Milton’s Blue Bird Tea Room

By Muriel Bristol | September 18, 2022

Nellie B. Tasker was born in Milton, September 15, 1866, daughter of George W. and Lydia (Jones) Tasker.

Nellie B. Tasker married in Farmington, NH, September 24, 1890, Royal K. Webber, both of Milton. She was a shoe stitcher, aged twenty-four years, and he was a carpenter, aged thirty years. He was born in Shapleigh, ME, October 15, 1859, son of Greenleaf and Sarah C. (Grant) Webber.

Royal K. Webber, a house carpenter, aged thirty-seven years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of ten years), Nellie B. Webber, aged thirty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house, free-and-clear.

MILTON. Mrs. R.K. Webber is suffering from a concussion of the spine, caused by a fall on some steps (Farmington News, April 22, 1904).

Nellie B. Webber was secretary of the Lewis W. Nute grange in Milton in 1906. Bard B. Plummer, Jr., was its grange master, and Ruth L. Fall was its lecturer. It had 54 members.

Royal K. Webber, a leather-board mill carpenter, aged forty-nine years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of twenty years), Nellie B. Webber, aged forty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house, free-and-clear.

Royal K. Webber, a house carpenter, aged sixty years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Nellie B. Webber, aged fifty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house on Lower Main Street, free-and-clear. (Milton directories of 1902 through 1917 sited their house on South Main Street, opposite Charles Street).

In 1921 a woman named “Bettina” asked the readers of the Boston Globe’s Household Column for advice on establishing a tearoom in a rural mountain community. She had replies from “Mrs. Restmore,” who had maintained such a shop for fifteen years,” and “1921 Bride,” who gave information on the menu and prices at her favorite tearoom.

How I Conducted a Tea Room For 15 Years. Dear Bettina – Perhaps I can help you in your ideas for a tea room. First thing I want to suggest is an appropriate name. This means much in a business way, as you naturally want it to become “famous,” so give it a name easy to remember and suggestive of its surroundings. If you do not care to spend much for furnishings and as you say it’s in the mountains why not make your tables and chairs of birch wood, of maple or even pine. Any one who is handy with a hammer can gather the younger limbs of trees and with a few boards for the tops of tables and seats for chairs, can do much to furnish a rustic little tea room, naming it after the wood you use in furnishing it, such as “Cedarmere,” “The Birch wood Tea Room,” or “Pine Top Tea Room,” or if you prefer things plainer. I would suggest buying just common kitchen chairs and tables and painting them your favorite colors. Now for what to serve. I find in my experience home-cooked food is always best so try to do your own cooking, rather than buying things, as I know some do. I have run a tea room for last 15 years, off and on, making good in a location and selling when some one wanted to buy, and this has always been my one best drawing card, to serve the best food at popular prices and be cordial as you can to all who honor you with their trade, for it means more customers and money in your pocket. I wish you could see my tea room. I just love it, for I planned, and had it built by my own ideas. Later on I will send you different ways I serve my food, sandwiches, etc., and if I can help you in any other way let me know. – Mrs. Restmore (Boston Globe, March 10, 1921).

Dear Bettina – I saw your request, and just had to tell you about a cute little tea room we were in one day last Summer when on a trip. It was finished in blue, rather a bright shade, and they served sandwiches, such as cheese and nut, olive and cheese, ham, jam, marmalade, and tea, coffee and milk. They also had banana and walnut salad which had the banana sliced lengthwise with walnuts and mayonnaise and lettuce leaves. They charged 15 and 20 cents for the sandwiches and drinks were 10 cents. The salad was 30 cents. They also carried tonic and ice cream, and cigars and tobacco. It was very cute and they had just as simple things as they possibly could. Any further questions regarding this tea room will be gladly answered. A 1921 Bride (Boston Globe, March 10, 1921).

In response to a question regarding licensing such an establishment, “Mrs. Restmore” replied:

Tea Room Lunches. Dear E.E. – It all depends on the locality whether you have to get a license to conduct a tea room. I should not open one if I were you until I went to see the Selectmen of the town. I have a friend who started one, only to be told she could open week-days, but not Sundays. That was her busiest day, so she considered it best not to go further. This is a list of what I serve: Sandwiches – Date butter sandwich, 15 cents; chopped egg sandwich, 25 cents; chopped egg and lettuce, 20 cents; chopped ham and egg, 25 cents; chopped roast beef, 15 cents; hot roast beef sandwich, 25 cents; chopped chicken, 25 cents; hot chicken sandwich, 35 cents. Drinks – Pot tea, 4 people, 25 cents; cocoa, cup, 10 cents; coffee, 10 cents. – Mrs. Restmore (Boston Globe, May 3, 1921).

(A silver dime being worth presently about $2.00 to $2.50, these sandwiches would now be priced at between $3.00 and $8.25, depending on their contents and temperature; cocoa and coffee at $2.00 to $2.50 per cup, and a four-person pot of tea at $5.00 to $6.25).

In 1925, an anonymous “Tea Room Chef” sought recipes – “not too hard to make” – from the subscribers of the Boston Globe’s cookery column. They should be suitable for a tearoom. Here follow some of the dessert recipe suggestions offered by cooks from all over New England.

