Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Isadore's Cookbook

Buckeye Cookery Book.

I remember when my Mom brought this particular book home. Unwrapping it carefully, she held it in her hands as she looked upon it with absolute love and adoration. I could almost hear the celestial voices singing in the background...yes, it was one of those kinds of moments. When it came to collecting and reading cook books in particular my Mom had a "kid-in-a-candy-store"  glee about her.  She told me once, when she was very young, that someone asked her which of her teeth was the sweet one. She thought about it, then opened her mouth wide and pointing said 'all of them'.  It was much the same with her cookbooks when someone asked which one was her favorite. The ones though with the splattered and liquid dimpled pages, the ones with the handwritten notations and recipes in the margins, with cutouts from newspapers glued on the inside covers, the old ones, those were the ones that made her heart pitter-pat...the ones that had been used and loved by other women.

This particular book was much loved; the cover is no longer attached and has what appears to be old brown paper glued to the back and front covers which is now smooth and cracked, weathered and peeling away from the scuffed and rounded corners and edges. The title was a mystery. There is no spine, just open threads and paper, no title page survived inside. However there was a clue, an intriguing dedication;
                                                   "To the Plucky Housewives
                                                                of 1876,
                                         Who master their work instead of allowing
                                                  their work to master them,
                                                    this book is dedicated."

There was also a signature on the inside cover, lightly written in pencil, to whom the book belonged; 
                                             "Mrs. I.A. Morrow, Yankton, 1878"

Mrs. I.A. Morrow Yankton, 1878.
      I have thought about this book often and came across it in a box a couple of weeks ago. I knew that I wanted to write about it on this blog so I got to work and did some research into both the book and the woman. I made some interesting discoveries....

The book itself is called "The Buckeye Cookery...with Hints on Practical Housekeeping". It was first written by the ladies of the First Congregational Church of Marysville, Ohio (about an hour from where I now live) as a fundraiser to build a new parsonage. It was a great success and the ladies raised $2,000.00. A Mrs. Estelle W. Wilcox ,who was quite involved with the book from the beginning, and her husband recognized the potential of the book and bought the rights to it. They then moved to Minnesota and published the book and subsequent editions for the next 28 years, Estelle at the helm. One can imagine the voice of authority when you read; "Let all things be done decently and in order and the first to put in order when you are going to bake is yourself." This was from the longest chapter in the book, 41 pages, dedicated to "cake-making". There are 46 chapters in all plus an index, a total of 464 pages. There are chapters on catsup's and sauces, pickles and canning fruits; as well as housekeeping, butter-making, hints for the sickroom, and management of help. How many cookbooks tell you the best way to survive a "runaway" horse and wagon? Stay in the vehicle and do not jump is the answer. 

Handwritten recipes.
In a back portion of the book the publisher left 15 empty lined pages so that one could include their own recipes. Here is where Isa (sometimes noted as Ida on census forms) jotted down her recipes for
Sweet Potato pudding, washing fluid, pudding sauce, "a delicate omelet", ginger cookies, steamed graham pudding (she loved puddings) and there is even a numbered recipe from Petty's Centennial Prize soap bearing her signature glued on the last page. She had to sign the form promising not to divulge the recipe to anyone outside of her own family and it was signed by an agent of the company.

So my next step was to look for information on Mrs. I.A. Morrow. Years ago when Mom first brought the book home I did a search for Yankton and discovered it was in the Dakota territories. On an 1880 census for the area I found one Isadora A. Morrow age 36, living in Yankton with her husband S.J. Morrow and three children; Nellie age 11, Percy, age 6 and Earl age 4. Isa's birth year was about 1844 in Ohio and her parents were originally from New York and she was listed as a "house keeper" which meant Mother. And that was all I found...then. So where to look now I thought to myself?

I decided to look for her husband, S.J. Morrow. I came across an odd little biography on a historical society site. It mentioned something about how he got some wonderful "views" of this area and that site. I didn't understand what they meant. So I kept going. and I discovered his name was Stanley Morrow and he was born on May 3, 1843 in Richland, Ohio. He moved west to Madison, Wisconsin in 1854 and joined the army, the 7th Wisconsin Regiment of Volunteers, where he served for the next 4 years. Upon leaving the service he married Isadore (a) Ketchum on the 31st of Dec. 1865. This was in the History of S.E. Dakota, 1881. While serving in the army he was the assistant to the famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady and in turn became a photographer himself.

Stanley J. Morrow, photographer.
At some point he and his young wife Isa and their daughter Nellie moved further west to Yankton, Dakota territories and set up shop. He taught Isa all about the photography process and while he was out and about Montana and the Dakota's taking pictures she ran the business and studio. She also had Percy in August of 1875 and Earl in February of 1877.
In fact, Stanley Morrow became rather a famous western photographer himself, most notably of the military expedition by Gen Crook in 1876 during the great Sioux Indian wars and the "clean up" photo's taken after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Gen Custer's last stand. He is also known for his photographs of Native Americans, views of Fort Keogh, and scenes of Montana and the Dakota's.

Yankton, Dakota territory, later SD. 1876.

Just for some sort of historical timeline and just what it was like to live in Yankton, which was the territorial capital at this time, these events show what life was really like in the wild west. Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. It became a thriving river port, with steamboat landings on the Missouri river by the 1880's.  Another claim to fame was the trial and hanging of Jack McCall in 1877, who murdered Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood City in 1876.

In 1881 there was a great flood on the Missouri River with great ice blocks crushing many of the steamboats and flooding the town. It was never the same after that, the trains started to take over the moving of goods across land instead of down the rivers. By 1882 it was remarked that Isa gave up the photography business herself and by 1883 her health was failing and the family decided to move to Florida.

Stanley died in Dallas, Texas in 1921 and is buried there at the historic Greenwood cemetery. Isadore offered his collection for sale in 1923 and later passed away in Santa Ana, CA circa 1926 at the age of 82. I have not found any other information for the years in between 1883 and their deaths.
Nor have I found where she is buried.

On the list of the 70 images that survive of Stanley's photo's there are two that are supposed to be of Isadore, one of which is described as her being seated on a wagon with their daughter Nellie behind her in a place called Prickly Pear Canyon. The other is a portrait of her. I'd like to see them someday, they are in the archives of the Montana Historical society.

What a life Isa lived...and throughout all of her travels she carried this book. She carefully noted her recipes;  Sauce for puddings. Two teacupfuls of sugar, one wineglassful of wine, melted together and a tablespoonful of flour mixed in a cup of cold water and poured in. Season with nutmeg."  She cooked for her family, kept her house, and took care of her loved ones during illnesses, she traveled by wagon, took photographs alongside her husband in beautiful country, managed a studio, made her own washing liquid and raised her children. I'd say she was one "plucky" housewife and quite a woman!

Thanks Mom...

Note; Her name appears as Isadore, Isadora, Isa and Ida as these are all of the various names I came across on the documentation mentioning her.