Meandering the backroads of New York state, I have frequently passed farm stands. What is it that makes some of us stop and return to take a closer look?
A few weeks ago, I pulled into a farm stand in Milan, NY. At first, it appeared to be a simple setup with some vegetables arranged on a wooden table. When I approached a gentleman seated on a lawn chair, we greeted each other before I began to examine what was on display. A jumble of vintage books in a crate and other curiosities surrounded him. He slowly began to tell some stories about the items, and I prompted him with questions and some of my memories of visiting relatives at Trail’s End Farm.
Gradually, I explained my fascination with stories passed down through the generations, and he began to tell me about his origins as a Czech immigrant. His eyes sparkled and his voice became resonant as he recalled those earlier days and a time that was pivotal in the life of his family. It is not only his poignant story which should be heard but also those stories in our own families or communities.
As his story ended, I realized that I hadn’t chosen any vegetables for dinner. A vivacious young lady assisting him packed up my selection ranging from patty pans to blueberries. After we said our goodbyes, I drove away wondering…
What is the lure of a farm stand?
Is it the beauty of the palette of nature?
Is it the succulent flavor to add to our meal?
Is it the yearning for a simpler life?
Does it bring back memories?
Whatever compels me, you may still find me stopping at a farm stand… What are your memories of a farm stand?
Blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, loganberries, gooseberries and strawberries should be canned as soon as possible after picking.
Hull or stem.
Place in strainer and wash by lifting up and down in pan of cold water.
Pack into hot sterilized glass jars, using care not to crush fruit.
To insure a close pack, put a 2 or 4 inch layer of berries on the bottom of the jar and press down gently with spoon.
Continue in this manner until jar is filled.
Boiling water or boiling thin or medium syrup should be poured over the fruit at once.
Sterilize 10 minutes in boiling water.
Remove jars, tighten covers, invert to test seal and cool.
Note: This torn and yellowed recipe was preserved in Auntie’s recipe box.
As I select vintage recipes to transcribe from Auntie’s recipe box, I recall those treasured moments in her kitchen when I observed and assisted or perhaps hindered her progress with the meal.
My memories of the cooking experience include my hesitant journey into the dirt floor cellar of the old farmhouse to retrieve a Mason jar of the requested fruit canned the previous season. Slowly, I took the first step on the worn narrow stairs illuminated with a swinging dusty bulb. I viewed the cobwebs, smelled the dust, and felt the damp chill of being underground.
I proceeded cautiously toward the wooden shelf containing neatly lined and labelled Mason jars. With two hands tightly grasping the blue glass jar, I turned around and saw shadows in the dark corners. An avid reader of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I imagined myself the protagonist of my own mystery …
until I heard my Auntie calling.
Auntie was the best cook that I can recall. What are your memories of a favorite cook?
1 cup of milk
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of molasses
1/2 cake of Baker’s chocolate
Boil an hour and cool on buttered tins.
Courtesy of Mrs. A. Campbell
2 tablespoons of tapioca, soaked in cold water.
Set on the stove.
When thoroughly dissolved, pour in a quart of milk.
When this begins to boil, stir in the yolks of two eggs, well beaten.
Stir in a cup of sugar.
When this boils stir in the egg whites, beaten to a stiff froth.
Take immediately from the fire.
Flavor to taste.
Courtesy of Mrs. A. Campbell
Ruth’s Layer Cake
(Ruth may have been Ruth Coons of Barrytown, NY- the site of memorable July Fourth Family Gatherings.)
1 cup of butter or lard
2 level cups of sugar
4 eggs (separated)
1 cup milk
4 level cups of flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 level teaspoon of salt
Bake in 4 layers.
Pare and core half a dozen very tart apples;
cook them in half a tea cup of water till they begin to soften;
put them in a pudding dish and sugar them;
beat eight eggs with four spoons of sugar;
add three pints of milk;
pour over the apples and bake half an hour.
Shared by Miss M. A. Hedden
Into a quart of sifted flour put two heaping teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt;
mix together while dry;
then rub into it a piece of lard a little larger than an egg; mix with cold sweet milk;
cut with a tin cutter;
and bake a light brown in a hot oven.
Send to the table immediately.
Come back to visit again soon. New recipes will be added each week.
BENEATH THE MOUND: CAPTAIN ALEXANDER HAMILTON SHULTZ
The key to discovery is questioning. Through the seemingly simple question of “Why? Why is there a mound in the middle of rows of grave-stones in a cemetery?”, Local History Librarian Beverly Kane unearthed a mystery.
