Tag Archives: Milan NY History

Vintage Recipes: From the Country Doctor

Burton Coon references” “old Dr. MacClure of Drumtochty” in Recognition of the Country Doctor below.

Vintage Recipes: from the Country Doctor

Auntie (Esther Coon Rider 1905-1993) was a natural cook known for her generosity of spirit and her love of cooking- frequently with ingredients grown in the kitchen garden. She thrived on providing pleasure and sustenance through her soul food- that heart and stomach warming fare needed after a day on the farm or a walk in the fresh country air. I treasure the time I spent in her kitchen and her recipes – those she created, those she collected and those she acquired from previous generations.

What I did not realize until this extended time of contemplating and organizing (Covid-19) was that her collection of recipes included those from several doctors. For many centuries, the kitchen garden was functional; the plants and herbs grown had specific purposes whether nutritional, medicinal, and/or ornamental. From Chaucer’s knowledge of medicinal remedies in “The Canterbury Tales” (1392) to Shakespeare’s Friar Laurence describing the healing powers of plants and herbs in “Romeo and Juliet” (1594) to the journals and notations of Auntie and her ancestors, cure for ailments was as close as the kitchen garden to be administered by a monk, the cook, the country doctor, or perhaps the local medicine man or woman (to be shared and developed in another post).

Mustard Plaster (Dr. Cookingham)

1 teaspoonful of dry mustard
1 teaspoonful of flour
Stir to a medium paste with vinegar. 
Spread between two pieces of muslin cloth and warm before it is applied.
If a larger one is needed take larger equal portions of mustard and flour.
White of egg prevents blistering.

In his article “Recollections of Red Hook: The Country Doctor”, Burton Coon (1869-1942) recalls “The first doctor I remember was Dr. Cookingham to whom I was taken for treatment when about five years old. He was then unmarried, and boarding with the widow Benedict, and I believe had his office there” (Memories of Old Red Hook From the Burton Coon Collection).

Cool Drinks for Fever (Dr. Morrison)

Cool Drinks for Fever

Juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon and 1 quart of water
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of sugar

Tomato Cocktail
Large can of tomatoes with 1 cup of water
Put through colander.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of horseradish
1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
Pepper and salt

With or without fever, these recipes are familiar to those who desire a cool drink today. I suspect Diane Lapis, local researcher and President of the Board of Trustees at the Beacon Historical Society, has included a version of the Tomato Cocktail in her book Cocktails Across America: A Postcard View of Cocktail Culture in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. I look forward to acquiring an autographed copy this Summer!

Imperial Drink for Illness (Dr. Cotter)

1 quart of water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small teaspoon cream of tartar
Use as you would water.

View the two page obituary of this renowned physician, owner of a farm in Jackson Corners.

Included in Burton Coon’s scrapbook in Report of the Botanist.
Included in Burton Coon’s scrapbook in Report of the Botanist.

In Recognition of the Country Doctor

At any time in history, recognition of those in the medical profession is appropriate. Today as we experience Covid-19 history in the making, it is apropos to include Burton Coon’s recognition of physicians in his newspaper article “Recollections of Red Hook: The Country Doctor” written in the early 20th century. Coon concludes with these words, “The country doctor is fast passing out of our civilization. Time was when no storms were too heavy, no snow banks too high, no roads too bad to travel when he heard the call; and like old Dr. MacClure of Drumtochty, he rode or waded as the case required. If the case was a serious one he would stay on the job, watching the progress of the disease, while the lamp of life burned low and the watchers stood about with anxious faces. And there are other risks besides the weather and the roads. The doctor always stands a chance of contracting certain diseases himself. One doctor died of erysipelas which he got while treating a patient with the same disease. When there is an epidemic the doctor is exposed to its contagion more than anyone else. Yet no one thinks of the doctor except to get his help. All honor to the worthy sons [and daughters (2020 update)] of this profession who literally take their lives in their hands to minister to their fellow human beings” (Memories of Old Red Hook From the Burton Coon Collection).

