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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Below is an excerpt from the “Incidents of Western Travels” by Rev. George Pierce ©1857 These letters were his reflections on his travels from GA to Nashville, to Oklahoma, to Arkansas, to Texas and back to GA.

Galveston 1856

Galveston, the “city of cottages,” is a charming place. Open to the winds on every side, with wide streets and sandy soil, and a soft and balmy climate, it is eligibly located for a great and nourishing mart.

Orange and lemon trees are found in almost every garden. They grow luxuriantly, and were laden with fruit when I was there in December last. The oleander is the common ornamental shrub in the town. It flourishes even along the sidewalks.

The plantain, too, with its clustering fruit, is successfully cultivated. What the temperature may be in summer, I know not; but a visitor in winter would conclude that the good people had the productions of the tropics, without the accompanying fervor of a tropical climate. It is well nigh impossible to conceive of a finer beach than the one around Galveston. An evening ride on these surf-beaten sands is a delightful recreation. The beautiful and the sublime, nature and art, the works of God and the inventions of men, combine in panoramic order. The island, with its human habitations; the Gulf, with its ever-heaving waters; the steamship, bannered with smoke, proudly defying wind and wave; the sea-birds, with tireless wing fanning the air, or descending to ride upon the billows ; the merry voices of the gay and the glad, as they gather shells upon the shore, mingling with the everlasting roar of the tide in its ebb and its flow, constitute a scene where one may well pause to think and feel, to admire and adore.

Galveston cannot be a sickly place, unless it be by the criminal. carelessness of the city authorities, or the bad habits of the people. Yellow-fever certainly cannot originate there, and if it prevail at all, it must be by importation. When Texas shall count her citizens by the million, and communication with the interior by railroads shall be opened, this city on the Gulf of Mexico will become an emporium of wealth and commerce.

Posted by Lynn Coleman at 7:28 AM

Labels: 1856, 1857, old letters, town histories


Below is an impression about Coffee taken from the “Incidents of Western Travels,” letters written by George Pierce a Methodist Minister on a trip out to the Indian Mission in Oklahoma in 1856 and published in 1857. I’m supplying the context for you to enjoy his comments about coffee.

A little before dark we came to an Indian cabin, and by signs and gestures made known our wish to tarry for the night. By signs and gestures we were made to understand that we could stay. We were left, of course, to wait upon ourselves; so we stripped our horses and led them to water; and when we returned, our host had brought to the lot a turn of corn and fodder, and as he let his own horses out, we put ours in and fed them to our hearts’ content. Now we marched to the house t* see about our own prospects for food and rest. There was but one room, but this was neat and comfortable, save that there was about it an undefinable odor, any thing but pleasant. It is common, I learned, to Indian habitations. The man, his wife and children, were well clad, and were attentive and polite according to their notions. N”ot a word of English could we get from any of the household. They could speak it, for they understood us very well in much of our talk: that was very obvious.

My good friend, McAlister, undertook to secure us a good supper by giving special directions, more particularly about the coffee—with me, when good, a favorite article. But, alas ! he succeeded better with every thing else than with this necessary beverage. By the way—pardon a little digression on this interesting theme—bad coffee is one of the afflictions of the land, and it is one of the miseries of travel. We find it everywhere—in taverns and private houses—among the rich and the poor. Often, when every thing else is clean and well prepared, the coffee is execrable stuff. Weak, or black, or unsettled, it is enough to make a well man sick. Why is this ? It is not stinginess, for there is often enough of the raw material, if it had been boiled and cleared. Sometimes, it is true, a man has to drink a good deal of wate» to get a little coffee ; but, generally, the difficulty is that the fluid is.muddy, the grounds all afloat; and then “the cup cheers” not, but sadly offends sight, smell, and taste. The country needs a reform. It is more necessary to the welfare of the people than some other things that agitate the nation. In these days of Womens’ Rights I will not invade their province by pretending to give a recipe. I will only say, there must be good grains, well parched—not burnt—well boiled, and well settled; and then, as the cookery-books say, cream (not milk) and siigar “according to taste.” A lady of my acquaintance says it takes a tablespoonful of coffee to every cup; a little more would not hurt to make the article decently good. I wish the people—Indians and all—would try her proportions.

