Postings & Musings

By B. F. Hicks, President of the Franklin County Historical Association

June 1, 2009 – On the Wilkinson Library

We have a great new resource in the Wilkinson Library at the fire station museum. The Franklin County Genealogical Society allowed us to copy their records of The Mt. Vernon Optic Herald. We have disks with the complete data – images for nearly every issue of the Optic from the year 1907 until 1997.

Please express gratitude to members of the genealogical society for providing these disks for our research use. Elease Hubbell is our librarian – contact her at jerryhub@wildblue.net or 903-860-3470. We have a new computer in the library. You can look at the issues; read the data; and print out sections which might of interest.

Dr. Will Godwin, who has purchased the old city waterworks plant on South Holbrook Street , found reports of the bond issue for construction of the plant in the optic issues of 1910.

Check with our librarian to coordinate a time to allow you access to the research facility in the fire station. We are putting together a great Texana collection. These local newspapers add value to our research library. This will be a great tool for our children for information regarding business starts; commercial history; family activities and a wealth of small details about social history. Remember that this is available for your use. 

July 21, 2009 – Further Note of Appreciation

No sooner do I manage to ever start thanking anyone than I regret it because I have overlooked someone else.

The case in point: All of our grounds maintenance. Well, First National Bank of Mt. Vernon - President Garry Romines had called in before the last posting went out. That the Bank would maintain grounds at the Fire Station Museum.

Wow again.

Thanks everyone for helping with our mission: To preserve our natural and cultural heritage. 

July 23, 2009 – Help Needed for a Blacksmith’s Shop

Have you looked inside the blacksmith shop behind the depot. We have an antique forge. It really can be made to work without a lot of trouble.

There is a bellows.

There is a box of coal.

I personally took apart most of the equipment. I do think that a lot of the blacksmith tools have been pilfered over the last few years. But the anvil remains in the building. And perhaps we can locate some of the other tools and secure the building.

We need someone – one, two or three volunteers to come forward and get the shop in working order. It doesn’t have to do much of anything. But it would be great to have a fire going during country fest or during special tours to have a volunteer smithy pounding on some red hot iron in front of children. If someone could actually make something, all the better.

Here’s the plea for a volunteer to step forward. Let me hear from someone. I’ll go down and show you what we have and you can help serve in the community. And what a good reminder of the heritage of this community. Teague Chevrolet had its roots in a blacksmith shop operated by Hiram Teague’s grandfather on the corner of the square which was sold for the courthouse location in 1912. 

July 27, 2009 – Quilting at the Thruston House

Have you ever stopped in at the Thruston House on a Wednesday afternoon. Stop by between 2:30 and 5:00 P.M.

If you want to bring children along or a potential volunteer who might be interested in taking up the hobby, please stop in.

Jean Ann Marshall writes: “We want to promote what the quilters are doing. This is truly becoming a lost art, with many people wanting their heirloom quilt tops quilted by hand. Young people coming up behind us are enjoying the machine quilting – only we “old timers” are still doing the handwork. We will be finished with the quilt we currently have in the frame by the end of this month and the next quilt going in is going to bring $400.”

Now, volunteers: don’t be intimidated by that pricing. The quilters in our organization charge according to the size and complexity of the quilt and also, I think, according to other factors such as whether repairs are required and whether extra work is needed to finish out the quilt. They bring in money to pay the bills.

In terms of finances: the city gives us something over $8,000.00 per year, and the county over $5,000.00. We watch utility expenses carefully and we scrimp by with all our operations. Volunteers maintain our grounds, and we operate free facilities throughout the county.

The extra money the quilting group brings in is great and helps pay for extra programs and expenses we incur.

I think the quilting group would welcome people stopping in to study with them and learn the art. It is conceivable that a second quilting group could organize. We have other spaces where we could have a second group. And, first and foremost, we need to make sure we support our primary quilting group. The current FCHA quilters are Jean Ann Marshall, Sue Soetenga, Connie McGill, and Nicki Armstrong.

Check with Jean Ann Marshall (903-537-4569) or Sue Soetenga (903-860-3979) before your visit. You can count on the group almost every Wednesday year round. If you have a study group, family group, or child or grandchild who has admired an heirloom quilt you own, then stop by the house and let your friends get a lesson in how that quilt was made.

If you have a quilt top that is stuck back in a drawer because no one ever got around to quilting it; then get Jean Ann and Sue to give you an estimate on the cost to quilt the heirloom and the color scheme and pattern that might be used in the actual quilt stitching for your heirloom. As for those of you who attended the recent membership meeting at Hagansport, you saw the beautiful quilt made from a deteriorating quilt top I had inherited which was pieced by my grandmother Agnes Hughes sometime in the 1950s (she died in 1964). I now have an heirloom to treasure and display.

Congratulate these volunteers – our quilters. And take advantage of the opportunity to see them in action; take friends and family in to see this living history program; and walk Dupree Park while you are out there. 

August 2, 2009 – Help Needed for the Telegraphy Exhibit

Who is going to step up to the plate and oversee the telegraphy exhibit in the depot. Bob Ford was a great volunteer. He had the exhibit worked up; worked up an explanatory brochure and had batteries set up to power the telegraph. He may have even known a bit of Morse code.

Shouldn’t take much time. Can you wear overalls and put on a conductor’s hat? If so, during Countryfest and school tours we’d call on you to hammer out some code and perhaps show off other aspects of the depot.

And we have a really rare piece of equipment; the small freight wagon used to load luggage and freight off box cars and into the depot; the wagon is the same height to allow for a dolly to roll equipment from the railcars to the depot. It is sitting on the northeast corner of our grounds. In the depot we have two more small pulley carts used for hauling freight.

And we have wonderful barrels used in storing and transporting goods in a day and age before cardboard boxes, pallets and the disposable containers came into common use. Some of the barrels have already been damaged and hauled off.

We need a steward for the depot; to keep those batteries checked out and to watch over the facility.

We have original advertisement wrapping paper from stores which have been out of business for over a century hanging on the walls in the depot and canceled train tickets (check out the Mt. Vernon cancellation stamp on the back side). We need the drapes pulled to keep these artifacts from fading.

We need a steward.

First one up to the plate? Someone let me know you’ll undertake this, and we’ll entrust you with a key to the building. 

August 6, 2009 – Items of Interest

Have you checked out the actual Republic of Texas currency in the frames on the walls in the downstairs of the Fire Station Museum? That money would have been used in the village of Mt. Vernon from 1836 until 1846. Be sure your children see it when you pass through the building. One more reason to be proud of your heritage here.

Have you picked up your new Driving Tour for Mt. Vernon – 32 pages of history – with ghost reports – edited by Jean Ann Marshall. Free to members. Get it at the Fire Station. 

August 7, 2009 – Help for the Horse-Drawn Implements

Help. And then I repeat, help.

We have a great collection of mule drawn farm equipment. A real variety. Stalk cutters from the time when you harvested the corn and then cut the stalks for livestock feed. Fresnos and slips used before modern bulldozers to dig out pools and to excavate road drainage. A hay rake and multiple other instruments. We have McCormicks that should be painted back to their original red and yellow paint. We have John Deere equipment that should be painted green and yellow.

Kelly stretcher gave us the covered awning structure on the west side of the depot grounds to protect our equipment. And we have the slab on the front of the depot also

I’ve always envisioned getting pictures of the equipment; whether a drawing or actual historic advertisement or picture of the equipment. And putting a short identification of what the piece is and what it was used for, together with the picture, in a Plexiglas holder mounted on a post by the equipment.

Jimmy and Rita Hughes of the Sweete Shoppe have offered to give us some more horse-drawn equipment.

Charles Black has offered us equipment.

We need to do some conservation on the pieces we have: get them painted and maybe install some new wood.

Our organization can pay for paint and materials. We can pay for the posts and Plexiglas once a volunteer comes up with the plan for the exhibit and explanation. We need manpower. Who has an interest in working up the equipment and perhaps telling the stories?

The new theme of the Texas Historical Commission is real people telling real stories. We do have the stories here. We need someone to tell them.

For several pieces of the equipment which my family gave we even have the original bills of sale and purchase documents (leave it to my pack ratting heritage).

We also have the syrup mill and the furnace and a huge pan to cook down juice into cane syrup. Because of the nature of the old iron mill, we really need a mule to pull it if you want to crush some cane. The concern has been that a tractor would end up with so much torque as to break the gears on the mill. Is there anyone who has a mule or horse with an interest in at least doing some crushing of cane at any time this fall? Or some juice to cook up? Come make cane syrup. Let me know if you are interested in any of these projects. 

September 1, 2009 – FCHA and the 10 Percent Challenge

Mount Vernon’s “10% Challenge” will kick off with a brown bag luncheon at the City Hall downtown at noon, Thursday, October 1. Bring a brown bag; drinks will be provided. City environmental officer Andrew Trampus will give a brief presentation on recycling opportunities planned for the community. Lee Elliott, City Administrator, will provide an overview of the program.

The program is designed to promote recycling, reduction of energy and water consumption and to promote exercise. Citizens are urged to sign up for the “10% Challenge.” The form is available from the city office; or you can find it on line at the link below and print it from there (just click the URL with your mouse; or, if that doesn't work, copy and paste the URL into the address line of your Internet browser):

http://www.comvtx.com/docs/1-CHALLENGE.pdf  

Please check out the materials and consider signing on and returning your completed form to the city. The historic preservation movement has adopted sustainability as the best means of preservation. The preservation standpoint is that adaptation of existing buildings saves tremendous energy and protects our natural resources. The city’s program is consistent with the preservation movement. The city literature states that a sustainable environment is a key goal for the city and that the city government will promote a campaign to promote these goals with citizens acting locally and thinking globally. City manager Lee Elliott says, “We will promote sustainability.” He says a broad definition for sustainability is “decision-making based on choices that will leave the planet better off for your kids, grandchildren and future generations.” The City Council of Mt. Vernon resolved this year to base city economic policy in sustainability.

