Tag Archives: Harriet Morgan Stout

Great Grandma Bakes Cakes for 32 People

My first thought upon looking at Great Grandmother Harriet (Hattie) Morgan Stout’s letter to her daughter was, “I hope she wasn’t attempting to teach penmanship when she was a teacher!” I have the feeling Hattie would have more success when she bakes  cakes than when she tries to write legibly.

Letter from Hattie Stout 1910

Letter from Harriette Morgan Stout to her daughter Maude Stout Bartlett, May, 1910

I will spare you the chore of trying to figure out what Hattie was saying in this letter to Maude Stout Bartlett. I have transcribed the entire letter at the bottom of the post if you want to read the whole thing. But since it has references to unidentified people who are not of much interest to a reader 100 years after the letter was written, I will first summarize the letter’s high points.

Hattie would have been 68 years old that year, and her husband, William Cochran (Doc) Stout would have been 65. Maude Stout Bartlett was 35.  My grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson was 29 and had been married just six years but had three small children.

Last week I talked about this letter’s reference to my grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson who was planning to grill.  There’s another food reference in my great-grandmother’s letter which also left a few questions, when she bakes cakes for a Sunday School party. But there are more serious subjects here, also.

Doc Stout’s Ill Health

Hattie writes the letter on Thursday, May 12, 1910.  In the letter she worries a lot about her husband Doc Stout’s health.  He had a stroke, or perhaps more than one stroke, a little over a year earlier.  Hattie says

Pa is feeling about as usual but complains for the last week of his arm and leg being so much more numb than it was or has been for a long time. don’t know why it is so. It may be the weather has something to do with it. It has been so cold and disagreeable for the last two weeks. He can’t be so very billious for he has just finished a course of pills. He is asleep now on the davenport and snoring as usual. I do hope he won’t have another stroke. Seems cheerful & it is not that that caused the numbness.

In fact, Doc Stout did have another stroke. He died just three months after Hattie wrote this letter, in August 1910.

Doc Stout funeral

The Killbuck Community Band returning from the cemetery after funeral for Doc Stout. Grandfather Guy Anderson front left. Sign on left “Watch for locomotive.”

Focus on Daughter Maude

There is no question that the tie between Hattie and her older daughter, Maud, was very close.  When Hattie wrote this letter, Maud was 35 years old and had been married for twelve years. She lived in Buffalo New York, and according to the census form that she answered the previous month, her husband was a traveling railroad agent.  In other words he traveled around the country and promoted railroad travel during the Golden Age of train travel. In 1900 they had lived in Killbuck and he described his job as traveling salesman.  And the absences apparently took a toll on Maude.

Wish you were here to go up with us in the morning and you might as well be here all the time if you could content yourself as to be there all alone. Your visit quite spoiled us for Pa misses your smile as much as I do and always says wish Maud was here if anything out of the ordinary happens or if we were going some where Say Maud would enjoy this.

I don’t believe you are getting used to the staying alone biz very fast. Quite nice of Miss Pierce staying all night with you . Wish you had some one. Can’t you hunt up a young girl to come to stay at night with you{?} Even a day would help to relieve the monotony.

Hattie Bakes Cakes

Pa wanted to entertain the Sunday School another time So I had them Mond. evening. Had a nice time. Served ice cream, cake and coffee. Bought the ice cream of Robb & made the cakes myself. Had 32 plates including my own and Pa’s. The music was fine and the quartette sang lovely.

Good heavens, great-grandmother, for the sake of a descendant who writes about food traditions, could you not have shared at least what KIND of cake?  And I’m wondering what size pans and how many cakes it took to serve 32 people. Since Hattie was a reader of Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, perhaps she found the recipe there.  I’ll do some searching and see what cake was most popular in 1910 and give it a whirl. Although I can’t promise to bake cakes for 32.

Hints at the Way They Lived in Killbuck, Ohio in 1910

We learn that family is tight and see each other frequently. The people she writes about include her son-in-law’s family members–their whereabouts and health. Guy Anderson’s widowed mother, Mary, has been living with her other son, “Ben” until yesterday when Vera picked her up and took her to the farm where she and Guy live.

We learn that although Doc Stout is a doctor, he owns a farm and his wife is a bit concerned about getting the spring corn planting done. Guy is probably going to help with the corn planting and is bring them the planter.  After Doc Stout died, Hattie depended on Guy to manage the farm. (When I was a girl, my Uncle William J. Anderson lived on the farm and it remained in the family until we descendants sold it a few years ago.)

She mentions the weather–so chilly for May that they are burning the stove every day.

