Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

“I see every prospect of our being comfortable”

ANN HEAD WARDER went back to England in July 1787 and returned to live permanently in the United States in October 1788. She describes the house she and her family were to occupy.

10 mo. 5th.—. . . . The house pleased me, being exceedingly convenient, though larger than I wished, it having four rooms on a floor—Kitchen, counting house and two parlors on the first floor, eight bedrooms and two garrets. Many handy closets. A small yard and beyond it another grass plot, good stable and chaise house, so that I see every prospect of our being comfortable. . . .

10 mo. 11th.—Went to market, at six o’clock to procure provisions towards housekeeping. . . . The difference in prices of things here and London is striking. . . . After breakfast purchased hand [?and] irons, to use for burning wood, all the chimneys being too low for stoves; some glass ware &c.

10 mo. 14th.—Arose early and sent off the balance of our things at mother’s, and after breakfast went to our house. We had for dinner a rump of beef, apple pie and vegetables. My husband seemed to think he had not for a long time eat a sweeter morsel, and I also felt comfortable, but not so much as hope to be when things are more settled. Only one bed up so the children had to sleep on the floor in the same room with us.

10th mo. 27th.—Today at dinner I entertained by fellow passengers. We had roast turkey, a tongue laid in mashed potatoes, whip’d sallybubs, oyster pie, boiled leg of pork, bread pudding and tarts. We had an early dish of tea for the old folks who left escorted by my husband.

Ann Warder lived in Philadelphia until her death in 1829. She and her husband had ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Thanks to her we have an idea of what life in Philadelphia was like in the years 1786-88.

“Extracts from the Diary of Mrs. Ann Warder,” 62-63, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVII, 1893, No. 1.

posted October 20th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Daily life,Food,Philadelphia,Quakers,Warder, Ann Head

” forty of our Friends brought up the rear”

ANN HEAD WARDER accompanied her husband John to the United States in 1786 and spent much of her time visiting relatives in and around Philadelphia. She described some of them to her sister Elizabeth in England. Cousin Sukey she reported “is married to a butcher, (a profession Friends follow here), who is remarkably short, fat and a good tempered man and everything about the house so plainly indicated a happy connection that I felt truly comforted.”
Of her sister-in-law Emlen “whose husband has been away several weeks,” she suggested that “it might be happy if he would never come home again, though perhaps she don’t think so.”

On a visit to John Clifford and his wife who were “esteemed by some the superior Male and Female for understanding in the city,” she said of John:

[he] is a stout, good tempered looking man; his wife a little woman but a great talker, has much affectation in her manner which is disagreeable at first acquaintance and she has the reputation for wearing the breeches, but whether deserved I cannot tell. But one thing I observed, it was necessary that somebody should take the petticoat.”

Ann sampled watermelon that she had for the first time “about which the natives of this country talk much . . . which in hot weather tastes like sweetened snow.”

She attended one funeral and observed another, that of a black man.

7th mo.22d.—The intelligence of the death of Robert Valentine at first was rather a shock to me, and I felt a particular inclination to attend his funeral. . . . [A foursome set out, stayed at an inn on the way.]
7 mo. 23d.—At four o’clock we were aroused and got up just as day was breaking. We had twelve miles to go which we accomplished before seven. . . . [Sammy and I] sat in the room with the corpse, whose features looked just as when alive—he was laid in one of his own shirts with a sheet first put into the coffin, which looked much more natural and comfortable than our woolen except his having no cap on, that I never remember seeing before. . . . [They departed for the meeting leaving] the multitude, not less . . . than five hundred mostly on horseback. . . . I never saw the like, full half appeared to be women who are here very shiftable [able to get around easily] if they have a good creature,—which is what all in this part of the country call horses,—they ride by themselves with a safeguard which when done with is tied to the saddle and the horse hooked to a rail, standing all meeting time almost as still as their riders sit. The carrying of the corpse I did not like, as it was only corded on to a thing like the bottom part of a single horse chaise, which is the general mode here when the distance is too far for shoulder [carriers] except that a box in the shape of a coffin is fixed and the corpse slipped in. The burying ground adjoined the meeting house and dear Robert with solemnity was interred, and after standing a few minutes at the grave we all went in. . . . We had a very long but comfortable meeting, and several Friends spoke. . . .