Check out the materials on the web. You’ll be proud to be part of this community. Mt. Vernon and Franklin County are joint participants in the State Historical Commission’s Visionaries in Preservation program (VIP). Concerns for sustainability were first recognized under the leadership of the 2008 FCHA president John Stephenson and public policy chair Joe Andrews. Their leadership now leads to this adoption of policy. The VIP committee meets at 5:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at City Hall under the leadership of its chair, Lillie Bush Reves. Come sit in on a session. You’ll be proud of this team effort. 

November 1, 2009 – Membership in the FCHA

What you read here will also be printed in the upcoming FCHA newsletter. Please read it as a plea for a renewal of dues to save our organization sending a separate mailer in January and save us the cost of printing the plea and the postage for the plea.

The payment of dues to the Franklin County Historical Association is fully tax-deductible and we offer a variety of memberships. The very basic single individual rate is $15 and guarantees you receipt of our newsletter six times per year. The payment of your dues is a tangible endorsement of our goals and objectives. Check out our website for information and a two separate very neat virtual photo galleries of historic photos.

If you still need any Christmas gift, please call the association offices or my law office. We have about 150 copies of the Sweet Heritage Cookbook left – at $17.00 post paid; they offer over 100 pages of dessert recipes with a wealth of historical information relating to the various cooks whose recipes are featured. There are a few living legends included in the book (my grandmother’s shortbread recipe appears with my adaptations for modern times – after all, what is a scoop of butter the size of a hen’s egg, anyway? – and we have Ray Johnson’s collection of beautiful stories of life in small-town America in the 1940s and 1950s. Yes – Mt. Vernon plays prominently but the stories cover such a range of experience that they will interest anyone. Just $15 will get you a great Christmas gift. Or a lot of personal reading pleasure.

We still work to raise funds to replace the depot roof. Donations are needed and will be gladly accepted. We are trying to raise about $14,000 before we lose any more plaster in the freight room as water from the leaks melts the plaster. And we need about $15,000 to finish the fencing of our West End Preserve. You’ll like the West End – 455 acres. A new sign clearly marks the entry on the east side of State Highway 37 just north of the bridge over Big Cypress. You can walk in for a mile on a well-marked trail thanks to Mt. Vernon's Boy Scouts.

In working to fulfill our mission to preserve our natural and cultural heritage, you can’t fault our organization. We are going great guns. We do need your support. We need your dues. And we’ll take orders for books or special donations. Let us hear from you, and come visit our facilities and parks. 

November 15, 2009 – The East Texas Historical Association

You might consider membership in this regional organization, The East Texas Historical Association. They produce a very scholarly quarterly journal. The current issue includes, among many fascinating articles, a very good report on McKenzie College of Clarksville, which was organized during the time of the Republic of Texas and lasted through the Civil War.

Here is some information on the organization and how to join it, from their website:

Founded in 1962 on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, the East Texas Historical Association is committed to the preservation and enhancement of East Texas' great historical heritage and welcomes all who share our vision and interests.

Through our meetings, publications, and other efforts, the Association attempts to discover, collect, and preserve historical records, manuscripts, letters, journals, maps, pictures, and other materials related to East Texas history; to encourage the preservation of buildings of historical interest and architectural worth; and to publish and make known the rich history with which this part of Texas is endowed.

The East Texas Historical Association has a number of membership categories available to individuals or institutions interested in the heritage of East Texas. All members receive the East Texas Historical Journal, published each fall and spring.
1. Institutional Memberships (for businesses, educational institutions, and industries) are available for $100 a year.
2. Life Memberships are available for $400 or more, and are for individuals interested in perpetuating the work of the Association.
3. Sustaining Memberships are available annually as Patrons for $85 and as Benefactors for $60. Both contribute to the ongoing work of the Association.
4. Family Memberships are available for $45.
5. Regular Memberships and Library Memberships are $35 a year.
6. Student Memberships are $15 a year and are for students enrolled in high school or college.

Visit http://www.easttexashistorical.org/v3/membership/join.htm
to join or just to use the tabs there to browse the site.

Otherwise contact them at
East Texas Historical Association
P. O. Box 6223 SFA Station
Nacogdoches, TX 75962-6223
936-468-2407
email to Deanna Smith, Secretary-Treasurer at deannasmith@sfasu.edu  

January 1, 2010 - On Food and Holidays and Memories through Still-Remembered Voices

William Humphrey has a beautiful passage in THE ORDWAYS, his novel set in Red River County just north of us. He is reminiscing about the Civil War and the continuing validity and importance of the war… from the perspective of the 1930’s setting of the novel. That as long as there were the stories of the hardship from that time which the grandchildren knew having heard them on grandpa’s knee; that the war would remain alive; as told in those still-remembered voices. That the animosity for the North would not die as long as those grandchildren lived even though that War was 100 years before.

In the same chapter he explains that a southerner actually lives in three generations; his own and in those of his children and grandchildren because they know his stories which are known in those still remember ed voices.

I fear I don’t succeed enough in getting the still remembered voices concept across. Humphrey relies on it in the context of the American Civil War. My effort of late has been in food. One more effort to impart a sense of heritage and history in the nephews.

We had a marvelous Christmas meal. There were 16 guests at the table and I had given a great deal of thought to a number of the dishes. I did not manage to serve the Pauline (Nooney) Hicks cole slaw (a real effort; cabbage hand grated on the fine side of a box grater and seasoned delicately) and so it was not in the crystal dish always brought in my by Aunt Nooney as her offering for any family meal.

I did manage to peel the wax skins off the rutabagas and to cut up that terribly hard vegetable and to get it boiled and then mashed and seasoned with butter and cream and served in Aunt Mae’s bowl. What a labor of love; how did she ever succeed in processing those most difficult of vegetables. And I had the fordhook lima beans in a bowl which belonged to Aunt Virgie Beth Hughes. My brother Sid opined that Virgie preferred the small limas; I think differently. Fordhooks are expensive and are reserved for special occasions; she would have approved of their Christmas use. Fordhooks boiled till quite tender with butter and salt seasoning (and a touch of sugar) were the order of the day.

And so it went as all guests at the table endured a two hour feast as we described each of about 12 vegetables; why they were significant and who had grown them, savored them, or prepared them. We went through the explanation that the cream crowder peas picked at the garden of our friend Will Godwin were the same pea that my father loved so much. And served with my mother’s pear relish. And we explained who had owned what dish or serving piece. That relish was in a berry bowl dating from at least 1880 that had belonged to Grannie Ivey who has been dead since 1927. But I remember the voices of all her grandchildren who spoke with an amazing fondness for that tiny Scotch woman. One green eye and one blue eye; yes, southern intermarriage of cousins, this coming Christmas I’ll have her picture out at the table also.

We managed to break a 1950’s tea pitcher when one guest poured boiling hot steeped tea off the stove directly into the pitcher but that made for quite a good lesson as I explained to Daniel Hicks why you must be very careful about how you treat the heirlooms. We lost Aunt Ivey’s clear glass pitcher with the yellow daffodils. Now only two of the large glasses remain from the original set.

True, our family is most unusual in the fact that we had so many maiden aunts and all their things remain with us and we have had minimal disastrous fires and we haven’t left Franklin County and so there has been no Diaspora of the heirlooms which pretty much remain in use. But if you don’t use the items and tell the stories what value do they have. Next year I think I’ll bring down all the big portraits and position them around the dining room as we commemorate the food of these people.

I had to completely and for all time store away the pre-Civil War honey bowl compote of an ancestor – used to store honey before sugar was available – after I managed to drop it; I have the glued/repaired relic. We had cornbread made with buttermilk; just no side of honey. We had the Violet Bray persimmon pudding of which Dorothy Long said: “In the fall, after a hard frost, Daddy would go into the bottoms and pick the persimmons. Aunt Violet would make the pudding. It was the best stuff you ever put in your mouth.” And we had the pleasure of Robert Long at table to eat his family’s dish. Buy our Sweet Heritage cookbook and you’ll get that recipe.

We had the Margaret Mattinson fruitcake faithfully served at my family’s holiday table for at least 30 years – first made by my mother’s friend Margaret Mattinson, our town baker, and now prepared each year by her daughter Dr. Bettie Herring.

And we had enough guests at the table who could still tell tales of those family members – long dead – who prepared the specific foods and whose dishes we used. It was a marvelous day. I share the experience to urge you to share the stories. If you don’t pass on these still remembered stories in the still remembered voices, a chapter of life here cannot be recovered.

This week, Bill Holmes wrote of a recent Sunday visit to my family’s church, the West New Hope United Methodist Church, out on the Cherokee Trace. Bill said: “I visited the church which my father joined 96 years ago.” Bill saw the same sights and vistas his father would have seen from the same windows in the same building. And I have the pickled peach bowl which was taken for a Sunday after-church luncheon in October 1914 when my great-grandmother’s home burned while she was at the church. I have the bowl and I can serve the pickles.

You like to think that the grandchildren are listening; too often they don’t know to ask the questions until the time is past. It’s certainly true for me. So many questions. I did pretty good at asking but I still have regrets. I’m determined to make sure that some of the stories get passed on whether asked or not. If I tell them enough maybe the nephews will remember.