Hattie passes on a bit of gossip about townspeople–one woman who is going to Chicago and one who is pregnant (perhaps unmarried, since she says “is in a fix and begins to look plump a little.

In Closing

Hattie returns to both the subject of how much her father misses her  and Maude’s unhappiness and loneliness. Then she closes with a bit of advice.

Pa said how much Maud and Carlos would have enjoyed it—wish we had had it while you were here. He talked about it for a long time but I did not ______ it very strong thinking he would forget it but he kept it up so I let him go and done the best I could. We’re not very tired. Took things easy and did not worry and that is half the battle.

Good by. love to both. don’t get lonesome or afraid. Nothing to fear but the Comet and it is too far off.

I cannot make out that word about her reaction to Pa’s wanting to have the party, but it seems logical that she is saying she did not encourage his idea, but when he would not let go of the idea, she reluctantly went along.

The “Nothing to fear but the Comet” refers to the biggest news event of the year of 1910.  Haley’s comet came around on May 19, 1910 and was the center of attention for months, causing riots and stories predicting doom. The newspapers would have been covering it heavily about the time Hattie wrote this letter.  But she adopted a matter-of-fact scientific view rather than the less informed panic.

 

ENTIRE LETTER TRANSCRIPT

(With a few additional notes)

Envelope: Mrs. C. E. Bartlett, 16 Robie Ave. Buffalo NY

postmarked Killbuck, May 12 p.m. 1910 Ohio

Killbuck Thursday

Dear Maude and Carlos You see one day ahead but, I or rather we are going to go up to Vera’s in the morning and want to start from here by eight-o’clock so I know would be no time to write letters I have written one to Will [brother William Morgan Stout] one to Clem [I have no idea who this is] and now comes your turn last-of course but not-least for I cut theirs off short for I have some things to do this afternoon yet.

Vera is going to have a grilling tomorrow and will put in two grills – She has one in now & wants to put another in as soon as I get it there with the lining and bottom as she has asked about 10 or 12 and they all could not get around one grill to any advantage. We will take Sarah Jane [Probably Sarah Jane Brink Anderson, wife of Guy Anderson’s uncle] along with us if she wants to go. Vera was down after Mary [Mary Brink, Guy Anderson’s mother] yesterday. Ben [Bernard Franklin Anderson, Guy’s brother] fetched her this far and Vera met her. [In 1910, Mary was living with Ben and his wife She will stop up there until Sun. Net seems better now. don’t think it is anything permanent though. [“Net” is Nettie Andress Anderson, wife of Ben. In fact her illness was permanent, and she died the following year.]

Pa is feeling about as usual but complains for the last week of his arm and leg being so much more numb than it was or has been for a long time. don’t know why it is so. It may be the weather has something to do with it. It has been so cold and disagreeable for the last two weeks. He can’t be so very billious for he has just finished a course of pills. He is asleep now on the davenport and snoring as usual. I do hope he won’t have another stroke. Seems cheerful & it is not that that caused the numbness.

We have not any corn planted yet and we are just as well off as others. Guy [Leonard Guy Anderson, son-in-law of Hattie, wife of Vera] will finish his by tomorrow Eve and then we will have the planter Sat. guess he will come down and work it as Nett don’t understand it very well. do hope it won’t rain any more for a while. The sun is shining bright now but the wind is cold and we have the gem going all the time. [The “gem” “Gem” is a type of stove. They originally were coal burning, but by 1910 it could have been gas.]

Wish you were here to go up with us in the morning and you might as well be here all the time if you could content yourself as to be there all alone. Your visit quite spoiled us for Pa misses your smile as much as I do and always says wish Maud was here if anything out of the ordinary happens or if we were going some where Say Maud would enjoy this.

I don’t believe you are getting used to the staying alone biz very fast. Quite nice of Miss Pierce [Perhaps a Buffalo friend] staying all night with you . Wish you had some one. Can’t you hunt up a young girl to come to stay at night with you{?} Even a day would help to relieve the monotony.

I have not cleaned our bit of house yet and don’t care if I don’t as long as this beastly weather lasts but I expect when it gets warm I’ll be so lazy that I won’t feel like moving one bit. Martha [don’t know who this is] washed for me at lest{least} Sat & I ironed yesterday.

I guess the news is rare about here Glenner(?) is in a fix and begins to look plump a little. I saw it in her face.You know that __ are over there. [She appears to be speaking about a woman who is pregnant, but I have no idea who she is talking about.]