Posted by Lynn Coleman at 7:41 AM

Labels: 1856, 1857, Food, old letters


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The primary figure that we should recognize is Esther Howland who received her first Valentine card in 1847. Her family owned and operated one of the largest book and stationery stores in Worcester, MA. She decided she could make similar cards to market in the United States. Esther ordered her supplies from England and started selling her cards the next year. In 1850 she advertised these cards and hired staff to help her keep up with the orders. She retired in 1881 and sold her business to George C. Whitney Company.

St. Valentine’s Eve was celebrated in the earlier part of the century for many years. Different countries would have different customs. One such custom was in England where the single men and maids would be gathered, each with a card they’d made. Here’s a quote from “The Book of Days” by Robert Chambers ©1864
‘On the eve of St Valentine’s Day,’ he says, ‘the young folks in England and Scotland, by a very ancient custom, celebrate a little festival. An equal number of maids and bachelors- get together ; each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men’s billets, and the men the maids’; so that each of the young men lights upon a girl that he calls his valentine, and each of the girls upon a young man whom she calls hers. By this means each has two valentines ; but the man sticks faster to the valentine that has fallen to him than to the valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love.’

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale ©1857 It’s a good description of the various ways to prepare pork.

Curing Pork.—

The pork being killed, several points require attention —first, the chitterlings must be cleaned, and all the fat taken off; they are then to be soaked for two or three day* in four or six waters, and the fat may be melted for softening shoes, &c.; the inside fat, or flare, of pork must be melted for lard as soon as possible, without salt, if for pastry. The souse should be salted for two or three days, and then boiled till tender ; or fried, or broiled, after being boiled. The sides for bacon must be wiped, rubbed at the bone, and sprinkled with salt, to extract the blood : the chines, cheeks, and spare-ribs, should be similarly salted. On the third day after pork is killed, it may be regularly salted, tubs or pans being placed to receive the brine, which is useful for chines and tongues. December and January are the best months for preparing bacon, as the frost is not then too severe.
The hog is made into bacon, or pickled.
Bacon—(The method of airing Malines Bacon, so much ad mired for its fine flavor).—Cut off the hams and head of a pig, if a large one; takeout the chine and leave in the spare-rib, as they will keep in the gravy and prevent the bacon from rusting. Salt it first with common salt, and let it lie for a day on a table that the blood may run from it; then make a brine with a pint of bay-salt, one-quarter peck of common salt, about one-quarter pound of juniper-berries, and some bay-leaves, with as much water as will, when the brine is made, cover the bacon; when the salt is dissolved, and when quite cold, if a new-laid egg will swim in it, the brine may be put on the ba con, which after a week must be rubbed with the following mixture:—Half pound of saltpetre, 2 oz. of sal-prunella, and 1 pound of coarse sugar; after remaining 4 weeks, it may be hung up in a chimney where wood is burned; shavings, with •awdust and a small quantity of turf, may be added to the fire at times.
Westphalia Hams—Are prepared in November and March. The Germans place them in deep tubs, which they cover with «vers of salt and saltpetre, and a few laurel-leaves. They ar« left four or five days in this state, and then are compk-tcly covered with strong brine. At the end of three weeks, they are taken out, and soaked twelve hours in clear spring water • they are then hung for three weeks in smoke, produ”-.ed from the branches of juniper-plants.
Another method is to rub the leg intended for a bun with half a pound of coarse sugar, and to lay it aside for a night. In the morning, it is rubbed with an ounce of saltpetre, and an ounce of common salt, mixed. It is then turned daily for throe weeks, and afterwards dried in wood and turf-smoke. When boiled, a pint of oak saw-dust is directed to be put into the pot or boiler.
Obs.—Dried meats, hams, &c., should be kept in a cold bui not damp place.
Smoked provisions keep better than those which are dried on account of the pyroligneous acid which the former recei\v from the smoke.
Hams superior to Westphalia.—Take the hams as soon as the pork is sufficiently cold to be cut up, rub them well wit! common salt, and leave them for three days to drain; throw away the brine, and for a couple of hatns of from fifteen to eighteen pounds’ weight, mix together two ounces of saltpetre, a pound of coarse sugar, and a pound of common salt; rub the hams in every part with these, lay them into deeppieklinf;paus with the riud downwards, and keep them for three days well covered with the salt and sugar; then pour over them a bottle of good vinegar, and turn them in the brine, and baste them with it daily for a mouth; drain them well, nib them with bran, and let them be hung for a month high in a chimney over a wood-fire to be smoked.
Hams, of from 15 to 18 Ibs. each, 2; to drain, 3 days. Common salt and coarse sugar, each 1 Ib.; saltpetre, 2 ozs.: 3 jays. Vinegar, 1 bottle: 1 month. To be smoked 1 month.
Obs.—Such of our readers as shall make trial of this admirable receipt, will acknowledge, we doubt not, that the hams thus cured are in reality superior to those of Westphalia. It was originally given to the public by the celebrated French cook, Monsieur Ude, to whom, after having proved it, we are happy to acknowledge o’tr obligation for it. lie directs that the hams when smoked should be hung as high as possible from the fire, that the fat may not be melted ;—a very necea. sary precaution, as the mode of their being cured renders it peculiarly liable to do so. This, indeed, is somewhat perceptible in the cooking, which ought, therefore, to be conducted with especial care. The hams should be very softly simmered, and uot over-done. They should be large, and of finely-fed pork, or the receipt will not answer. We give the result of out first trial of it, which was perfectly successful.
Leg of farm-house pork, 14 to 15 Ibs.; saltpetre, 1^ oz. • strong coarse salt, 6 ozs.; coarse sugar, 8 ozs.: 3 days. Fine white-wine vinegar, 1 pint. In pickle, turned daily, 1 month. Smoked over wood, 1 month.
Obs.—When two hams are pickled together, a smaller proportion of the ingredients is required for each than for one which is cured by itself. .

