Tag Archives: Clark

Aaron Purdy Lures Uncle Jesse Morgan to Ohio

When we last saw Mary Bassett, she was settling the affairs of her first husband, Asahel Platt with the help of her new husband, Jesse Morgan. My 2nd great-grandmother, she had married a much-older Mr. Platt when she was only nineteen, hoping for stability after her mother died. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way she had hoped, and he died just a few years after they married. Read Mary’s story here.

What is the Question?

Family letters that Mary and her daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand daughter saved, are helping me learn more about Mary and particularly about her somewhat elusive second husband, Jesse Morgan. One of my quests is to figure out why Jesse Morgan wound up in the little town of Killbuck, Ohio.

I had long assumed that Jesse was born in New York because of this letter that he received addressed to New York.  But he probably was born in eastern Pennsylvania, where his father, Jesse Sr. moved from Connecticut. However, after the Jesse that became my 2nd great grandfather married his first wife, they moved to New York, because two daughters, and possibly two earlier sons were born there.  In 1835 when he received the letter, he had a three-month-old daughter, plus the older children, but he moved the family to Killbuck before 1938 when his third son was born.  His wife died,probably when that child was born.

The evidence is fairly strong that the letter he received in 1835 was influential in convincing him to move. He probably was a private school teacher, and might have wound up in Killbuck because there was  a need for a teacher.

What to Look For in the Letter

  • Aaron’s focus on the value of farm produce,
  • a lot of family gossip–which is invaluable to the family researcher,
  • a revealing couple of paragraphs pointing out the strong prejudices against German immigrants in the early 19th century. (I wrote about that anti-immigrant feeling in the late 18th century here.)
  • His sales pitch to Jesse to come to Ohio, appealing to the sense of adventure and novelty.

Note: As with the previous letter I shared, I have added paragraphs and punctuation. However, I have left Aaron Purdy’s very original spelling alone.

July 21st 1835

Folded with Address on the outside; from Clark’s Ohio

August 7th
Mr. Jessee Morgan

To: Volucia,Chautauqua Co., New York

Dear uncle I take this opertunity to inform you that we are all well at present and hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same. I have just been perusing the last leter we had from you dated the 3rd of July 1833. We have not had any letter from you since but I think that father has wrote one since he received it. We hear from you by some one that moved from there and we only believe that you are still alive.
We just received a leter from Matilda [Morgan Howard] which was bad news to us. She writes that her oldest dauter is dead and the rest of them has been very sick. Towner Savage [Aaron Purdy’s borther in law] has had two shocks of the palsy [strokes] and is not able to do any hard laborer. We expect them here next summer. [Matilda and Towner Savage live in Oregon Territory] We have such bad news of the western country I think that we will be satisfied whare we are. I am now akeeping a store of my own on Dowdys fork, Mechanick[Mechanic] Township, homes county[ Holmes County, Ohio] I commenced the 18th of April. God only knows how I shal get along. I am aselling goods very fast.
(back of first page)

Wheat has been a beter price this Spring than it was even more before from 100 to 100.20

on the ___________ (?) which is not very far from us. Every thing that we have to sell we can get the cash for it and thare is no lack of it neither – corn 50c oats 31c and 37c. Some of our ole neibours were back to Pensylvania this Spring and it does us good to hear that old town says that we can raise wheat here and send it thare cheaper than they can aford to raise it thare.
I must tell you something of our prosperity. I have 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl, all healthy enough. Sally [Sister of Jesse Morgan] is married to George Bucklew and he is a brother to my wife [Belinda Bucklew] and if you call her duch [Dutch, meaning German] you may gess what he is and how well they are liked in this country.

I am sorry to hear of George [Jesse’s brother’s first wife died, and he married a second time. His second wife died in 1834.] having such misfortune in choosing a companion.  If it be true to have the bad luck to meet with a dville instead of a friend, we only have it from hearsay.