Clara Started for Chicago yesterday. [Another mystery person]

Pa wanted to entertain the Sunday School another time So I had them Mond. evening. Had a nice time. Served ice cream, cake and coffee. Bought the ice cream of Robb [1920 Census shows Joseph Charles Robb as owner of a bake shop in Killbuck] & made the cakes myself. Had 32 plates including my own and Pa’s. The music was fine and the quartette sang lovely. Star’d {Started}____about eleven oclock. Vera and Guy came down but left the kids at home.

Pa said how much Maud and Carlos would have enjoyed it—wish we had had it while you were here. He talked about it for a long time but I did not ______ it very strong thinking he would forget it but he kept it up so I let him go and done the best I could. We’re not very tired. Took things easy and did not worry and that is half the battle.

Good by. love to both. don’t get lonesome or afraid. Nothing to fear but the Comet and it is too far off.

Mother.

Grandma Vera Cooking on the Grill in 1910

Eating roasted chicken in 1905

These ladies having fun eating chicken at their picnic. Vera Anderson top right. Early 20th Century.

Hattie Stout

Harriett Emeline Morgan Stout

Isn’t it fun reading these old letters and getting a peek at my ancestor’s every day lives?  In a letter from Great-Grandmother Hattie Stout to her daughter, Maude, she makes two mentions of food. She writes the letter on Thursday, May 12, 1910.

Vera is going to have a grilling tomorrow and will put in two grills – She has one in now & wants to put another in as soon as I get it there with the lining and bottom as she has asked about 10 or 12 and they all could not get around one grill to any advantage.

 

The food mention that particularly interested me was this reference to her other daughter, my grandmother Vera Stout Anderson who was going to be grilling.  How? What would she be grilling? Was it for a large crowd?  So many questions, and only some of them came with answers.

Outdoor cooking over direct fire is nothing new to humankind, of course.  Our Neanderthal ancestors (whom, alas I have yet to document in my family tree) started the whole thing.  In Colonial days, cooking outdoors over an open fire would more efficiently feed a crowd, like say, for the original Thanksgiving meal prepared by the Pilgrims in Plymouth. In the Midwest, the most frequent use of grilling would come when my ancestors cooked a large pig over an outdoor fire.

But the invention of portable barbecues for family use did not arrive until the early 1950s. Which explains the wildly popular back-yard barbecue tradition and my favorite grilled chicken recipe that I wrote about here. Unfortunately,  the history-of-barbecue articles I found jump right from colonial days to the 1940s and 50s. I am left to guess at what Grandma Vera used.

Grandma Vera Anderson did not have a pre-built cooking tool like a Big Boy barbecue, as is made clear by Great-Grandma Hattie’s letter.  She had a grill installed and had to get another one. I picture a pit dug in the ground that held the slow-burning wood. Metal grids to lay the meat on covered the pit. But what was the lining and the bottom that Hattie was going to loan her along with a spare grill?  However the grill was constructed, it came together easily, because Hattie planned to go to Vera’s house in the morning, and Vera would be grilling that day.

What did she cook on those grills?  Could be the pig. But maybe it was the chicken those young women in the top picture are enjoying. The picture comes from the right era.  Hattie mentions in her letter that Vera will have 10 or 12, and there are 11 women in the picture. The only thing that mitigates against that assumption is that the house probably belonged to one of the women in the picture, the town milliner. It is not the farm house that Vera and Guy lived in earlier, and it is not the house that they lived in when they moved to town.  Nor is it the house that Hattie lived in. I can tell by the decorative work along the roof edge of the porch.

So while the chicken in the picture might have been cooked on a grill, I have reluctantly accepted that since Hattie was getting up early to go to Vera’s, Vera probably still lived out in the country, I  do not know what her grill looked like,and I do not have a picture of the food she cooked on that grill. And most maddening of all, I don’t know why everyone had to gather around the grill. Roasting marshmallows?

You can read more about the history of grilling and barbecue on Tori Avey’s site.

Reminder: if you want to cook something delicious on the grill, try that marinated chicken recipe from the Big Boy Barbecue cookbook.

Wedding Heirlooms for Valentine’s Day

The love story of Harriet Morgan and newly minted doctor William Stout starts on the bridge just outside Killbuck, Ohio. Before I show you some of the things that my great-grandmother saved from her wedding in 1860, you can click on this link and read about how the couple met.

If you have been following the story of Harriet’s mother and father–Mary and Jesse Morgan–you will understand why Harriet’s mother, Mary, may have been cautious about this young man who showed up at her doorstep with her daughter. At any rate they married. The newly weds stayed in Killbuck, perhaps a requirement by Mary or perhaps because Harriet did not want to leave her mother alone. Doc Stout started practicing medicine at a time when there were already two doctors practicing in the tiny town.