Posted by Lynn Coleman at 7:48 AM

Labels: 1857, cooking, farming, Food


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So I just received my book order from Amazon.com of Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell and planned to snuggle up with a cup of coffee and embark upon a quiet night of reading, when a series of youtube silliness arrived in my email.  A friend then called and said I had to take a look.  Well, it doesn’t take much to distract me, so I did. And well, here it is…


Antoine Dobson becomes famous after saving his sister from a rapist’s attack. A would be sexual assaulter uses a trash can to climb into the second story bedroom of a housing project unit and attacks a young black girl. Antoine, our hero, and the girl’s brother comes to the rescue and chases the pervert out of the house. The dumb dumb rapist left behind a shirt, plenty of fingerprints, and a lot of understandably angry folks. Antoine is interviewed by a local news station and proceeds to talk right to the camera, telling the unknown rapist off, neck moving, head jerking, red scarf flapping, the whole nine.  More than 10.5 million hits on youtube already of his interview with a local newscaster.

Pure ghetto fabulosity!









So, I’m in the middle of reading A Separate Country by Robert Hicks, a winding, rough and tumble story of the dying, failed Confederate General John Hood and the man who tried to kill him.  The withering Hood is plagued by the demons of massive failure, haunted by one of the worst military defeats in U.S. military history, where thousands of his men were slaughtered in battle, and his relentless quest to salvage his legacy through his memoirs.  He summons his enemy, his death-bed request is to have the man who wanted him in the ground, finish the document for him. It’s supposed to tell the loving story of a man trying to rebuild his life after great tragedy, who attempts normalcy by quietly settling in New Orleans with the woman he loves, while facing the blackness of that battle, the aftermath of its legacy, and the truth of who he is as a man, but it’s proving to be a rougher read to grasp than I expected. I LOVE Hicks’s Widow of the South, and I’m enjoying his macho, rugged, testosterone driven writing style in Country, it’s just I’m having a bumpy ride in the wagon.

Anyhoo, I think my expectations on the journey I was about to take, were different from what the novel represents. I actually thought the book would deal more intimately with the battle, what led up to that colossal defeat, the on the ground maneuvers, the after affects of the tragic loss, the tactical error, or the pride of ego that led to the slaughter of his men, but that’s exactly the story Hicks did not want to tell, which is definitely his prerogative as the author.

So I put the book down to muse, take a small break, and came across an internet story about some Brit claiming he has proof God doesn’t exist.

Why are so many people dissing God? The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the Creator of the Universe? I know a lot of people may get upset, but, ummmm, these folks are going straight to hell in gasoline drawers as the old southern saying goes unless repentance takes place.

