Pumpkin Recipes: Survival Food on the Ohio Frontier

Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

Poem written in 1630s America,  from History.org article on pumpkins .

When the settlers from New England first arrived in Marietta, in the Northwest Territory about 1790, Indian wars were raging.  They had no easy trade with the east, their livestock was constantly in danger, they had to clear dense Ohio woods before they could plant vegetables, and then take the chance of going out of their forts to tend to their gardens. Even hunting was risky, said Benjamin Franklin Stone in his memoir of the pioneers of Israel Stone’s family.

Ohio Forest

Ohio Forest. Photo by Ben Millett from Flickr

In his autobiography, B.F. Stone says

Principle items of food were Indian bread, pork, potatoes and other garden sauce, occasional venison, bear and raccoon, opossums, squirrels, wild turkeys.

The war prevented us hunting much in the woods.  No apples, peaches or other cultivated fruits until the trees had time to grow from seed.

Great use was made of pumpkin.  We used to cut up and dry a great quantity of pumpkin.  Corn in the milk was dried for winter and spring.  Pumpkins, melons and garden vines grew more luxuriously [than in the middle 19th century.]

In the late 18th century, when my Ohio ancestors were depending on pumpkin recipes to keep them alive, the Europeans still disdained pumpkin, recently introduced to them, as food for the poor.

Like so many frontier foods, housewives found many ways to keep their family from getting bored with pumpkin. Not an easy task since pumpkin recipes benefit from sweetening and if ever two flavors were meant to go together, it is pumpkin and cinnamon.  if they had any cinnamon, it would have been in short supply, and for sweetening, they probably had to depend on maple syrup or honey once they ran out of the small amount of sugar they brought along, as it would be a while before traders would be delivering molasses to the frontier settlements.


Heirloom, eating pumpkins may not all be orange. Photo by Jeremy Seitz form Flickr

I found a great article at History.org, the website of Historic Williamsburg, with a very complete history of the use of pumpkin in America, from American Indians to today. Here’s a 17th century view of one way  pumpkins were cooked.

“A visitor to New England in 1674 wrote:

The Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire a whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions, not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stew’d enough, it will look like bak’d Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c.) which makes it tart like an Apple.”

Today we tend to limit ourselves to pumpkin already stewed and canned and to a pumpkin recipe on the can’s label for pie. Or maybe we munch on salted pumpkin seeds, removed when the kids made jack-o-lanterns. Our more versatile ancestors were using pumpkin recipes for side dishes, or stuffed pumpkin with various fillings eaten as a main dish.

But we are not just being lazy when we choose pumpkin in a can.  Pumpkins in America have been for decades bred for making jack-o-lanterns–sturdiness taking precedence over taste. And the thinner walls suitable for carving mean you don’t get as much pumpkin meat.  So if you’re going to cook up some pumpkin from scratch, be sure that you find a store that sells eating pumpkins–perhaps labeled “heirloom” or you will definitely be disappointed.

What we call pumpkin pie, was known by them as pumpkin pudding. It just happened to be baked in a “paste”, which we call by the finished name–crust. The article from Williamsburg points out that the Amelia Simmons American cookbook in 1796 gave a recipe for pumpkin pudding that sounds almost identical to the pie filling you can find on the label of the canned pumpkin today. There are some things that you just can’t really improve on.


“…the Pilgrims seem to have been first to make pumpkin beer or ale. A later stanza of the poem quoted above provides evidence that they were versatile with their ingredients:

If Barley be wanting to make into Malt, We must be contented and think it no Fault, For we can make liquor to sweeten our Lips Of Pumpkins and Parsnips and Walnut-Tree Chips.

The Pilgrim recipe was said to involve a mixture of persimmons, hops, maple syrup, and, of course, pumpkin. Further south in Virginia, planter Landon Carter mentions pumpkins in his diary in 1765. He, too, concocted some sort of alcoholic beverage from fermented pumpkins. He christened it pumperkin.” [This information also from the history.org article. ]

Boy, I wouldn’t mind having a taste of pumperkin.  That sounds delicious!