Rice Pudding. One package dates, washed, stoned and cut fine; 2 tablespoons dry rice, 1 quart milk, salt. Put in double boiler and cook three hours. Stir often at first. Serve with cream or hard sauce if wanted. Extra nice, but it is very good without either. – Last and Least (Boston Globe, November 4, 1925).

Chocolate Rolls. Dear Sisters and Tea Room Chef – Should you care for something different and very delicious just try Chocolate Roll (small amount), 2 egg yolks, 2 heaping teaspoons sugar, 2 heaping teaspoons cocoa, 2 egg whites and vanilla. Beat the egg yokes and sugar together until well creamed. Add the cocoa and vanilla. Lastly add the stiffly beaten egg whites. Spread in a shallow pan and bake about 30 minutes. When cool enough, spread with sweetened whipped cream, roll as you would a jelly roll, cover the whole with remainder of cream and put in ice chest till ready to serve. Won’t last long, too good, but try it and report to Grandma’s Pal. (Boston Globe, January 4, 1926).

Peanut Butter Squares. Tea Room Chef – Would like to have you try these peanut butter squares and report: Two eggs, 1 cup sugar. 1 cup peanut butter, 1 tablespoon butter, pastry. Mix eggs and sugar together, then add peanut butter and butter. Cook mixture over hot water until thick. Then allow to cool. Put teaspoons on squares of pastry, fold corners toward center and bake in a hot oven, temperature 425 degrees. This recipe makes 2½ dozen small squares. – Dippity Fig (Boston Globe, January 8, 1926).

Magic Cream Puffs for Tea Room Chef. One cup boiling water poured over ½ cup of butter or oleo; put on stove and boil, add 1 cup sifted flour, beat it in 5 minutes, keeping kettle on stove. When cool, add 3 eggs, one at a time and beat well after adding each one, then add a little soda size of a pea; beat again for a few seconds and put on greased cookie tin, teaspoonful at a time. This makes 14 and never fails. Bake in rather hot over 30 minutes, filling when cold with whipped cream or cooked filling. – London Girl (Boston Globe, January 21, 1926).

The “Tea Room Chef” reported later that she had achieved success sufficient to make her consider furnishing an upstairs room to accommodate overnight guests.

Nellie B. Webber established her own tearoom before 1927. If situated in her home, it would seem to have been situated on South Main Street, opposite Charles Street. Charles Street forms an arc that touches or meets up with Main Street twice. The likely location would seem to have been on South Main Street (i.e., the southern stretch of Main Street) – now White Mountain Highway – at its intersection with the southern end of Charles Street, i.e., opposite the current Emma Ramsey Center. This would have been a good location to attract automobile tourists passing to and from points north. (See also Milton and Ye Ragged Robin Tea Shop, which was situated on the same throughway, but further north at Plummer’s Ridge).

Nellie B. Webber appeared in the Milton directories of 1927 and 1930, as proprietor of the Blue Bird Tea Room. (Her house was on Main street).

Royal K. Webber died of oedema of the lungs in Milton, July 16, 1928, aged sixty-eight years, nine months, and one day. (He had resided there for forty-four years).

Nellie V. Weber, a tea room hostess, aged forty-six [sixty-three] years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. She owned her house in Milton’s “Rural district,” which was valued at $5,000. She had a radio set.

PERSONALS. Mrs. Royal K. Webber and brother have taken an apartment at the El Cortez apartments for the winter (Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, FL), November 9, 1930).

Nellie B. Webber, a widow, aged seventy-three years (b. NH), headed an Orlando, FL, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. She rented her apartment at 107 East Robinson Avenue, for $30 per month. She had resided in Milton, NH, in 1935.

Nellie B. Webber, a widow, aged eighty-three years (b. NH), headed an Orlando, FL, household at the time of the Seventeenth (1950) Federal Census. She had an apartment at 330 Livingston Avenue.

Nellie B. (Tasker) Webber died in Orlando, FL, May 7, 1955.

Obituaries. MRS. NELLIE B. WEBBER. Mrs. Nellie B. Webber, a native of Milton, N.H., died Saturday in a local hospital. She is survived by a brother, Dana Tasker, Ossipee, N.H. The body will be shipped to Union, N.H., for services and burial by Fairchild Funeral Home (Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, FL), [Monday,] May 9, 1955).


See also Milton and Ye Ragged Robin Tea Shop


References:

Find a Grave. (2020, October 25). Nellie B. Tasker Webber. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/217677162/nellie-b-webber

Milton Militia Dispute – 1820

By Muriel Bristol | April 3, 2022

[Editor: Here follows Ms. Bristol’s description of the Milton militia dispute of 1820. It contains references to several petition documents which will be published separately over the coming months. It will serve then also as a sort of index to those documents].

New Hampshire relied upon a militia system for its defense from colonial times through 1847.

Each and every free, able-bodied white male citizen, between the ages of 18 and 45 years, is liable to do military duty (Lyon, 1824).

Militiamen were required to present themselves – to “muster” – with their weapons once or twice a year for company-level drills, as well as a final time in the Fall for a larger regimental-level drill.