This year the logo for the Texas Historical Commission carries a strong message about our state: “Real places telling real stories.” Let’s live that motto in Franklin County.

April 29, 2010 – Reminder of the Upcoming Meeting & Reflections on Foods

I hate to start naming names. When I name names I manage to forget someone. But I have to name a name. We’ve needed door prizes over and over for historical association meetings. If you haven’t attended one of the general membership meetings, you would not understand.

The meetings are always fun. We eat well. I mean everyone brings in their best covered dish; we have an assortment and a variety of foods; you can take small servings; you have an assortment of many types of foods; casseroles, meats, vegetables, salads, and breads.

And I like the opportunity to eat quite a few desserts. It is not uncommon to see people with their dinner plate just loaded with desserts. You can pretty much count on me bringing the Mary Moore hominy casserole. I’m not that fond of hominy; but after I had this easy take off on Mary’s hominy, I’ve been making it ever since. I want to make sure that people are exposed to our ancestral food (yes, hominy is in the domain of the pioneer foods).

Mary is actually known for more than one good use of hominy. Another of her recipes uses yellow corn hominy, some red pepper, chopped onion, shredded cheddar; a spicy influence. But the plain and simple white corn hominy with butter, cream cheese and a dash of salt and sugar; wow. But come to our next meeting and try it. I ramble in my musing.

So: we eat well; we have a good program; and we always end up with a drawing for some door prizes from local merchants who endorse our worthwhile community service by supporting us through a few prizes. Greg Carr of Franklin County Lawn and Feed – thank you, Greg. Greg has consistently provided prizes over many years, from bird feeders, to bird seed, to gift certificates and more recently in providing really pretty hand-blown watering devices; pretty things that look kind of like mushrooms – only bigger.

So I have to mention Tom Scott Lumber Yard. Not only can I count on the Scott family members to help us with a door prize when needed, but they also have given us great price breaks on construction projects as we work to maintain our facilities. And then Rita Hughes at the Sweete Shoppe, and Barrett Marshall at Mt. Vernon Café. Aren’t we glad to live in Mt. Vernon and Franklin County, and don’t we enjoy the support of our friends when we have our fellowship.

Come to the depot at 5:30 on May 3 and follow us up to the city cemetery for our annual cemetery walk. Then we’ll return to the depot for food and fellowship. We guarantee you’ll have a good time. 

May 1, 2010 – On Rutherford Ties

At the opening reception of the Rutherford Photography Exhibit, your president will exhibit a letter; two sheets of Rutherford Drug Store stationery from the 1890s – framed under glass.

The show features photographs by Charles S. Rutherford, M.D.; son of Charles R. Rutherford; grandson of Griffith Rutherford; and great-grandson of John L. Rutherford, who founded the Rutherford Drug Store in Mt. Vernon in 1869 and whose red brick house with tile roof still stands at the end of West Main Street in Mt. Vernon.

I haven’t looked up land titles but I speculate that my Harper ancestors in Sumner County, Tennessee may have lived next to the Rutherford clan. I’ve visited Sumner County, found many family records there and can track their land sale as they start for what was then Red River County, Texas. John L. Rutherford’s grandfather (one of six initial Brigadier Generals in the Colonial forces settled in Sumner County after the Revolution). The next generation starts for Texas and came to Mt. Vernon with the Griffith Rutherford Bible. Our historical association holds that Bible today.

My musings and speculations cover the ties. So, we’ll host a reception to honor Dr. Charles S. Rutherford on the opening of his show. That’s our Rutherford take.

Now – Scott Harvey, Charlie Rutherford and I remain good friends. So Scott learns of the show and he has asked me to advise him of the date so he can be here for the opening.

The letter: written by attorney Hiram Glass (brother of Scott Harvey’s great-grandmother) addressed to Green Hughes (my great-grandfather) written on Charlie Rutherford’s great-grandfather’s stationery, borrowed by Glass from his friend Rutherford when he has stopped off in Mt. Vernon to call on Miss Hanks and to take care of legal business.

We three friends are in the fourth generation after that letter was written over a century ago. It’s a neat letter. Richard Hamrick’s aunt, Bettye Burns Delaney, a good genealogist and historian, and a descendant of a survivor of the Ripley Massacre, is convinced that the families all knew each other as they traveled into this region. Maybe so.

Talk about ties: Hiram Glass was one of the three attorneys in December 1893 who examined and passed on a young applicant to practice law here; that lawyer, Tom Wilkinson’s grandfather, Judge R. T. Wilkinson, Sr. Where does the Judge office? Rutherford Drug Store.

Hiram Glass was the son of Alexander Glass and Elizabeth Jane Blake Glass of the Daphne community. Hiram’s sister Jennie will marry Tom Oliver, double first cousin of Green Hughes (children of brother-sister unions; orphaned as only children during the Civil War; the closest of friends and business partners for their entire lives; both of their homes still stand in Mt. Vernon).

Another sister of Hiram Glass (Louella) will marry Marshall Brown. Marshall Brown is son of Vernetta Aikin and James Brown. Marshall Brown is first cousin of Melody Aikin Hughes, wife of Green Hughes. And, Marshall Brown is the grandfather of Mt. Vernon’s Sam Brown Harvey; get that. Let’s confuse this family line a bit more: Marshall Brown didn’t just get the name “Marshall” and my Marshall ties keep me on the board at the Marshall Springs Cemetery just over the Titus County line but I’m kin there through yet another of the eight great-grandparents we all have.

And the third Glass girl will marry a Gregg and after his death a Prather (ancestors to both Charles Bruce, benefactor for public causes here, and Don Meredith, probably our town’s most famous son).

The ties. Scott and I speculate as to what port of entry the ancestors used in coming to colonial America (apparently both Philadelphia and Charleston). And in checking Rutherford history I find my direct family lines in Sumner County, Tennessee, at the same time the Rutherfords were there. I had always thought our family’s paths only intersected here; I now believe my mother’s ancestors had to have known Rutherfords almost 200 years back.

Charlie had previously given me an elegant letter written by my grandmother Hicks to his family after the death of Charlie’s grandmother (Lillian Rouse Rutherford) in the 1930’s. I had thought that was as far back as ties would extend.

Ties. Ken Greer’s ancestor Allen Urquhart (arriving 1837) is surveying land for these people; or another of Greer’s ancestors (Molly Northern) is starting out first telephone service (1900) or another Greer ancestor is building the Rogers-Drummond House (1852). And in a county with a much much smaller population, these people would have all been somewhat acquainted. And last week I realized I had an 1880 bottle from the Greer Bottling Works of Mt. Vernon, Texas. And then Debbie O’Hara brought in a great bottle from the same time period for the Floyd Bottling Works of Mt. Vernon, Texas. And Debbie makes the mistake of asking me about Floyds; well, after all, my grandmother’s sister married Dr. Virgil Floyd whose office in 1903 was where? The Rutherford Drug Store Building. And they’re all buried in our city cemetery. We’ll point those out during our May cemetery walk. In the meantime, guess I’d better bring bottles to the Rutherford show also.

Come for the opening reception of the exhibit in the Firestation Museum on April 16, 2010 from 6-8 p.m. Come for the reception. I’ll bring the bottles and the letter. And we’ll have good food. You’ve read enough of the ties to be confused; I won’t belabor it. But I will have the documentary evidence of the ties.

The theme this year for the Texas Historical Commission is real people telling real stories. We do have real stories here. If Bill Holmes can come for the reception, he’ll be another tie with all these and more blood lines as would Mike Harper (former superintendent of schools here), Tom Wilkinson, and a host of other locals who work to preserve our natural and cultural heritage in Franklin County. Our community’s brand has been: “Come experience the nature of an earlier Texas.” Aren’t we lucky to have this heritage.

The 1898 letter spans a century of friendship and relationships continuing today. I love that William Humphrey passage where the Clarksville author says (The Ordways) that we southerners live actively in three generations: as long as we live in still-remembered voices. It’s a beautiful passage. In this case in Franklin County, the lives span more than three generations through the written active word from generations passed. It’s great to have the written materials; and even better to know their context. I try to impart this to my nephews; you’ll see an upcoming musing on food and folkways; another effort at imparting knowledge to the next generation. Pull out your family memorabilia and make sure the next generation knows the context. Look forward to seeing all of you on April 16.

May 1, 2010 – Cemetery Wanderings

I had a really neat experience this past summer (2009); troubling in some ways but really neat and gratifying. I urge our members to make a similar effort at visiting burial grounds.

I come by the appreciation of cemeteries in a natural sort of way. I have the unusual background with all of the old maid school teacher aunts – all living in or near Mt. Vernon; and with a real interest in history. My own father’s senior English term paper marked with an “A” is entitled “The History of Franklin County” – and he was writing that in 1931.

My maternal grandfather’s sister, Mae Hughes Masters Milam: Widowed in 1931, she won’t marry again for 17 years. So, in the gap years, she gets a job selling tombstones. She employs a discreet approach: reading obituaries, getting in a car, calling on families all over Northeast Texas, and selling tombstones for the Bergin Monument Yard of Sulphur Springs (and originally of Jefferson). She knew where every cemetery was in about eight counties. And she knew where her own people were buried. She was avidly interested in history, and, when I was a young child, she would load me up and go call on distant cousins and take me to the old burying grounds. She could tell you the state where the marble was mined for tombstones installed a century before.

