1920 Grocery List

In keeping with last week’s posting I bring you another food related item. Among the papers of Charles Young (1865-1942) is a receipt dated May 1, 1920 from James Mowen, Wholesale and Retail Dealer in Groceries, Hardware and Seeds, China, Glass and Queensware. Judging from this it seems to me that if you couldn’t find what you were looking for a James Mowen’s store it wasn’t to be had.

James Mowen’s store was located at 131 and 133 West Gay Street, and although the town is not listed I am assuming it is West Chester. This puts this store between Church and Darlington Streets. According to Google Maps – Stay Chic, The Brow Bar and Great Craft Works occupy this space today.

In 1920 the Young household  probably consisted of five people; Charles, his wife Maud and their three children, C. Earl, Emmett, and Delma. It is possible that Charles’ sister, the Aunt Kate of the Book of Receipts, also lived with them. What really stands out is the amount of sugar they bought -– 28 pounds in a little over a month. I’ve been wracking my brain to think what they could be preserving in May that would need so much sugar.  Were they just purchasing it in advance of preserving season?  If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d love to hear them.

Another item purchased each week was Butterine. Who remembers Butterine? butterineFor those who don’t, butterine was a butter substitute, or oleomargarine. A quick internet search revealed that it was invented in France in 1869. Emperor Napoleon III issued a challenge to French chemists to come up with a butter substitute that was cheap and would last longer than butter on the campaign trail. The first factory to produce this product was in Germany, “Benedict Klein Margarinewerke.” As you might imagine this was not a popular “invention” with the dairy industry. Legislation was set in place so that butterine would not be confused with butter. Butterine is white and was to be sold that way. A coloring agent was added to the packaging and you would then mix this in at home to make butterine more visually appealing and appetizing, i.e. it looked like butter. I’m sure my Mom is not the only one to remember squishing the dye around in the butterine bag till the dye was incorporated evenly during WWII.

Another receipt dated August 28, 1934 is for 15 head of cattle from S.M. Lorah Live Stock Commission Merchant from the Union Stock Yards in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

From stories my father used to tell I know that Charles had a Truck Farm, where the Donohue Funeral Home now stands on West Chester Pike. I don’t remember him ever mentioning anything about his grandfather raising cattle, although this receipts is before my father was born.  I do know that my father hated working on the farm – especially picking green beans, leading to a life long dislike of green beans. Yet what did my father eventually do but put in a big garden behind our house. I enjoyed working out there with him, he used to tell me I was


David Young (1936-2008)

born into the right family just the wrong generation.


Aunt Kate’s Book of Receipts

As someone who has dabbled in the art of open hearth cooking and followed 18th century recipes (or receipts as they were called) an item if particular interest to me from the wash tub collection is Aunt Kate’s handwritten Book of Receipts.

Aunt Kate (Catherine) was born to John and Catherine Young in 1868.  From other documents in the collection it appears that she was part owner with my great-grandfather, Charles Young (her brother), of a property referred to as “Willistown Inn” where she lived in what is now Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Kate never married and died in 1932.


Notice the names below the recipes. At the bottom right is a green tomato pickle recipe.

While not all of the recipes are dated, the earliest I have found is dated 1899 and the last date I can find is 1920.   Most recipes have someone’s name after the recipe.  My first inclination was that this was the person from whom she acquired that particular recipe.    And that may, in fact, be true. However, at the end of quite a few recipes (mostly for cakes or cookies) is my grandfather, Earl Young’s name, and sometimes that of his brother Emmett.   I believe I can say with some certainty that my grandfather did not cook!   Cakes and other sweets make up the majority of the recipes, along with some sauces and pickle recipes.  In the back of the book is an index which she began but about half way through the book the recipes are no longer numbered.

In typical fashion for this type of  book it contains not only food recipes but recipes to cure what ails man and beast. To cure scaly legs on chickens mix sulfur, lard, and coal oil adscn0601nd put on their leg. Then there is the liniment recipe who Maggie Smith says “is good for anything – will not blister” : 1 egg beat 15 minutes, 1 cup of turepin [sic] shake 15 minutes in with the egg, 1 cup of vinegar beat all together 15 minutes.   For man there is a “Receipt of Dr. Rowlands for Diarrhea,” “Spice Plaster,”and “Cough Syryup”[sic]. The cough syrup contains horehound tea, rock candy and licorice.

Every time I sit down and turn the pages in this book I come across something new. My sister was recently looking through the book and she may have stumbled upon the elusive Green Tomato Pickle Recipe (see left photo above) we remember our grandmother making.  My father loved this pickle and he would always ask me to make it after his mother no longer could but I could never get her to share the recipe with me.  I think it was something she had made for so long that it was more of an intuitive recipe than a written recipe.


Lease Stephen Girard to John Young 1831

Since Stephen Girard is in the news this week Philadelphia.   FBI Recovers Rare, Local History Stolen From Girard College « CBS …    I thought I would chime in about the relationship between Stephen Girard and my three times great-grandfather John Young.

On October 18, 1830 John Young entered into a lease agreement with Stephen Girard for ALL the messuage and lot of ground situated in the township of Passyunk aforesaid, bounded northwestward by a two perch wide lane, northeastward by land occupied by the widow Hunter, southeastward by the second street road, and southwestward by land occupied by George Sting(er) containing nine acres and three quarters, TOGETHER with all and singular other the buildings, improvements, rights, members and Appurtenances whatsoever, thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining to complete tenantable repair (except the southwest end parlour and the chamber above it) . . .