The [Rochester regimental] muster field at its best presented a gay appearance. The various companies drawn up in line, with muskets and accouterments bright and clean, the officers scattered between the lines with fine uniforms and stately plumes, the Light Infantry much like the officers but with shorter plumes, and the Artillery Company with their formidable cannon, together with the motley crowd on every side must have been an attractive and interesting scene. Gingerbread carts, candy stands, and all sorts of variety shows, with an occasional fight between heated partisans from different towns afforded abundant merriment and diversion. Liquor and gambling booths grew more and more frequent so that one year Captain Samuel Jones and his company from Farmington made a charge upon them and pitched them and their belongings over the fence. The brisk step, the martial dignity and the clear distinçt orders of the morning had in those days generally become somewhat limp, languid and indistinct toward the close of the day. Many still living can remember the great contrast between the inspiriting, clear cut, exactly timed strains of fife and drum as the companies came marching to the field in the morning and the slip shod timeless whistle and fumbling taps as they started on their homeward way (McDuffee, 1882).

NH Militia Order Blank
NH Militia Muster Order Form. This example is blank, with its spaces to be completed by the company sergeant at the request of the captain.

Old Fashioned Muster Gingerbread. One cup of molasses, 2 large spoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of soda dissolved in 3 tablespoons of boiling water, 1 teaspoon of ginger and flour enough to knead well but not hard. Roll into 3 sheets, mark with a fork, and bake quickly; after baking, while hot, mix 1 teaspoon each of milk and molasses and wet the top. I have sent this recipe by request of Mrs. G.L.D. of Chelsea. Portland, Me. E.E.E. (Boston Globe, November 24, 1894).

[A woodburning “quick oven” would have a modern oven temperature of between 425 to 450 F. It would take about 20 minutes to bake. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done].

Muster ginger bread. Boil 1 pt. molasses and 1 tablespoon ginger; let cool, add ½ pt. shortening, mostly butter, 2 teaspoons soda dissolved in ¼ cup hot water, ½ teaspoon alum dissolved in ¾ cup cold water, flour to make a dough that can be handled. Roll about two inches thick. Mark the top with back of fork. Bake quickly, take out as soon as done, as too long baking spoils it. Put away in jar and keep a week or so. The longer it is kept the moister becomes. Somebody try in and report. Von Edirb (Boston Globe, August 24, 1906).

Milton’s militiamen and those from southern Wakefield made up the Seventh Company of New Hampshire’s Second Regiment of militia at this time. It was led then by Captain Jeremy Nute (1788-1879), with James Hayes, Jr. (1790-1845), as its Lieutenant, and Norton Scates (1790-187[?]) as its Ensign.

The Seventh Company’s area encompassed all of Milton and that part of neighboring Wakefield that lay south of Lovell Lake. Depending upon where one lived in this company area, travel to militia musters might be rather burdensome. (Milton Mills was at least a 15-mile hike, if not more, to the regimental muster location in Rochester, where one would then spend the day drilling and marching around, before making a weary 15-mile return hike. Union village in Wakefield was at least 13 miles distant (for a round-trip of at least 26 miles)). The militiamen traveling furthest to drills and musters grew restive.

Some 134 Seventh Company militiamen took a vote on May 30, 1820. They were likely assembled together for a company-level militia drill. By their vote, 69 [51.5%] militiamen chose to seek a division of their company into two parts, while 22 [16.4%] of them preferred to leave the situation as it was. The remaining 43 [32.1%] did not express a preference either way.

The company officers petitioned the regimental field officers above them, on May 31, 1820, seeking to divide the Seventh Company into two companies. There would be a northern company, encompassing Union Village, Milton Mills, and Milton south to a certain east-west division line – the Milton town meeting house would have been north of the proposed line – and a southern company from that division line to the Rochester line, encompassing Milton Three Ponds, as well as South and West Milton. (See Milton Militia Division Request – May 1820).

The field officers rejected this proposition, although their reply has not come to hand. (They likely rode horseback to the muster). But they seem to have been unaware that “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” If the field officers refused to divide the town militia company into two parts, there was another, more drastic solution available to the petitioners. The town itself might be divided into two parts, which might achieve the same thing.

... in 1820 an effort was made by the people living in this [Wakefield] town below Lovell’s pond with others living in the Northerly part of Milton, to have that part of Wakefield south of Lovell’s pond and the northerly portion of Milton incorporated into a new town, Luther Dearborn of this [Wakefield] town and John Remick, Jr., of Milton headed petitions to the legislature for the new town which was to be called Lisbon. The Rev. Mr. Piper favored the project and suggested the name Milfield for the new town (Thompson, 1886).

Dearborne-Piper Signatures - Wakefield - 1813
Signatures of Luther Dearborne and Rev. Asa Piper on an earlier June 1813 petition by the citizens of the “pleasant village at Wakefield Corner” recommending William Sawyer (1774-1860) as a Wakefield justice-of-the-peace.

Wakefield’s three selectmen became aware that there was trouble in paradise, so to speak, at some time after their annual March town meeting and before June 1820.