With my own parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in the Mt. Vernon city cemetery, it is a bit more difficult to get out to the cemeteries where the great-great grandparents lie (Tranquil and Marshall Springs over on the Trace – that earliest route for settlement of the first arrivals here); and then to go back another generation to the graves of their ancestors in Red River County at English and Old Shamrock and a generation before that to Old Halesboro.

I had not been to the Red River County cemeteries since I graduated from high school and went with Aunt Mae. So on a Saturday afternoon in July my two nephews agreed to humor me and we made a regular family outing of the pilgrimage to the old graveyards in Red River County. Also on the outing were my brothers, John and Sid, sister-in-law Mary, and our adopted Brazilian college student, Eduardo Luz, with me telling him he needed to know the roots of his adopted American family.

Well, I think I said, “Aunt Mae was in the marker business.” So here’s the troubling part of the day. Ok – out at Tranquil, the two marble tombstones of her grandparents were in disrepair. She had a modern large granite marker installed; it is out of keeping with the other Aikin markers nearby (four Aikin siblings and family members all in close proximity). Where did the original marble markers go? Probably some ditch. But the granite will remain.

And then at Old Halesboro: the tombstone of Mary Stark Grant, 1797-1877. I have a picture of the marker; a tall marble marker with an engraved hand and index finger pointing to heaven. Where is it? Aunt Mae put down a very frugal granite marker. You would not be sure that it still marked the original burial; it’s one of those instances where someone just bought a marker to make sure the ancestor was remembered. I have the earlier proof – a photograph taken about 1968 – but where did the historic marker go? My nephews missed out on the historic context.

The day was very fulfilling. My nephews perhaps absorbed a little of my appreciation and reverence for the heritage they have here. The family time was fun. At English, we managed to topple a leaning monument (we were trying to right it). The only good to come of that is that I am now compelled to repair that tall marble monument (Mary Aikin 1806-1866); so I’ll follow the state guidelines for repair. But I want to make sure it will last. I’ll pay for granite, too. Aunt Mae will be proud. But I’ll leave the old marker and so there will be two. And while I’m at it I’ll get another grave more permanently marked with a granite marker to go by her marble stone (Anne Aikin Aikin, 1777-1867 – yes, an Aikin married an Aikin) so that the old grandma who is mentioned in our civil war correspondence can be found in a few more generations. My dad’s sister Ivey Hicks Smith always said that we had good genes and they were enhanced by all the marriages between cousins. I’ve contended it was to ensure that family lands weren’t divided with other families; in any event, those levels of intermarriage are common across the south a century ago.

Check out the Texas Historical Commission Website for great information on cemetery preservation. We have 48 in Franklin County alone that can be documented. We have the great work of Martha Hare and the members of the genealogical society.

At Halesboro we found over half of the tall tombstones toppled; senseless vandalism in an otherwise beautiful setting. Watch over the cemeteries. I truly believe that cemeteries should be treated as parks. It is one way to ensure continuing interest in these rural areas. We should strive to place some inviting benches, to plant some trees and provide shade. Make the public welcome. Maybe children will read the markers. The markers tell the stories.

On May 3, 2010, we’ll have a cemetery walk in the Mt. Vernon City Cemetery. Then we’ll adjourn to the Depot for refreshments and a slide show featuring other cemeteries of the county. Martha Dickson Hare and I will lead the walk. Come join us for food and fellowship. And plan on visiting some of our county cemeteries. A top suggestion is Collier’s Chapel, a beautiful cemetery. You can understand its location. The Methodist church long gone; the cemetery on a hill with the church site; the burials in the churchyard on both sides of a small stream. A mile or so west of Highway 37; north of White Oak Creek. The burials and the beautiful location remain. The visit is worth a picnic outing. Check it out.

September 1, 2010The Wilkinson Library

Dear volunteers for the Franklin County Historical Association:

We have a great new resource in the Wilkinson Library at the fire station museum. The Franklin County Genealogical Society allowed us to copy their records of The Mt. Vernon Optic Herald. We have disks with the complete data – images for nearly every issue of the Optic from the year 1907 until 1997.

Please express gratitude to members of the genealogical society for providing these disks for our research use. Elease Hubbell is our librarian – contact her at jerryhub@wildblue.net or 903-860-3470. We have a new computer in the library. You can look at the issues; read the data; and print out sections which might of interest.

Dr. Will Godwin, who has purchased the old city waterworks plant on South Holbrook Street, found reports of the bond issue for construction of the plant in the optic issues of 1910.

Check with our librarian to coordinate a time to allow you access to the research facility in the fire station. We are putting together a great Texana collection. These local newspapers add value to our research library. This will be a great tool for our children for information regarding business starts; commercial history; family activities and a wealth of small details about social history. Remember that this is available for your use.

September 2, 2010
Antebellum Home Tour 

Members and Friends of the Franklin County Historical Association:

On September 6, 2010 we have the opportunity to visit one of only four antebellum homes standing in Franklin County. The fact that we can brag of four is an honor in itself when you realize that there may not be one single antebellum home in each of Wood, Red River, Titus and Hopkins counties. We have a treasure trove. The Cherokee Trace – the major highway through eastern Texas passed through the length of our county; we had the settlement; and we still have the houses. Our county was actively involved in the Civil War. In 2011, you’ll hear a wonderful theatrical rendition based on a diary of a young girl living here during the War (as our ancestors called the war which had a greater loss of life than all other wars involving our country combined).

Tom Wilkinson will lead us out to the Petty-Killingsworth House for a private tour. The home is not open to the public and we have a rare chance to visit the house.

We’ll car pool and caravan from the First National Bank’s Century Room at 6:00 p.m. on Monday night, September 6, 2010. We’ll then return to the Century Room to enjoy our pot luck meal at about 7:15 p.m. There will be door prizes. It will be entertaining, educational and fun. Come for the fellowship and a chance to visit one of the houses whose sons marched off to war.

November 1, 2010On Food and Holidays and Memories through Still-Remembered Voices

William Humphrey has a beautiful passage in THE ORDWAYS, his novel set in Red River County just north of us. He is reminiscing about the Civil War and the continuing validity and importance of the war… from the perspective of the 1930’s setting of the novel. That as long as there were the stories of the hardship from that time which the grandchildren knew having heard them on grandpa’s knee; that the war would remain alive; as told in those still-remembered voices. That the animosity for the North would not die as long as those grandchildren lived even though that War was 100 years before.

In the same chapter he explains that a southerner actually lives in three generations; his own and in those of his children and grandchildren because they know his stories which are known in those still remember ed voices.

I fear I don’t succeed enough in getting the still remembered voices concept across. Humphrey relies on it in the context of the American Civil War. My effort of late has been in food. One more effort to impart a sense of heritage and history in the nephews.

We had a marvelous Christmas meal. There were 16 guests at the table and I had given a great deal of thought to a number of the dishes. I did not manage to serve the Pauline (Nooney) Hicks cole slaw (a real effort; cabbage hand grated on the fine side of a box grater and seasoned delicately) and so it was not in the crystal dish always brought in my by Aunt Nooney as her offering for any family meal.

I did manage to peel the wax skins off the rutabagas and to cut up that terribly hard vegetable and to get it boiled and then mashed and seasoned with butter and cream and served in Aunt Mae’s bowl. What a labor of love; how did she ever succeed in processing those most difficult of vegetables. And I had the fordhook lima beans in a bowl which belonged to Aunt Virgie Beth Hughes. My brother Sid opined that Virgie preferred the small limas; I think differently. Fordhooks are expensive and are reserved for special occasions; she would have approved of their Christmas use. Fordhooks boiled till quite tender with butter and salt seasoning (and a touch of sugar) were the order of the day.

And so it went as all guests at the table endured a two hour feast as we described each of about 12 vegetables; why they were significant and who had grown them, savored them, or prepared them. We went through the explanation that the cream crowder peas picked at the garden of our friend Will Godwin were the same pea that my father loved so much. And served with my mother’s pear relish. And we explained who had owned what dish or serving piece. That relish was in a berry bowl dating from at least 1880 that had belonged to Grannie Ivey who has been dead since 1927. But I remember the voices of all her grandchildren who spoke with an amazing fondness for that tiny Scotch woman. One green eye and one blue eye; yes, southern intermarriage of cousins, this coming Christmas I’ll have her picture out at the table also.

We managed to break a 1950’s tea pitcher when one guest poured boiling hot steeped tea off the stove directly into the pitcher but that made for quite a good lesson as I explained to Daniel Hicks why you must be very careful about how you treat the heirlooms. We lost Aunt Ivey’s clear glass pitcher with the yellow daffodils. Now only two of the large glasses remain from the original set.

True, our family is most unusual in the fact that we had so many maiden aunts and all their things remain with us and we have had minimal disastrous fires and we haven’t left Franklin County and so there has been no Diaspora of the heirlooms which pretty much remain in use. But if you don’t use the items and tell the stories what value do they have. Next year I think I’ll bring down all the big portraits and position them around the dining room as we commemorate the food of these people.

I had to completely and for all time store away the pre-Civil War honey bowl compote of an ancestor – used to store honey before sugar was available – after I managed to drop it; I have the glued / repaired relic. We had cornbread made with buttermilk; just no side of honey. We had the Violet Bray persimmon pudding of which Dorothy Long said: “In the fall, after a hard frost, Daddy would go into the bottoms and pick the persimmons. Aunt Violet would make the pudding. It was the best stuff you ever put in your mouth.” And we had the pleasure of Robert Long at table to eat his family’s dish. Buy our Sweet Heritage cookbook and you’ll get that recipe.

