Tag Archives: Hattie Stout

Donning Aprons to Make Home Remedies

Harriette Morgan Stout 1928

Harriette Morgan Stout 1928

My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, loved to tell a story about her Grandmother Hattie Stout’s home remedies for her grandchildren.  When she was feeling under the weather, Grandma Stout gave her grand daughter a glass of warm liquid that made her tummy feel warm and her body relaxed.

Little Harriette told her brother Bill about the delicious medicine Grandma gave her, and Bill went into action with moans and groans telling Grandma how sick he was.  She dosed him and he gagged and went back to his sister and said “I’ve never had such awful stuff in my life.”

Harriette asked Grandma why Bill didn’t like the medicine, and Grandma said, “Well I gave you some brandy, but that might lead a little boy astray, so I gave him castor oil.”

Not everything made in the kitchen of our ancestors in aprons was destined for the dinner table.  It took me a while before I saw the connection, but:

  1. Grandpa (“Doc” WIlliam ) Stout believed in home remedies. He said his guide in prescribing for patients was to ask himself, “What would the old women do?”
  2. The book that traces the history of food in America, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove says,
  3. During the seventeenth century, food and medicine did not reside in the separate spheres they do today.  Before the rise of professional medical schools (exclusively for men) during the nineteenth century, the job of healing or ‘physic’ naturally belonged to women.  Most doctoring came from the kitchen and its gardens, and you were as likely to eat or drink something for your ailment as to take a specialized medicine.”
  4. Emeline Cochran Stout (Mother of two physicians) was praised in her obituary: “Her large sympathy led her far and wide among the afflicted of her neighbors.  Many a home was cheered by her gentle presence and kindly help.”
  5. Isabell McCabe Anderson’s obituary is even more specific: “In those early days, physicians were few and far apart and no night was too dark or stormy for Mrs. Anderson to respond to the call of a sick neighbor.”
  6. Medical care during the Civil War included special diets, which today we might find very strange, (gingerbread being a favorite of the home remedies) but at least they were trying to connect the ideas of nutrition and health.
  7. The Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book contains a whole chapter on Invalid Cookery. (As in cooking for a sick person, not cooking that is not valid!)  Suggestions had not changed a lot since Civil War Days.

The introduction to the chapter in the Buffalo Cook Book is detailed.

Caring for the invalid falls to the lot of a large majority of homemakers at some time.  Very often the homemaker has much to do with the recovery of the invalid.  Special foods must be cooked, appetites must be coaxed back to normal, and the patient must be catered to in every possible way.

The recipes for home remedies from the kitchen include barley water which is also recommended in the Civil War diets.


2 Tablespoons pearl braley, 1 quart cold water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, juice of 1/2 lemon and a little sugar if desired.  Wash and soak the barley, add salt and cook at least three hours. Strain, flavor with lemon and add sugar if desired.

Some sound quite tasty like:


  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Make a custard of the egg yolks, sugar, salt and milk.  Add vanilla, whites of eggs beaten until stiff, and cream which has been whipped.  Freeze and mold in brick form.

But some I think I’ll pass on, like this treat fit for the vampire in you.


1/2 lb. top round of beef, pinch of salt

Broil the meat for about two minutes “to start” the juices, then press all the liquid from it with a meat press or an old fashioned wooden lemon squeezer.  Serve in a warm cup, add salt to taste, and serve.  This will not keep it must be prepared fresh for each serving.

Along with the expected oatmeal gruel and tapioca, the book recommends Irish moss, which stumped me, until I did a bit of research. Turns out “Irish Moss” is a seaweed that contains carageenan, and although it has been touted by raw food advocates for some time, recently Dr. Andrew Weil has pointed out that it is actually harmful.  So lets hope the ladies reading the Boston Cook Book did not make more people sick than they healed.

Since Mary Stout had lung trouble, she would not doubt have benefitted by hot lemonade with honey, which is not recommended in this cook book, but is a cure I have used for years. The latest recipe making the rounds on the Internet tastes delicious, and makes your throat feel better and clear phlegm at least for a little while. Plus, all those vitamins can’t hurt.

Holme Remedy Lemon ginger honey

Lemon ginger honey

Honey Lemon Ginger Tea

  • 2-3 lemons sliced thin.
  • Piece of ginger root the size of two fingers–sliced in thin rounds.
  • Honey

Layer lemon slices and ginger root in a pint jar and fill the jar with honey, poking a knife down the sides to make sure the honey fills the spaces. (Remove the seeds of the lemon first, if you’re feeling ambitious).  Let sit in refrigerator for several days. To use, scoop two spoonfuls into a cup of hot water or tea (I scoop some lemon and ginger along with the honey–personal choice). Drink frequently throughout the day. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months–but probably won’t last that long. It’s doggone good. Definitely better than castor oil.


A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone (2003)

Obituaries of Isabell McCabe Anderson (d. 1912) and Emeline Cochran Stout (d. 1905), newspaper unknown. Photo copies in the author’s possession.

The English Housewife by Gervaise Markham (1615), quoted in A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book by Jessie M. DeBoth (1925)

Reminiscences of Harriette Anderson Kaser, recorded by the author in the 1990s.

More Whozzits from the Antique Photo Album

I would like to just ignore these guys, but Hattie Morgan Stout, my great-grandmother won’t let me.  After all, they were connected to her in some way, so that she kept their photos in her antique photo album. And it is great fun to be able to put faces to names in the family tree.

A Facebook genealogy page that I frequent contributed a link to a site that helps people find out who is in their photos.  If you have some photos you want some help with, just go to I.D. a Photo.

Great Grandmother's Antique Photo Album

Great Grandmother’s Photo Album, Metal letters on velvet cover

Sometimes it is helpful to know where the picture was taken. In the case of the picture that I thought was Jesse Morgan, it helped me prove it could not be him, because the photographer wasn’t doing business in the town where the picture was taken when Jesse was alive. Here’s a carte de viste--a term I learned when I wrote before about the antique photo album.

Photo of unknown relative

Gotta love the attitude.

I am fairly certain that this was one of Doc William Stouts brothers, but which one?  The fact the picture was taken in Knoxville throws me for a loop, because I don’t know which of my relatives would have been in Knoxville.  Don’t you love the “natural setting” with the rough-hewn rock?

And then there’s this rather distinguished looking guy in a faded portrait:

Photo of Unknown Relative

Unknown from Stout album, Gilvin Photo, Pottsville PA

According to the fashion page I consulted, this style of celluloid collar was prevalent between 1900 and 1910.  Now I just have to figure out who we know who might have been in Pottsville, PA.  We had a lot of ancestors who came from Pennsylvania–I just have to dig some more to see who might have been in Pottsville.

And since I should give a little equal time to the ladies—

photo of unknown ancestor

Photo of unknown ancestor

Or maybe not.

I guess I really should upload these photos to that new website and see if anyone recognizes my long-lost ancestors. You don’t, by any chance, do you? And I surely could use a fashion expert–do you know the periods of these pictures?