Civil War Recipe: Creamed Celery

Celery is a master of disguise when it comes to taste and presentation.

The leaves have a very slight bite and make a nice “herb” to add to all kinds of dishes, plus making a pretty garnish. Logical, since celery is related to parsley. (Check out the history of celery and a few cooked dishes.)

celery

Celery top and bottom.

 

Grandma Vera Anderson liked to dip raw vegetables into a little pile of salt on her plate, and it is still indispensable on a crudite tray.

Celery and carrots with salt on Grandma Vera's butter plate

Celery and carrots with salt on Grandma Vera’s butter plate

When my sons were little, they could be conned into eating celery if I stuffed it with peanut butter or Cheese Whiz. Now I’ve graduated to more sophisticated spreads, like this dried tomato cheese spread.

stuffed celery

Stuffed Celery. Take your pick: sun dried tomato cheese spread or peanut butter

Now that I cannot eat onions, I tend to double up on chopped celery in stews, stir fries and such– to get the little crunch you get from onions that I have to omit.

But what I do not do, is cook celery alone as a side dish. Why not, I wondered, when I saw a recipe for stewed celery in the Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book. I  vaguely remember the taste of creamed celery, so maybe grandma cooked it some time. This recipe was published in Godey’s in 1862, so even though I doubt that Anna Butts was a magazine reader back during Civil War days, it probably was a common enough method that she would have known about it. And I imagine she planted celery in her garden. And I know that Hattie Morgan Stout was reading Godey’s, along with her mother Mary Morgan, for whom it was a lifeline to civilization.

This delicious and economical  recipe, like so many from the 19th century, is vague on details, so I am going to quote the recipe verbatim and then give you my version and some notes on why I made changes. It seems that the bitterness that called for stewing of celery in milk and adding lemon has been bred out of the modern plant, because I do not think of celery as bitter at all.

To Stew Celery

Take off the outside, and remove the green ends from the celery; stew in milk and water until they are very tender.  Put in a slice of lemon, a little beaten [grated or ground] mace and thicken with a good lump of butter and flour; boil it a little, and then add the yelks of two well-beaten eggs mixed with a teacupful of good cream.  Shake the saucepan over the fire until the gravy thickens, but do not let it boil.  Serve it hot.

My Version of Creamed Celery

Creamed Celery

Serves 4-5
Prep time 55 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 40 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
From book Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey's Lady's Book

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Milk
  • Water
  • 1 bunch Celery (2 stalks per person)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (plus some to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups cream

Directions

1. Peeled and unpeeled celery
Peel celery and slice the stalks. (Save leaves for garnish). Put stalk pieces in saucepan
2. Add one cup milk and enough water to barely cover.
3. Simmer until celery is tender--about 1/2 hour. Watch to be sure it does not boil.
4. Add mace.
5. Put flour and butter in small dish and mix with fingers until all flour is absorbed. Break off pieces and add to celery and liquid, stirring over low heat until thickened to the point of coating spoon, 5-10 minutes.
6. Beat egg yolks with cream, add slowly to warm celery and liquid, stirring as you add. Heat only long enough to warm the whole dish and thicken a bit more. Do not boil.
7. Put in warmed serving dish and sprinkle with some more mace.

Note

I have eliminated the lemon slice called for in the original. I tried it when I cooked this and it curdled the milk. (Of course!)  Plus, I did not think the lemon taste added anything.

Mace is another part of the same plant that gives us nutmeg. I like it very much. It has a slightly milder flavor. But feel free to substitute nutmeg.

I wound up with a lot more sauce than was necessary. If I were making it again, I believe I would pour off some of the milk/water that the celery is stewed in before adding the other ingredients.

I used only seven stalks of celery and it made enough for two servings and seconds, but if cooking this again, I believe I would use a whole bunch of celery. It takes a bit of work to make this, the leftovers are delicious, so why not have planned overs?

 

 

 

Henry Butts’ Civil War Letter 3: Swamp Water Up To Our Nees

Camp near Goldsboro, N.C.

March the 23, 1865

Dear Wife,

Civil War swamp battlefield


Image from page 29 of “The soldier in our Civil War : a pictorial history of the conflict, 1861-1865, illustrating the valor of the soldier as displayed on the battle-field, from sketches drawn by Forbes, Waud, Taylor, Beard, Becker, Lovie, Schell, Crane, 1893

The third surviving letter from Henry Allen Butts to his wife Annie was written only a day after the 2nd letter.

In letter two, he had referred to a long march, and now he tells about it. First he repeats what he said in letter two–his joy at finally receiving letters from home and he explains:

“…it is now three months since we had a chance to write. wen we was on the raid we could not send eny letters for we had no comunication. You must not think that we can write a letter and go to the post office like we do at home. We must wait till we get to a place that we can send a letter.

The 43rd Ohio Volunteers, part of Sherman’s army, have joined the armies of other generals and a total of 90,000 men are camped near Goldsboro.