We had the Margaret Mattinson fruitcake faithfully served at my family’s holiday table for at least 30 years – first made by my mother’s friend Margaret Mattinson, our town baker, and now prepared each year by her daughter Dr. Bettie Herring.

And we had enough guests at the table who could still tell tales of those family members – long dead – who prepared the specific foods and whose dishes we used. It was a marvelous day. I share the experience to urge you to share the stories. If you don’t pass on these still remembered stories in the still remembered voices, a chapter of life here cannot be recovered.

This week, Bill Holmes wrote of a recent Sunday visit to my family’s church, the West New Hope United Methodist Church, out on the Cherokee Trace. Bill said: “I visited the church which my father joined 96 years ago.” Bill saw the same sights and vistas his father would have seen from the same windows in the same building. And I have the pickled peach bowl which was taken for a Sunday after-church luncheon in October 1914 when my great-grandmother’s home burned while she was at the church. I have the bowl and I can serve the pickles.

You like to think that the grandchildren are listening; too often they don’t know to ask the questions until the time is past. It’s certainly true for me. So many questions. I did pretty good at asking but I still have regrets. I’m determined to make sure that some of the stories get passed on whether asked or not. If I tell them enough maybe the nephews will remember.

This year the logo for the Texas Historical Commission carries a strong message about our state: “Real places telling real stories.” Let’s live that motto in Franklin County.

November 1, 2010
The Thruston House

The September/October 2010 Preservation Magazine published by The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great article on the necessity of preserving historic character. I visited Drayton Hall in August of this year. I’ve heard of it for years and knew of the theory: if you have historic interiors, don’t cover them up.

The magazine has a great lead story with the theme in bold print: “Houses get so over-restored that they have no emotional context, no sense of the past that is pervasive in the present. We are going to try to keep this one looking like an old house.”

You’d have to know what happened in our own organization. We are restoring the 1868 Thruston House; well-documented home of Confederate Soldier Henry Clay Thruston. The wood on the door frames had “alligatored”; the light paint on the wooden walls in the hallway had faded and peeled away and left about half of the underlying wood exposed. We were painting all surfaces when Connie McGill and Tom Wilkinson surfaced and said: “leave this house alone.” They brought in architects approved by the National Trust. We stopped painting and we have the emotional context; that sense of the past “that is pervasive in the present.”

Go check out the Thruston House; take a child. When we asked Jean Ann Marshall what her take was on painting over the hall, she replied: “Leave it alone; it took 140 years to get to this stage.” Come bring a child for the sense of the house where Thruston lived and pose the child beside Thruston’s life-size 7 foot 7-1/2 inch likeness (don’t ask me why, but it’s true: the old reports always include that additional one-half inch; he must have been in some competition). And friends, it is certainly true: when he arrived he came to Titus County but he was living in what is now Franklin and after the creation of our county in 1875, no one else has a claim on him. Come check out the man’s house and the other treasures we maintain through our organization. 

January 1, 2011
Volunteers Needed

Members, aren’t you proud?

Can’t you help? We have many people touring Mt Vernon.

We have great facilities. There are many times when we have people come in – 2 families at once – and so we have upstairs and downstairs tours going on. At the December board meeting we discussed the issues of leaving the library open. The library has the set of computer disks so you can read the Optic Herald from 1907 through the present. You could even make a copy for your own use and print out a page. We want to accommodate research. We want people to see our exhibits.

At the moment we have the fascinating Monzingo collection of antique cash registers and silhouette pictures.

Won’t you go by? Help keep the facility open. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. – only four hours a day. And for the time when no one has come by, make up a pot of coffee and capture a few moments to read or bring your laptop and take advantage of the wireless service we have at the fire station.

If we could have two people on duty (and on some days we have teams, such as Libby Milton and Kay Howell sharing days; and some couples both taking a shift) but many times it is just one person. We have a coffee pot. We need to welcome people. We need to help our town remain viable. We need to send them to some of the many restored buildings which gained the Texas Treasure designation for our town (think: library, genealogy, Edwards store, Coe and Co., and many more facilities). AND I am always surprised (and disappointed). People aren’t checking out Charlotte Chaney’s Frame Up Art Gallery; what a beautiful facility in our tiny town.

Please call Ken Greer: Home: 903-537-4953; Cell: 903-588-4065. Ken coordinates the docent schedule for the museum. Please volunteer. Just give us a four-hour session once a month (sure, I wish you’d go each week AND you can – just let Ken know). We need you to help us serve Mt. Vernon and Franklin County.

January 1, 2011
A Memorial Tribute:  The Lawlers

I am not sure that our organization’s membership would know of the generosity of Dr. L. D. Lawler. Dr. Lawler was recently memorialized in The East Texas Journal in a beautiful tribute written by Hudson Old. There was also a good tribute in The Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune after his death. Our members might not realize that Dr. Lawler was a substantial donor for FCHA projects. For every fundraiser, that firm would send a check – most times $100, but oftentimes $500 – and this is a pattern of giving going back for twenty years. Dr. Lawler, a World War II vet, a prisoner of war who weighed 88 pounds when finally liberated, a public servant, our friend.

And his wife Betty, a great cook. She made Christmas candy and distributed it far and wide among her friends. We often benefited from her silken pink peanut patties at Christmas. I’ve tried: Either they are hard as a rock, or they have are full of undissolved grainy sugar crystals. Or they just don’t set up at all and I have a sticky mess! She made these perfect patties which were smooth from the combination of butter and sugar that she cooked to just the exact moment when they would firm up and still dissolve as a luscious candy with raw peanuts cooked perfectly in the boiled batter. Their son Harry is married to the first secretary of our organization, Michelle Rost Elliott Lawler. We are lucky that Harry and his family have enjoyed such a long good relationship with Mt. Vernon. At this holiday season, when they were most active in spreading good cheer, we must wish good rest to those merry and good Lawlers now departed. 

January 1, 2011
South Carolina, Food, and Roots, Part One

I wrote of Christmas 2009 and our family meal and the vegetables and dishes prepared based on family traditions. I continued the effort in Thanksgiving 2010 working further into my plans to enforce some tradition and educate my young nephews. I had Caleb prepare the Crisco cake (egg whites) with yellow icing (yes, use of the yolks). The cake was a bit dry (hard to gauge when such a thing is ready and a second effort results in a fallen cake) and the icing was sticky (but still mighty good). It’s an Agnes Hughes recipe from about 1930 but I guarantee most of your grandmothers made something similar. The Galt cousins come for Thanksgiving and so I pulled out an 1844 letter describing the wedding of a common ancestor generations ago and read the letter and talked food.

I had taken the nephews back to Lancaster, South Carolina this past summer. Agnes Kirk Hughes is the youngest of 11 children; her parents (Elizabeth Harper and Dick Kirk) move to a farm north of Winfield in 1877. Agnes got on the granite kick 50 years ago, replacing tombstones here; and we find her work there with a large monument to her grandmother listing the names of all the sons and the battles (Civil War) where they fell.

I think we really chanced on some of the Scotch heritage. One restaurant offered a breakfast of liver pudding and grits (we did not try it); every restaurant offered collard greens (we tried every offering and found none truly palatable; too many generations here with turnip greens and not the stronger collards); and the fried pork belly (one try – pure “off sweet” grease – how did so many of my ancestors live into their 90’s on those diets?).

To be aware of our roots. To preserve our history. One more resolution for 2011: To do more research; to preserve the memory and find some way to instill an awareness of our heritage in the next generation.

January 1, 2011
South Carolina, Food, and Roots, Part Two

I took the nephews back to Lancaster, South Carolina this past summer. Agnes Kirk Hughes is the youngest of 11 children; her parents (Elizabeth Harper and Dick Kirk) move to a farm north of Winfield in 1877. Agnes got on the granite kick 50 years ago; replacing tombstones here and we find her work there with a large monument to her grandmother listing the names of all the sons and the battles (Civil War) where they fell.

Mary Davis, member of the FCHA and long-time friend of mine, found out I was going to Lancaster. Turns out she is a McKeown; her roots are in Lancaster (the county boasts the earliest inland settlement in South Carolina; her son is named Kirk – go figure. So she gives me James Webb’s book: Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Pretty interesting reading. Some speculation. But certainly a lot of truth. And he gets to the Andrew Jackson family burial at Old Waxhaw in Lancaster County, and I was just there with the boys, and our people are buried next to the Jacksons. Next I’ll tackle Albion’s Seed about the folkways and customs which have followed us to America and I think I’ll understand a bit more of the peculiar ways of my clannish folk (Kirks and Harpers). I’d wager 90 percent of our membership have a good bit of Scots-Irish blood, and so I recommend the Webb book for all of you; in fact, I’ll donate a copy to our FCHA library and a copy to the Genealogical Society library.

And some storm has toppled a vast tree and it has broken tombstones from the 1700’s. And I’m still fretting over cemetery maintenance here and now I need to try to put in some granite markers to insure that the graves of my ancestors can be found in another generation.

Our mobile society has insured that we don’t stay even remotely in touch with the ancestral lands. I do find great comfort in looking through clear glass windows out at the farm of my great-grandparents on a Sunday morning. To leave work and attend the afternoon funeral of 97-year-old Lorene Thomas Owens recently held in our little church.

I read Maxton, Harvey, Harper and Brown history recently and found with surprise that their ancestors come over on the Earl of Donegal in December 1767; the same boat that brought my ancestors (I know the boat’s name from memory, it’s a frequent question in our family history bowl at the annual Kirk Reunion on the second Saturday in July; visit to get an idea of how to do one right; and my cousins are doing it – I just take food and I bring in “Bible” with entries from 1787 for our annual exhibition.