My mother told the romantic story over and over. The fact that mother knew the story so well, indicates to me that great-grandma Harriet (Hattie) Morgan Stout liked to tell the story herself.  Thank goodness for her romantic soul. Without her devotion to preserving famly memories, my family history would lack all this tangible reminders of my ancestors.

We got a peek at great-grandmother Harriet’s wedding dress when I photographed the crazy quilt that she made with the help of her mother-in-law in the early 20th century.

crazy quilt

Emeline Cochran Stout’s crazy quilt.

 

The small pieces of green material were from Harriet’s wedding dress.  The embossed silk material does not show up to the best advantage in this picture. And why green?  After all, when Queen Victoria married in 1840, she wore white, starting a trend that now rules bridal choices.  At any rate, Hattie chose green. Perhaps the material was easily available, or marked down. Most likely she wanted a material that could be reused for something more practical in the future. The material is shiny–slightly duller in the background than the very shiny embossed design, which made it dificult to photograph.  The color is actually a bit deeper than I could persuade my camera to reflect.

wedding dress

Harriet Morgan Stout’s Wedding dress material 1860

Mother’s note, pinned to the scraps of material, says that the wedding dress had three skirts made of this material.  Harriet’s mother was a seamstress, but nevertheless it would have taken some time to make such a complex dress. Although no wedding picture survives the-is picture from the Metropolitan Museum helps me imagine what Hattie might have looked like in her green wedding dress.

1860s dress

1860s dress, photo from Metropolitan Museum

How practical my grandmothers and great-grandmothers were! It would not occur to me to cut up a preciouis dress and make something else out of it–like a quilt.  But Great-Grandma Harriet Stout remade more than the dress. Here is what happened to a vest belonging to “Doc” Stout. (I do not have a record indicating that it is a wedding vest, but doesn’t that seem likely?) I have read that white was the common color for men’s waistcoats/vests in the 1860s, but I wonder if Hattie would have bothered to save a piece of any old vest

Doc Stout's vest

Doc Stout’s vest made into a doily, Maude Bartlett’s note.

The crocheted edge is beautifully executed as is the embroidered edge around the circle to serve as a hem. Someone–I assume it was Harriet–worked very hard on this beautiful little gem.

My Great Aunt Maude Stout Bartlett wrote the attached note identifying the piece. (Thank you Aunt Maude!) She also added “for Harriette.”  For the last ten or fifteen years of her life, this childless woman sorted her family treasures, from furniture to tea cups and put notes on them as to who was to inherit them.  Her determination to control her belongings beyond the grave become a family joke. When my sister and brother were visiting last summer and we went through Mary Morgan Stout’s chest of treasures, my sister Paula found a beaded bag with a note I had stuck inside “For Paula when I am gone.” As I get older, I am no longer laughing at Aunt Maude’s attempt to be sure that precious memories would go to someone who would appreciate them.

Back to Hattie and Wiliam’s wedding–In Victorian times, no lady would go out of the house without gloves or without a pretty handkerchief. In fact, this tradition continued for the next one hundred years. As a newlywed in the 1960s, I would wear gloves even if I was making a trip to the department store. Paper tissues had not yet pushed aside handkerchiefs in the 1960s, either. But I never have seen such a gorgeous handkerchief as this one from the 1860 wedding. The wide border of delicate lace is absolutely stunning.

Wedding clothes

Aunt Maude’s note on 1860 gloves and handkerchief (note circa 1960)

Harriet Stout wedding gloes and handkerchief 1860

I tried to put on these soft leather gloves that belonged to Harriet Morgan Stout, but they are way too small. It surprised me because I have pretty small hands, and pictures we have of “Hattie” in later years show a fairly “substantial” lady. She must have been quite petite when she married.

Not to be outdone, William Stout also carried a fancy handkerchief (known as a pocket square). When I say fancy, I am implying that it is decorative rather than practical!  Silk,  in taupe, with a gold embossed design.

wedding handkerchief

Doc Stout’s wedding handkerchief

I wish I had a photograph that could be identified as a wedding picure of William and Hattie, however we’ll have to settle for these pieces of the wedding clothing–not a bad substitute, in my opinion.

All of these famly heirlooms came from Mary Bassett’s wooden chest.

 HOW I AM RELATED

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William and Harriette (Morgan) Stout.

Family Heirloom Bloggers

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, Everyone Has a Story to Tell,  started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Here are some of the bloggers who who also blog about heirlooms.

Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
True Lewis at Notes to Myself  
Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Kathy Rice at Every Leaf Has a Story
Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog