Emily Dickinson–Hello Cousin!

Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson from Wiki Media, in the public domain.

I cannot think of a more exciting announcement to make during the month of Women. As the title indicates–I can now call poet Emily Dickinson, cousin.

The Belle of Amherst and Black Cake

Of course I had known the poetry of this premier American Poet since I started reading. But my close attraction with Emily really developed when I played the role of Emily in the one-woman play, Belle of Amherst at the Invisible Theater in Tucson, Arizona. Emily’s opening lines of that play:

This is my introduction. Black cake. My own special recipe.

(After some digressions and introducing herself, she proceeds to share her recipe.)

“Black Cake: two pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of butter, nineteen eggs, five pounds of raisins, one and a half pounds of currants, one and a half pounds of citron, one half pint of brandy–I never use Father’s best–one half pint of molasses, two nutmegs, five teaspoons of cloves, mace, and cinnamon, and–oh, yes, two teaspoons of soda, and one and a half teaspoons of salt.”

“Just beat the butter and sugar together, add the nineteen eggs one at a time–now this is very important–without beating. Then beat the mixture again adding the brandy alternately with the flour, soda, spices, and salt that you’ve sifted together. Then the molasses. Now, take your five pounds of raisins, and three pounds of currants and citron, and gently sprinkle in all eight pounds–slowly now–as you stir. Bake it for three hours if you use cake pans. If you use a milk pan, as I do, you’d better leave it in the oven six or seven hours.”

Now does that remind you of anyone? Someone who loves to cook and share recipes? Although she gained fame posthumously as a poet, during her lifetime, she was well known around Amherst for her skill at baking.

Emily Dickinson Black Cake
Emily Dickinson Black Cake

You can see my modernized version of Emily’s Black Cake here. In fact, Emily’s recipe intrigued me from the first time I read the play. And while I was rehearsing, I experimented with baking the cake. Then I made some to be sold during intermissions at my performance of Belle of Amherst. I have also made her ginger bread and her coconut cake. All delicious.

My Connection to Emily Dickinson

You don’t work so long on the development of a one-woman show without feeling very close to the subject, and I certainly felt close to Emily. As I’m sure you know, she was born, lived and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her family had been leaders in the community and the college of Amherst. When I did that play so many years ago, I never dreamed that I had more than just the connection that comes with acting.

A few years ago, as I was tracing my great-great-etc-grandparents from New England, I came across 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth Dickinson Belding. She came from Amherst. Surely she must have been related to Emily Dickinson and her family.

The Dickinson Family seemed to be bewilderingly large and spread out over New England, and I was at that time pursuing another line of ancestors, so I set aside the notion that I might be related to Emily. But I did not forget.

Today I looked for a family tree for Emily and compared her ancestors to the ancestors of my (much earlier) 6th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dickinson Belding and her father (my 7th great-grandfather). II only had to go back one more generation to find my connection to Emily. Here is what I found, starting with our MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor), Nathaniel Dickinson– my 8th great-grandfather, and Emily’s 5th great -grandfather.

My Tree

  • Nathaniel Dickinson 1601-1676
  • Hezekiah Dickinson 1646-1707
  • Elizabeth Dickinson Belding 1693-1797
  • Samuel Belding 1719-1793
  • Martha Belding Bassett 1756-1842
  • William Bassett 1779-1833
  • Mary Bassett Morgan 1810-1890
  • Harriette Morgan Stout 1842-1928
  • Vera Stout Anderson 1881-1964
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser 1906-2003
  • Vera Marie Badertscher

Emily Dickinson Tree

  • Nathaniel DIckinson 1601-1676
  • Samuel Dickinson 1638-1711
  • Ebenezer Dickinson 1690-?
  • Nathan Dickinson SR 1712-1796
  • Nathan Dickison Jr. 1735-1825
  • Samuel Dickinson 1775-1838
  • Edward DIckinson 1803-1874
  • Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

You will notice that my line comes down through the women in the tree, starting with Elizabeth Dickinson, the daughter of Hezekiah Dickinson. The only exception is William Bassett (1779-1833). Emily’s line, on the other hand, follows the male Dickinson line all the way. My 7th great-grandfather is the brother of her 4th great grandfather, Samuel DIckinson (1638-1711). Samuel is my 8x great uncle.

