Family Recipe “Friday”: A Community Heritage

Historical Recipes and the Story of a Community

This cookbook was published in 1909 and we’re exploring the recipes and the lives of the women who submitted them. (Want to know more? Read the intro here or the previous entry here.)

Annnd, reality check time: We are six weeks into this project and this is at least my second time late. I’m pretty sure Friday is over in all possible time zones.

However, the good news is that I’ve slowly realized over these first few weeks that this project isn’t simply disparate recipes and biographies. It is the story of a community. The Ladies of Buckhannon didn’t contribute to this cookbook in a vacuum. Many of them knew each other. There were neighbors, friends, rivals perhaps. They weren’t stingy with their submissions–and dare I suggest there may have been some competition between them?

I’m seeing some contributors names turning up regularly, which takes away the push to encapsulate their lives in a two-paragraph biography. Their stories don’t have to unfold all at once.

And with that, we’ll resume the journey.

Please remember to use 2014 food handling safety practices when attempting to make 1909 recipes!

Pages 20-21

Old-fashioned Recipes: Baked Fish, Spanish Oysters, and Broiled Oysters
... and more: Broiled Oysters, Dressing for Oysters, and Creamed Oysters. Ready for a trip to the Chespeake Bay yet?


To 1 pound sheephead fish (or other variety), parboiled, with skin and bone removed, add 1 pint canned tomatoes or fresh stewed tomatoes, pints hot water, 3 thin strips bacon, cut fine and fried with two chopped onions; season with salt, white pepper and paprika or a little red pepper. Thick with two tablespoons flour rubbed smooth a little luke-warm water.
–Mrs. Wm. Post.

Place in a saucepan a large piece of butter, add a kernel of garlic and a teaspoon of flour. Brown nicely; add a half can of tomatoes and a few cracker crumbs, with salt and pepper. Boil one-half hour; add oysters, either raw or canned, one quart of oysters to a half can of tomatoes. Let come to a boil. Toast slice of bread, butter, and serve with the oysters on a platter.
–Mrs. J. W. Heavner.

Cut rounds from rye bread with a cooky cutter, butter them lightly on both sides, then dip them for a moment in brown stock and toast them. Set closely together in a tin and cover with oysters, three or four on each round of toast. Pepper and salt, then set under the flame in the gas stove till the frills of the oysters begin to curl up. Serve piping hot. This is excellent.
–R. H. M.

To one medium-sized dressed fish take one teacup of bread crumbs, one tablespoon melted butter, ½ finely chopped onion, pepper and salt. After putting dressing in fish, if drawn from the side, wrap around a few times with white cord and place on rack in baking pan; sprinkle with flour and bake until a nice brown, basting with one pint of water and two tablespoons of melted better. When done clip cord and remove carefully, serving with sliced lemon and oysters ruffled in their own liquor.
–Mrs. Wm. Post.

Drain the oysters well; heat a thin skillet or omelet pan very hot, put the oysters in it and shake over the fire until they curl, which will be in a very few minutes. Dress with a little butter, salt and pepper. These are very nice for a sick person. If you wish to serve these on toast, put them in a rich white sauce after you have broiled them. Oysters for stew or patters are better first cooked in this way, adding them to the white sauce for the patties.

One-fourth pound of butter in a double boiler; add 3 tablespoonsful of flour and set on back part of stove where it will melt but not boil, shaking it until the butter and flour are well mixed; then add 1 pint of milk and ½ pint of cream. Drop oysters in boiling salt water and let come to a boil; skin and drop them into the dressing, then put into patties. Serve hot.
–Mrs. J. J. Jelly.

Heat 1 pint of oysters; season with salt, pepper and butter size of large walnut; add 1 cup of milk, thickened with heaping teaspoon of flour. Serve on toast or crackers.
–S. W. L.

Who were they?