Would I have removed the tree, had I known it would fall and break tombstones? Possibly. But I do love trees. It’s all a balance. I’ll try to get some small granite markers installed. I understand Old Saltillo Cemetery is now putting in granite; kudos to Darwin McGill, Vivian Dennis Monzingo, and the rest of that board.

To be aware of our roots. To preserve our history. One more resolution for 2011: To do more research; to preserve the memory and find some way to instill an awareness of our heritage in the next generation.

November 1, 2012Excerpts from Preservation Publications

The National Main Street Program was implemented in 1980 in an effort to revitalize downtowns across America. The program is designed to improve downtown business districts. Improving economic management, strengthening public participation, and making downtown a fun place are as critical to Main Street’s future as recruiting new business, restoring buildings and expanding parking. The focus is the core of the community’s heart – the commercial downtown. The program has built stronger communities and encouraged thriving public-private partnerships.

The traditional downtown commercial districts lost their business core with adoption of the 1956 Highway Act, which created the interstate system we know today. Prior to the interstate system, most of the money consumers spent on retail goods remained within a 15 mile radius of the nearest town. The new highway system prompted development of shopping centers along interstates; gas stations and motels moved to the interstates away from the town centers. The landscape was redesigned for the needs of the automobile.

Then, bypasses were approved across America to “improve” traffic flow. How many small downtowns have dried up over those improvements?

Small towns made efforts to regain the lost consumer base. Commercial buildings were torn down to create parking lots. Buildings were covered with metal slipcovers to mimic the strip malls to which consumers were flocking.

Current Main Street theory: A city must work on all aspects of downtown revitalization, preferably simultaneously. We must protect the buildings. We must promote the downtown, sponsor events, build a strong downtown business organization, recruit new businesses while strengthening existing ones, and both plan and execute economic restructuring.

The Texas Historic Commission says that cities must maintain support for youth, to be user friendly for young people. You don’t have vandalism. You have young people with identification for the town. The youth act to protect the town; they want to return to the town to raise their own families.

(Fact: the City of Ruston, Louisiana – when Ruston joined the Main Street program in 1989 – it had 22 vacant storefronts and no downtown restaurant; after 5 years in the program it had no vacant storefronts and 5 new restaurants. See www.prcno.org. March 2008; p. 9, Preservation in Print – article on Louisiana Main Street programs.)

May 6, 2013 – A Review of the Cemetery Walk

Let’s start with the Rutherford family plot. Oneta said it wasn’t her fault. Grif Rutherford just sat in the rocking chair straddling his grave. He was wearing a Stetson summer weight straw hat (he still hasn’t grown any hair since they put him away bald). He looked smug. 


Miss Lillian (Cynthia Loftis), his first wife, sat on his left and rocked away. She was dressed in rather formal mourning wear; all black; a veil; and a fan. She seemed mighty sad. A few passersby drew her out. She talked of the weariness of her long illness; and the sorrow at leaving her young son without a mother. But then the audience got the chance to quiz Miss Jimmie Kate as to why she married Grif so soon after Miss Lillian’s death. There was speculation of arsenic poisoning; he was a pharmacist after all. Miss Lillian said: “Well, yes, he did bring me medicine but I am sure it was all for my good.” She looked a bit put out though with Miss Jimmie Kate perched over on the far right of Grif. And Miss Lillian shook her head over the three-month wait. Miss Lillian allowed that Grif should have grieved for a year or two before he really left the house for anything other than going to work and to church… Miss Jimmie Kate said she just filled a void. And Grif remained stoic and said nothing. 

The audience took quite a dislike to Miss Jimmie Kate; a sad turn of events. She said she had had enough trouble and people should just leave her be. That she brought her young cousin to her home to get a good education and the next thing she knew Grif had taken up with the youngster and wanted a divorce. Jimmie Kate, dressed up in a party frock, said she went to Dallas and married a rich man. Audience members asked why she was back here. Someone told her to go back to her mausoleum in Dallas but she said she was buried at Hagansport with her family and had only come back to defend her reputation in Mt. Vernon. All eyes turned to Oneta (Pat Wright) who shrugged her shoulders and said: “It was not my fault.” Oneta seemed clueless although she was dressed in a handsome suit and sat proudly erect. 

All three wives commenced rocking and sat back as a young Pet Rutherford (Mr. Grif’s sister who died young) wandered about. 

Lucille Rutherford Horton (Tina Fountain) whose father was born into slavery under the Rutherfords came out to explain how that it was surely not her cooking that caused any problems for Miss Lillian. That she had grieved and grieved over Miss Lillian’s death. Lucille claimed that she could turn out the best soul food. 

That led to some serious problems when wind of the presence of the Rutherford cook reached the Wilkinson family cook. Virginia Doss sent word back that her food was more refined. Miss Lucille just huffed and said she served the Rutherfords cornbread and greens and Virginia was so high falutin that she was serving up white bread rolls and biscuits. Miss Agnes marched over to defend Virginia’s reputation but a fight was avoided since the arrival was posed at the end of the one hour cemetery tour. 

Very fortunate ending. It might have gone to a religious debate. In 1907 when the Church of Christ split on the issue of music in church, the Wilkinsons (neighbors to the Rutherfords) left the Church of Christ for the Central Christian Church over on Leftwich Street (still standing as Mt Vernon Music Hall). Miss Agnes taught piano for about 75 years and was playing the piano when the Rutherfords and their allies decided it was not appropriate in the church. As it was, Miss Agnes (Jean Ann Marshall in severe black and white) marched off and said that she would work harder in the coming year to remove the smear on her companion’s reputation. 

Ron Milton as Sheriff Leftwich exhorted the crowd to join him in searching for the outlaws who gunned down young Robert Morgan in the jailbreak of 1878. Young Morgan, frozen for eternity at the age of 22, seems still shaken from the jail break. Col. Dan Bolin (Bob McFarland) said that next year he intended to stroll about a bit more and see some of his friends. Laura Petty (Donna McFarland) was thoroughly outdone that Col. Joshua Johnson did not step over to pay respects since their antebellum homes stood as neighbors out east of town. Lael Stephenson (Hadley Sears) appeared with an actual draped body. Heaven help us if she starts bringing in more bodies. There will have to be an inquest. Lael explained that the town had no formal funeral home and she, armed with taffeta and pins, could do a marvelous job on a body. She said that several members of her family had wanted to join her, including the grocer, Jack, and the son who was lost at sea. Her sister Miss Mary, the milliner at Edwards store was not permitted out but hoped to appear in 2014. 

Iris Baumgardner depicted Miss Vera Mitchell. Iris said she had no sense of where the spirit might actually have been (was probably pouting because Iris failed to bring a pet parrot to the grave; not even a stuffed parrot). Iris did offer free copies of the history of Mt. Vernon for people who would just hear Miss Vera’s story out. 

Everyone enjoyed the appearance of Lucia Brooks who proudly showed off the artist pallet and brushes engraved on her tomb. Mrs. Brooks said (a) she had eight sons and she grieved still over her unfortunate departure when the train hit her in 1946 but (b) the fact that her paintings were still displayed gave her much comfort. 

Most social calls were among present day visitors who heard out the spirits as they reported of their life’s work. Bob McFarland, the affable Col. Dan Bolin was dressed in a complete sportsman’s outfit with both a rifle and a fishing rod. Col. Dan was a great sportsman and his spirit had not lost any interest in sports. Harry Smith (J.D. Baumgardner) did all the he could to stir up some enthusiasm for local politics but other spirits reminded him that he may have been Mt. Vernon’s second mayor back in 1912 but that was long past and they were not interested in revisiting his days of glory. Harry had brought his own rocker and he sat and whittled while visiting with the passersby; by the end of the evening he had whittled down one stick to a sharp pointed end. Reports were that he intended to jab Col. Henry Clay Thruston who had been a great practical joker in his day but the Col. did not travel over from the Mt. Pleasant cemetery and, in the end, Harry gave the stick to a passing farm boy with advice to use it as a tomato stake. 

Miss Eva Rountree (Pat Hudson) left the field with a promise to return next year with the understanding that, social conduct and standards aside, she would go calling on a few of her friends. If that is what it takes to have her back in 2014, then so be it. It was a wonderful evening. It offers our youth the opportunity to learn about life in our town. We’ll reconvene on May 5, 2014. Martha Hare is already lining up reports as to those whose stories will be told once more. 

November 1, 2013 – Ponderings

I’m always surprised at the families that have passed through Mt. Vernon and Franklin County. 

John Bradberry sent me an article from the September 2013 issue of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society quarterly newsletter on the Baccus Boys. The article is “The Notorious Baccus Boys Revisited: The Lost Son of Joseph Baccus” by Randolph W. Farmer. The article traces the Mason County War of 1875 to the lynching of Elijah and Peter Baccus. Mr. Farmer tracks one branch of the Baccus Family to what is now Franklin County. Between 1855 and 1857 the family was living in the small town of Mt. Vernon. The family’s business can be tracked through tax records and land records, all relating back to Mt. Vernon in Titus County. Our village was always called Mt. Vernon (at least since the Keiths gave the land for the formation of the “town of Mt. Vernon” in 1849 at a post office called Keith, and later Lone Star). 