NOTE: Be sure you’re buying eating pumpkins rather than jack o’ lantern pumpkins when you try these recipes. And if you want to try pumpkin in more modern recipes, try substituting it fro butternut squash in any recipe.


History.org article on pumpkins from Colonial Williamsburg Journal Autumn 09.

The website  Jas. Townsend and Son made the video. At their online store, theysell items for American Revolution recreators. They carry cooking and eating necessities including some ingredients and cookbooks and DVDs for recreating the 18th century kitchen. (Video is available on you tube).

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Stone, excerpt from New England Magazine, both available at Google Books for search.

You Named Your Baby WHAT? Odd Names

Today I’m going to spotlight some of the odd names, er-ah, more ‘interesting’ names I have run across in my family tree.

Obviously these people did not have the aid of some of the 100 or so books to aid in naming your baby. They did not have 60,000 Baby Names, or 100,000 Baby Names  (both from Christian Books.com) or The Complete Book of Baby Names, which outdoes 100,000 by listing 100,001. Nor did they have Baby Names 1840 (Okay, but there IS a Baby Names 2014). Although I suspect they could have put together an early version of The Complete Book of Hebrew Baby Names.

Family Bible Title Page

Family Bible Title Page

What did they have?  The BIBLE, and their prolific use of the “Begats” just may explain why nobody wants to read the Old Testament any more.

Bible begats--odd names

Bible begats

Because mostly the Book of Numbers and the Book of Chronicles begat odd names.

Rhema Anderson (Fair)

I mention my aunt Rhema Anderson Fair, not because she had a strange or funny name (in my judgement), but it is a rare name.  Plus she changed it a couple of times.  Named Rema for the Biblical meaning of “the word,” she changed the spelling to Remah when she was a girl, and later settled on Rhema, but still spent her life answering questions from people who wanted to know if she was a man or a woman.

Rhema’s mother, my grandfather’s first wife, had the unusual name Lillis, by the way. Which according to whom you believe could mean “of the night” or could mean “lily.” Or, if you take an ancient Irish meaning, it could be outlaw. Take your pick. It is also a surname, usually Irish.
Lillis named Remah/Rhema’s brother Telmar, which might be Scandanavian, might be something else. Lillis was a very well-read lady, but Heaven knows where she came up with that name.

Ima Bird (b. 1903)

My mother often mentioned Ima Bird, a cousin, with a “Can you believe they named her that?” comment.

Ima Bird is my 2nd Cousin once removed.

Ima was the daughter of my maternal grandfather, L. Guy Anderson‘s uncle (William McCabe Anderson). The Birds and Andersons were connected in many ways. The family farms stood next to each other in Monroe Township, Holmes County, Ohio, and besides the Bird/Anderson parents of Ima, both Guy and his uncle Frank Anderson married Bird girls. (I am descended from Guy’s 2nd wife, not from Lillis Bird)  Additionally, one of Guy’s aunts married a Bird and another broke her engagement to a Bird.

But regardless of how much teasing Ima got in 8th grade, hers is not the name that fascinates me the most.

Hepzibah Death (1680-1769)

I cannot imagine having “Death” as a last name, and then to add the Biblical Hepzibah as a first name, just compounds the wonder.

Hepzibah Death is my 6th great-grandmother.

The parents of the several Hepzibahs that show up in my tree found her name in the Old Testament. As this explanation shows, Hephzibah, when translated literally from the Hebrew, it is actually a “delightful” name–meaning “My delight is in her.”

The last name Death has a confusing lineage.  Some claim that it is from Belgium, derived from a place name –  a common source for surnames. This theory holds that people from Ath were called d’Ath, which when they moved to England, morphed into Death.  Others claim that d’Ath is just an affectation and it is actually an old English word spelled several ways, but meaning “death.”

I cannot decide whether Hepzibah improved her name by marrying David How, even though Hepzibah How is at least alliterative. She must have been well thought of in the How family, because other girls were named Hepzibah after her.