Stories of the Past: Shookville: A “Deserted Village”

Shookville Methodist Church; Photo taken July 27, 2017
Courtesy of Bonnie Wood @ https://keepingnyhistoryalive.com/

Video presentation

A Walk in Shookville

If you wander the winding roads of Milan in Upper Dutchess County, New York, you may miss the hamlet of Shookville on Shookville Road in the blink of an eye. The walls and foundation of the old stone church remain to mark the center of the long-forgotten community, and this stone plaque is displayed near the Town Historian’s office in the Milan Town Hall.

Shookville – The Methodist Church – “This Church, dedicated June 7th, 1834, was erected by local landowners Jacob and Peter Shook for the benefit of the German Reform & Methodist denominations.” ; Photo taken by Bonnie Wood.

Although little of Shookville remains, the articles, journals, and stray thoughts of unofficial local historian and writer Burton Coon (1869-1942) remain to tell the story of its past. In “Shookville: Then and Now” published in the Rhinebeck Gazette, he writes,

"If some of the Shookville boys, who years ago left their native hamlet should come back to the old home they would find only a plowed field, with here and there a shrub or a grape vine or an old garden flower to mark the spot.

Kate April's house and garden and the loom that wove such rugged tapestry have long since disappeared and only a hedge of tansy and a few clumps of Bouncing Bet have survived the change.

David Doyle and Jennie Cramer would look in vain for the little picket gate in the stone wall, and the shrubs on either side of the stone walk leading to the house and grape vine and the little garden with its pinks and Sweet William and lavender. Many a bouquet did Mother Doyle pick from this yard and bring to church on a Sunday afternoon, an offering for God's altar."
Courtesy of New York Public Library. (Artist Kate Greenaway 1846-1901)
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Lucy Locket lost her pocket.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/68dc0359-77f0-7a41-e040-e00a1806442f
"And Gilbert Myers will remember the old home with over-shadowing plum trees, white in the Springtime and the little barn where the cow and chickens were kept and the hay loft where he used to dream of the days to come and their possible fruitage."
Courtesy of New York Public Library (Artist Kate Greenaway 1846-1901)
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Diddlty, diddlty, dumpty.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/68dc0359-7814-7a41-e040-e00a1806442f
"I might remind Silas Burger and the Wagner boys and girls and many others who were born or brought up in Shookville.

I can count eight houses, each of which has been occupied by a family within my recollection, and now have almost entirely disappeared. I have been in all of these houses; spent there many a social hour; went to school with some of the children; went to prayer meeting with most of them; and felt perfectly safe in them at any time of day or night. I know of at least five other places where house have stood, all within a mile of the church."
Shookville Methodist Church Photo Courtesy of Milan Town Hall https://milannyhistory.org/portfolio/churches/

Near the remains of the old stone church, the gravestones of many Shookville residents still stand and tell another story of this “deserted village”. Burton Coon’s parents as well as his father William Coon’s three children and a first wife lost in the space of three years 1863-1865 from small pox and then diptheria are buried within the black iron fence. How many others in the hamlet suffered the same fate? William Coon documented his grief in his journal. He described how his teenage daughter Jemima, who was very fond of the little five year old daughter of Philip and Charlotte Coopernail, was determined to visit the sickly child. Jemima and the child both died from diptheria within days of each other in September 1865. “And they are buried inside the iron fence in the old Shookville cemetery, the little one at the feet of the older one. So they are together there in death. At the top of the little one’s stone is the figure of a broken rosebud, and underneath her name and age are the words: ‘Go with me.’ Her friend went…”

"I miss the old inhabitants, too. I remember Philip, Henry, and Charlotte Coopernail, John Ostrander, Uriah St. Paul and his family, Charlie and Will Van Etten and their mother, and many others besides those whom I have already written about, most of whom are dead."

Just a short walk from the church the Coon family farmhouse still stands, though renovated. The stone wall and the stone foundation for the barn remain. The farm lands have been divided, and houses can be viewed where none appeared from 1862-1988.

The deeds and Burton’s description of his father’s purchases of land from 1850-1862 reveal more about the hamlet of Shookville.