I had a friend pass away a few months ago who did not believe in God and he was a GREAT guy, the absolute GREATEST.  He had cancer and didn’t blame God, because he didn’t believe in God. I asked him, even in the face of your mortality, you still won’t believe, he said no. He didn’t want to call out to God. He said, if there is a God, I’m going to hell and I deserve to go to hell because I don’t believe. 

I CAN RESPECT THAT. He was willing to accept the consequences of his decision.  He was privileged, a prince of old Hollywood legends, nice, considerate, giving, but REFUSED to pray, serve, or believe in God and he made me understand the saying, “there will be plenty of good people” in hell.

I’ve decided to compile a quick list of people in the media who – in my humble opinion – have purchased a


1. Stephen William Hawking – “Science makes God unnecessary.” Did he tweak his neck? Sorry, but this dude is ridiculous. He claims to be able to understand and quantify the nonexistence of the Creator? Was this crooked shaped dude dropped as a baby? LOL If you can blasphemy God, then I can blast the way you look. I’m sorry. This guys is scary and hard on the eyes. I’m not listening to any man who looks like Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

2. Writers of “Expendables” – Crooked mouthed Sylvester Stallone and Dave Callaham for writing a church scene and having the characters curse in God’s house. In the movie, which is a blast to watch, Stallone’s old you know what is kicking butt and taking numbers. He’s a skilled, mercenary who slaughters a dozen or so Somalian pirates and then he’s back in the U.S. in an empty church. I braced. He has a covert meeting with Bruce Willis’s character near the altar. Uh oh.  Bruce’s character wants to pay him $5 million for a mission and then it came. Bruce drops the F-bomb a gang of times to drive home the point he will F-bomb crooked, slurring faced Stallone if he F-bombs him and doesn’t perform. Wow.  WHAT A DISS to the LORD!  The church has problems, pastors, congregants, imperfect, sinners, judgmental, drunkards, fornicators, blah blah, you know, human. But GOD IS GOD and the church represents Him.

3. Crooked eyed Bruce Willis and Scary-looking Arnold Schwarzenegger for acting in the “Expendables” scene where God’s house was defiled. (And the director for directing the scene)

4. Donald Trump for saying at a real estate conference a fews years ago that while he was on the earth, he was the king of kings.

5. Bill Maher – First for dating the superhoe Superhead and then denigrating her for not being bright, LOL!  Did he read her book?  Did he know she became famous for sleeping with all the rappers in the music industry and walking around the set topless? HELLO!  I don’t think she finished high school, much less got a PH.D.! Second for saying he’s not an atheist, he “believes there is some force.”

6. Jay-Z – for taking on God’s Holy name – J-hovah (Jehovah) and having millions of kids chanting and praising him in concerts as God.

7. HBO’s “The Wire,” I’m STILL bothered by the scenes in the church where the gangsters Stringer et al met to make moves.

To be continued… 🙂


1. Terry Jones – Florida Pastor who wants to burn the Quran in protest of 9/11. Ummmm, is that a God vision?  I’m sure he would be livid, outraged, if Muslim’s held a bonfire and burned the Bible.  Makes me think…What would Jesus do Mr. Jones? I’m not the ultimate judge, I’m  just saying. It makes me questions the man’s heart. My blog. My opinion. Shoot, I think Mr. Jones may be standing in the VIP line behind Jay-Z. LOL


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A few days ago I decided to cruise by the website of one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice. I absolutely loved

Author Anne Rice, Living Legend

her historical novel “Feast of All Saints,” and was inspired by her lyrical, vivid writing of New Orleans and the rich, riveting tale she wove about the lively gens de couleur libres, otherwise known as the Creoles. Admittedly, I’ve never been into vampires, so I haven’t read any other book of hers, although I purchased “Christ The Lord” months ago and have every intention of reading it. When I heard Ms. Rice had regained her faith and was only going to write Christian novels, I was fascinated and even said a little prayer for her, asking God to keep her on the path, and then I moved on.

For some reason, I felt compelled to check in at annerice.com, see what was going on in her world, how her faith was holding up, and I was shocked to discover she had recently announced her renouncing of Christianity, while not renouncing Christ:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Wow!  Spurred by impulse, I wrote an email to her, sharing my beliefs, and also sharing my understanding of the frustration she must feel with the lack of compassion and tolerance true Christians should have in loving the person, even if they don’t agree with the lifestyle or actions of their life.  It was a little less stark and more detailed than that, but you get the gist.


