Sunday, February 18, 2018

Short absence

I am having computer problems, but I should be back within a week or two. My son-in-law is fixing whatever is wrong with my computer. I don't know if it's hardware or software. Plus he's also going to upgrade it to Windows 10. Please check back soon.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Almus Hill's Land Deals

My great-great grandfather Almus Hill, born 23 Dec 1843, lost his mother, Mary Ann Jones Hill when he was just five months old. His father John Hill passed away in 1849, leaving Almus an orphan at five years of age.

Almus was raised by a childless great-uncle and great-aunt, Robert and Rachel Hill. Uncle Robert had a small farm, but by the time Almus was a teenager, Robert and Rachel had moved to town (Loudonville, Ohio,) where Robert became a businessman, the town constable, and eventually the mayor. It's likely that Almus had a rather pampered "only child" life with this older couple before he finally left home for good.

Almus married my great-great grandmother Lucinda Martin in about 1864, and their first child was born in Loudonville in 1865. I don't know if Almus and Lucinda were living with Robert and Rachel Hill or not, but I wouldn't be surprised. By 1867, they moved to Allen County, Ohio, where some of Lucinda's brothers and sisters lived.Then they moved to Crawford County, Ohio, and Almus started working for the railroad as a brakeman.

In 1878, Almus's maternal grandmother, Barbara Jones, passed away, and Almus inherited his mother's share of the Jones farm -- 119 acres of land in Mahoning County, Ohio. Almus could have moved there and assumed ownership of part of a prosperous  farm. But instead, Almus accepted an offer of $1200 for his inheritance from the other Jones heirs (two uncles and an aunt, Mary Ann Jones' siblings).

Newspaper ad for railroad land in Kansas
An 1880 newspaper ad for Kansas land
With $1200 in his pocket, Almus quit his railroad job. By 1880, he had moved his family to Republic County, Kansas and become a farmer. An 1884 map of the county shows that Almus owned 80 acres of land with a small creek running through one end of it.

Sadly, farming in Kansas didn't go well for Almus. Periods of drought and bad weather made life hard. The economy was experiencing booms and busts. By 1889, Almus was so fed up that he moved back to Crawford County, Ohio.

Too broke to afford the train, Almus and Lucinda and the younger children made the 900 mile trip in a wagon, arriving in the fall. (Several of the older children stayed in Kansas, including my great-grandfather Charlie Hill.)  Almus got his old job as a railroad brakeman back, and about six months later, he fell between railroad cars and lost his life.

I've wondered if the reason that Almus didn't want to start farming the Jones land was that he didn't know much about farming and didn't want to be embarassed in front of the Jones family whom he didn't know very well. (I'm pretty sure that Almus had some psychological issues.)

Tonight, I transcribed the 1870 Agricultural Schedule (part of the Federal Census) for Edward Jones, one of the uncles who bought Almus's share of the Jones farm. Edward owned a farm of his own and was obviously very successful.
Edward Jones' farm in Mahoning County, Ohio, 1870

The $1200 that Almus got for 119 acres of the Jones farm was a pittance, compared to Edward Jones' farm revenue for 1870 (not even considering the other Jones brother and sister.) I suspect that Almus was poorly informed about the value of the land he inherited. With his head full of dreams about making a fortune in Kansas, he sold his birthright cheap and lost it all.

This narrative was written by Genevieve L. Netz. Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use this document for genealogical purposes. It may be attached to online family trees. This note about usage must remain attached. Any other use requires written permission. Contact the author at .

Download an easy-to-print copy at

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Alcohol-Based Medicines

This recipe for a mid-1800s, homemade medicine was posted in a recipe-sharing group on Facebook:

1 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp. alum
1/4 to 1/2 cup whiskey
Combine honey, cinnamon, vinegar, and alum and bring to a boil. Stir, remove from heat, and allow to cool. Stir in whiskey, and pour into clean bottle. Shake well before using. [The recipe does not give a recommended dose.]
Alcohol content in patent medicine compared to beer and whiskey
37-1/2% alcohol content in a 1920s patent medicine

The alcohol content in that homemade cough syrup reminded me of a diagram (see above)  in one of my old textbooks. (Healthy Living Book Two: Principles of Personal and Community Hygiene, by Dr. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow. Published in New York by the Charles E. Merrill Company in 1924.)