Lucinda Bacccus’ maiden name was Brown; an old family here. She seeks a divorce against Joseph in 1857-58, stating among other causes that her husband has charged “in the presence of divers good citizens of Titus County, that petitioner (Lucinda) had been guilty of the crime of adultery.” She denies all of this (adultery was a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.00). But, as Mr. Farmer points out, what happens next is going to blow this up further. In the Clarksville newspaper of May 22, 1858, page 2 – “Difficulty and Death” reports of a murder at the Brown Grocery in Black Jack Grove in Hopkins County. A Mr. Scott shows up with the Hopkins County Sheriff seeking to collect a debt from grocer Brown. Joseph Baccus will manage to shoot Scott in the ensuing fray and ends up indicted for murder in November 1858. Joseph eludes capture; Lucinda dies in 1866; and their son Elijah ends up lynched in Mason County. 

I’m always surprised at the mobility of our ancestors. In the 1840’s I have letters where my forefathers were entertaining cousins who came from the summer from the Carolinas to check on their kinsmen who were already here out on the Trace. And the Browns and Harpers here marry into the McCorkle family over in Hopkins County. How did people manage to network before the age of regular transportation and communication, but they did. Thanks John Bradberry for sharing this report. We’ll have a copy on file with our director, Elaine McFeely; let us know if you want to read more.

July 1, 2014 - Walls around the Square

You know, sometimes, things are under your nose but you just don’t remember. And, I respond in my solo mutterings back to myself “but I’m not so old as to be forgetful yet.” In the study of history, you have to be careful. The details are there. But finding those details is a different matter. I knew that somewhere along the way I was told that the railings around the town square in Mt. Vernon were horse railings and that they were installed to allow the reins for horses, mules, and teams of those animals to be tied up while people went about their business in the town. But while I was on the city council a few years back there was a great plan to renovate all of the plaza and to take out that ugly embankment. I didn’t feel quite right about it and somewhere I thought I had heard my grandparents speak of the railing as being quite useful. Then Carolyn Teague, the town’s Main Street manager, quoted a 1913 Optic-Herald news report regarding the installation of the retaining wall and rails around the square. She was researching the town’s history regarding the move into the courthouse on the north side of the square (formerly in the center) and she ran across the actual news account. And now I watch the modern installation of a sprinkler system out in that square and think about the force of the water against the century-old retaining walls and I just hope the walls hold into another century. But, in any event, they are now truly historic and deserve more than a dismissal as a retainer wall of the World War II era. I keep hoping the city will just install some weep holes to accommodate the modern water use (it regularly runs out in all directions, every night, most months of the year). But I’m just a vocational historian and historians are generally dismissed. 


In 2013, the City of Mt. Pleasant sat back and allowed the demolition of their railroad depot. There was no ordinance to protect a historic structure from demolition. We have the ordinance in Mt. Vernon but the general feeling in official circles seems to be that there is no need for the ordinance. Time will tell. In the meantime, after the Mt. Pleasant Depot came down, a friend asked me if the town fathers there realized that they had a 1923 airmail beacon tower within a block of the depot (former location). The first airmail towers were very singular and distinct structures; very few remain. I tried to raise an alarm. John Bradberry pulled up great history. We sent over information. Perhaps the town will protect that resource. It’s a great history lesson to show children and addresses a long-passed era in communication and transportation; I wish we had it in Mt. Vernon. Our town has generally pulled together to save our heritage although the wealth of Victorian homes from my childhood was destroyed almost overnight in a decade of prosperity while I was still a kid; you do what you can. 

Today I had the good fortune to meet three times with Bettye Burns Delaney. A descendant of some German peddlers has come upon three letters written by three Germans who traveled through here in the early 1850’s. Mt. Vernon keeps coming up in correspondence of the time; and that’s the authentic proof; a contemporary record. They are out on the Choctaw Trail east of Mt. Vernon. A farmer Graham befriends them (think the old marble tomb behind Ed Joyce’s house just east of town – out in the pasture – where the cattle knocked down the fence and have toppled the tombstone); dating from a burial in 1854; and a farmer named Carr pulls out their wagon; and he’s good natured and he lives just past the Grahams; and they encounter a Methodist congregation (think the Methodists at Tranquil who organized in 1841 before Mt. Vernon came together in 1855) and they will stay at the Burns stagecoach inn on the Trace (right out past Tranquil Cemetery … and who is a descendant of that Thomas L. Burns – Bettye who called on me today and her brother attended Easter Services at New Hope with me this year at the 174th Easter there (Tranquil moves over to New Hope in 1884 but we still bury at Tranquil). It can all come around if you can just manage to keep it straight. And I do like land titles and so I study the map of the area just north of the John Humphries Survey (he arrives in July 1818 while we are still part of Spain) and I find that a Bruton widow fails in her effort to claim over 4,000 acres in that area in 1839 (rejected by the Land Commissioners of Red River County just as well, my people might have had to stop elsewhere as they traveled down the trail and I couldn’t claim a share of the Daphne Prairie today)…. Oh, well. The land remains as Scarlett O’Hara (I think that’s Margaret Mitchell) would say. 

Aren’t we lucky to have the terrain we do (and to be having this rain when the rest of Texas is in terrible drought). Thank the Lord for home.

September 1, 2014 – Real People Telling Real Stories

Recently a friend forwarded an eBay notice of an item for sale. The item was being sold from someone in connection with other items from Grayson County, Texas, a portrait of a young woman identified as Macie (sic) Devall, Mt. Vernon, Texas.

That might not generate much excitement but I knew of Macie Devall. I had been seated next to Michael Rutherford of Tyler at a recent dinner party and the talk invariably turned to genealogy and history. Mr. Rutherford advised that he had determined that his ancestors were brought up as slaves to Mt. Vernon by the Devall family from the port of New Orleans.

I pulled obituaries and got a fascinating account of the life of Macie Devall. The obituary from my grandmother’s scrapbook (published by Franklin County Genealogical Society) reports that Macy Devall was born Dec. 7, 1877 at Mt. Vernon; her father died when she was eight and her mother when she was twelve. She attended Grayson College and graduated with honors. She taught at the Whitwright School for two years but poor health brought her home. She lived in the home of her brother, C.R. Devall (publisher of the Optic-Herald starting in 1909) and taught music lessons. Modern medicine might have granted her a longer life. She died January 30, 1908, shortly after attaining her 30th year.

Then I looked up the 1880 census and found Macie, at the age of two when enumerated. She was living in the household of her grandparents, Robert Jefferson Holbrook and Mary E. Rutherford Holbrook. That house would have stood facing present-day Holbrook Street in the south part of Mt. Vernon. It may have been “up” on the hill though; a distance from the street; after all, the Holbrooks were people of substantial property. The house must have been large. The census-taker enumerated 18 people in one home.

In my childhood a beautiful two story Victorian stood just north of the Stringer House on Holbrook Street (the Annie Mae Stringer House). I would speculate that that home was the actual home occupied in 1880 by the Holbrook clan, but how could 18 people have lived in any relatively normal house?

Listed in the household: Robert J. Holbrook (age 73); wife, Mary E. (63); daughter Mary E. Hill (age 35); grandchildren: Beula, Harry, Guy, Susie, Mary and Birttie Hill (must be children of John Payne Hill, who marched off to War in 1861 from Mt. Vernon). And then the Deval family of Charles and Martha and children, Willie, Charles and Mary (Macie); and two servants, the child of a servant and a 24-year-old boarder. What connections you’d draw for all these family members. We have an oil painting by Birttie Hill hanging in the Parchman House; painted about 1895; a wistful young girl.

Charles and Martha Devall die young. Their son Charles will form a partnership with Robert L. Rountree in 1894 and publish the Optic; in 1906 they purchase the Herald and create the Optic-Herald. Rountree will die young in 1909; and Devall will succeed to ownership of the paper; Devall marries a Milam from Sulphur Springs. Charles R. Devall (born ca. 1907) will succeed to ownership of the paper until the early 1950’s when they sell in a chain of title leading to the present Reeves family ownership

Oh, yes, Charles Devall (born 1874) marries the daughter of Judge J.K. Milam and his wife, a Green. The Green woman is of Franklin County stock.

Another child of Judge Milam, Hal, will marry my grandfather’s sister, Mae. Uncle Hal is a friend to Rhema Odom of Cumby where they worked on newspaper together. Rhema Odom marries Rua Arthur of Saltillo. Rhema Arthur leaves $50,000 to our historical association in 1991 which allows our organization to commence restoration and adaption of the fire station into the present museum we operate.

So, I continue to scan obituaries and I see that my great-grandfather C.G. Hughes is a pall bearer for the funeral service of John L. Rutherford who is a nephew of Holbrook; ah, Macie is a cousin of John L. Rutherford. And John L.’s great-grandsons, Charles S. and John Rutherford, gave our organization the Rutherford Drug Store building which we sold for $30,000.00 to purchase our first office on Holbrook Street. Oh yes, and I had been seated next to a black Michael Rutherford and he had told me the Devalls were from Louisiana and, by George, here is Macie’s father listed as a native of Louisiana in that 1880 census.

And then a woman from the East Coast writes and she has found a Civil War journal (only covering the first few months of the War). C.W. Holbrook of Mt. Vernon writing of friends here. His journal ends up in some attic or trunk and is now discovered. She plans to bring the journal home (he’s the brother of Robert J. I’m sure). And the dead soldier mentions the Fanning family; and the Fanning Springs are that property just immediately south of the 1884 Holbrook Home which was remodeled in 1905 to look like the Bernard and Mattye B. Stringer home we all know.

The connections. Just a floating vaporous chain of connections. The people long gone who left records here. And those long gone, like Macie DeVall whose picture shows up on eBay in a hoard of photographs connected with Grayson College; and C.W. Holbrook who marched off to war and was not able to return home, until perhaps his journal comes back to rest this year.

