Friday, May 29, 2015

Searching for a New Favorite Family Recipe

Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping BookMy daughter found a book she thought I might like:  the 1893 facsimile edition of Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book.  I do like it.  It will offer no end of entertainment as I peruse its pages, digging deeper and deeper to learn the ins and outs of cooking and home-keeping in the 1890s.  And searching for a recipe I think our family will love.

I understand that Mrs. Beeton created the first edition of the book in the 1860s because there was not a book available for new brides that gave recipes and instructions about the care and management of a house and servants.  It sold very well, but one cannot know whether it was well-used or not.

It is fascinating to see the differences in food choices then and now.  Some of the foods I recognize are Crayfish, Cranberry Sauce, Drop Cakes (aka cookies), Poached Eggs, Scrambled Eggs, Baked Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Beef (in several dozen recipes), Pound Cake, Rice Pudding, Baked Onions, Vanilla Ice Cream, among others.

Though the recipes themselves may be different, I recognize the names and ingredients of some.  Other recipes sound like things we make but are completely different.  Take, for example, "Chocolate Cakes."  For these one scrapes an ounce of chocolate to a powder, mixes it with a pound of white sugar, and adds water to make a paste.  Then boil the ingredients gently and drop with a silver spoon onto slightly greased white paper.  Hmmm.  Chocolate candy?

Other recipes I recognize but the ingredients or methods vary greatly from the way we make things these days.  And still others I recognize the ingredients but wouldn't think of eating them:  Hashed Calf's Head, Fricasseed [sic] Calf's Feet, Collared Pig's Face, Fried Cow Heel.  I suppose you get the idea that uncommon animal parts are not appealing to me....  (Perhaps I've never been truly hungry?)  The book contains recipes for a great variety of birds (partridge, grouse, chicken, duck, turkey, lark, pigeon, quail, snipe, teal, plover, and woodcock), and fish (brill, eel, skate, bream, bloaters, sturgeon, sprats, plaice, and mullet) to name a few.

And there these recipes:  Aitchbone of Beef, Scotch Collops, Mayonnaise of Salmon....  Sometimes even knowing the ingredients and what to do with them leaves me with uncertainty about what kind of dish it is.

Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book For each month, Mrs. Beeton offers menus with foods in season at that time.  She also offers monthly  "Plain Family Dinners" and "Vegetarian Dinners."Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book
I can see that Victorians ate very differently than we eat now, but I'm sure I can find at least one recipe that will become a family favorite.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Thoughts

I think Memorial Day must be the saddest holiday in America -- and maybe one of the most sacred.  We remember and honor soldiers who sacrificed all -- their very lives -- to keep America free.

Among my ancestors I have only a few who served in the military, and they all returned home.  I'm grateful.  But there are so many whose lives were cut short, who left behind spouses, children, parents, and siblings, all deprived of a lifetime of joy and companionship with their loved ones.

I am grateful for their sacrifice.



Saturday, May 23, 2015

For Sale— Shopping Saturday

FOR SALE—Kitchen cabinet, $5;  porcelain sink, $2  Inquire Mrs. Robert Meinzen, Mineral Ridge.          11-1t
I'm not in the market for a new (or used) kitchen cabinet or porcelain sink at the moment but I perked up when I saw this advertisement in a local newspaper -- published nearly 74 years ago.  Maybe I've changed my mind.  I'd like to see the cabinet and I'm sure I would love the porcelain sink.  I think they are the best.
This advertisement was published in The Niles Standard on Friday, December 19, 1941.  I find it interesting that neither phone number nor address were included in the ad. 

Mrs. Robert Meinzen is my grandmother, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen.  In 1941 she and my grandfather owned a triplex on Furnace Street.  They lived in one section and rented the other two.  Of their four daughters, two were married.  The ages of the two youngest still at home were 20 and nearly 14 (with a birthday on December 27).

A few other facts:
  • Just 12 days before the publication of this ad, the U.S. had been drawn into World War II when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
  • According to The Inflation Calculator in 1941, $5.00 was equal to about $80.00 and $2.00 was equal to about $32.00.  Some food prices from the same newspaper included turkeys at 37¢/pound; chicken for 35¢/pound; chuck roast at 23-29¢/pound; "hamburg" at 19¢/pound; cheese at 39¢/pound; medium eggs at 39¢/dozen; pecans at 19¢/pound; and oranges at 35¢/dozen.
  • Emma's father, Edward Jesse, had been, and her brother, William H., was a carpenters and building contractor.  Her father was 70, her brother was 49.

And now, my questions. 
  • Had Gramma purchased a new cabinet and sink and was she selling the used ones?
  • Had her brother and/or father built and installed new cabinets?
  • Had these items come from her own home or from one of the rental apartments?
  • Was she selling them to have money for Christmas purchases? 

I doubt I'll learn answers to any of my questions but it is always fun to wonder and imagine -- especially when I'm imagining using my grandmother's cupboard and porcelain sink in my own home. 


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickersatff - Sunday's Obituary

Lucy VanKirk was the wife of William H. Bickerstaff.  Her maiden name is sometimes written as Van Kirk, other times as Van Kirk.  She died on October 25, 1967.