8th mo. 8th.—After meeting went to Aunt Emlen’s to drink tea and while there was called to see a black’s burial, who is reputed to have conducted himself with great reputation and was a man of some consequence. Six men walked first, then the corpse was carried by four of the most agreeable looking negroes I ever saw, being well dressed and appeared to be like men of property. Next followed fifty women, in couples, then one hundred and sixty men, then ninety-six more women, and about forty of our Friends brought up the rear, which would look very singular with us, but is common here for them to attend all church buryings.

“Extracts from the Diary of Mrs. Ann Warder” 458-61, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVII, 1893, No. 1.

posted October 7th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Death,Food,Free blacks,Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Quakers,Warder, Ann Head

“Such a general use of fans . . . “

British-born ANN HEAD WARDER was the wife of American John Warder, a merchant with a base in London and a branch in Philadelphia. When family affairs required John’s presence he returned to Philadelphia in 1786 accompanied by Ann who kept a diary and wrote letters to her sister Elizabeth. (See an earlier post focusing on food and a Christmas feast.) The twenty-eight-year-old commented in a lively fashion on her experiences, gave her opinions on the city, its social life and customs, the climate, the food, and more. A Quaker, she noted that some practices of the Friends in Philadelphia differed from what she was used to. When the Warders first arrived they stayed at the home of John’s mother.

6 mo. 7th.—I rested well in mother’s best bed the room large and house spacious. Below are the shop and counting house in front; one large and one small parlor back, a delightful entry from the street to the yard. Up stairs is a good drawing room and three large chambers, with the same size cool passage. . . We dined at mother’s with only our own family, which fills a long table. I have mentioned those present except some of the younger branches. . . . they have fine hair and wear no caps, but handkerchiefs close up to their throats with a frill around the neck, in which dress much inconsistency appears to me. . . .

6 mo. 9th.—A crowded house began at 10 o’clock. Sometimes the recollection of you would make me ready to burst out with laughter, such new scenes are presented. Many in their own carriages have honored me with their company—Friends and others. Such a general use of fans my eyes never beheld, you scarcely see a woman without one, and in Winter I am told they visit with them as a plaything. . . .

6 mo. 12th.—Breakfasted at home comfortably, but it would be more so if the family were more attentive to the summons. . . . In the evening we took a nice walk, which gave me a clearer idea of the town, that it is in my opinion far superior to New York as Westminster to the city. The regularity of the streets and buildings with their entire plainness I much admire. . . .

6 mo.13th.—. . . . The family dined at Billy Morris’s. We had a very genteel dinner, indeed I think from my present observation that people here are more superb in their entertainments than with us. Provisions of every kind are cheaper, but the greatest luxury is the abundance of fruit. We have pineapples, strawberries, cherries, peas. . . .

6 mo. 14th.—In the afternoon, the weather being cool . . . in a phaeton . . . [we] took a ride of ten miles along the banks of the Schuylkill, with which I was much pleased. Several friends called iin during the evening, which I find is occasioned by the intense heat of the Summer—they walk most after dark and sit much on their porches, which as a mother I think expose girls too early to the acquaintance of men.

6 mo. 11th.—In this forenoon went to Market Street Meeting which I think is full double the size of Gracechurch street. It has five doors, one on each side of the minister’s gallery; near which I sit though much courted by beckoners to come under it. . . . At six went again to meeting, the day being so warm it was omitted in the afternoon. Returned home to supper when we met Brother and Sister Vaux with their only two children. The mode of dressing children here is not so becoming as with us, and I have scarcely seen a white frock since my arrival; their colored ones are very inferior to what we use, which with blue and yellow skirts and their necks entirely covered to preserve them, complete a dress very inconsistent with mothers’ appearance when from home, for not a woman has visited me but what was elegant enough for any bride. Indeed we could almost persuade ourselves that was the case from so much saluting—which is a practice here considerably out of use. A young girl esteems it an insult for a man to offer any such thing—the strictest delicacy subsists, beyond what I ever expected to find, particularly as they are more and much earlier exposed to men’s company. . . .

More of Ann Warder’s observations in the next post.

“Extracts from the Diary of Mrs. Ann Warder” 444-448, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVII, 1893, No. 1.

posted October 3rd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Daily life,Food,Philadelphia,Quakers,Warder, Ann Head

“I have good chickens”

Writing from Trenton, to which the Stodderts moved with the government to avoid exposure to yellow fever in Philadelphia , REBECCA STODDERT recounts her efforts to adjust to a new location. She tries to find sheet music that her niece Eliza requested and she goes on to describe the house the family lives in until they return to Philadelphia in the fall.