I want you to writ to me as soon as you can I think of enough to fill a sheet, and if you can’t think of enough perhaps some of uncle family can fill it with something interesting. I should like to know what you are all occupiing and how you
(2nd page)
you are ageting along. I want you to tell me the prices of your markets of catle, sheep, horses, wheat of which we have a plenty of here. I should be glad to See you here if you could come. I supose it would be more satisfaction from you to come here than for me to come there. I supose I have a beter idea of that county than you have of this.

I don’t know as I have much more to write at present only for some apologies made in your laste leter respecting some of the duch. I know I hope that you wont think any the less of me [or] Sally for choosing our companions because they are reported to be duch nor of us if we were as duch as the devil.

You must excuse me for not writing sooner and something more entertaining for I have so mutch to do behind this desk that I can’t think of mutch at this time
Yours with Respect, Aaron Purdy

The Family

The letter writer, Aaron Purdy, is the son of Jesse’s sister Hannah Morgan and her husband Isaac Purdy, who had moved to Ohio after they married–the only one of Jesse’s siblings to leave Pennsylvania. Aaron is married to Belinda Bucklew. Despite his enthusiasm for Ohio, he and his wife will eventually move to Oregon territory.

Sarah Morgan, who married George Bucklew, is the sister of Jesse Morgan. Her husband George is the brother of Belinda Bucklew Purdy.

Matilda Morgan Howard, Jesse’s older sister, has death and illness in her family.

Towner Savage, as described in the letter above, is the husband of Aaron Purdy’s sister, one of the many Purdys who move to Oregon Territory. (Her name was also Matilda. This family was one where they reused the names of sisters and brothers quite often).

George, Jesse’s brother lost two wives, probably dying in childbirth. The second would have died a few months before this letter was written. I believe the reference to “some of Uncle family,” has to refer to George as well.

Reading Aaron’s letter to his uncle has given me an enormous amount of information, and I believe has indicated an answer to my question about why Jesse moved to Ohio.

 

Mom and Dad and the Ninth, a Special Day

Today marks 78 years since my parents were married–June 9, 1938–a special day.

My sister and Brother are in Arizona for a reunion. They suggested we meet on June 9th, since that was the wedding date of Paul and Harriette V. Anderson Kaser. As I wrote in an earlier post about their courtship, the Ninth of the Month was always a special day for them, since it was the date in 1933 that they had their first official date.

The Love Letters

love letters 1938

Love letters 1938- Paul Kaser and Harriette Anderson

I am looking at letters from 1938–the year they were married.  As with most of the time during their long courtship (1933-1938), they were separated during the week and met on weekends.  Unfortunately, the letters that survive rarely include both sides of the conversation. I have almost daily letters from Dad during 1935, when they had just started dating, and not very many of his from 1938, although Mother’s letters indicate that he must still have been writing very regularly.

By 1938, Dad had landed that permanent job that qualified him (in their eyes, if not yet her parents) to marry her. He had moved into an apartment in New Philadelphia, Ohio where he worked for the federal Weather Bureau.  She was teaching school in the tiny town of Clark, Ohio and sometimes living with her sister Rhema Fair and Rhema’s husband Earl, but other times spending a night or two with her parents, Guy and Vera Anderson in nearby Killbuck, Ohio.

I have edited the letters slightly and removed the most personal (and mushy) bits.

Problems They Faced

Since she had a car and he did not, she drove to New Philadelphia each weekend, or he borrowed her car. In this letter in December 1937, it sounds like he may have gotten back late, and reflects other problems.

Well I went down to the office as soon as I arrived and they were very nice about everything so that’s all fixed. The only bad thing they let one of the other fellows drive my truck today and hes kind of hard on trucks and I don’t like that very well.

Had any sign as to how things are going to go over there this week. I hope they cool off now. {probably her parents, who did not want her to marry him.}I see in the New Phila {Philadelphia} paper where a Tusc {Tuscarawas} county teacher put under a peace bond. May be that’s what you ought to do. At least you aren’t the only teacher who has trouble with the board.

I called Mbg. {Millersburg} just now and Keith {his brother} is still coming along fairly good. I sure hope nothing sets in.

