What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Millions 1857?
3712. Prevention of Baldness –Eau de Cologne two ounces, tincture of cantharides two dachms, oil of rosemary, oil of nutmeg and oil of lavender, each ten drops. To be rubbed on the bald part of the head every night.
Just a short note. Had a fantastic time at the English Encampment 150th anniversary of the Pig War. Got over on a Friday evening, in time for dinner and set up in a tent, then up early for coffee and breakfast from Dutch ovens and stoves.
The Hawaiian Chief fired off two shots at 8:00 AM. Our battery returned. The rest of day was busy, topped off with a grand ball in a packed barracks and a thunder and lightening storm. I taught school all day as Miss Lydia. Guests from the British Consul, Mary Gilbert and a representative from the British Royal Navy and his wife made presentations and joined in the dance.
Dinner was a crowd of soldiers, Royal Marines, HBC employees, Fort Nisqually folk, grand and not so grand ladies and the crews from the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chief, looking somewhat like pirates and very hungry after a day of rowing tourists out to their ships. (Did I actually see someone boarding the Lady Washington on Sunday for a sail dressed like Johnny Depp?)
Home late Sunday evening after two days of visitors numbering nearly 4,000? The ferry was crowded with tourists and a truck suspicously carrying the wheels and parts to two battery guns.
Ah, history. I breathe it and write about. A grand research weekend indeed. I now know how a longboat operates. Those oars are heavy!
What’s in Mrs. Hales Receipts for the Million 1857?
Things to Know
2024: Why do candles and lamps “spirit” when rain is at hand?
2025: Because the air is filled with vapor and the humidity penetrates the wick, where (being formed into steam) it expands suddenly and produces a little explosion.
Anyone writing historical fiction or even a non-fiction piece ought to know about the technology of the times. Nothing can bump a reader out of a scene faster than having a character light a candle with matches in 1630. Sometimes it’s best to create a timeline just for technology just to keep ahead of the curve.
I’ve been wondering about candles. I have a price list for 1858 for a store in what was Whatcom, Washington Territory. I know that spermaceti candles came from the head wax of a sperm whale and was considered a step above a tallow candle when it came to longevity– it didn’t smell like stinky tallow candles either. But what of Belmont sperm and adamantine candles listed so often in ads in the Northwest and San Francisco?
Turns out they were varieties of candle made from stearic acid processed from either coconut oil or tallow. First adamantine candles. These candles were made with stearic acid which was separated out of fat in tallow. This process of creating this acid was discovered in 1811 and improved the quality of the candles used in the home. It was blended into the wax to harden it. It got its name as it looked like stone. It burned longer and well.
A Belmont sperm candle has nothing to do with sperm whale oil. Before 1830, there was a type of stearin candle made from coconut oil. Its main drawback was that it stank when the light was extinguished. Then in 1830, William Wilson of Edward Price & Company in the Belmont section of London began to make stearin candles using a combination of palm oil and coconut stearin. These candles were considered better than tallow candles, but inferior to adamantine candles. They were, however cheaper than beeswax and spermaceti candles which would continue to bring top dollar.
I’ve been working on a scene in my novel in which the officers from both Camp San Juan (American) and the royal marine encampment (British) get together for a ball after a horse race. Lanterns have been set up everywhere, the band and dancers up on boards. What a fairy scene it will be, as long as I keep my lighting straight and the night without a cloud in the sky.
When I go back to English Camp in week or so for the grand 150th, I’ll be taking my lantern with me and my flashlight. Just in case I have to camp back in the woods.
I’ve decided to add something to this blog. Every year for the past thirteen years, I have gone to English Camp on San Juan Island and have demonstrated mid- 19th century folkways. There’s a lot of butter making and biscuit cutting going on — as well as spinning and candle dipping.
Leading my understanding of what a housewife put up with is my great-grandmother’s receipt book, MRS.HALE’s RECEIPT’S FOR THE MILLION. This delightful book is both charming and informative, filled with 4545 “receipts” that range from cleaning leather and churns, caring for the invalid and making coffee. Published in Philadelphia in 1857, my great grandmother surely found use for it as she made her way from Western Pennsylvania to Kansas to craft a life with her surgeon/lawyer husband.
I think we should all get a daily dose or least every time I post. So here’s what’s in MRS. HALE’s RECEIPTS for today:
COFFEE: The infusion of or decoction of the roasted seeds of the coffee-berry, when not too strong, is a wholesome, exhilarating, and strengthening beverage; and when mixed with a large proportion of milk, is a proper article of diet for literary and sedentary people. It is especially suited to persons advanced in age.
I think I’ll go get some.
On June 15th, 1859 the incident known as the Pig War occurred on San Juan Island. I’ll be writing more about it in another post, but suffice to say, there will be doings at the San Juan Island National Historical Park this summer for the 150th anniversary.
The “English Encampment” is one of them. An annual event for the past 12 + years, it is very dear to my heart for the friends and history that I have learned there. I’ll be returning as Miss Lydia to run my Academy on July 24th through 26th with about 80 other enactors.