Pvt. Butts has been  fortunate, but has experienced some horrendous situations.

Now i will give you some history of our march through confidercy. We left beaufort on the 13 of January and we have bin marching ever since up to this time. About 75 miles this side of beaufort is wear Stull (Jerimiah Stahl) was killed. The fight comenced on the 2 of febuary. That is the day that Col. Swayne has his lague shot off. He was about fifty yards from me wen the canon ball hit him.

Civil War Officer

Lt. Col.Wager Swayne, who lost his leg at the Battle of Rivers Bridge

Col. Swayne is Lt. Col. Wager Swayne, a Yale graduate. By the end of the war, he had been advanced to Major General of Volunteers and Brevet Major General in the regular army. He won the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. for an earlier battle, Corinth, Mississippi. Quoting from the web site Lybarger’s Civil War:

“A lieutenant colonel in the 43rd OVI during the second Battle of Corinth that mortally wounded Col. Smith, Swayne became its colonel after Col. Smith died. On Feb. 3, 1865, Swayne was severely wounded while crossing the swampy Salkahatchie River in South Carolina. While helped to an ambulance wagon, he kept repeating, ‘The Lord sustains me.’ He was successfully evacuated to New York City, losing his leg but surviving.”

The battle was the Rivers Bridge part of  Campaign of the Carolinas , and General Sherman had divided his troops, 5000 strong, with those under Swayne circling through the swamp to flank the 3000 Confederate Troops who were trying to prevent the Union Army from crossing the Salkahatchie River. Besides a vivid and gruesome account of what it was like to be in this battle, Henry Allen returns to the subject of the death of Jerimiah Stull/Stahl.  Henry Allen’s mother was Esther Stahl Butts, so there is a strong possibility he was related.

We marched on the skirmish line and thear we had to stand in the swamp in water up to our nees till about 12 o’clock at night wen we was releved. The next day being the 3(rd) we was ordered to charge the battery.

We charged it about three o’clock in the evening. That is about the time Stull(Stahl) was killed.  We had to charge up a road through the swamp and thear was water on boath sides of the road. Stull was at the side of the road wen he was shot and he fell in the water.  The ball hit him in the side and went through him.

Wen he fell I was about 20 steps before him. Wen he fel all he said ‘help me out’. Thear was one of our co(mpany) boys by the name of Short close to him wen he fel. He helped him out. He was dead. He was bured on a hill. Him and five others was bured side and side. I did not see him after he was killed.  he is under the sods of South Carolina and I hope he is at rest. Tell Mrs. Stull (Stahl) he was bured as dessent as we could bury him. Tha made a box for him.

His brother William was not with us wen he was killed. He is at Hilton Head, S.C. in the hospital tending to the sick. I don’t no weather he herd of it or not.

An account I read of the battle said that soldiers tending to the wounded had to hold their heads up so they would not slip into the water and drown. It was a morass of blood and death. And Henry Allen, who had twice closely missed being shot, escaped at least one more time.

Obid Underwood was close beside me wen he had his arm shot off. He was sent back to Beaufort. I have not herd wether he is living or not.  I suppose you no more about it than I do my Dear.

We had a hard time since we left Beaufort. I seen more than I ever want to see agane. We have seen hard time. We marched five hundred miles. Some of was bare footed, others nearly naked. We was the hardest looking set of men you ever seen, but now we have plenty of clothing and plenty to eat.

He closes once again saying that he will write when he has a chance. They have been told that they will stay here for some time. The Army marched north to Richmond to join with Grant’s army at the beginning of April.

Obid Underwood is Obediah (Obed) Underwood who was in Henry Allen’s Company. He did survive the war after having his arm amputated at the shoulder.

According to the web site Lybargers Civil War , there was a Grand Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in Mt. Vernon, Ohio in 1897. Since that was very close to Henry Allen’s home, he very well might have been there. Lt. Col. Wager Swayne, who Henry Allen saw injured, was in attendance.

This year is the Sequitennial of the North Carolina campaign, and North Carolina has a great website to mark the occasion.  You can get pictures, anecdotes and a detailed timeline at the North Carolina Civil War 150 website.

Henry Allen Butts Letter #2: After a Long March

52 Ancestors #4 Giles Allen Butts, The “Premature”

Giles Allen Butts 1864-1934

Giles was one of those babies referred to as “premature”, except that in his case, he was eight months premature, which is stretching the term pretty far, I would say.  Henry Allen Butts and Ann Marie (Anna Mariah) were married on August 23, 1864.  Giles was born on September 15, 1964.  Both those dates are well documented.

Regardless of the fact that Ann Marie was obviously pregnant when they were married, this was no shotgun wedding.  His letters show that Henry Allen felt deep concern and love for his new wife and for his infant son.