Mother told me that when she told her parents she was going to marry Paul, they didn’t believe it, and “when Paul went to talk to them, Vera (Harriette’s mother) was furious.” In later years, they became reconciled and my grandmother praised my father as being as good to her as her own sons.

The reference to the school board is because the Clark, Ohio school board continued to hold back teacher’s pay, (it was the tail end of the Great Depression after all)  a problem that Mother returns to frequently in her letters.

Paul worries about his brother, who has to have major surgery. Their father had died after surgery for a hernia.

The Special Day

Mother wrote letters like journal entries, recording her day’s activities and her feelings. One letter was being written on the 10th March, 1938.

Darlin’

Please don’t think I forgot what day yesterday was for I honestly didn’t. but last night I had such a headache I came home before P. T. A. was over and went straight to bed {Harriette suffered from migraine headaches all her life.} but dear I never forget the ninth and never will in fact it will even be more important as time goes on. Did you wonder what we would be doing on our next ninth? {June 9th when they would be married} I did. And you know what I decided.

Tomorrow evening we take the B. B. [basketball] boys to Fisher’s Restaurant and Thursday we go up to Bert Geauques for super and Friday night I am coming over to New Philadelphia, or am I? We could come back and then you could drive back Saturday, or is that too much. Just as you say.

She signed the letter “Duchess”. I explained Dad’s pet name for Mother in that earlier post, Love Letters and the Course  of True Love.

 

She returns to the subject of the Ninth in May, when, despite the fact her wedding was only two weeks away, she was on a bus trip through New York and New England and into Canada with students and other teachers.

Mother on a Road Trip

Dearest Paul,

This is the first night that I have stayed in the bus but the cabins are so terrible and cost .75 per person that I preferred to sleep in the bus with the women. Helen and Mellanie to be smart wouldn’t do it. We have gone only 721 miles, but have had a grand time and have seen a great deal. Today we were at Thousand Islands.

Mr. and Mrs. Bechtol are lovely. She popped corn tonight and when anyone fixes corn they are swell. We are going thru Vermont and New Hamp. Then for home. This afternoon I had a case of homesickness but stopped it quickly but I do have a lot to tell you. And I will always be happy after the ninth {June 9 when they are getting married}. I don’t think we will get home before Monday or Tuesday, but I will {?} all when ever we do.

I love you dearly,

Harriette

Waxing Poetic

My Dad was a great reader, and in later years my Mother said one of the works he was introduced to by his friend Delmar Alderman was The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. He must have been under Scott’s Arthurian Romance spell when he wrote this one!

To the Duchess, From Paul, Greetings

By this token do I acknowledge My indebtedness to Thee, Fair Harriette. Thy acceptance, know then, Will but place me further in Thy debt.

For Friendship, graciously bestowed, do I thank Thee.

For Companionship, indispensible, thank Thee.

For My Mind, awakened to the good meditation, thank Thee.

For My Soul, aroused to pleasant dreams, thank Thee.

For My spirit, refreshed anew to the content of life thank Thee.

For all that thou wert, for all that Thou art, for all that Thou canst be to me, do I offer my heart I gratefulness.

Receive then, carrissime, this earnest of my obligation as bearing My whole being, an unworthy, but willing gift. And grant me yet this one prayer, that I may be Forever

Thine

Paul

The BIG Special Day, June 9, 1938

Despite the ongoing problems she had with the Clark school board getting paid and despite his over the top romantic longings, they were finally married on June 9, 1938, as I explained in Love Letters and the Course of True Love.  And she did not regret resigning from the Clark teaching job.

 Coshocton Tribune June 1938

Coshocton Tribune Article, June 15, 1938

She had hoped for a real honeymoon trip, writing from her own road trip,

We aren’t crowded in the bus and so far I don’t believe the trip will be very expensive. At least I will try to keep it from being, because there are several things I want, I wish we were on our trip now. I bet we can have a nice trip and not spend much in fact I would even like to stay in a tourist camp with you.

