Lydia Maria Child (Maria) was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1802, and was the youngest of six children. She was one of the first women in America to support herself as a novelist and is best remembered for her poem, "A Boy's Thanksgiving" published in 1844. Based on her own experiences visiting her Grandfather's house near the Mystic River in Mass, this popular poem was later set to music and is commonly referred to as "Over the River and Through the Woods"
This is Lydia grandfather's house (114 South Street in Medford Mass) It was built in the early 1800s as a small farmhouse and was enlarged in 1839 to include the two stories shown here. In 1976, Tufts University, also located in Medford, bought and restored this historic house. It is a classic example of Greek Revival architecture, common in that era. In 1975 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Paul Curtis was Lydia's grandfather. He was a well known and highly respected ship builder. To illustrate the quality of his work a lady related this experience: She was returning from Europe with husband and family on the ship John Elliot Thayer. They encountered an unusually severe gale lasting three days, with constantly increasing violence. The passengers became so alarmed that the captain was appealed to for assurances of safety. While he admitted the storm to be the worst he had ever known, he called the ladies to the cabin and asked them to notice the builder's name in golden letters on the white enamelled panel. They read this: ‘Paul Curtis, builder.’ He assured them that no ship of Paul’s had ever foundered,—no ships had so high a record for low insurance rates,—no timber or bolt was introduced unless free from all defect. ‘I assure you, ladies,’ he said, ‘I think she will ride this terrible storm safely.’ The ship came safely through the storm.
If you click on this link it will take you to a site where there is a list of all the passengers on the Mayflower. Click on each name and you can READ a brief history. Some were indentured servants, some were rascals, some were merchants, some got in trouble with the law and many had heroic qualities that compelled them to stick it out in this "new world." http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/Passengers/passengers.php
The history of Pumpkin Pie actually goes back to Europe in the 1500s when pumpkin was stewed with sugar and spices and wrapped in a pastry.
The French recorded the first recipe in 1651: Tourte of Pumpkin - Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve.
The Native American tribes grew squash and pumpkins. They roasted or boiled them for eating. They brought pumpkins as gifts to the first settlers, and taught them about their many uses. The Pilgrims may have eaten pumpkin that first Thanksgiving but there was no pie because they had no ovens.
1786 by Amelia Simmons
( There are only four known copies of this book in existence )
By the 1670s recipes for pumpkin pie appeared in many English cookbooks which the colonists would most likely have had access to. It was not until 1796 that the first American cookbook was published and written by Amelia Simmons. It was the first cook book to develop recipes for foods native to America. Her pumpkin puddings were baked in a crust similar to present day pumpkin pies.
Pompkin Pudding No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.
This recipe by Esther Allen Howland appeared in Economical Housekeeper 1845
There were no forks at the first Thanksgiving. In fact forks were not used commonly in America until the mid 1800s.
EUROPE: When Catherine de Medici married Henry I in 1533, her dowry included several dozen dinner forks. People were shocked when she used them at her wedding dinner. She died two years later from the plague and it was said she was being punished for her use of the "wicked fork"
The fork began to gain acceptance in Italy by the late 1500s when the upper class became interested in cleanliness. The French would have nothing to do with it and considered the fork an awkward, even dangerous utensil until the seventeenth century when it was considered uncivilized to eat meat with both hands.
In England the fork was slow to gain acceptance because it was considered a feminine utensil. Finally, in 1633 Charles I of England declared, "It is decent to use a fork," a statement that heralded the beginning of civilized table manners. It took another century for the fork to be common among the lower class.
In the nineteenth century, mass production made forks more available to the rising middle class. In an effort to copy the nobility there were forks made for every imaginable food, such as berries, birds, cake, cold meat, cucumbers, fish, ice cream, lettuce, lobster, oysters, pickles, salad, sardines, shellfish, strawberrys, souffle, terrapin, tomatoes, and to pass sliced bread at the tea table.
AMERICA: As late as 1827, European visitors still observed Americans shoveling food into their mouths from the round end of knives. An etiquette book of the 1830s defended the practice. But, by the mid 1800s, in an effort to imitate the French and English, eating with a fork became the fashion of the day.
BEAVERS, BUSINESSMEN, FASHION, NATIVE AMERICANS AND THE PILGRIMS
What do they have in common? Read on... here's a piece of the story you might not have heard before.
Many people may not realize that Pilgrims were on the cutting edge of a great economic change. Their voyage was not just an adventure, it was an investment. The Pilgrims were true economic pioneers for the system we know today as capitalism.
Most of the Pilgrims were not wealthy. They knew they would need a lot of money if their new colony in America were to be a success: money to rent a ship and crew, money for supplies for the voyage, money to support the colony until it could become self sufficient. So, the Pilgrims asked some London merchants to invest in the colony. After much negotiation 70 merchants formed a joint stock company with the Pilgrims. Because this was a risky venture, they were known as "merchant adventurers."
The Pilgrims had a rough start. Instead of sending back goods, they had to ask the merchants for even more money, again and again and again. It took a while but one of the ways they were successful in making the money to repay their debt was the fur trade.
Beavers are very large rodents, weighing as much as 60pounds. They cut down trees to build dams, creating ponds around their lodges. Female beavers have "kits" only once a year and there are usually 3 or 4 in a litter. Beaver meat is said to be tasty and the beaver pelt, beautiful, thick, durable, warm and water repellent. It is hightly prized. In 1634 William Wood wrote:
"... the English seldom or never kill any of them, being not patient to lay a long siege or to be so often deceived by their cunning evasions, so that all the beaver which the English have, comes first from the Indians whose time and experience fits them for that employment."
The driving force behind the fur trade was, of all the unlikely things, the fashion in HATS. The craze for high crowned felt hats began in Europe about 1550. Quality hats demanded the best felting material available. Beaver fur is an excellent raw material. It is beautiful and holds it shape very well under rough wear and successive wettings. Hatters were skilled craftsmen who took this raw product and turned it into a luxury commodity.
This wonderful beaver hat is attributed to Constance Hopkins and is on display at the Pilgrim Hall Museum. It's existence indicates that the hats, once produced, were often sent back across the Atlantic to grace the heads of the Pilgrims. That's a full circle journey.
To read all the details of this fascinating story click on this link to pilgrimhall.org