Rent was set at $200 a year to be paid in four $50 installments. In turn, John Young would adhere to the following provisions of this lease: hauling on the premises a sufficiency of manure for all the purposes of the Garden- attending to the fruit trees, of which there are on the premises, three Pear, eight Plum, besides one old one, sixteen Cherry, fourteen Apple, one Peach, one English Walnut, besides one Horse Chestnut tree – also attending carefully to the Asparagus bed – to sow no grain, and if he should it is to be forfeited – and not to take anythin
g off the premises (except his own private property, at the expiration of the dscn0587lease – and leaving the said premises in good tenantable repair, except the natural and unavoidable decay.  

It appears from this lease that John and his family would be occupying the house on the property with the exception of the “parlour and chamber above it,” as noted in the first excerpt above. Was this the house that is now part of Girard Park at 21st and Shunk Street in Philadelphia ?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Girard_Park

Stephen Girard died in December of 1831 during the first year of the term of this lease. Also contained in my family collection are two lease agreements with the Mayor Alderman and Citizens of Philadelphia. The first is dated 1850 and is between The Mayor Alderman and Citisens [sic] of Philadelphia to John Young /Girard Farm No. 1 for a term of 3 years beginning March 1, 1850. This time the lease is for Thirty-seven acres and Thirty perches, . . .  At a yearly rent of Five Hundred dollars, payable half-yearly, the first payment to me made on the first day of September next. There are very specific provisions to this lease as well:  he [John Young]will put at least three loads of manure to the acre, yearly, on such parts of the demised premises as the said agent of the Girard farm shall designate; that all manure made on the premises shall remain thereon: that they ground shall not be ploughed more than twice in two successive years: that nor more than one fourth of the ground shall be seeded in the last year of the term, the portion of ground to be seeded to be designed by said Agent: that no tree shall be cut or trimmed without consent of the said Agent: that after the grain is seeded the ground shalldscn0593 be sown with good, fresh and clean timothy seed the proper season: and that all grain raised shall be thrashed and the straw remain on the ground: and the Committee of the said farms and the Agents of the Girard Estate shall be authority, at all time, to visit the premises to ascertain whether the herein covenants are complied with.

The subsequent lease is again between The Mayor Alderman and Citisens [sic] of Philadelphia to John Young for the same property as the 1850 lease. The term for this one is to begin on March 1, 1853 and is this time for two years at the rate of $500/year. It is indicated on the document that it is a duplicate, Mayor Charles Gilpin signed the lease but this duplicate copy is not dated beyond the year and does not contain John Young’s signature.

This leads me to ponder just who was this first John Young? Unfortunately, I have no birth or death dates for him or his wife Hannah, my search for that continues. It is his son John who begins our family’s Bible and he is born in 1825. (see first post) At this time I don’t know if John (Jr) had any siblings. What I find in the Copper Wash Tub always leads me to more questions but that’s what makes this fun.







The Reality of Apprenticeships in the 19th Century

So imagine yourself – 10 or 12 years of age and one day your mother, father or stepfather delivers you to the home of another, where you will serve time learning the art and mystery of a trade. Provisions are set for your maintenance, which may or may not include attending schooling. Upon serving your time you will receive two suits of clothes, one set to be new, and if you are lucky perhaps a couple of dollars. Maybe both your parents are dead or destitute and the Guardians for the Relief or Employment of the Poor or the Managers of the Almshouse sign your next seven years away. This was a fact of life in the 18th and 19th century and the indentures I looked at today are poignant.

From 1824 to 1851 nine children whose indentures made their way into the Copper Wash Tub were apprenticed to John and Hannah Young to learn farming, gardening, housewifery and plain sewing. Many of the indentures indicate the property to be in the “City of Philadelphia, District of Southwark, Passyunk Township.” According to a lease agreement that is part of this collection John was leasing the Girard Farm from Stephen Girard and it’s possible that John’s land may have abutted the Girard Farm.

Of particular interest are the three Jones sisters. Their mother, Elizabeth Wiltoner, who it would appear has remarried, apprentices Elizabeth Jones to John and Hannah Young in August of 1836 for a period of two years ten months and twenty-three days. Then in May of


Elizabeth Jones Indenture

1838 James Wiltoner (stepfather) apprentices Hester Ann Jones to the Youngs for a period of four years and eight months. In December of 1838 James Wiltoner (stepfather) apprentices Margaret Jane Jones to the Youngs for a period of two years and fifteen days. The first question to come to my mind is did their mother die and was their stepfather just passing them off to someone else till they reached their majority? Or perhaps Hannah Young was a friend of their mother and she was doing what she could to provide for the girls? Provisions are provided for limited attendance at school for each of the girls. Elizabeth and Hester Ann are both to receive a sum of money upon the completion of their terms but not Margaret Jane. However, only Margaret Jane is to learn “Plain Sewing” so perhaps this gives her a life skill to earn a living after her term?

In 1826 at the age of 14 the Managers of the Almshouse apprenticed Walker West to the Youngs for a term of seven years. However, the contract is canceled just four months after it is signed because of “the Boy having absconded.”

The Guardians for the Relief and Employment of the Poor apprentice John Clemens at the age of eight, to the Youngs in March of 1851 for a term of twelve years five months and twenty-seven days.  As part of the Guardians contract the “master” is to show proof that the apprentice has attended school, as per the contract at the completion of the term. Contained in this collections are various small slips of paper three of which


John Clemens Indenture

certify that John as been attending Point Breeze Public School, John Brunt, Principal.


Receipt fo schooling for John Clemens

Apprenticeships were a way to provide for your children without actually providing for them yourself. In some cases these apprentices learned trades and became active in their local communities. But I suspect more often than not these faceless children just vanish from the records. I’m really wishing I could find out what happened to the Jones sisters. . . . . maybe the Copper Wash Tub will reveal their secrets as I continue to work my way through the documents contained within it.