We are aware that Petitioners for the new Town will point out by Carrigain’s Map, or some other Survey, what a handsome, beautiful five-mile square Town may be made out of Wakefield and Milton, and then attempt to show and make it believed, that the remaining part of those two Towns will be equally as good as the whole and in a better form.

Carrigain Survey Map - 1816 (Detail)
Carrigain Map of New Hampshire in 1816 (Detail). Division advocates pored over this map with prospective signers. The “Lisbon” or “Milfield” they envisaged would have run from Lovell Lake in Wakefield south to Meetinghouse Pond in Milton. It would have included what is now Union village in Wakefield, as well as Milton Mills and Plummer’s Ridge in Milton. Milton Three Ponds, South Milton, and West Milton would have been the remaining “rump” of Milton after such a division.

The “Carrigain map,” the most famous of New Hampshire maps, is named for Philip Carrigain (177[6]-1842), secretary of state of New Hampshire, who was granted much of the responsibility of compiling it. The map was authorized by the New Hampshire legislature in 1803. Carrigain may have engraved the cartographic portions, and he held the copyright. The map is based upon many individual surveys, and in its early stages, Carrigain, a lawyer, depended heavily upon the technical skills of Phinehas Merrill (1767-1815), a professional surveyor (WhiteMountainHistory, 2021).

Neither the Milton nor Wakefield pro-division petitions, although mentioned in other documents, have come to hand. If ever they were actually filed, they might have been withdrawn. Luther Dearborn (1771-1844) of Wakefield, NH, and John Remick, Jr. (1777-1840) of Milton, were said to have headed their respective lists of petitioners. (Remick was a Milton selectman and both men were justices-of-the-peace in their respective towns). Wakefield’s lifelong Congregational minister, Rev. Asa Piper (1757-1835), is said to have been also a proponent of division.

Some 127 Milton men filed an anti-division remonstrance petition intended for the June 1820 session of the NH legislature. Company officers Jeremy Nute, James Hayes, Jr., and Norton Scates all signed this remonstrance, as did former company officers Levi Jones and Jotham Nute, and future officers Theodore C. Lyman and Bidfield Hayes (1789-1842). One may note that none of Milton’s selectmen signed. (See Milton Anti-Division Remonstrance – June 1820).

Wakefield selectmen Jonathan Copp (1792-1869), Henry L. Wiggin (1791-1844), and Elias Wentworth (1774-1852) filed their own anti-division remonstrance petition intended for that same June 1820 session. It was signed also by 199 Wakefield inhabitants (See Wakefield Anti-Division Remonstrance – June 1820).

Some 88 Milton men filed a company division petition intended for the November 1820 session of the NH legislature. Company Captain Jeremy Nute signed this proposal, as did former company officers Levi Jones and Jotham Nute, future company officers Theodore C. Lyman and Bidfield Hayes, and Milton selectman Hopley Meserve (1789-1875). (See Milton Militia Division Petitions – November 1820).

Some 27 Wakefield division petitioners later thought better of their having signed the division petition. They signed a retraction and anti-division petition, November 1, 1820. (See Wakefield Pro-Division Renunciation – November 1820).

One should note that Fourth (1820) Federal Census enumerations for Strafford County have not been preserved (although the aggregate totals have). They would have had the names of the household heads and age-based tick marks for the members of their households. The various petitions related to dividing or not dividing either the militia company or the towns are valuable in that they provide us with the names of a plurality at least of Milton’s adult male inhabitants of 1820, including many of its household heads.

Obviously, the proposed splitting of the towns never took place. Milton’s militia company was divided instead into two companies. The Milton company was reassigned to a newly-created Thirty-Ninth Regiment of militia in 1822. The new regiment included also companies from Rochester and Farmington, NH. Wakefield’s south company, which appears to have included also Milton Mills, was assigned to the Thirty-Third Regiment of militia, along with those from Alton, Brookfield, Middleton, and New Durham, NH. Its north company was assigned to the Twenty-Seventh Regiment of militia, along with those from Effingham, Ossipee, Tuftonboro, and Wolfeboro, NH.

The general muster of the militia at the same [Fall] time of year was a holiday of no less interest and importance to the people of two preceding generations. By a state law of 1792, able-bodied citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were required to meet twice a year for military drill. To these spring and fall trainings for each company in its own town was afterwards added the annual muster of the Thirty-ninth Regiment. This regiment consisted of five companies of regular infantry, one from each of the villages of Farmington, West Farmington, Milton Three Ponds, Gonic, and Rochester, together with one Light Infantry Company collected from all parts of the district and the Rochester Artillery Company (McDuffee, 1892).

Luther Dearborn received a reappointment as a Wakefield justice-of-the-peace, June 14, 1828. His wife, Sarah “Sally” (Pike) Dearborn, died in 1831. His term as justice would have expired in June 1833. Instead of a reappointment, the court roster bears a marginal notation that he had “moved to Somersworth,” N.H. He was living there at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census.