Mrs. Bickerstaff, 74,
   Dies; Rites Saturday
Lucy Bickerstaff, 74, of the
Windsor Nursing Home, 135 Illi-
nois Ave., Youngstown, died of
a kidney infection at 1:30 a.m.
today in North Side Hospital
where she had been a patient
since Monday.
   Mrs. Bickerstaff was born
July 13, 1893 in Steubenville, a
daughter of Joseph and Sidina
Van Kirk, and came here 55
years ago.  She was a member
of the Methodist Church.  Her
husband, William, to whom she
was married in 1909, died in
   She leaves three daughters,
Mrs. Emma Miller of Orlando,
Fla., Mrs. Helen McCormick of
Mineral Ridge and Mrs. Marian
Chalker of Girard; four sons,
William of Canfield, Robert and
Clarence, both of Austintown,
and Daniel of Houston, Tex.;
two sisters, Mrs. Mary Evans
and Mrs. Cora Carr, both of
Warren; a brother, Isaac of
Burbank, Calif.; 31 grandchil-
dren and 25 great-
   Services will be held at 1:30
p.m. Friday at the Lane Funer-
al Home Mineral Ridge chapel,
where friends may call from 7
to 9 p.m. Thursday.

This is an undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper.  My guess is that it is from The Youngstown Vindicator or The Niles Times.  Further research will, I'm sure, identify which newspaper.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Coal Mine, Steel Mill - Sepia Saturday 279

There is a history of hard-working miners and steel workers in my family, aside from my hard-working men and women of other occupations.  These men worked in coal mines and steel mills in England and the U.S.  The Sepia Saturday 279 photo is an image of a factory scene with suggested themes of safety, danger, and industry.  Sadly, I have few photographs of my ancestors at work.

Coal Miners
Inside #7 Mine, Stoneboro, Pa.  Gust Doyle is center back.
When I imagine the depth and darkness of coal mines I am grateful to live above-ground with daily light.  When I think of the narrowness and confines of a coal mine I feel claustrophobic.  Were my miner ancestors drawn into that work out of necessity -- they needed work and it was available -- or were there other reasons for their choices?  I know the dangers were great and I can imagine the concern and anxiety their wives might have felt all the while they were at work.  As far as I know none of my mining ancestors worked for "company mines" to which they were indebted. 

My coal miners included my father, his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, Lee, Gust, William, and Andrew Doyle.  The three younger of them dug a mine on their farming property.  They may have used the coal to heat their own home or sold it for additional income.  After Gust died in 1933, there was a bill to the hospital.  Lee and William traded hand-dug coal to pay that bill.

Andrew and William emigrated from England in the mid 1870s.  They had both been coal miners in the Northumberland area of England.

Abel Armitage, an ancestor on my mother's side of the family, was also a coal miner.  He grew up in West Yorkshire and emigrated from Durham, England in the mid 1860s.  He worked in the mines in both areas of England and in his new home in the Steubenville area of Ohio.  His sons followed his footsteps and worked in the mines, too.

I don't believe any of the Doyle men were hurt in mining accidents but it's possible that Abel may have been hurt:  he appears as disabled in the 1880 U.S. Census.

For other posts about my coal mining ancestors click here, here, and here.

Steel Mill Workers
My father emigrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1933 after his father died.  He moved from farming and mining into the steel mills where he spent the rest of his life.  He worked first for the Niles Rolling Mill, then moved on to Copperweld Steel in Warren, Ohio, sometime after the 1940 U.S. Census.  He spent the rest of his working years there. 

My brother, Bob, and my brother-in-law, Chuck, also worked at Copperweld Steel.  It was summer work for my brother, but Chuck retired from Copperweld.

There were steel workers on my mother's side of the family, too.  They worked at La Belle Iron Works.  With a name like La Belle you might imagine a beautiful place but its only beauty may have been because it was a source of income for a family.

Two of my mother's paternal uncles were killed at La Belle.  Walter Meinzen, an engineer, was just 24 in 1907 when he was "instantly killed while at work in the blooming mill at the LaBelle . . . when he had the right side of his head and face crushed in by being struck with a large piece of iron."  So reported the June 7, 1907 issue of The Steubenville Weekly Gazette.  The article describes what happened but since I'm not familiar with the workings of a steel mill, I don't quite understand other than that a 600-pound piece of metal snapped off and flew 20 feet to hit Walter in the head.  He left a wife, parents, and 10 siblings.

The second death in the family happened 10 years later when one of Walter's younger brothers, Jacob Meinzen, was killed.  Jacob was a pipe fitter at the mill.  His death was caused by a 100-foot fall in the blast furnace department.  Jacob left a wife, a 2-month-old daughter, his parents, and 7 siblings.

Accidents can happen at any time, of course, but some places of employment are more dangerous than others.  I'm grateful so many of my ancestors and relatives came safely through the work environment and sorry for those who didn't and their families.

Please visit Sepia Saturday 279 for more more photographs and some stories and experiences.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mother and Me

Little me on my mother's lap.
My mother and I had an uneasy relationship.  Perhaps I was a squirrely, cantankerous child.  Or perhaps my mom had concerns and challenges of her own to deal with, unknown to me. 