However, they spent their honeymoon one night at the Neil House hotel in Columbus, paying an outrageous $4.50 for their room and more to keep the car in the garage. Her memories included the smell of peanuts from the peanut vendor outside the front door.

Neil House honeymoon

Neil House hotel in Columbus Ohio and parking garage receipt for the night of their wedding.

Then they spent a few days at 4-H cap Hervida in Washington County, where Dad had been hired to lecture about weather because of his job with the Weather Bureau. There he lectured on weather subjects and she did First Aid. She noted that she had learned First Aid when she was a basketball coach.

Despite the problems and difficulties that plagued their five years of courtship, the marriage lasted the rest of their lives, and for the rest of their years, they grew nostalgic about the 9th of any month. Dad addressed anniversary cars to The Dutchess for decades.  In 1988, we celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary–marking that special day.

Paul and Harriette Kaser

Paul and Harriette Kaser, 50th Wedding Anniversary, June 1988

Home Economics Education in the 1920s and 1930s

hotplate

Very likely the type of hotplate Miss Anderson used to teach home economics in 1925.

When I read that my mother, Harriette Anderson (Kaser) taught home economics her first year of teaching, and all she had in the way of equipment was a hot plate, I wondered what she taught.

Of course she was teaching a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with cooking. The newish science of home economics (in 1925) covered a good deal more than food. The objective was to turn young women into scientific home makers–able to use the latest and greatest discoveries in health and nutrition, new kinds of sewing machines, and how to be a home manager instead of just a house slave.

The fact Miss Anderson had only an electric hotplate to teach on in 1925 was not entirely unreasonable. In their homes, these girls may still have been cooking on wood stoves,  and using an ice house dug into the side of a hill to store perishables. Although ice boxes with delivery of ice would be widely used in urban areas, home refrigerators had only been introduced in 1914. There were no small electrical appliances. The first stand electric mixers were introduced in 1919. Even the simple toaster did not come along until 1926, and electric stoves were not popular until around 1930. And that did not matter to these farm families, because before the federal  Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in the 1930s, they had no electricity anyway.

Home Economics is Born

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was credited with fueling the north’s passion for the Civil War. But her sister Catharine Beecher wrote a book that may have had more lasting effects. In 1841, she published Treatise on Domestic Economy and in 1869, American Woman’s Home (co-authored by sister Harriet). According to the history of women in the kitchen, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove,

“…she put forth a vision for the home economics movement, a movement that would not come to fruition until the turn of the twentieth century…Her most fervent cause was education for women, and she started many schools for women where ‘domestic science’ was a formal branch of study.  With education and professionalization, Catharine believed housework could be transformed from drudgery into a sacred job on equal footing with the professions of men.”

Catharine herself was never a traditional housewife because her fiancé was lost at sea and she never married. Coming from a family with servants, she may never have cooked. Her books were saturated with the Calvinistic religion of her father and the intellectual philosophy of the circle of New England literati and abolitionists and her extraordinary family members who gathered at the Beecher Hartford Connecticut home at Nook’s Farm.

Although she was a pioneer in this field, I can’t see the fundamentals of Miss Beecher’s teachings permeating the fun-loving 1920s that formed my mother. Catharine was a scold who was intent on improving women, particularly the lower classes so that they could fulfill the “great mission” of “self denial”. Food was not for enjoyment, but for character building. Furthermore, her religious background formed a philosophy where women were subservient to men and she did not believe in women voting. They should be educated–as teachers.

But the ‘get to work and stand up straight’ messages were salted with incredibly helpful hints for forward-looking home making. Move over Martha Stewart–Catharine explained that women could learn how to divide their home into rooms to best use the space, how to make their own picture frames and pant stands, organize their kitchens for maximum efficiency, and properly serve meals.

Home Economics in Ohio Schools

In 1914, a federal law required land grant colleges (including mother’s and my alma mater, Ohio State University)  to extend teaching of home economics and agriculture through county extension agents. That program was in full swing when mother started teaching in rural Ohio in 1925. In 1917, the federal government had started partially funding domestic science teaching in local schools, which probably explains why by the time mother started teaching, most Ohio schools–even a two-room school like Clark, Ohio– had home economics classes.

