History museum looking to past to help future

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where has this year gone?

    I looked up and it’s almost Christmas. I think as I age the yearsseem to go by faster and faster. This year has gone by especiallyfast.

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    Speaking of the past, a lot of you have purchased The BrookhavenCookbook Circa 1904, reprinted by the Lincoln County Historical andGenealogical Society, of which I’m a member. I’m sure when theWomen’s Auxiliary of the Y.M.C.A put the original book together,they had no idea that it would be reproduced in 2011 and be such ahit.

    Researchers at the society never found exactly how many books wereoriginally printed in 1904. It was found that the Y.M.C.A. board ofdirectors disbanded a year later in October 1905. Then later thatsame month there was an article in the newspaper that announced theprice of the book had been reduced to 25 cents, with the proceedsbenefiting the circulating library.

    How fortunate it was that LCHGS member Seth Allen found andpurchased the cookbook at the Hardy Estate some months ago anddecided it could be a great fundraiser.

    To date, the society has sold more than 800 books. All of theproceeds from the sale of the cookbooks will go to fund projects atthe Lincoln County Historical and Jewish Heritage Museum.

    Marti Parker, who helped coordinate the project, originally hadintended to order just 350 books. The society soon found this to beinadequate and more books were ordered.

    All of these books were sold from word of mouth and an article thatwas published in The DAILY LEADER.

    Not long after the article ran in our local paper, the AssociatedPress picked up the story. We’ve been contacted by otherpublications, and now other people from around the nation have readour story. We’ve now mailed books to several states and many, manycities in Mississippi.

    We’ve gone back to the printer several times to increase our orderof cookbooks.

    I know Mr. and Mrs. Harmon Shirley at Southern Office Products willbe glad to get us out of their hair.

    The cookbook itself isn’t like the cookbooks you see today. Womenin 1904 prepared recipes a little differently. I guess 107 yearsdoes make a bit of a difference.

    Mr. Shirley pointed out to me on one of my trips to the printerthat all you needed to prepare most any of the recipes was a bucketof lard!

    One of the things I noticed right off was that some of the recipesused quarts of flour, not cups, and it looked as if most of therecipes made large quantities. I guess families were much bigger in1904, and when the women cooked, they cooked for more than just onemeal.

    Altogether, there are approximately 406 recipes in the book, whichactually is better reading material than an actual preparationguide.

    Many Lincoln Countians will recognize some of the old surnamesunder the recipes: Rose, Bennett, Blackwell, Cassedy, Hobbs, Brady,Harris, Chrisman, Daniel Hayman, Cotton, Lewenthal, Brewer, Storm,McNulty, Swalm, Bee, Bowen, Penn, Hoskins and others.

    A lot of these old names can still be seen on Brookhaven citystreet signs even though a lot of these families have moved on.

    Mixed among the recipes are quaint little sayings from the time andtid bits of advice in preparing meals.

    One of my favorites from the cookbook reads: “Poultry should neverbe cooked until six or eight hours after it has been killed, butshould be picked and drawn as soon as killed.”

    I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to catch and kill my ownpoultry, let alone try to pluck it. It’s probably a good thing mypoultry comes in a Styrofoam container wrapped in plastic, alreadycut up.

    The $15 cookbook is a great addition to anyone’s library.

    I’m sure I’m speaking for everyone at the society when I say thankyou for purchasing a cookbook and for supporting your local historymuseum.

    And if you haven’t visited the museum, please do. It’s open Tuesdaythrough Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There’s a message boardout front when the doors are open. We will be closing some duringthe holidays to allow our volunteers time with their families.

    The museum is run strictly by volunteers. If you’d like to join thesociety or volunteer to work a day, please give me a call.

    And how was your week?

    Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILYLEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 144, by e-mail attbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.