Mrs. Wm. Post: A couple weeks ago, I introduced Annie Hurst Post with a promise to share more of my findings on the Post family. Specifically, I’ll share a vignette of her oldest surviving son, Isaac Hurst Post, born July 17, 1893 (8, 9) and died January 4, 1936 (9).

In West Virginia Wesleyan College’s 1917 Murmurmontis yearbook (15), the blurb about Isaac reads as follows:

Isaac Post
Buckhannon, West Va.
He is too wise to be all good.
Wesleyan Academy ’13; Oratory ’15; Wesleyan debating Club; Cheer Leader, ’14-’15; Chrestomathean Literary Society.
“Ike” is one of the boys from Buckhannon who has distinguished himself as a student, especially as a literary student. He has covered himself with glory many times by winning prize contests in oratory and by reading. He has shown his oratorical powers many times by stirring the “pep” and enthusiasm in the students, urging them to help their teams by cheering and yelling, during their hard fought battles. We are expecting great things from “Ike” in latter life. As a statesman, he will sway many audiences by his eloquence in appeals to go “back to the soil” and develop the resources of our country, especially, the orange growing districts of the sunny South. “Ike” will have to cater to the women more than he does at present in order to get the “sufferage vote” of the country, if he ever wishes to be recognized as a leader in the United States Senate, to which he is aspiring.

He never made it to the Senate. On January 4, 1936, he died at Ashville NC. His death certificate stated his occupation as law student, and his residence as Miami FL, and his marital status as single (9).

How tragic but also fascinating, to find a man, stopped short at 42 years of age, doing exactly what he intended at age 24.

Mrs. J. W. Heavner: Leeann E. Reger, daughter of John W and Rebecca Reger, was born at Preston VA in about 1846 (1). She married Jacob W. Heavner on June 1, 1871 in Upshur county WV (1). Interestingly, the Rev. J. W. Reger was on “The Board of Trustees of the West Virginia Conference Seminary,” a local executive committee, and a building committee for the College with A. M. Poundstone, father of Mary Poundstone Barlow (2). Both of these women, then, had familial ties to the College.

I had forgotten until I looked back, but recall that Annie Hurst Post’s mother was Mary C/Marion Reger. In order to catch these connections, I’ll likely create a surname index soon so we can explore the relationships between these women and families.

Additionally, the Heavner family had–and I would imagine, still has!–a large footprint in the Upshur county WV area. We’ll be talking much more about them soon, too.

R. H. M.: Without at least a surname, I have nowhere to start researching this contributor. However, we’ve already seen a few women who submitted multiple recipes using variations of their names. I have a feeling R. H. M. will reveal some clues for us eventually.

Mrs. J. J. Jelly: Mrs. J. J. Jelly might be Effie M. Clay, who married Jerry M. Carpenter on March 18, 1900 at Fayette WV (1), divorced, then and remarried to John Jelly at Mount Carbon WV, about 120 miles from Buckhannon WV on modern roads (2). They married July 8, 1909 (2), which is an important detail given that the supposed publication date of the cookbook is 1909. If she’s the one, the book dates after their wedding.

Effie was born in either Fayette county WV (1) or Wyoming county WV (2) to John and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clay (1, 2).

S. W. L.: In this case, I’m willing to bet that S. W. L. is Sue W. Lindsay. You can read her other contributions and biography notes here.

(Numbered sources are cited and linked in the index.)

 See you next week

It feels strange to leave so much undone, but I’m confident future connections will continue the story. Next week we’ll have two different versions of Oyster Cocktails. After that, we’re on to Meats and Poultry.

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If you are researching one of the ladies credited here, email me! I’d love to hear your story!

2 Replies to “Family Recipe “Friday”: A Community Heritage”

  1. It’s wonderful how you are sharing this old cookbook and the stories behind it. Old community cookbooks provide so many clues about the social history of a community or organization. Several years ago I read a book that you might enjoy: Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote by Janet Theophano (2002).

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