The most fascinating tidbit I found was in an old history that claimed that the Congress in New England banned the use of the name, and people using that name changed their names to “How” or “Howe.” (Meaning Hepzibah Death was ahead of the curve?) Not only have I been able to find any other evidence for that statement, but if you search for the surname today, you will find both Death and d’Ath and other spellings in use.

Thankful Savage (b. 1743)

The name Thankful has a nice, calm ring to it, and was one of those virtuous names popular with the Puritans.You can find a fascinating list of Puritan virtue names here.  How’d you like to be called “Abstinence?”

Although Thankful Stone (her maiden name) sounds rather Zen, but poor Thankful did not improve her moniker by marrying a man named Savage.

Thankful Savage was my 4th Great Grand Aunt, sister to Jeduthan Stone, the Minuteman. The man she married descended from another Puritan settler.

An earlier instance of the name in my line, Thankful Briggs, married William C. Bassett, grandson of the pioneer William Bassett–first of that line to land in Massachusetts from England. William L. Bassett is my 6th great-grandfather, and Thankful was second of his three wives, but not in my direct line. Another one, Thankful Banks married a son of Jeduthan Stone.

 Waitstill Death (b. 1728)

Waitstill Vose (1688-1750)

Now there is a name to drive your spell-checker crazy! The Puritans strike again, hopefully naming a child with a quality they pray it will possess.

I love the graph on this page that shows that the name Waitstill peaked in popularity in 1640 and had disappeared by the end of the 19th century. I certainly never met a Waitstill — did you? And yet, I have found two — mother and daughter — in my family tree.

Waitstill Vose, like Thankful Stone, made an unfortunate choice of husbands. She became Waitstill Death. But wait — there’s more — she named her daughter Waitstill Death, too!

My relationship here is tenuous.  Waitstill Vose was the 2nd wife (not direct line) of my 6th Great Uncle.

In fact, I found very little information about it, other than the tidbit that it was shortened to Waity, and from that came another odd name Wady. The other interesting thing I discovered is that it was used for both males and females and is also a surname–although that is also rare.

Sardine Stone 1768-1834

I know that astute readers read yesterday’s article about the Stone family who survived (mostly) their pioneering move from Massachusetts to Ohio in the 1790s. And because you are astute, you wondered about the name, Sardine Stone.

For anyone who insists that you must have a “normal” sounding name in order to succeed in politics, think again.  My distant (Male) cousin, Sardine was elected to the Ohio State legislature many times.

Nine years after Ohio became a state in 1803, Sardine was elected, as a Republican, to Ohio’s House of Representatives. He was 44 years old. He served in 1812, 1813 and 1816. (No idea what happened to 1814). In 1817 he ran and was elected to the Senate and re elected in 1818.

Apparently in 1819 some dirty work at the cross road threatened his political career.  Six townships in the counties he represented had been set aside and not counted. Without those townships the tally was in favor of his challenger Levi Barber (859 votes to Stone’s 771 votes.)

Sardine introduced a petition to the Senate and the Committee of the whole decided to reinstate those townships.  The votes in the six townships gave 186 votes to Stone and only 28 to Barber. Once they were added back, Sardine Stone won re-election by 956-887 votes. Whew!

He went on to be re-elected every year through the 21st Assembly in 1822. I would love to know more about his politics and how he got elected, but I have other fish to fry. (Pardon me, Sardine.) After all, his mother may have–rather than a salty fish– had in mind a sardine stone–a type of carnelian that comes in a deep red. The stone is not precious, but the name is decidedly rare.

Sardine Stone is my first cousin 5 x removed, according to Ancestry.com. (Couldn’t prove it by me!)


More odd baby names lurk in the foilage of my family tree– Part Two will come along one of these days.  Stay tuned.

Research Notes

Genealogical Dictionary of New England Settlers Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May 1692. (1860-62) Vol. 2, Page 33, says of the name Death, “This name was common in that part of the county, some yrs. since, but within few yrs. by the legislat. it has been changed to How”

Several records are preserved on line of the names of legislators in the early Ohio Assemblies.  The most common is the Legislative Manual of the State of Ohio published by the Ohio General Assembly.  I learned about Sardine Stone’s political affiliation from a web site A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825.