See also Milton Militiaman’s Petition – 1807 and Milton Seeks a Magistrate – 1820


References:

Colonial Quills. (2012, October 7). Muster Day Gingerbread Recipe. Retrieved from colonialquills.blogspot.com/2012/10/muster-day-gingerbread.html

Cow Hampshire. (2006, May 29). New Hampshire’s Militia: Gathering for Annual Muster Day. Retrieved from www.cowhampshireblog.com/2006/05/29/new-hampshires-militia-gathering-for-annual-muster-day/

Find a Grave. (2013, January 16). Phillip Carrigain. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/103677228/philip-carrigain

Find a Grave. (2007, October 15). Jonathan Copp. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/22229979/jonathan-copp

Find a Grave. (2012, June 19). Luther Dearborn. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/92171689/luther-dearborn

Find a Grave. (2016, September 13). Col. Bidfield Hayes. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/169872910/bidfield-hayes

Find a Grave. (2022, March 22). Capt. James Hayes. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/237336842/james-hayes

Find a Grave. (2013, August 2). Hopley Meserve. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/114785277/hopley-meserve

Find a Grave. (2013, October 3). Col. Jeremy W. [Nute] Orange. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/118125086/jeremy-w-orange

Find a Grave. (2012, June 19). Rev. Asa Piper. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/92206616/asa-piper

Find a Grave. (2012, June 24). Henry L. Wiggin. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/92466261/henry-l-wiggin

McDuffie, Franklin. (1892). History of the Town of Rochester, New Hampshire, from 1722 to 1890. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=RY0-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA551

NH Department of State. (n.d.). New Hampshire, Government Petitions, 1700-1826: Box 47: 1819-1820

Lyon, G. Parker. (1824). New-Hampshire Annual Register, and United States Calendar. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=O0g9AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA72

Secretary of State. (1920). Laws of New Hampshire: Second constitutional period, 1811-1820. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=Cb9GAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA941

Thompson, Rev. Albert H. (1886). Memorial of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the First Church, and Ordination of the First Settled Town Minister of Wakefield, N.H. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=EKm15quwMhsC&pg=PA42

WhiteMountainHistory. (2021). 1816 Phillip Carrigain Map. Retrieved from whitemountainhistory.org/1816_Philip_Carrigain_Map.html

Farmington Recipes of 1879

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | October 7, 2020

The Farmington News, whose circulation included West Milton and Milton at any rate, published the following five recipes in its weekly issue of Friday, June 20, 1879. The cook was not credited.

CORN MUFFINS – Three cupfuls of corn meal, one cupful flour, one egg, one-half cupful of sugar, two teaspoonfuls of cream tartar and one of soda; add a piece of butter, size of an English walnut, and enough milk to moisten. Bake quickly.

Lemon juice, at double the cream of tartar amount, is regarded as a substitute for cream of tartar. For example, four teaspoons of lemon juice might be substituted for the two tablespoons of cream of tartar mentioned here.

Reference sources describe English walnuts as having a slightly oval shape and measuring 1½–2″ in diameter.

A “quick” oven temperature would be about 375-400º Fahrenheit. Modern recipes suggest 400º for the first ten minutes, followed by 375º for an additional ten to fifteen minutes or so. (Until a toothpick comes out clean).

SCOTCH SHORTBREAD – Rub together into a stiff short paste two pounds flour, one pound of butter and six ounces loaf sugar, make it into square cakes, about a half inch thick, pinch them all along the edge at the top; over the whole surface of the cakes sprinkle some white comfits; put the cakes on tins so as to touch each other on their edges, and bake in a slow oven.

Strictly speaking, Scotch is a drink, as in Scotch Whisky (uisge beatha), and Scottish would be the descriptive adjective attached to shortbread.

Loaf sugar was merely refined sugar that had been formed into a conical loaf in a mold. A comfit is a confection consisting of dried fruits, nuts, seeds or spices coated with sugar.

A “slow” oven temperature would be about 300º Fahrenheit. Modern recipes suggest 325º for 20-25 minutes. (Until the surface is lightly browned).

PICKLED CAULIFLOWER – Tear off the leaves from a head of cauliflower and cut the head apart at every stalk. Put the pieces into strong brine and let them stand twenty-four hours. Boil two ounces of mixed spices in a quart of cider vinegar; drain the cauliflower, put in jars and pour on the vinegar boiling hot. When cold, cover, and put away two weeks before using.

One modern recipe suggests teaspoons of coriander seeds and mustard seeds, and a ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, for the mixed spices. Another suggests a spicier mix of jalapeño or habanero pepper, garlic, and lime juice.

The result might be preserved long-term through canning or bottling. Alternatively, the pickled cauliflower mix should steep for a couple of days in a refrigerator, and be eaten up from there within two weeks. Some suggest the addition of a few other vegetables, chosen for a pleasing mix of colors.

PICCALILLI – Soak a peck of green tomatoes for twenty-four hours in salt water. Chop them up quite fine, adding three or four green peppers, chopped, after removing the seed; mix them with a teacup of white mustard seed. Scald enough good vinegar to cover them, spicing it with pepper, cloves and allspice in a thin bag. Pour the vinegar upon the tomatoes. Tie up the mouth of the jar in which it is put away.