The theme of the Texas Historical Commission is Real People Telling Real Stories. We do have the stories and the people.

February 15, 2015 - First National Bank

We know that the First National Bank of Mt. Vernon is organized in 1900. Kenneth Greer has done phenomenal research. I had always heard of the Mt. Vernon Bank, a private bank owned and operated by the Majors family, which was disbanded in 1900.

In just the last few years, some careful observation has supported the existence of the bank. I found a deposit slip. My great-grandfather’s papers. He is, I am fairly sure, the only man who managed to serve simultaneously on the board of directors for both the Merchants and Planters National Bank and the First National Bank of Mt. Vernon (thanks to Ken Greer for pointing this out to me). Then I find a bank draft for an insurance policy with the receipt stamped as paid through the Mt. Vernon Bank. Hey: my clan don’t throw papers away. And then, (who keeps these) – I am going through the calling cards following the funeral of an ancestor from the 1890’s and I chance on the card with sympathy from the cashier of the Mt. Vernon Bank.

Yes, I am overwhelmed by paper. But yes, I do intend to try to get organized before I die. When my grandmother Hicks moved in the year 1920 into the home which I now own on U S 67 west of Mt. Vernon, she boxed up a lot of cards, letters, and mementos for the move; moved in; and promptly put the boxes in a closet where they were never opened until… So I find her grandmother’s veil, worn by that widow of the Civil War for some 40 years until her death in 1898 and put away again in 1920 until I opened the large box of mementos in 1987. And letters, more veils and odds and ends. You can’t save it all; trying to decide what might be of interest is a different matter. Good luck all you hoarders in exercising the discretion; I’m failing I fear.

November 1, 2015 - On Gardening & Our Health

Mariana Greene has written a column for the Dallas Morning News called “Gardening Fool” for several years and I’ve always found it delightful. With regret I read her column on June 4, 2015, announcing her retirement.

She reports that she will continue to garden and will perhaps have more time to sit in the garden, admire the flowers, listen to the bullfrogs, enjoy the songbirds, marvel at the blue Texas sky, and, in general, enjoy her garden.

She lists her reasons for gardening: “It connects me to the earth, not the Internet. It is a visceral link to my mother, my aunts and my great-aunts, and my grandmothers, whom I never knew. They all worked the earth, first to feed their families, later to add beauty to their workaday lives.”

I read that passage and realized how important gardening is for me. Both grandmothers were gardeners, my own mother and the aunts and great-aunts.

Great-aunt Mae Hughes Milam and her old-fashioned petunias because they smelled so good (even though they are so unruly in the garden; I took joy in seeing a pale lavender petunia sprouting in a crack this summer).

And my grandmother Hicks somehow keeping lilac bushes alive with the fragrant blooms each spring (I keep trying and have probably my tenth in the ground, planted this spring; someday I’ll find the correct place for one). Her garden with rows of hollyhocks on the garden fence, seed brought from Alabama, reseeding here year after year; again, I keep trying.

And grandmother Agnes Kirk Hughes with a perennial sweet pea brought from South Carolina which outlived her by 40 years. And she returned from visits home with the Carolina Rose of Sharon with new color varieties not seen in Mt. Vernon. A fanatic gardener, she built frames to protect her gardenias in cold weather and maintained a formal rose garden and iris bed. And I come by her home after school at the age of twelve to find her crying because painters had trimmed her pink wigelia back to a bare trunk. I have succeeded in maintaining all of her plants, even one snake plant which I dutifully bring indoors each winter; all except the wigelia – perhaps I am not meant to succeed with that.

And the stories of my great-grandmother Melody Aikin Hughes receiving a gift of dahlia tubers from a friend; thinking they were akin to sweet potatoes and cooking them up for a supper at her home on Holbrook Street. We all planted dahlias for years afterwards in memory of that first failing.

And the reflection from my Aunt Ivey Hicks Smith that her father always planted rows of zinnias and marigolds among his vegetables. And I continue the tradition of John Marshall Hicks whose garden spot I still own (where he was found dead behind his plow in 1953). I don’t think the grandfather Hughes was a gardener in any traditional sense (all business) but he indulged his wife’s spending on her garden at their home on East Main where a japonica planted at the new home in 1927 still blossoms each spring.

So, Mariana Greene reports that research confirms what gardeners already know: “Gardening benefits emotional and physical health for people of all ages and physical capabilities.”

I want to repeat a part of the Greene column here. It is worth sharing. She talks of the pleasure in working toward a sustainable garden taking little supplemental watering. The satisfaction in planting for butterflies, pollinators, hummingbirds and wildlife.

“What matters is that you interact with nature, learn the difference between contractor fill dirt, which is mostly lifeless, and natural soil teeming with life and an almost intoxicating smell. You become more acutely aware of the change of seasons and the path of sun and moon across the sky when you garden.

“Those who have tasted the flavor of a just-picked, sun-warmed, vine-ripened tomato or deeply inhaled the perfume of an antique rose or silken gardenia or smiled at a baby bird begging its parent to be fed know why we garden.”

I hope you find the inspiration to plant something reflecting your heritage as we move to fulfill the mandate of our Texas Historical Commission “to tell real stories.”

The city has a number of lovely nineteenth-century homes, but most were built after the war. Several antebellum Civil War era homes are located in the area. These include Mimosa Hall, home of John J. Webster; Freeman Plantation, one mile west of Jefferson on State Highway 49; Sagamore, at the comer of Dixon and Owen streets in Jefferson, and the Alley-McKay House, 306 Delta Street in Jefferson. Most are open at certain hours for public tour.

January 1, 2016 - On Books & Cooking

I’ve been cooking candy (one good thing about this drought – the good atmospheric conditions for candy and bread making). And that leads to thinking about recommendations for cooking and reading. The cooking recommendation is grounded in my reading of PROVENCE, 1970 a delightful book; essentially a tribute to the food writer M.F.K. Fisher by her grand-nephew Luke Barr. The book was a gift from my god-daughter Catherine Keefe, a frequent visitor here in her youth, and had also been recommended by my friend Scott Harvey.

The passage which prompts me submitting a recipe: Barr has written of the group of friends: Mary Frances Fisher, Julia and Paul Child, Richard Olney, James Beard, Simone Beck, Judith and Evan Jones, and others. The friends purchase or rent homes in Provence and through happenstance a large number of these authors and food critics convene in Provence in the fall of 1970. Barr credits the convocation as leading to a freewheeling, modern style of cooking which influences our foodways in America to this day. Barr interviews Judith Jones, a survivor of the group who emphasized “the sheer joy of home cooking.” “It is not about showing off, and never was. There is love and care that is expressed in cooking for someone else.”

Barr goes back to Provence in 2010 and rents the home formerly owned by Paul and Julia Child. He reports:

“As I cooked in the kitchen, I could sense their presence, all of them – Julia at the stove; Paul opening wine; Beard, M.F., Beck, Jones and Olney gathered around, offering advice and opinions and judgments. They spoke to me through their books and recipes, in the same way that my mother’s voice accompanies me in the kitchen. It was my mother, who died a few years ago, who taught me how to cook. And when I make something she made for me, or with me, I feel her presence, - not in any literal or even ghostly way, but in the form of an atmospheric shift, an emotional warmth. It is striking how cooking binds us to the past, and to the people we love, even when they’re gone.”

I offer one of our heritage recipes. Betty Lawler (wife of L.D. and mother of my friend Harry) made a tin of pink peanut patties for me every Christmas for at least 30 years. I’m prompted to write this because just last night I chanced on her obituary and noted that I was a pall bearer in 2006 and so I’ve not had her patties since Christmas 2005. But I made them for Harry on his birthday this year, less than two months before he would join her in death.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I haven’t had to wait until Christmas over the years to eat this candy. Aunt Virgie made them often and for no particular occasion (we members of the Hughes family like sweets, period). And Jean Barker Cannaday made them frequently. I had Virgie’s and Betty’s recipes (both essentially the same) and then the identical recipe credited to Jean Barker Cannaday appears in Bettie Clyde Mattinson’s Mt. Vernon cookbook and thus I report of a legacy even though all these cooks are now gone. Let’s preserve the tradition by making, sharing and enjoying this regional candy:

Creamy Pink Peanut Patties

3 C sugar
1 C karo
½ C Pet (evaporated) milk

Bring to a boil. Cook at hard rolling boil for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat; add 4 C roasted peanuts, 1 stick butter, and 5 drops of red food color. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes; then beat until candy loses its gloss. Drop spoonsful onto wax paper for patties (working quickly). Or pour into a buttered 9X9 inch pan, cool and cut in pieces.

Aunt Virgie used Planter’s lightly salted roasted peanuts (and I recommend the same). Other recipes call for raw peanuts and many of you are familiar with a variation which uses raw peanuts and water instead of the milk for a candy more like a praline. After several tries, I can report that it’s surely easier to pour the hot candy into a buttered pan and then cut into squares.

How To Make Plum Pudding

Take the foot of a kine
And chop very fine
And when 'tis well ground
Add of currants a pound;
Eight ounces of bread
Through a cullinder shred,
Six ounces of suet -
A nutmeg add to it;
Eight eggs beaten thin
Td have you put in
To this add some salt
Twill be without fault;
With sugar one handfull
'Twill all make a panfull.

Three hours you must boil it
One more wouldn't spoil it
When dished on the table
You may add if you're able
Some butter and wine
And you'll say 'twill outshine
All the puddings in England
Whenever you dine.

Christmas 1847

From the "receipt" Book of Jane Freestone,
1843-57, and printed in the Cambridge Chronicle.