Kane’s curiosity led her to examine a map of Rhinebeck Cemetery which revealed that A H Schultz purchased two plots at that location. Further research in Deaths, Marriages, and Much Miscellaneous From Rhinebeck, New York Newspapers 1846-1899 Volume 1, Deaths confirmed that Alexander Hamilton Shultz was buried in a family vault in the Methodist section of the cemetery.
The story begins. In the family history Christian Otto Schultz and his American Descendants compiled by Enid Dickinson Collins, Alexander Hamilton Shultz born on August 15, 1804, son of Lucas, grandson of Peter, great grandson of early Palatine settler Christian Otto Schultz, is called “Captain”. Collins’ source is Edward Harold Mott’s Between the Ocean and the Lakes; the Story of Erie.
“Capt. A. H. Shultz, the pioneer Erie steamboat Captain, was born at Rhinebeck. Before there were railroads in Central and Western New York, he ran stages between Rochester and Buffalo. Later he ran a steamboat between Amboy, N. J. and New York. He began in the Erie service January 1, 1841, having been harbormaster under Governor Seward, before the railroad was in operation, and continued until 1844.”
When the schedule for the two modes of transportation, train and steamboat, was published in New York in 1842, Alexander’s business acumen became apparent.
“The ‘Winter Arrangement’, made December 12, 1842, announced that the cars, on and after that date, would ‘run in connection with the steamboat ‘Arrow” (Capt. A. H. Shultz), daily except Sunday.“
That same pioneering spirit evident in Alexander’s Great Grandfather Christian Otto Schultz as he sailed from Rotterdam on the ship “Hope” in 1734 appeared in Capt. Shultz throughout his many challenges. University-educated Christian Otto was trained as a civil engineer and became a teacher, but he began his first days on American soil as a farm laborer. His descendant Alexander became one of the pioneers of transportation in America.
“The winter of 1843 was one of the hardest on record. Capt. Shultz made his two trips on the Hudson River daily between New York and Piermont, although the ice was twelve inches thick, missing but one trip. April 28, 1843, in recognition of this, the people of Piermont presented him with a solid silver snuffbox, lined with gold.”
Much as the original German settler Christian Otto did, Alexander Hamilton not only created opportunities but was also willing to take risks.
“In September, 1846, Capt. ‘Alec’ Shultz, who owned the Hudson River steamboats that ran in connection with the trains at Piermont, and who seems to have been a man with no inconsiderable ‘pull’ in Erie transportation affairs, con-ceived the idea of an excursion over the railroad, and down the river and bay to Coney Island, then a sand barren, ex- cept at its northern extremity, where famous clam bakes were served. The idea meeting with the approval of Super-intendent H. C. Seymour and his lieutenant, S. S. Post, the event was announced.”
The excursion was not a success for several reasons not the least of which was a train accident considered the “first serious accident in the history of the railroad” only about six weeks earlier.
Although it is uncertain when Alexander began his position as “Alderman from the Fifth Ward of New York”, it is known that he was in “Government service for many years” before his death at Philadelphia on the 30th of April in 1867.
Despite his death, the story does not end. Interns under the direction of Beverly Kane at the Rhinebeck Cemetery discovered the headstone of Lucas Shultz, Alexander’s father, buried near the mound. It is unknown how many years ago the headstone was buried, but it was preserved beneath the ground and is in remarkable condition. Nearby, beneath the mound, Alexander Hamilton Shultz’s vault remains…?
Making history come alive is not merely compiling facts. It is sharing the stories of humans, their strengths and their weaknesses. It is the stories that reveal how those who lived before us remain relatable to each succeeding generation. It is the stories that remind us that all humans are not infallible. It is the stories that enable us to understand the triumphs celebrated and the defeats endured throughout history. By focusing on one individual, then one family, one community, one region, one nation, one world, we keep our history alive. Sometimes these stories are shared by our forefathers, but perhaps even more frequently the stories are discovered with one seemingly simple question.
More about Alexander Hamilton Shultz:
Collins, Enid Dickinson. Christian Otto Schultz, 1712-1785 and His American Descendants. E.D. Collins, 1943.
Kelly, Arthur C. M. Deaths (Vol. 1), Marriages (Vol. 2) and Much Miscellaneous from Rhinebeck, New York Newspapers, 1846-1899.
Mott, Edward Harold. Between the Ocean and the Lakes: the Story of Erie.
~Dedicated to researching and sharing local history~