A Colonial Dinner

[slickr-flickr tag=”osv-dinner-2016″]

Saturday I took part in a Colonial Dinner at the Parsonage in Old Sturbridge Village. It was an amazing evening. Four interpreters and 14 of us prepared and ate a meal over the course of 4 hours.

Cooking was entirely at the hearth and using the brick oven. Everything was by candlelight using period utensils, cooking vessels, and recipes. No measuring cups or flashlights. The chicken was hand turned in a tin oven facing the fire, soup was cooked in a kettle over the fire. Other dishes were cooked in covered kettles on trivets over burning coals on the hearth. Everything was prepared with knives and wooden spoons made in the village. The tinware and redware were also made in the village. The pies and biscuits were baked in the oven heated by a wood fire that was then shoveled out with the coals added to the fireplace. We even washed and rinsed the cookware in tin basins. Everything was made from scratch..

The menu was:

potted cheese
mulled cider
squash soup with toasted bread garnish
parsnips in milk
roast chickens on a spit
stuffing with onion
carrots cooked under the chickens
beef collops with apple and onion
red cabbage with port
cranberry sauce
biscuits
apple pie with cheddar cheese
floating island
hot chocolate

Serendipity

Hoyt History of Wentworth manuscript 01

Saturday’s word of the day was serendipity. I’d put off a research trip to Wentworth, New Hampshire for a week due to inertia. I’m looking into the background of the family of a Civil War soldier who was born there.

My first stop was the Webster Public Library in Wentworth, open from 9-12 on Saturdays.

1. I found several books published by a local historian Francis Muzzey that mentioned property owned by the soldier’s family in the early 1800s.

2. I noticed a stack of pamphlets in a dusty case that turned out to be a stack of of original town reports from 1863 through the 1890s with occasional references to his family. I only recognized them because I’d see a couple at the New Hampshire Historical Society the previous week (NHHS only had 3 years worth). I was able to photograph them all.

3. In another case I noticed a thick book with the title “The History of Wentworth, Vol 1 – Manuscript). Turns out it was Hoyt’s original hand-written 1857 history of the town. I own a transcript and was awed to be able to page through the original and photograph the pages relating to the soldier.

4. The library kicked me out when they closed at noon. I headed over to the Wentworth Historical Society, a small building about 1/2 mile away. As I arrived a gentleman was heading out the door on his way to lunch. He asked what I needed. I told him a bit about my research and he said he’d be back in about 10 minutes. At that point I asked if he might be Mr. Muzzey. He was surprised that I knew his name. When he returned we talked for 1 1/2 hours about the family. (The conversation did take a slight detour when he discovered I was related to Lizzie Borden). He’s going to do some research for me on where the various members of the family lived in town before and after the War. He also asked if I would give a presentation to their historical society when I finish my research!

Did I mention that Mr. Muzzey did the 1976 transcription of the Hoyt manuscript? The transcript that I have on my shelf at home.

5. Near the end our talk he pulled out a book he’d compiled of everyone buried in the town cemeteries, sorted by name. We found the soldier, his parents, and an infant brother listed in a cemetery up the street.

He then escorted me down to the cemetery and helped me locate the graves.

Wentworth_NH_20150718_0010

The serendipity? If I’d gone to Wentworth last week instead of NHHS:

I wouldn’t have recognized the stack on reports in the display case. The reports were not in the library’s local history section or the their catalog and the librarian at the desk did not know what they were. I only knew what they were because I’d gone to the NHHS and seen one there.

I wouldn’t have met Mr. Muzzey. He says he doesn’t usually go to the historical society on Saturdays because nobody ever drops by. He was only there that one day this summer because they were short handed.

My thanks to the Webster Library for allowing me to examine and photograph the town reports and portions of the manuscript.

SQUEEEE!

John O. Stevens

During a re-reading of Hoyt’s History of Wentworth, I found details of the death of John O. Stevens that I missed before.

Sergt. John O. Stevens, Co. B“John O Stevens, Co B, 2nd N H Reg. was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg Pa July 1st or 2nd 1863. He was struck by a ball in the loins, which undoubtedly caused his death shortly after. But little is known of the particulars of this death, as no report has been given by any of his comrades. His body was found by the side of a barn by a soldier in one of the western regiments and by him caused to be buried and the grave marked. From the papers in his pockets his name and residence was learned and his father notified of the fact by this kind soldier. His body was brought home and buried with Masonic honors, witnessed by a very large concern of people – August 2, 1863 This brave young man was the first to volunteer in defense of his Countrys flag from this Town. He was esteemed by all for his moral worth as well as patriotism. After enduring the hardships and perils of more that two years service, being a participant in most of the battles in which the Gallant Second were engaged, he at last fell a victim to the most wicked Rebellion. Let his memory be hallowed.”

 

Source: Hoyt, Peter L., Hoyt’s History of Wentworth New Hampshire. Transcribed from the original manuscript by Francis L. Muzzey. Littleton, New Hampshire: Courier Printing Company, Inc., 1976, p. 345.

Listening Now – Albion’s Seed

Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, Vol. 1 by David Hackett Fischer

This is an eye-opening (for me) analysis of the settlement of four regions of early America – New England, the Chesapeake, the Delaware Valley, and the Appalachian back country – and how the differences in their origins echo down to the present day.

Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, Vol. 1