My father is quite fond of piccalilli as a condiment, although he uses “store-bought” piccalilli. This version might be canned or bottled, but its final step implies that it was expected to be used up quite quickly. I believe that is called “refrigerator canning,” i.e., it is expected to be used in the near future, rather than to sit on a shelf for an extended time.

A peck of tomatoes would be a quarter-bushel (or eight quarts) of them. That is the makings of a lot of piccalilli, unless one is an aficionado such as my father. One might reasonably halve or even quarter the amounts given.

CURRY OF COLD MEAT – Cut thin slices of cold roast beef into rather small pieces; slice thinly and fry an onion in about two tablespoonfuls of butter until nicely browned; then pour in as much good broth as required for the gravy; add a little salt and a tablespoonful of curry powder; let boil up and add the beef; stir constantly for ten minutes; make a border or wall of boiled rice around a dish and pour the meat and gravy in the center.

The beef broth might be thickened with a tablespoon of flour. Some modern recipes include also a small amount – say a ½ cup – of tomato sauce, or to substitute noodles for the rice. Others add in also small amounts of cloves, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper.

References:

Food. (2020). Oven Temperature. Retrieved from www.food.com/about/oven-temperature-528

Miss McClary’s Candies and Such

By Muriel Bristol | April 25, 2019

Miss M. Emilie McClary taught French, mathematics, and science at Milton’s Nute High School in 1899-1902. She was one of Miss Benson’s successors. (She worked with Nute principals Arthur T. Smith and Arthur D. Wiggin). After her time here, she returned to her hometown of Malone, NY.

Her mother, Mrs. Martin E. McClary (Patience (Ford) McClary), belonged to the Women’s Aid Society of the First Congregational Church of Malone, NY. The Women’s Aid Society published The Malone Cookbook in 1908, likely as a fundraiser. Mrs. McClary was one of its editors.

The cookbook included five recipes submitted by her daughter, Emilie McClary, Milton’s quondam teacher. (Then teaching Latin at Wellesley College).


Cucumber Boats. Pare medium-sized cucumbers and cut through the center lengthwise and scoop out the seeds; place in a pan ice water until ready to serve. Prepare a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, cut in small cubes, with cream dressing No. 1 and fill boats with the salad just before serving and garnish with nasturtiums –  Emilie McClary

Dressing is very much a matter of taste. The Cream Dressing No. 1 mentioned may be found  on Page 99 of the Malone Cookbook (in the References below). Nasturtium flowers are edible. They might be used as an edible garnish, as Miss McClary suggests here, or even appear in the salad itself.


Panned Oysters. Place oysters in the dish with a tablespoon of butter and a little salt. Cover closely and light the lamp. Stir occasionally and when the oysters are plump and the gills curled they are ready to serve. One-half cup of thick sweet cream may be poured over them if desired before taking up. – Emilie McClary

The “dish” of which she spoke was a chafing dish and the lamp its heat source. (This may be compared with the Milton Mills Oyster Fritters Recipe of 1895).


Peppermint Drops. One cup of sugar, a very little water, boil until it hairs. Remove from the stove, add a pinch of cream [of] tartar and three drops of oil of peppermint, stir until the mixture begins to whiten. Drop with a spoon on buttered paper. Wintergreen oil may be used instead of the peppermint, and cochineal may be used to color them pink. – Emilie McClary

In the absence of a candy thermometer, the temperature might be tested by dropping a bit in cold water. At 235° F, it should form a soft ball; at 260° F, it should form a hard ball; at 300° F, it should form a brittle strand or “hair.” Therefore, it might be said that the mixture “hairs” at 300° F.

(Similar period recipes sometimes go on to dip the resulting drops in melted chocolate The results would be not unlike commercially available Junior Mint peppermint patties).


Miss McClary’s own alma mater was Wellesley College, from which she received her B.A. with the class of 1899. (She also taught there).

College Candy. Two cups of maple or brown sugar, one-third of a cup of sweet cream, one half pound of English walnuts. Boil the sugar and cream until it forms a ball when dropped in water, stirring constantly. Remove from the stove and add the walnuts chopped fine; stir until the mixture begins to whiten, turn into pans and when cold cut into squares. – Emilie McClary

As seen in the Peppermint Drops recipe just above, a soft ball temperature would be about 235° F (and a hard ball might be expected at about 260° F).


Salted Almonds. Shell the nuts and pour boiling water over them; let them stand in the water a minute or two, then throw them into cold water, and rub between the hands. To every cupful add one even tablespoon of melted butter and let stand a while. Sprinkle with a level teaspoon of salt. Place in a moderately hot oven and bake until brown, stirring occasionally, then place on brown paper. Peanuts may be salted in the same way. – Emilie McClary

Other spices or flavorings might be added (or substituted for some of the salt), in the same manner that baked pumpkin seeds are flavored. For example, Sriracha is popular these days.


These are not Milton recipes, as such, but they are recipes of one of Milton’s early high school teachers. For the most part, the Nute principals and teachers all lived within walking distance of the Nute High School, either on School Street or on “the Farmington road” (now Elm Street). It might be that she served some of these dishes at social gatherings there.

Just imagine if we had also some recipes of Miss Terrill, who taught home economics at the University of Chicago and the University of Vermont.