Emily’s family started in North America in Connecticut, but for four generations before Emily, they had lived in Amherst, Massachusetts.

How appropriate that my bookworm great-great grandmother turns out to be the same generation as Emily DIckinson! And had Emily, instead of being a recluse, had been married and had children, her great-great grandchildren would be in my generation.

The conclusion? Emily Dickinson is my 6th cousin, 3 times removed. Don’t get confused by the “removed”. The three times removed simply means that once you find our MRCA you look at how many generations difference there are between that person in my line and in her line. In this case it is 8x great grandfather and 5x great grandfather–so, 3x removed.

Emily Dickinson Has a Poem For It

How better to end this little tribute to my new-found cousin than with one of her poems. This one is used as the foreword to the printed Belle of Amherst.

Me--come! My dazzled face
In such a shining place!
Me--hear! My foreign Ear
The sounds of Welcome--there!

The Saints forget
Our bashful feet--

My Holiday, shall be
That They--remember me--
My Paradise--the fame
That They--pronounce my name--

Emily Dickinson

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Do I call you Aunt Catherine or Aunt Kathleen Butts?

Since March is Woman’s month, I hope to write about some of the women in my tree. The story of this half-aunt is not what I had in mind, but I have suddenly inched forward in knowledge of the mysterious half sister of my father. So I am taking a break from the maternal Stout line to update the life of my paternal grandmother’s illegitimate daughter.

I first wrote about this mystery woman in December 2014. Since then, I have not added an inch of information to her page on my family tree. Until yesterday. In replying to an email of a fellow researcher, I decided to double check my information. Since I had recently read on Amy Johnson Crow‘s site about some techniques for searching without a name when looking for females, I followed a suggested search technique, in which I used only the subjects first name, and the name of her mother, plus the place that they lived.

Voila! A marriage license popped up. I was very excited, assuming that would lead to a whole lot of other information. It did not. Here’s what I now know–and what I still don’t know about my father’s half-sister.

Follow The Changing Name

September 18, 1891, Mary Isadore “Mame” Butts (my paternal grandmother) gave birth to a baby girl. The Ohio Births and Christenings Index lists the child of Mary I Butts and George Sapp as Casalena, with the same date.

May 8, 1892, St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Danville, Ohio, recorded the christening of Catherine, daughter of Maria Butts and George Sapp (Non-Catholic). Sponsors Jonathan Colopy and Wife.

1893, Mary Isadore “Mame” Butts married Cliff Kaser.

June 1900 Census, Mary I and Clifford Kaser and two children, five and two years old, are living in Coshocton, Tuscarawas County, Ohio.

June 1900 Census, Cathaleen G Sapp, 9, lives with grandparents Henry and Ann Marie Butts in Harrison Twp, Knox County, Ohio.

February 1909, my father, Paul Kaser is born, the third child of Mame and Cliff Kaser. They live in Clark, Coshocton, Ohio.

April 1910 Census, Katherine Butts 18, lives with grandparents Henry and Ann Marie Butts in Buckeye City, Knox, Ohio. Her occupation is listed as seamstress from home.

A Short Marriage

December 1910 Marriage License. Kathleen Butts, 20, marries Basil Hunter. Her age is 20 on September 18, 1910. She lives in Buckeye, Ohio and her occupation is nurse. Her mother is Mame Butts and her father’s line is left blank.

**September 29, 1913, According to newspaper article (below), she leaves her husband and disappears.

June 5, 1917, The Democratic Banner, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, says that Basil Hunter is filing for divorce from Cathleen Hunter claiming that his wife left September 29, 1913 and he has no knowledge of her whereabouts. The couple have no children.

September 26, 1919, the newspaper announces that the divorce from Cathleen Hunter is granted to Basil Hunter

**My last sighting of Catherine/Katherine, Cathleen,Kathleen Butts/Hunter. So the mystery remains. Did she run off with another man? Did she change her name yet again? Did she actually get married again? Did she have children? Did she stay in Ohio or move away? When did she die? No family members ever reported seeing her after 1913.

I owe what I have found out recently about my missing aunt to helpful people on Geneology: Just Ask on Facebook and other helpful people on the Knox County, Ohio site, as well as Amy Johnson Crow’s hint. Where do I go next?