I do not intend to write about all of Henry Allen’s children–my great uncles and aunts, but since he mentions “Allen” in his letters home, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce his first child, Giles Allen. And as I was researching Giles, I found out that I have accidentally fulfilled the challenge of #52 Ancestors to write about “closest to my birthday” by finding someone who was born ON my birthday.*

Although Henry calls him Allen in the letters,  that name did not stick. His relatives called him by the adorable name ‘Uncle Golly’ and he filled in the census forms as Giles Butts or Giles A. Butts.

Giles’ Family Tragedies

Giles was a farmer, like his father. At the age of 23, he married Eva (‘Aunt Abby’) McArter and they lived on a farm near Danville, Ohio.  Some very bad luck plagued Giles concerning his family.  He and Eva had five children between 1888 and 1897, and lost two of them between 1912 and 1928.

In 1912, their 19-year-old son, Raymond Cletus Butts, who was born on my birthday, March 4 (but 44 years before me), died of tuberculosis of the bone.

Elizabeth, the youngest daughter,  married John, the brother of her sister Mary Agatha‘s husband Julius Blubaugh. Elizabeth and John married two years after Mary Agatha and Julius.

In 1928, Elizabeth Rebecca (Butts) Blubaugh died in an automobile accident on her way to St. Luke’s Catholic Church.  She had been married there and most of the family members (including Henry Allen Butts) are buried in the churchyard.

It was  the first snow of the season, on November 25, a Sunday, and the Newark Advocate reported that Elizabeth Blubaugh, of Mt. Vernon died instantly.  Her husband John and two children in the car survived.

Tragedy struck the Blubaugh/Butts family once more when the daughter of Giles’ oldest daughter Rosalie Butts Rick died in an automobile accident in 1955, but Giles did not live to experience that tragedy.

Giles Takes in Motherless Children

According to the somewhat confusing and sometimes erroneous family history of Henry Allen Butts’ family written by Rev. Homer Blubaugh:

After raising their family, Golly and Abby take Ruth Blubaugh, 2-year-old older sister of Otto Blubaugh and his twin, Owen, to raise for 3 years after their mother’s death in 1912.  Otto’s eldest sisters had their hands full raising the motherless infant twins.

When would that have been? If it was after raising their family, you would think it would need to be after 1917 when their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was married. However he says 1912.  And, remember, their son Raymond (born on my birthday) died in 1912. That may have made them eager for distraction, but on the other hand, it seems strange they would take in young children while they were still mourning his death, or–since he died late in the year, even more strange if he was dying of TB for them to take in children.

Blubaugh lists the children of the ill-fated Elizabeth and her husband John as Catherine, John, Otto J., Carl and Teresa Ann.  Since there is no Ruth, even though there is an Otto, It seems unlikely that this is the family Giles and his wife took in for three years. There were many ties between the Butts and Blubaughs families–neighbors in Knox County.   I have to conclude the mother who died was neither of the two daughters of Giles, but rather another Blubaugh who passed away when the twins were born.Whe wording “Ruth Blubaugh, 2-year-old older sister” means that they were infants and Ruth was two years old.

But I’m not sure, and cannot find confirmation, so once again I’m hoping some cousins will show up and bail me out of this puzzle, just as I hope with George, Henry’s twin.

Giles Allen, my great uncle–older brother to my grandmother Mary Isadore Butts Kaser– died in 1934, at the age of 69, and his wife survived until 1945. They are buried in St. Luke’s Catholic Church graveyard in Danville, Ohio.

*The suggested theme of the week at  52 Ancestors is not a requirement for the weekly story-telling about ancestors, and I generally do not follow the prompts, since I have an agenda of my own. This week’s prompt was “nearest to my birthday.” Since I discovered that Giles Butts son, Raymond, was born on my birthday, I decided to see what other relatives might be close to that date. In fact another relative on my father’s side of the tree, Leroy R. Kaser (1st Cousin 1 X removed) was born on March 4, 1891.  All these are pretty distant relatives, but Jediah Higgens, March 5, 1657, my 7th great grandfather, was close to my birthday.

How We Are Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, who is the son of
  • Mary Isadore Butts Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Henry Allen Butts, who is also the father of
  • Giles Allen Butts.

Notes on Research

 

  •  Transcripts of a Butts Family Bible provided to me by Jane Butts Kilgore in 2003, owned at the time by James E. Butts. Other carefully researched information on the Butts family was also sent to me by Jane Butts Kilgore.
  • “A History of the Henry Allen Butts Family” by Rev. Homer Blubaugh, Saint Mary Church, Lancaster, Ohio.  This is a combination of documented and anecdotal information about the Butts family from Ohio. Some was gathered at family reunions. Some is downright wrong, but some is quite interesting. My copy was sent by Butts descendent Helen Findon in 2003. The document says Revised May 11, ’92 – Rev. Homer Blubaugh. Copies in the authors’ possession.
  • Newark Advocate, November 28, 1928, page 3, “Auto Crashes in Ohio Claim LIves of Ten.”
  • Birth, Death and Marriage dates generally from the Blubaugh history, but most confirmed by records found at Ancestry.com