References:

Wikipedia. (2019, April 20). Tropaeolum [Nasturtium]. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaeolum

Women’s Aid Society. (1908). The Malone Cookbook. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=dTI2AQAAMAAJ

Durgin-Park Restaurant Closes

By Muriel Bristol | March 25, 2019

Boston’s famous Durgin-Park restaurant closed its doors for the last time on Saturday, January 12, 2019, after nearly two hundred years (founded in 1827). I heard about it recently from a friend that lives in Boston.

Durgin-Park occupied an upstairs location in the northern row of buildings at the Quincy Marketplace. It was known for its communal seating at long tables, and its menu of what might be called traditional “Yankee” food: cornbread, seafood, chowders, broiled meats, Boston baked beans, boiled dinners, apple pie (and cheese), and Indian pudding. Even spruce gum for afters.

There were and are many fine ethnic restaurants in Boston and New England, but only Durgin-Park presented traditional Yankee cuisine so authentically and so thoroughly.

I have (from an older relative) one of their postcard-like handouts from some forty-five years ago, which featured their recipes for Boston Baked Beans, Baked Indian Pudding; Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread; and Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.

I will here reproduce, as a sort of tribute, the Durgin-Park recipe for Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread, which all shared a common base.


TEA CAKE, BLUEBERRY CAKE, AND CORN BREAD

For Tea Cake:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups milk

Mix sugar with beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add melted butter and milk. Beat up quickly and bake in a large buttered pan in a very hot oven. This makes one large pan, which will cut into 21 squares.

For Blueberry Cake, add one cup blueberries last.

For Corn Bread, substitute one cup granulated yellow corn meal for one of the three cups of flour.


One may notice that, as with the Milton Cookies of 1895-96, no specific temperature or time is given. You are supposed to just know that. For those that do not, a modern oven temperature of 400° might be taken to be a “very hot oven,” and a baking time of about ½ hour should be about long enough, but keep an eye on it. A 9″x14″ baking dish of 3″ depth would be about the right size.

Should there be sufficient interest, I am prepared to reproduce one or all of the other Durgin-Park recipes from the handout also.

Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself in need of lunch in Boston, Jacob Wirth’s German Restaurant (founded 1868) offers a not too dissimilar experience, except with German food instead of Yankee food. You might drown your sorrow over the loss of Durgin-Park in a nice Hefeweizen beer.

References:

Boston Globe. (2019, January 4). Durgin-Park, a Faneuil Hall Stalwart, Closes after Almost 200 Years. Retrieved from www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2019/01/04/durgin-park-a-faneuil-hall-stalwart-closes-after-almost-200-years

Forbes. (2019, January 10). After 192 Years, Boston’s Iconic Durgin-Park Restaurant Serves Its Last Meal. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/julietremaine/2019/01/10/after-192-years-bostons-iconic-durgin-park-restaurant-serves-its-last-meal

Wikipedia. (2019, March 4). Durgin Park. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durgin-Park

Milton Cookies of 1895-96

By Muriel Bristol | December 14, 2018

Mrs. N.W. and P., of Milton, NH, corresponded with the True and Tried Cooking column of the Boston Globe in 1895 and 1896. They submitted recipes of their own as well as making requests for those of others.

I have transcribed below their cookie and drop-cake recipes, which might be fun to try over the holidays. (Cakes and other things might follow sometime). The recipes are mostly just lists of ingredients with little or nothing in the way of instructions. Why waste space on instructions when everybody and their mother knows what to do? I have supplied some general parameters from other sources.

These women were using wood-fired ovens or chimney-side ovens. There were no temperatures settings. They had to guess the temperature and manage it, by stoking the oven with wood kindling. The temperature could be assessed by gauging how long one could keep one’s hand in the oven. Yikes!

A few of these recipes guide their user somewhat by suggesting a “rather quick” oven or a “quick” oven. A “quick” oven temperature is said have been in the 400° to 425° range. Lower temperatures and longer times tend to produce thinner, crisper cookies (and need wider spacing), while higher temperatures and shorter times tend to produce thicker, softer cookies. No times were given.

Modern cookie recipes tend to fall more to the 350° to 375° range, with times of between 8 and 11 minutes (larger cookies requiring more time). One imagines a “quick” oven would require less time. Good luck.

Cookies

Newport Cookies. One egg, 1½ cups of sugar, ⅔ cup of butter, ½ cup of sweet milk. 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of chopped raisins, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt to taste. Drop out in teaspoon and bake. Mrs. N.W. Wilton [Milton], N.H. (Boston Globe, April 7, 1895).

Mama’s Molasses Cookies. In looking over some February papers I saw where a lady in Sanford, Me, asked for my mama’s molasses cookies. One cup of molasses, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of sour milk, 1 cup of shortening. 1 small tablespoon of saleratus, ginger and salt to taste. My mama uses a coffee cup. These cookies are very nice, and will keep as long as you wish. Mix with pastry flour. All cookies should be made of it. Nine-Year-Old. Ayer. (Boston Globe, April 19, 1895).

Saleratus was the precursor to baking soda.

