hall Barrel-Shape, Pattern 20

c 1785 New Hall, Pattern 78

c 1787 New Hall Faceted Silver-shaped Tea Pot, Pattern 136

c 1787 New Hall Reeded Silver-Shaped Tea Pot, Pattern 153

c 1790 Caughley Porcelain Tea Pot

c 1790 New Hall Silver-Shape Tea Pot, Pattern 186

c 1790 New Hall Silver-Shaped, Pattern 170

c 1810 Basalt Tea Pot

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bunny - 18th-Century Pennsylvania Fractur


This drawing is an example of a Pennsylvania German tradition of decorated manuscripts known as fraktur.

The Winterthur Museum recently acquired one of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter Bunny, which was sold at Pook & Pook auction house in Downingtown , Pennsylvania . Together with the Christmas tree, the custom of the Easter rabbit and colored eggs was brought to America by immigrants from southwestern Germany in the 1700s, and has become a favorite American tradition. This delightful image is attributed to schoolmaster Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812), who emigrated from Germany in 1757 and ultimately settled in Berks County , Pennsylvania . He likely made the drawing as a gift for one of his students. A similar drawing, also attributed to Gilbert, is in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

These drawings are examples of a Pennsylvania German tradition of decorated manuscripts known as fraktur, which include birth and baptismal certificates, family records, writing samples, and bookplates.

Lisa Minardi, a fraktur expert and assistant curator of the museum’s current exhibition, Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850, notes, “The Easter rabbit drawing is one of the rarest of all fraktur, with only two examples known, and is a major addition to Winterthur ’s collection.”

“This important acquisition allows Winterthur to document the Germanic beginnings of a beloved American tradition,” adds J. Thomas Savage, Winterthur ’s director of museum affairs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hot Cross Buns for Easter Week in 18th-Century English Society

Hot Cross buns are older than Christianity - pagan celebrants ate wheat cakes at their spring festivals, and the Greeks, Romans and Ancient Egyptians all had buns with a cross etched on the top. The round bun represented the full moon, and the cross divides the bun into the four lunar quarters. Traditional buns have the cross cut into the dough or pricked out with a pin. The crosses of icing are a more recent thing.

Since before medieval times, marking baked goods (like breads, buns and cakes) with the sign of a cross was a common thing for a homemaker or a baker to do – the cross was said to ward off evil spirits which could affect the bread and make it go mouldy.

Kate Colquhoun, writes in her book, Taste: The Story Of Britain Through Its Cooking (2007), "In honour of Eastre, goddess of spring and the dawn, [Anglo-Saxon] bread dough could be studded with dried fruits and baked into small loaves that, as Christianity spread, began to be marked with a cross by monks: the earlist form of hot-cross bun.”

Although the first name for these buns were Good Friday Buns or Cross Buns the earliest written instance of the name ‘Hot Cross Buns’ comes from 1733 A.D. The name is recorded in a popular rhyme which includes the old reason and superstition for making the sign of the cross in baked goods:-

“Good Friday comes this month—the old woman runs
With one or two a-penny hot cross buns,
Whose virtue is, if you believe what’s said,
They’ll not grow mouldy like the common bread.”

Bread, leavened and unleavened) and religion have been intricately linked for thousands of years, well before Christianity, going back even to the stone age. However, in the 1700s, ‘buns’ were specifically looked at by scholars, who thought they could be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman customs …

The 1778 book A View Of Northumberland written by William Hutchinson and Thomas Randal, explains, "I intimated in the preceding pages, an intention of remarking the Sweet Bread used in religious rites. Small loaves of bread, peculiar in their form, being long and sharp at both ends, are called Buns. This name takes place where old religious ceremonies have been solemnized, derived from the consecrated sweet bread, which was offered on high festivals … the offerings which people in ancient times used to “present to the Gods”, were generally purchased at the entrance of the temple; especially every species of consecrated bread, which was denominated accordingly. One species of sacred bread which used to be offered to the Gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun .… The custom of Hot Cross Buns in London, on the morning of Good Friday, seems to have relation to these ancient practices. We only retain the name and form of the Boun; the sacred uses are no more."

The sign of the cross marked into breads was acceptable on Good Friday to the English Puritans, because it commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Good Friday And Easter Sunday fall at the end of the Season of Lent, which lasts forty days (not counting Sundays), beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday, the last day before Easter.

The Christian traditional preparation for Easter Sunday consists of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So Good Friday, and the food consumed on this day – Good Friday Buns / Hot Cross Buns – are also traditionally a part of Lent fasting. Dr. Johnson kept this Good Friday breakfast tradition by eating cross buns. From The Life Of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell, published 1791: “On the 9th of April [1773], being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns … On April 18 [1783], (being Good-Friday) I found him at breakfast, in his usual manner upon that day, drinking tea without milk, and eating a cross bun to prevent faintness”.

By the 1700s, in many English towns, these Cross Buns were sold on the streets all day long by street sellers crying, “One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross buns” Some did not find the cries very sacred. From The Country Magazine Published in 1788, Observations On The London Cries - Hot Cross-Buns—although they occur but once a-year, are cried to a tune which has nothing of that majesty which would accompany sacred music —There is a slur upon hot which destroys the effect; and, indeed, gives the whole a very irreverent sound.

Recipe from The Art Of Cookery, By Hannah Glasse, Published 1740

To make Buns. TAKE two pounds of fine flour, a pint of good ale-yeast, put a little sack [white wine] in the yeast, and three eggs beaten, knead all these together with a little warm milk, a little nutmeg, and a little salt; and lay it before the fire till it rises very light, then knead in a pound of fresh butter, a pound of rough carraway comfits, and bake them in a quick oven, in what shape you please, on floured paper.