"On the 21st day February, 1850, Peter Shook conveyed to my father 22 acres, 2 roods and 10 perches of land for $857.37 1/2... This land was to the east of the buildings and some of it was uncleared... 

On the 2nd day of May 1853, George Shears, who lived where Mrs. Kathryn Frazier now lives, conveyed to my father 44 acres, 3 roods, and 13 perches of land for $1,344.94. This consisted of a wood lot and two cultivated field along the east side of the farm... 

On the 30th day of April 1862, David Coopernail and Electa, his wife, conveyed to my father 35 acres, 2 roods, and 29 perches of land for $1,427.25. This constitutes what is now the north part of the present farm."

What more can we discover about Shookville: the “Deserted Village”? The stories can be remembered and retold. The beauty can still be experienced. Slow down; don’t blink; take a stroll or a bike ride and explore the magnificence of Nature and feel the history all around. We can still imagine the community gathering at church socials, the children playing in the orchard and going to a one-room school house, the farmer plowing the field, the farmer’s wife picking vegetables in her kitchen garden. A quiet yet active time; a hard yet cherished life…

Making History

Let’s end with Burton Coon’s closing words in his article “Shookville: Past and Present”.

"Truly, we have here a deserted village. Would that some writer with more genius than I have might describe it and tell its story. For these plain people have served their day and generation and made history as certainly as any people anywhere. I have long wanted to do them justice and if I have failed, it is only because I could not do any better. I thank the Gazette for the opportunity."
                                     Burton Coon

Stories of the Past- Just a Torn Scrap of Paper

Just a torn scrap of paper preserved within the pages of another text of related topic, but not belonging~
Redman, Jacques and Hinman, Russell. “Natural Advanced Geography”. American Book Company. 1898.
Click the arrow on the Instagram post to view 7 more photos after the collage.
Photo Series “Advanced Geography 1898” : 1st image: Collage: Several photos from “Advanced Geography” ; 2nd image: Montauk Lighthouse; 3rd image: Adirondacks; 4th image: Albany; 5th image: the torn page; 6th image: Publisher; 7th image: Title page; 8th image: Webster Coon’s inscription on the inside of the front cover.

Just a Torn Scrap of Paper

Stories of the past are often tucked within the pages of old books. In this case, the details in the sketches on a torn scrap of paper found in student Webster Coon’s “Natural Advanced Geography” fascinates me. I am drawn first to the three circular focus frames placed above another sketch. The first circle is of Albany with a cityscape serving as a backdrop to the river, framed by a conifer. In contrast, the second focus frame depicts the serenity of the Adirondacks with the highest mountains in New York standing tall in the background. It is the central focus frame, but it is overlaid by the two other frames. National Maritime Historic Landmark Montauk Lighthouse constructed in 1796 and still operational as a navigational tool draws the viewer’s eye, yet there are two figures on the cliff and several below who in view of the rough waters and rocks of the Atlantic Ocean seem insignificant. In terms of details, the sketch of numerous water vessels beneath the three circles is the most remarkable of the collection.

This focus on water is fitting and explained in these two sections of text on the torn page: “Position and Rank” and “Outline and Boundaries”.

Position and Rank

“The geographical position of New York, – between the Great Lakes on the west, and the Atlantic Ocean on the south-east, – together with its natural facilities for water-communication, enlarged by canals, has given the state its foremost rank in the Union for population, commerce, and wealth, and its title of the “Empire State”.

Just a torn scrap of paper preserved within the pages of another text of related topic, but not belonging~
Redman, Jacques and Hinman, Russell. “Natural Advanced Geography”. American Book Company. 1898.

Outline and Boundaries

“The outline of this state is very irregular. Only a little over one-third of its boundary consists of straight lines, the other two-thirds being formed by bodies of water, including Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, part of the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain. The linear boundaries make about 541 miles; the water boundaries, 879 miles.”

Just a torn scrap of paper preserved within the pages of another text of related topic, but not belonging~
Redman, Jacques and Hinman, Russell. “Natural Advanced Geography”. American Book Company. 1898.


What will I discover next within the pages of an old book? Share your findings in the comments section.