Spice cookies for M.J.B. – One cup of sugar, ½ cup of butter, ½ cup of milk, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of currants, 1 teaspoon of soda, spice of all kinds. Cheap marble cake – Two eggs, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of shortening, ½ cup of milk, 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of soda. Take ½ the above. and add 2 tablespoons of molasses and spice of all kinds. and marble the two kinds together in the tin. Milton. N.H. Mrs. N.W. (Boston Globe, May 9, 1895).

Cocoanut Cookies. One egg, 1 cup of sugar, ⅓ cup of butter, 1 cup of cocoanut, 2 tablespoons of sweet milk, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda. Mrs. N.W. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, May 12, 1895).

Date Cookies. If Mrs. N.W. will make date cookies like this recipe, I think she will find them nice: One large cup of dates, stoned and cut in small pieces, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg, little salt, ⅔ cup of butter or lard, or half of each, little cinnamon and nutmeg, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, 2 cups of flour sifted together with 1 teaspoon of soda and 2 of cream of tartar; then add ½ cup of sweet milk or water; use more flour if needed, roll quite thin and bake in rather quick oven. South Berwick. (Boston Globe, May 15, 1895).

Sugar Cookies. Two eggs, 2 full cups sugar, large, 1 cup butter, ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon soda. Flour to roll stiff. Currants may be rolled lightly on the dough, and are very nice. P. Milton. N H. (Boston Globe, July 12, 1896).

Drop Cakes

Newton Puffs. One cup of molasses. 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of sugar, 4 cups of flour, ½ cup of butter and lard mixed, scant teaspoon of soda, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, scant measure, salt to taste; mix the ingredients all together at once. adding soda last; drop in great spoonfuls in a pan a little way apart, and bake. Children like these very much. Mrs. H. C. L. North Weymouth. (Boston Globe, February 22, 1895).

Vanilla Drop Cakes. A cup of sugar and ¼ cup of butter, creamed together; 1 egg well beaten, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 10 tablespoons of sweet milk, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda. 2½ cups of flour. Drop out in teaspoonfuls on a biscuit tin and bake in a quick oven. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, April 7, 1895).

Sponge Drops. Three eggs; beat the whites to a stiff froth. add yolks, 1 cup of sugar, and a heaping cup of flour, into which 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon of soda are mixed. Flavor and drop on buttered tin sheets, three inches apart. Bake instantly. Please try and report. Mrs. N.W. Wilton [Milton], N.H. (Boston Globe, April 11, 1895).

Recommendations

I tried Mrs. N.W.’s sponge drops, and found them very nice, also L.B.S.’s sponge ginger bread, which was splendid. Minnie M. Arlington Heights. (Boston Globe, April 28, 1895).

All of The Globe recipes which I have tried have been nice. Among them are orange pie by Mrs. F.H.C., May’s silver cake, which is lovely; cream pies by M.L.G., molasses chewing candy by N., banana pudding by Mrs. E.M.H., and molasses cookies by Nine-Year-Old. Milton, N.H. Mrs. N.W. (Boston Globe, May 9, 1895).

Questions and Answers. Will the lady from Rockland (I think) please send recipe for molasses cookies that called for 1 pint of molasses boiled 15 minutes? I have misplaced it, and would like it, as they were the best I ever ate. P. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, January 5, 1896).

And, for those that might want to go professional:

Female Help Wanted. WANTED – To pay $1 per day for first-class cook, steady job. Milton hotel, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, June 29, 1896).

 

Milton Mills Oyster Fritters Recipe of 1895

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 4, 2018

The following recipe was published in the Boston Globe in 1895. It was submitted by Mrs. J.L. of Milton Mills, NH.


Oyster Fritters

Take 25 oysters, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 dashes of black pepper, 2 cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of baking powder; 

Drain the oysters and strip them with your fingers to remove any pieces of shell;

Chop them fine and beat them all together until light;

Add to them the milk, then the flour and salt until perfectly smooth;

Add the oysters free from all liquor and the baking powder;

Drop by spoonfuls in hot fat;

When light brown, take out and put on a piece of paper in a dish.

Some one please try these; they are delicious.

Milton Mills, N.H. Mrs. J.L.


The original was printed as a single paragraph. It is here broken into lines at the semi-colons for readability.

There seemed to be only one candidate with the right initials in Milton Mills Village in the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census.

That would have been Mrs. Jennie N. (Stevens) Lovering. She was born in Brookfield, NH, circa 1865, daughter of Plummer G. and Lydia Stevens. She married in Milton, March 13, 1895, George S. Lovering. She died in Milton, NH, March 26, 1901, aged only thirty-five years.

There were one or more fish stores in Milton Mills and J.U. Simes even once listed himself as selling oysters.


Answers. Of the many recipes I have taken from The Globe, I wish to thank, especially, Bertha of Melrose for soft gingerbread, A.M.K. of East Harwich for egg omelet, Mrs. J.L. of Milton Mills, N.H., for oyster fritters, and S.F.P. of Chelsea for graham gems. I have not the dates of the above, so cannot give them. Mrs. R.P.M. Lynn (Boston Globe, April 2, 1895).


References:

Boston Globe. (1895, February 14). Oyster Fritters. Boston, MA: Boston Globe.

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