September, 1799My Dear Eliza,—It will give Betsy [her daughter] much satisfaction to get you the music you say you shall want, or anything else, indeed, that you may need. I did suppose one could supply all their reasonable needs in Philadelphia if one had but money. I find I was mistaken. I had made Betsy try all the music shops to get “Miller” for Harriet and Nancy, but to no purpose. I tried myself, too, at one or two shops, but all in vain. I hope I shall be more fortunate in my endeavors to serve you. She has the “Chase” by Haydn, and says it is much easier than Fisher’s “Rondo.” We brought the instrument with us from Philadelphia; but for want of a teacher, I wish Betsy may not lose what little she has gained by Mr. Taylor.

If I was a “gad,” I should enjoy myself very much here. The inhabitants are very sociable and very polite to strangers. I have been visited by several, and in one instance met with much kindness.

The governor’s lady I have not seen (this is the seat of government, you must know), because I have not waited on her. When I return the ladies’ visits which I have received I shall wait on her.

I suppose when I tell you that this house, which I find fault with, contains nine rooms, you will think I am very unreasonable to be displeased with it, but if you were to see it you would think of it as I do. Down-stairs are two rooms and an entry, as they call passages here and in Philadelphia; upstairs are seven rooms, but you must not suppose they are only over the above-mentioned two. One is over the kitchen, and another over a store which we have at the end of the house. The greatest evil I have to complain of is a number of small ants, which are troublesome. But I have good chickens, which, for my life, I could not have till I came here. It is the practice in Philadelphia to buy them at market alive and kill them the same day. I do not suppose half a dozen families think of fatting them up before they kill them. This, by way of specimen of what is done in large cities. Houses and furniture as clean as possible; but there all cleanliness ends, I daresay. How I shall wonder at myself when I get home again—you know where I mean, don’t you?—that I was ever able to eat particularly!

Kate Mason Rowland, “Philadelphia a Century Ago, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 62, 1898, pages 813-14. The chicken illustrated is one of several breeds raised at Colonial Williamsburg.

posted May 12th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Capital of the United States,Food,Music,Philadelphia,Stoddert, Rebecca Lowndes,Trenton, New Jersey

“We yesterday gave eleven pence for two cucumbers”

REBECCA STODDERT wrote again to her niece Eliza on June 7, 1799 about the threat of a yellow fever epidemic and the difficulty of obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables in Philadelphia.

I imagine by the time you receive this you will have heard very exaggerated accounts of the yellow fever, which certainly exists at this time in Philadelphia, but is not so bad, as yet, to give me the least uneasiness. Mr. Stoddert’s office [her husband Benjamin is John Adams’s secretary of the navy] is very near the house we live in, which is at a considerable distance from the part of the city where the fever prevails. The children are taken from school; indeed I believe the schools are very generally broke up till autumn. As soon as it is improper to remain here we will go to Trenton, where Mr. Stoddert has engaged a house, so I think we are safe from this dreadful, melancholy calamity. . . .

I very often put myself in mind of the Prodigal Son, and think how glad I should be of the fruit that is left at our table when the family are done with it. I have had strawberries twice, only, and I think paid half a crown a quart, with the stems on. Raspberries were a quarter of a dollar a quart, and so bad that they made me very sick. As for cherries, I have eaten them once green. It is unlucky that I should want fruit this summer,—for the first time in my life, I believe. However, next summer will make amends for all my wants. We yesterday gave eleven pence for two cucumbers, and till within a few days that has been the price of one only. Cherries are sold by the pound; so are potatoes when they first come. When we bought first, the price was a five-penny bit. What it was when they were first brought to market I cannot say, but probably higher than that. In short, living here is dear beyond anything I could have supposed, and we buy everything we make use of except water. . . .

Kate Mason Rowland, “Philadelphia a Century Ago, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 62, 1898, page 812-13. The view of Philadelphia in 1799 showing Christ Church, at which Mrs. Stoddert attended a service mentioned in an earlier post, is a photograph of a color engraving made by William Russell Birch (1755-1834).

posted May 5th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Education,Epidemics,Food,Philadelphia,Stoddert, Benjamin,Stoddert, Rebecca Lowndes

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