Mom was very strict.  She was all about obedient children and being an in-control parent.  Immediate obedience was expected.  She was also a reserved and private person who rarely shared her thoughts or emotions.  Expressions of feeling were out of the question in our home, especially tears of anger or sadness.  The loving hugs and smiles of encouragement a child loves came from my grandmother but rarely from my mother. 

Whatever the facts of either of our personalities and lives, I grew to adulthood wondering if my mother really loved me.  She and my father provided food, clothing, shelter, order, and the teachings of right and wrong, but children don't always see those as evidence of love.  Sometimes we don't recognize that as love until we're parents ourselves. 

The joy I see in Mom's face in the photo at left, taken half a decade before I was born, was a very rare sight to my childhood eyes.  I don't know when or why the joy dissolved.

It's taken me years to come to terms with my feelings toward my mom and my perception of how she mothered me.  I've learned -- and continue to learn -- to give the benefit of the doubt to others in situations where I don't understand the other person's behavior and/or am hurt by it.  That perspective sometimes takes me longer to reach than other times, but I always get there.  With my mother, it comes down to believing she did the best she could at the time.  Aren't we all doing that?  I suppose none of us are as good as we hope we'll one day be.  And in the end, isn't the best we can do at the moment all we can do?

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I love you.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Flawed - Sepia Saturday

Above stand my great-grandparents, Fred and Elvira Bartley Gerner.  At their feet are three babies who may, or may not, be grandchildren.  On the right stand several young woman looking toward the photographer.  In the background on the left there appears to be a road and either a telephone or electric pole.  In the right background are trees in what could be an orchard.  The photo is unclear and grainy to begin with but to add to the distress there are some blotches on the left and several creases.  (Thankfully, none of the imperfections hinder the grainy view of the people.)  Had I taken this photo with a digital camera today I would probably delete it.  If not deleted, I know it would never been printed.  But I'm so grateful to have it this century or so after it was taken.  The few things I learn are that Elvira had excellent posture and wore her white hair on top of her head; that Fred was bald and slim; and that they were about the same height.  Now, if I only knew who the babies and ladies were....

At left is my cousin in a photo taken nearly 6 decades ago, probably snapped one Easter when my aunt took photos of all of us cousins.   My cousin was a handsome boy.  Again, the problems in the photo didn't affect us being able to see him.  But what happened to the photo?  Do we see the ravages of the decades or are those results of the developing and printing process?

Next, we have a photo of Muggs, so identified across the (cropped) top border of the snapshot in my mother's album.  Is Muggs is a cat or a dog?  Those blotches of light obliterate the face of the poor fellow.  I doubt there's anyone alive who knows who Muggs is.  I can't help but believe that he was a cherished pet, if not my mother's (because she didn't really seem to like cats and dogs much) but of someone in the family.

Photos like this make me wonder why we save them.  Pets no one knows anything about, scenic views of unidentified places, acquaintances of the photographer that have gone unidentified.  Maybe some of us are just savers.  Maybe we intend to tell the stories.  Maybe we think we'll look at the album again and fond memories will be called up by the photos.  I don't know.

The last photo has a purposefully inflicted flaw.  My mother is the little girl in the front row, fifth from the left.  I can only guess that she didn't like the photo of herself and scratched her face off.  Aside from a few lines horizontally across the photo and its light contrast, it's in fairly good shape.  And all the students are identifiable (if only I knew their names).

The only reason I can give an approximate date to this 4th Grade class photo at Mineral Ridge School is because I know my mother's birth year was 1915.  I think was taken around 1925.

I treasure all family photographs that come my way, whether in good shape or bad, whether digital or paper.  But sometimes I do wonder about them and what prompted the owner to save them, especially the ones that are blurry beyond recognition or have imperfections that prevent seeing the subject of the photo.  I recognize that paper and film were precious a century ago, even decades ago, and that the amateur photographer had no way of knowing how the photograph would turn out.  The purchase was for developing and printing no matter the quality of the photo.  Maybe those who saved them were frugal, or their mental image of the subject completed the imperfect photograph.  For whatever reason, I'm grateful to have the photos with ancestors in them.  Despite the flaws in the above photographs, I cherish those with my ancestors in them.  (You can click any photograph to enlarge it for a better view.)

This is a post for Sepia Saturday 278.  Click through to see other participants and you may learn to identify problems in old photographs and possibly how to improve them.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickerstaff - Funeral Card Friday

Lucy (VanKirk) Bickerstaff is my maternal grandmother's sister-in-law.  Her husband was William H. Bickerstaff, my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's oldest brother.

In Memory of
Lucy Bickerstaff

Date of Birth
July 13, 1893

Date of Death
October 25, 1967

Place and Time of Services
Friday, October 27, 1967
Lane Funeral Home
Mineral Ridge Chapel   1:30 P.M.

Rev. Thomas McArthy

Place of Interment
Kerr Cemetery

                    Arrangements by
                  Lane Funeral Home

Lucy lived all her adult life in Mineral Ridge but I don't remember ever meeting her.


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