The History of Marietta and Washington County, Ohio has this gem from a newspaper article about a meeting of the “Republican delegate from townships”, September 20, 1813, that nominated Sardine Stone to run for re-election to the House.

“At the present crisis when our country is beset by savages of the forest and by the civilized savages of Great Britain, it becomes the imperious duty of every good citizen to exert himself.”


There are also links here to books available at Amazon.com because I am an affiliate of Amazon. Anything at all that you buy through those links, earns a few pence to keep Ancestors in Aprons researching. And it costs you no more. Thanks!


Surviving on the Frontier. 52 Ancestors #30: Israel Stone

Israel Stone 1749-1808

Although I would not usually relate the story of as distant a relative as a remote cousin who is also “husband of 4th great-grand aunt” Israel Stone and his two wives are just too interesting to ignore.

Israel was born on April 15, 1749 in Rutland, Massachusetts. His parents were cousins. Deacon John Stone was the son of Nathaniel Stone  (whose parents I haven’t worked out yet) and Elizabeth Stone (Stone) who  was the daughter of Capt. Samuel Stone and sister to Nathan Stone, my 5th great grandfather.

Modern view of Buckley Island in the Ohio River near Marietta, Ohio.

Modern view of Buckley Island in the Ohio River near Marietta, Ohio. The settlers were forced to try to pasture animals on islands to keep them safe from Indians. But then wolves got them.

Israel and Lydia Barrett

The couple married in 1767 in Rutland, MA and had ten children in Massachusetts. They are an interesting bunch, especially Sardine Stone, who became an Ohio Senator. One of the younger brothers, Benjamin Franklin Stone (1782-1873) became a teacher. In his eighties (finishing at 91) he wrote an autobiography, which gives wonderful details of life in early Ohio territory.

Israel was a militiaman, and when he had been married only 8 years, The record shows:

  • On April 19, 1775, Israel marched to the alarm at Lexington and fought at Cambridge (probably was at Bunker Hill), a duty that lasted 12 days. He served under Cpt. Thomas Eustis.
  • Later, still a private, he served in the company of Cpt. David Bent, Col. Nathan Sparhawk’s Regiment and marched from Rutland to Bennington,8-20-1777, serving for eleven days. In these two companies, he was with his cousin Jeduthan Stone, the Minuteman I wrote about earlier.
  • In 1777, now a Corporal, he served for three months with Capt. Samuel Hubbard’s company, Col. Job Cushing’s Regiment. He entered September 5, 1777 and was discharged 29 November 1777.

Benjamin Franklin, who was ten when they moved to Ohio, remembered from the Massachusetts days when his father would drive a wagon to Boston (presumably with farm produce.) They lived on the “old Stone farm” until 1786 when he sold that farm and moved to another one. After the Revolution, currency became so devalued that he was having a hard time getting by. This spurred his move to Ohio with the Ohio Company.

Israel was one of the men of Rutland who followed General Rufus Putnam to Marietta, Ohio. In 1789, according to Benjamin Franklin Stone (whom I will call B. F.), Israel set off for Ohio with another man to survey the prospects. His son Jasper (1774-1830) followed a year later. Two daughters stayed with their mother in Rutland, but all the other children were scattered to live with other families in Massachusetts.

In September 1790 a group of 26 people, including Lydia and most of her children — Sardine, Matilda, daughter Lydia, son Israel, Augustus, Christopher Columbus, Polly Buckley and Benjamin Franklin — set out in a train of 3 ox carts with General Putnam’s family. I cannot believe that Lydia was happy to have to make this journey with her huge family.

B.F. says that his brother Israel kept a detailed journal of the trip, but it was unfortunately lost.

Mother Lydia took a cow and Putnams had three cattle.  They traveled through Massachusetts into New York and across Pennsylvania. When they reached the Ohio River, they took a barge to Marietta. The journey took a total of 8 weeks. When they arrived, they were met by their father Israel, whom they had not seen for a year and a half, brother Jasper and sister Betsy who had traveled ahead with another family.