Recipe from The Complete Confectioner, By Frederick Nutt, Published 1789

Water Cakes. Take three pounds of powdered sugar and four pounds of sifted flour, mix the flour and sugar together on a clean dresser with half water and half whites of eggs, and as many carraway seeds as you think proper, mix all together so as to make it a very fine paste, that you can roll it on the dresser and the thinner the better, cut out the shape you like with a tin cutter; round and scolloped is the general fashion, but vary the shape to your own fancy … put them on a sheet of [buttered] paper and … bake them very little so as just to change the colour of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Late 18th-Century Landscapes of South Carolina

South Carolina artist Charles Fraser (1782-1860) painted some watercolors of the landscapes he saw around him in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These are from the Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

The South View of Fort Mechanic Charleston, July 4, 1796.

South West View of Newport.


Near Charleston, June, 1805.

Capt. Frederick Fraser's Place, Prince William's Parish.

Another View of Richmond.

A View on Mepkin.

A View Near Charleston , 1801, Where St. Paul's Church Now Stands, Ratcliffe Lands.

A View Mr. Lindsay's From South Bay, May 10th.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Houses of Worship in 18th-Century South Carolina

Artist Charles Fraser (1782-1760) painted a series of watercolors of churches & meeting houses in South Carolina. He depicts broad swipes of landscapes allowing the viewer to see the buildings in the ground planned around them. These images are from the Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.


The 1765 church was called "Punkin Hill" locally. The Parish of St. Thomas & St. Dennis was made from the union of the Huguenot Church St. Denis & the Parish of St. Thomas which had been laid off by the Church Act of 1706. In Day on Cooper River it says: “on a high bluff, raising abruptly from the bed of the river, stands the Parish Chapel, commonly known as Pompion Hill Chapel, taking its name from the hill on which it stands.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) THE CHURCH IN ST. ANDREW’S PARISH, APRIL 1800.

Established on the west bank of the Ashley River in 1706, by 1722 the original church had became too small for the parishioners. The church was enlarged in the form of a cross, with a gallery at the west end designated for “people of colour.” Destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt by subscription in 1764, and it covered a great territory. It maintained a Chapel of Ease on James’ Island, which was attended by many Presbyterians on the Island; but, after 1787, the Reverend Thomas Mills states that “the inhabitants of James Island, who were nearly all Presbyterians, or Independents, had procured a minister and organized a Church of their own. After this period, in conformity with the injunctions of the Vestry, my Pastoral duties were generally confined to St. Andrew’s on the main.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860). CHURCH IN ST. JAMES’ PARISH, GOOSE CREEK.

St. James’ Parish, Goose Creek, was laid off in 1706, and the church was completed in 1719. “So numerous was the congregation of this church that its capacity was found in a few years wholly insufficient”, and a Chapel of Ease was erected about 7 miles from the original church structure.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) CHURCH ON JOHN’S ISLAND.

This was St. John’s Colleton, which had been a part of St. Paul’s but was separated from it in 1734, and served “John’s Island, Wadmalaw Island, Edisto Island, and the other adjacent Islands to the seaward.”


The Stony Creek Presbyterian Church built in Indian Land on Stony Creek near Pocotaligo in 1743. Fraser notes in his Reminiscences, even during his boyhood, the Presbyterian "dissenters" never called their places of worship churches.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860)A MEETING-HOUSE NEAR JACKSONBOROUGH, 1799.

This is the meeting-house of Bethel Congregation of Pon Pon organized in St. Bartholomew’s Parish in 1728 and first ministered to by the Reverend Archibald Stobo, the Father of Presbyterianism in South Carolina. One historian told of Reverend Robert Baron, sent out to St. Bartholomew’s Parish by the Society for the Propagation of the gospel in 1753: “He arrived at Charles Town June 1st and entered on the duties of his cure on the 7th of that month. Mr. Baron was soon after taken ill, and had a severe seasoning, as it is usually called. His Parishioners were scattered over a great extent of country, and were an orderly and well behaved people. The Presbyterians were numerous, but they all lived together in mutual friendship and Christian charity.”


This parish was often called Sheldon Church because of its proximity to the Bull plantation of that name. “An instance of the hospitality of Carolina, connected with the history of Sheldon Church, has been stated to us b y those who knew the fact. Stephen Bull who live in its vicinity, usually invited as his guests, on the Sabbath, the more respectable part of the Congregation who attended divine service; while his overseer, by his direction, and at his expense, liberally entertained the rest. At that time, seldom less than 60 or 70 carriages, of various descriptions were seen at the Church on the Lord’s Day. It was burnt in 1780 by the British under General Prevost, on their march from Savannah to the siege of CharlesTown.” It was rebuilt on its original lines after the Revolution.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) THE CHURCH IN ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S PARISH, 1796.

“This part of Colleton County was made a Parish, by an act passed Dec. 18, 1708.” The first missionary, sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was a Reverend Mister Osborn, who arrived in 1713. “His cure was very extensive, and his duty laborious. It was 40 miles long, and 30 wide…He officiated at five different places for the accommodations of his parishioners…Mr. Osborn was greatly esteemed and the Church flourished under his care. This prosperity, however, was soon interrupted. In 1715 the Indian War [Yemassee] broke out and the savages destroyed all the plantations in the Parish…The Missionary with difficulty escaped to Charles Town." By 1760 two brick Chapels of Ease had been built. The Church in this sketch was the Chapel of Pon Pon, which was burnt to the birck walls by the British during the Revolution but rebuilt after the war. The locals then called it "the Burnt Church."


The parsonage stood on a slight hill and its lane led dircectly to the church door. In the woods is a small 1759 vestry building, where Parish business could be transacted and where coachmen & grooms might take shelter.