Harriette Anderson teacher

Clark, Ohio High School, the 1925-26 students. The 19-year-old teacher is on the far right.

But what could she teach to a class with three girls of various ages? Food was certainly going to be a challenge with only a hotplate to operate with. And I can imagine what those farm mothers thought about their girls being taught by some outsider the skills that had been passed down form mother to daughter for generations.

Home Economics for the Twenties and Thirties

In the twenties and thirties, women were being taught that cooking with commercially preserved foods was superior to using fresh or home-preserved. The newest, most modern, most economical and efficient way to cook was to use commercially prepared foods. Food manufacturers jumped on this opportunity and mother’s closet was full of brochures and cookbooks on how to use brand name products. The Singer company helped get sewing machines into classrooms. Pattern-makers catered to home economics teachers.

Since Miracle Whip was not introduced until 1933, this brochure must have come along a little later, but checking historic labels, I think this would have been very early. [Note: I had to leave out a couple of panels. The recipe that goes with the center bottom picture of food is Burgers and coleslaw. Also, the color balance is off–the mayo was just as white then as it is now.]

In a book called A History of Vocational and Career Education in Ohio 1828-2000, I learned that the first state coordinator of Home Economics was appointed in 1918.  I do not know for sure what the teaching guidelines were for home economics teachers in 1925, but by 1930, Ohio had a detailed curriculum guide, Home Economics: Course Study for High Schools in Vocational Home Economics Education.  If you want to see what was expected of women in 1930, check the digital version on this page.

Food teaching centered on nutrition–not fancy food.  The vitamin value of vegetables was not even realized until World War I–not even a decade before mother started teaching.  The recommended reading section of the study guide includes two books by the Boston Cooking School teacher and author, Fannie Farmer. Recipes are plain and seasonings are few.

The study guide is earnest and for the most part probably very helpful to a beginning teacher at a city school, but I doubt that the farm girls of Clark had any need for the etiquette of serving dinner–both with and without a maid; nor would Miss Anderson’s hotplate have accommodated the instructions to have each girl take responsibility for “planning, preparing and serving (with the aid of another member of the class) at least one luncheon of each type for a group of five or six people.” And “planning, preparation and serving a series of suppers (10-14) for the family. Two or three meals a week may be prepared if the project is covered while school is in session.”

The “types” of luncheons to be discussed, with focus for each day underlined were:

  • Vegetable plate luncheon, bread, beverage.
  • Cheese dish, vegetable salad, gelatin dessert, bread.
  • Meat or fish salad, parkerhouse rolls, fruit compote.
  • Croquettes, green vegetables, fruit salad, bread.
  • Meat, or meat extender, vegetable salad, bread, beverage, dessert.

Mother was learning her own ideas of what made the proper meal as she taught her classes. To the end of her life, she complained about any meal that did not include bread. She expected meat, vegetable, starch (potato or rice for instance), bread and coffee and dessert. If these farm families wanted bread, mother had to bake it. There were no bakeries, and commerical sliced bread was not yet available.

In the classroom, she could have boiled potatoes on the simple hotplate like she reported doing on a campfire on her summer road trips during this period. I can imagine her borrowing an iron skillet from Aunt Rhema, in whose house she was staying while she taught at Clark, and frying potatoes, or perhaps she made an omelet. Of course the girls could make a salad, but there was no refrigeration for leftovers, and anyway, fresh salads might have been a hard sell in those days of boiling  vegetables to death. That vegetable plate luncheon would have been an oddity for these meat-loving farm families. And fish? Probably not. In one way, they would have been extremely modern. All produce would have been locally grown and organic.

Teaching home economics in a rural two-room school in 1925 would have been quite a challenge– even if  teacher had more than a hotplate in the classroom.

Will you try any of the recipes in the Kraft  booklet?  For that matter, which side of the divide do you fall on–Miracle Whip dressing or Kraft mayonnaise?