A tragedy of sorts befell them along the way when 100 pairs of socks were lost.  Knowing they would not have sheep for a while, hard-working Lydia and her daughter had knitted the socks to supply the company for a year or two. They were left with only two pair of socks each.

LATE BREAKING: A contributor to the Ohio History & Genealogy Board on Facebook, brought to my attention a site focused on Marietta History.  A search for the Stone name brings up an article called “First Settlement of Rainbow” in the September 7, 1876 issue of the Marietta Register with additional information about Israel’s family.

Bigger tragedies lay ahead with a five-year war against hostile Indians, the death of the young son Israel by drowning in the Ohio River and the death of the mother Lydia.

Picketed Point, reminder of the Indian Wars along the Ohio River 1791-1796 Photo by Photo by Richie Diesterheft, Flickr.

Picketed Point, reminder of the Indian Wars along the Ohio River 1791-1796 Photo by Photo by Richie Diesterheft, Flickr.

The Indian raids made going into the fields or woods dangerous. There was a massacre of several of their group in 1790, and they were disheartened by the defeat of General St. Clair in November 1791 in a battle with 1000 Ohio Miami, Shawnees and Lenape with Potawatamis from Michigan. The Indian forces were known as the American Indian Confederacy. Only 48 of about 1000 American troops escaped death.

I will return to talk about the Ohio Indian wars later, but the underlying problem was that the treaty ending the American Revolution with Britain treated the American Indians as part of the defeated, and although they were not part of the treaty talks, their lands were given to the American government. Understandably, they disagreed.

But life went on among the settlers and on February 27, 1792, little Harriet Hubbard Stone was born, Israel and Lydia’s eleventh child. Lydia died when her baby was only eight months old.  B.F. says that his mother had told him “her constitution was much impaired by excessive hard work even before she was married.”

In March of 1794 Israel was granted a patent of 100 acres of land out of the 1000 that the government had given to Putnam and his company. After living in blockhouses within a fort at Marietta, Israel Stone and a few others moved in 1795 upriver to build another garrison which was known as Farmer’s Castle in the settlement of Rainbow.

Israel and Mary Broadbent Corner

Meanwhile, in England, Mary Broadbent, who was born in Cheshire England in 1764, had married William Corner in 1783.  In 1795 William and Mary Corner and their children — William, George, Sarah and Mary — sailed to America and joined a group that started the Westward trek.  However, unlucky William died of a fever in the mountains of Pennsylvania  and was buried there.

Mary, who must have been an intrepid soul, buried William in Pennsylvania and continued west with the children.  Wherever she had intended to go, she stopped in Marietta. Although the Ohio Company was offering free land to settlers, as a woman whose oldest child was still under twelve, she did not qualify.  But she met Israel Stone and they married in August 1796.

So Israel Stone added three step-children to his family, and he and Mary had one more.

Israel, who is sometimes referred to as Capt. Stone, died July 3, 1808 and is buried in Rainbow. How poetic to pass away in Rainbow! And how peaceful it sounds compared to the life of Israel Stone with his wives Lydia and Mary.

Mary lived with her son George after Israel died at Corner’s Mills, later Cornerville.

 How they are related to me

  •  Vera Marie (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson), the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Basset), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the wife of
  • Jeduthan Stone, the son of
  • Nathan Stone, the brother of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Stone), the mother of
  • Israel Stone

Additionally, Lydia Barrett is the step-sister of Jeduthan Stone’s wife Elizabeth Howe (Stone).

Research Notes

  • Israel Howe’s Revolutionary War service record is from a compilation found on ancestry.com sourced from the Massachusetts State Archives and Revolutionary War Rolls.
  • Most information about the family comes from Benjamin Franklin Stone’s autobiography. An excerpt appears in “From Rutland to Marietta: Leaves from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Stone”, New England Magazine, New Series Vol 16 (1897) p. 210 ff. Both the entire book (1873) and magazine available for search at Google Books.
  • Information on St. Clair’s defeat in WIkipedia.
  • History of Marietta and Washington County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, Edited and compiled by Martin R. Andrews, M.A., Biographical Publishing Co. (1902) Available free on line