A best-selling author responding to my impulsive email?  Sure. Right. I didn’t expect a response.


So imagine my shock the next day when I opened my email and saw her gmail account in my box. It took me a moment to really digest the fact that she had responded.  Double WOW.  Not only did she respond, she was gracious, complimented me on my heartfelt, “well-written letter,” and explained her views.  I was touched and awed and well, out of respect I won’t share all the details, but I must say, she’s a classy woman.  A woman who has sold over 100 million books worldwide.  ONE-HUNDRED MILLION BOOKS sold worldwide and she took the time out of her busy day to respond to my email.


I told her she was an inspiration and her book “Feast of All Saints,” has informed my manuscript “Eighth Wonder” invaluably.

I will frame the email and always be an Anne Rice fan. I didn’t write back because I didn’t want to become that crazed stalker character in Stephen King’s “Misery,” who pursued and kidnapped the author she loved.  LOL!

Here’s to Ms. Anne Rice.  Watch below as she shares her wisdom on writing.


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(From http://www.twainquotes.com) In 1869 Tom’s path crossed that of Mark Twain who was traveling across the country on his own lecture tour. Twain, who was also writing for the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, reported that he attended Tom’s concert three nights in succession. From Mark Twain’s first hand account of Tom’s performance:

“He lorded it over the emotions of his audience like an autocrat. He swept them like a storm, with his battle-pieces; he lulled them to rest again with melodies as tender as those we hear in dreams; he gladdened them with others that rippled through the charmed air as happily and cheerily as the riot the linnets make in California woods; and now and then he threw in queer imitations of the tuning of discordant harps and fiddles, and the groaning and wheezing of bag-pipes, that sent the rapt silence into tempests of laughter. And every time the audience applauded when a piece was finished, this happy innocent joined in and clapped his hands, too, and with vigorous emphasis.”

Twain concluded his impressions of Blind Tom by writing:

“Some archangel, cast out of upper Heaven like another Satan, inhabits this coarse casket; and he comforts himself and makes his prison beautiful with thoughts and dreams and memories of another time… It is not Blind Tom that does these wonderful things and plays this wonderful music–it is the other party.”

In 1875, Twain again spoke of Tom’s uncanny abilities in a humorous speech he made on the art of spelling. The text of Twain’s speech appeared in the Hartford Courant May 13, 1875 and cites Twain as quipping:

Now there is Blind Tom, the musical prodigy. He always spells a word according to the sound that is carried to his ear. And he is an enthusiast in orthography. When you give him a word, he shouts it out–puts all his soul into it. I once heard him called upon to spell orangutang before an audience. He said, “O, r-a-n-g, orang, g-e-r, ger, oranger, t-a-n-g, tang, orangger tang!” Now a body can respect an orangutang that spells his name in a vigorous way like that.

Twain maintained an ongoing interest in Blind Tom’s abilities. His personal notebooks reflect occasional entries of the words “Blind Tom” indicating that he may have planned to see more of Tom’s performances whenever the opportunity arose. In book editor Henry Holt’s autobiography titled Garrulities of an Octogenarian Editor (published by Houghton Mifflin Co., 1923) Holt recalled being with Twain one day in Washington DC in 1885:

The afternoon of that day in Washington was drizzly, and he and I took a constitutional under the same umbrella. He was most of the time talking about Blind Tom, a famous half-idiotic Negro pianist of those days. Mark said he never missed an opportunity to hear him. Tom, it appears, used to soliloquize about himself and his music, and Mark’s memory was full of his quaint sayings, of which Mark poured out a stream to me, and so vividly that I can’t tell today whether I ever saw and heard Tom, or whether my imagination has constructed him from Mark’s account.

Twain again wrote about Blind Tom in 1897. In Chapter Two of Following the Equator, the book that documented Twain’s around the world journey, he wrote:

The talk passed from the boomerang to dreams – usually a fruitful subject, afloat or ashore – but this time the output was poor. Then it passed to instances of extraordinary memory – with better results. Blind Tom, the negro pianist, was spoken of, and it was said that he could accurately play any piece of music, howsoever long and difficult, after hearing it once; and that six months later he could accurately play it again, without having touched it in the interval.

Blind Tom piano