How I Am Related

Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of

Paul Kaser, who is the son of “Mame” Butts Kaser. She is also the mother of

Cathleen, Catherine, Katherine, Kathleen Butts Hunter _____???

Research Notes

  • Christening Record, St. Luke Catholic Church, Danville, Ohio. Besides the fact that I have seen the record myself, a transcript of these records is available at Ancestry.com, St. Luke’s Records, 1829 to early 1900’s
  • Ohio Births and Christenings Index 1800-1962, from Ancestry.com First name is spelled Casalena
  • United States Census, 1900 , Harrison, Knox, Ohio; 1910, Union City, Know, Ohio.
  • Ohio County Marriages 1774-1993, Kathleen Butts and Basil Hunter, December 1910
  • The Democratic Banner (Mt. Vernon, Ohio), June 5 1917 and September 26, 1919. Clippings obtained from a Facebook list member who copied it at Library of Congress collection.
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The Not-Swedish, Apple, Not-Pie

Not Really Apple Pie
(Not Really) Swedish Apple Pie
Jump to Recipe

You can find several versions of a “Swedish Apple Pie” on the internet. Most of them look like fruit crumbles, rather than pie. This one has no bottom crust, but has a top crust that resembles a large cookie rather than pie crust. The result is a very easy, very delicious, but very ugly “pie.”

A caveat–I do not have Swedish ancestors, unless you count some stray Vikings who attacked and maybe bedded my Scottish or English distant ancestors. I do have a Swedish sister-in-law, and through her some Swedish acquaintances.

My Swedish friend tells me that she has not seen this “Swedish Apple Pie” in Sweden. They are more likely, she says, to make a dessert with oats that looks like a crumble.

Even though I constantly remind you of my Perfect Pie Crust recipe, sometimes there is a reason to use something different.

But sometimes taste wins out over authenticity, ya know? It took my husband and I about 36 hours to devour this delicious dessert–call it what you will.

In the recipe, I have included a link to the web source of the recipe that I adapted. There you can also find the recipe for traditional Swedish vanilla cream sauce, which really is Swedish, and might be served on this dessert if this were a Swedish dessert.

Not Really Apple Pie
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(Not) Swedish-Apple-(Not) Pie

An easy, delicious, ugly "pie" with a cookie crust.
Course Dessert
Keyword apple, fruit, pie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 8 minutes
Servings -6 slices
Author Vera Marie Badertscher

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Cups apples peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans Optional
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a pie plate and set aside.
  • Mix the 3 Tablespoons of sugar and spices and pour over sliced apples. Stir well.
  • Spread apples in pie plate. Level them out.
  • Whisk together flour, the one cup of sugar, salt and spices.
  • Stir in melted butter. Add lightly beaten egg and stir until blended.
  • Pour the crust mixture over the apples and spread evenly, keeping 1/8-1/4 inch away from edge. Scatter nuts on top.
  • Place pie plate on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake pie for one hour, or until crust is a golden brown, like a finished sugar cookie. (It took an extra 15 minutes in my oven.)
  • When done, cool on cooling rack. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream if you wish.

Notes

While my Swedish friend says this is not really the way that the dessert is made in Sweden–where it is more of a crumble made with oatmeal– this dessert is delicious.  If you want to make it a bit more Swedish, you can use the traditional Swedish topping, Vanilla Cream Sauce.  You can find the recipe for Vanilla Sauce where I got the basic recipe for this “pie” at That’s Some Good Cooking.
I added nuts to the recipe because I thought it would up the flavor, and also perhaps improve the looks a bit. Unfortunately, I only have a picture of the original–without nuts.
Note for the Minority of Us Who Do Not Have Microwave Ovens
Microwaves are great for melting butter, but I do not have a microwave oven (and don’t miss it).  I have discovered an easy way to melt butter  if you have an oven that is under the range of your stove.  I turn on the oven, and then put the butter in a small pyrex dish or spare measuring cup on the top of the stove.  The butter melts from the oven heat while I am setting out ingredients, greasing the pan, peeling the apples, etc.  Of course this doesn’t work if you have a built-in wall oven. You can also put the dish with butter in the oven, but keep a close eye so it doesn’t start boiling and spattering!  
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