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.



Who Were The Youngs?

And where did they come from?

Other then the family Bible the best source I’ve found so far is a short biography of my Great-Grandfather Charles Young from a history of Chester and Delaware Counties.

“CHARLES YOUNG, one of the enterprising young farmers of Willistown Inn, Pennsylvania, was born on January 3, 1865, on his present homestead, Westtown Township and is the son of John and Catherine G. (Maag) Young. John Young was born on May 12, 1825 on the Girard homestead, Second Street, Philadelphia, died April 10, 1807, and he was the son of John and Hannah (Adams) Young, of German descent.” (Stay tuned for more on John in a subsequent post.)

It goes on to say that Charles was one of 10 children, which the family Bible supports – see my previous post.  Charles married Maude Battin, “a most charming and accomplished lady.” They had one child, my grandfather, Cloud Earl Young. Earl Young (my father said that he hated the name Cloud and never used it) married Marie Titter. The Titters had a farm somewhere in Delaware County – I haven’t yet been able to locate where.

My grandparents met when Grandpa would offer my grandmother a lift to school on his way to work. My grandfather in addition to helping on the family farm was also a carpenter. He designed and built their home along West Chester Pike, “Wee Brick House” just east of Rt. 352. They built the house during the depression and lived in the attic while they finished the rest of the house.  The house still stands and has been converted into an office. He also designed and built a house for his brother Emmett and his wife LaVera (Stafford) Young and for my parents David Earl Young and Ruth Passmore Young.

In one of those strange happenstances, when I began working at Brandywine Battlefield in 2002 I discovered that one of the other employees, George Findle, was related to George Young, brother to my Great-Grandfather Charles. George Findle knew where some of the Youngs were buried and we took a field trip to Cumberland Cemetery in Delaware County . Here I also discovered the graves of my Grandmother’s two brothers, John Gordon and William Vincent Titter.

In another strange twist of fate, one day,several years ago, on a visit to Waynesborough, the home of Anthony Wayne near Paoli, I happened to glance down at a guest book displayed in a sitting room.  And on that page two names jumped out at me – Charles Young and C. Earl Young.  Talk about goosebumps! Why they were there I have no idea at this time – as my grandfather would still have been a child it was either to deliver veggies from the truck farm or maybe sightseeing – still – goosebumps.

Even before reading this and learning the Young’s were of German descent I had suspected as much. When I began working at the Ephrata Cloister in the summer of 1993 for the first time I was well and truly exposed to German life and culture and suddenly little things my grandparents did made sense.   Life is funny that way – things really do tend to go in circles.

Intro to The Copper Wash Tub Project

So just what is the Copper Washtub Project? It is a collection of assorted documents members of the Young family sought to preserve beginning in the early 19th century. The Young family owned property in corners of the townships of Westtown, East Goshen and Willistown, Chester County, Pennsylvania.


My grandparents, Cloud Earl Young (1901-1982) and Marie Louise Titter Young (1907-1996).

We were not aware of the contents of this wash tub until my Grandmother passed away in 1996. At that time my father, David Earl Young, Sr. opened the washtub his mother had insisted on keeping with her in the move to my house before her move to a nursing home. Opening it up left my father speechless!  As the history geek in the family I immediately received a phone call – you’ve got to come up and see this!  There was a family Bible, my grandparents social security cards, food and gas ration stamps from WWII, cookbooks, deeds and indentures, pew receipts, my father’s report cards and a few childhood pictures, business records – really what wasn’t in this small seemingly innocuous washtub. In essence, it was a treasure trove of family history!

When my father died the washtub passed into my keeping and sadly it continued to sit in a closet until last year when I made up my mind to begin to catalog all that it contained. Unfortunately, making up one’s mind to do something and finding the time for something extra is often two different things – so my discoveries ran in bursts. By creating this Blog I hope to share this journey of discovery – doing the wash maybe even airing some dirty laundry – through these papers kept by my father’s family – The Youngs.