In more recent times (1940s-1950s), the patent medicine Hadacol was popular throughout the Southern U.S. and beyond. Hadacol was the concoction of Louisiana State Senator Dudley LeBlanc. It was especially popular in many "dry" counties of the South because of its alcohol content. Besides the alcohol, it contained a fairly long list of vitamins and minerals, and it had a strong, medicinal taste. It's widely reported that some drugstores sold it by the shotglass.

Flikr photo by Logan Molen. Creative Commons
license: Some Rights Reserved.

Dudley LaBlanc and The Hadacol Boogie
La Valse de Hedacol
The Hadacol Bounce

Friday, January 26, 2018

No. 7 Griswold Skillet

I am not a lucky person. My name is never pulled out of the hat. I never find cash lying on the sidewalk. They never call the numbers I need at Bingo. However, today I found a Griswold skillet in the Hopkinsville Goodwill, so the old saying is proven -- "Every dog has his day."

Griswold Skillet found at Goodwill
Griswold skillet, 9-3/4" top diameter
and 8" bottom diameter

I saw this skillet sitting on the shelf among random pot lids and pans, so I picked it up and turned it over. I was amazed to see that it was a Griswold and that it was priced for $3.99.

The person who priced it must not have recognized the name. Griswold is top-of-the-line antique or vintage cast iron cookware. In my opinion, this pan should have been placed in the locked case up front where they keep the treasures.

Griswold logo on a No. 7 skillet
N0. 7 -- GRISWOLD -- ERIE PA.  --701
(Might be 701 A, but not sure.)

According to what I've read online this evening, this skillet was probably made between 1939 and 1957. In other words, it's approximately the same age as me. Some clues to the skillet's age are the logo size (this logo is small,) the way that the place name is written ("Erie, PA," not  "Erie" and not "Erie, PA, USA",) and the presence or absence of a heat ring (this skillet doesn't have one.)

I washed up the skillet, and with some elbow grease, removed the crusts of old blackening around the upper part of the inner sides. Then I dried it over a hot burner, and wiped it all over with vegetable oil and a paper towel. The inside of the skillet is as smooth as glass. It will blacken evenly over time. It's ready to use.

Here's a good article about some features of Griswold cast ironware that help in estimating the age of a piece.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eleanor Rigby, Rugmaking Assistant

Little Eleanor Rigby has been staying with us for the last few months. She officially belongs to our son and daughter-in-law, but I must admit that I've become fond of her. She makes life lively around here.

Today, Eleanor helped me with my rugmaking. With her assistance, I unraveled several long rows of crocheting and wound the strip into a ball to use again.  Imagine how boring that process would have been without a cat attached!

Maybe her name should be Eleanor Rugby?

Eleanor Rigby or Eleanor Rugby?
Eleanor Rigby, Cloth Killer

Monday, December 18, 2017

Frosted Christmas Cookies

Last night, I baked a large portion of the 8x batch of sugar cookies that I mixed up the night before. The photos below show some of the variations I came up with for decor.

This is not really frosting. It's the meltable candy coating that comes in blocks. I like to use it for decorating cookies because once it's cooled, it's hard enough that the cookies can be stacked. I melt it very carefully in the microwave (at 20% which is "Cook Power 2" on my microwave) inside a zippered plastic baggie with one corner snipped for piping.

I baked enough cookies for two huge cookie trays and a big plate of cookies for us. That  was about 12 dozen cookies. Then I froze the remaining dough -- if Pillsbury can do it, I can too.

Today I gave my son one of the trays of cookies to take to the post office. (As a CCA -- city carrier assistant -- he has to work Sundays to deliver Amazon, believe it or not.) I took the other tray by my former workplace and put it in the breakroom. It was well received.

Frosted Christmas Cookies

Frosted Christmas Cookies

Frosted Christmas CookiesFrosted Christmas Cookies

Frosted Christmas CookiesAnd more Frosted Christmas Cookies!

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