Genealogical Mysteries in the Pages of an Old Cookbook
Please remember to use 2014 food handling safety practices when attempting to make 1909 recipes (particularly with shellfish)!
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Oysters and Fish
“Small fish should swim twice,
Once in water, and once in oil.”
One large sized can salmon, minced, with skin and bone removed; one teacup cracker crumbs, one egg, well beaten; the juice of half a lemon, one-half teacup water. Season with white pepper and salt, stir well together and put in greased quart can with tight lid. Put on in covered vessel of boiling water and boil for one hour. When cold slice and garnish with parsley and lemons cut in quarters.
–Mrs. Wm. Post.
SCALLOP OF OYSTER AND MACARONI.
Break four ounces of macaroni into pieces two inches long; throw into boiling water; boil rapidly thirty minutes; drain; throw into cold water for fifteen minutes; drain again; drain fifty oysters. Put a layer of these oysters into the bottom of a baking dish, then a layer of the boiled macaroni, another layer of oysters and macaroni, dusting a little salt and pepper over each layer; continue until the dish is filled, having the last layer macaroni. Cut a tablespoonful of butter into bits; put the bits over the top and dust thickly with bread crumbs. Pour over this four tablespoonsful of cream, and bake in quick oven about twenty minutes.
–Mrs. S. T. Rorer.
OYSTERS IN BATTER.
Beat one egg, without separating, until light; add six tablespoonsful of milk, one tablespoonful of olive oil, two spoonsful of water, a saltspoonful of salt, a dash of cayenne, add sufficient flour, about six rounding tablespoonsful, to make a batter. Drain and wash the oysters and throw them into a saucepan; bring to a boiling point, drain, and when cold dip each in the batter and fry in deep hot fat. Drain the oysters, pile on a napkin, garnish with parsley and lemon, or serve with cream sauce.
–Mrs. S. T. Rorer.
PAN BAKED OYSTERS.
Drain twenty-five oysters free from all liquor. The oysters should be good-sized and fat. In the bottom of an individual baking dish put one square of nicely toasted bread. On top of this arrange about six oysters; sprinkle over them a quarter teaspoonful of salt and a dash of pepper, and then pour over four tablespoonsful of cream. Stand these dishes in a baking pan, then run in a hot oven and bake for ten minutes. Serve at once in the dishes in which they were cooked.
–Mrs. S. T. Rorer.
Wash and drain twenty-five oysters; thrown them into a saucepan with ten chopped mushrooms; bring to boiling point. Rub together one tablespoonful of butter and one of flour; add a half cup of milk and the oysters; stir until boiling; add a half teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper. Serve in bouchee case or pate shells.
–Mrs. S. T. Rorer.
PIGS IN THE BLANKETS.
Slice breakfast bacon very thin; place a pint of large oysters to drain; take one at a time and wrap in strips of breakfast bacon, pinning together with wooden toothpick. Fry on both sides until bacon is brown and oysters ruffled. Serve on thin hot buttered toast.
–Mrs. Wm. Post.
Who were they?
Mrs. Wm. Post: Anna Lee Hurst was born August 21, 1869 (1, 2) to cattle merchant John L Hurst (1, 3) and Mary C/Marion Reger (1, 3) in Upshur county, West Virginia (4). She was raised in Buckhannon WV (5, 6).
She married William Post of Upshur county, probably shortly after their marriage license dated September 2, 1890, if not the same day (4). Their sons were William Louis Post, born September 5, 1891 and died July 22, 1892 (7); Isaac Hurst Post, born July 17, 1893 (8, 9) and died January 4, 1936 (9); and John Hawthorne Post, born October 15, 1894 (10, 11) and died April 20, 1974 (12).
Mrs. Wm. Post’s ties to West Virginia Wesleyan College actually helped me ascertain that this was the correct family of several “William Posts” in the Upshur county area. She served on the board of trustees from 1917-1926 (13, pages 156, 159), and both of her surviving sons were alumnae (14, 15, 16). In fact, I was able to find a good bit more about Annie Hurst Post and her family, which I’ll share along with her Fish Chowder and Baked Fish recipes in a few weeks.
Mrs. S. T. Rorer: Each search for the contributors to this cookbook begins in the same place. Name as given, residence in Buckhannon WV, timeframe 1900-1910. In the case of Mrs. S. T. Rorer, that didn’t help. Initials can be tough on search results, and “Rorer” proved vulnerable to misreadings in the indexes. I found more than a few “Rover” listings who turned out to be Rorers on closer inspection.
S. T. Rorer may be Samuel Theodore Rorer, born October 16 of 1875 (1) or 1876 (2) in Philadelphia PA. He lived in Fairfield NJ with his father and sister by 1900 (3), and he married Mary between 1900 and 1905 (3, 4, 5). And I couldn’t find much of anything about Mary. She was born in New Jersey in about 1876 (4, 6, 7).
Initially, I doubted whether I had the right family. Fairfield NJ isn’t exactly within spitting distance of Buckhannon WV, and I couldn’t find a connection.
Then again, Buckhannon WV isn’t exactly oyster country, and if we know one thing for certain about Mrs. S. T. Rorer, it’s that the woman loved oysters.
Like a good amateur genealogist, I consulted a map, and I learned that Fairfield NJ is right on top of the Delaware Bay, which neighbors the more famous Chesapeake Bay. That, friends is definitely oyster country.
I confess to an assist from an online family tree here, which suggested that Mary’s maiden name was Miller (8). I try not to use this tactic on my personal searches because it biases what I expect to find, but I knew I had a deadline to get this post up! So I tried to back into the same findings. Was there a Mary Miller of the right age and in the right place?
In a word, yes. The daughter of John S. and Martha Miller lived in Fairfield in 1900 (9), in the very same district as her husband-to-be, Samuel Rorer (3). He’s enumerated on page 1, and she on page 14–so they lived in the same community. Mary’s siblings Mabel and George (9) strengthen the case with onomastic evidence when compared with her children of the same names (5, 6, 7). I also checked for John and Martha Miller’s household in the 1905 New Jersey State Census to be sure that Mary wasn’t still listed at home (10). She wasn’t; the theory about her identity holds up to that test. Still, I don’t have a primary source naming “Mary Miller” as Samuel Rorer’s wife or as the mother of any of the Rorer children.
Mary lived to be about 90 and is buried at the Zion Cemetery at Bargaintown, Atlantic county, New Jersey with her husband and her son George (11).
Circumstantial, uncertain? Absolutely–but cracking the oysters was still crucial to cracking her case.
(Numbered sources are cited and linked in the index.)
Question for You!
Let’s have some fun and get a little conversation going this week. I want to know…
See you next week with more seafood specials
If you are researching one of the ladies credited here, email me! I’d love to hear your story!