Saturday, January 18, 2020

Oregon's Edgefield Poor Farm

Multomah Poor Farm - 1912
Wikimedia Commons

By Nancy J. Farrier

I took a trip to Portland over the holidays and heard the about the story of the Edgefield Poor Farm. I wanted to share this fascinating story with you.

In the mid-1800’s territorial counties were given the responsibility of caring for the poor. In 1868, Portland, OR, opened their first poor farm facility in West Portland, Hillside Poor Farm. By the early 1900’s, Hillside, a 160-acre farm, was in deplorable condition. Multnomah County needed a new poor farm.

In 1911 the Multnomah County Poor Farm was built east of Portland on what would grow to be 345 acres. The first building house just over 211 residents, although in early days they were often referred to as inmates. More than a third of the first inmates were bedridden with chronic illness and unable to help with the work.

The inmates were required to work if they were able. The Poor Farm grew a
Edgefield Power Station
Ian Pellet-Wikimedia Commons
number of vegetables, and raised pigs and chickens. Those who were able to work ate three meat meals a day but those who could not work only had meat once a day. (They did get three meals, just not meat every time.) This was referred to as the “meat and mush” tables and you ate according to what you could do.

By 1914, the number of residents had grown to over 300. They now had dairy cows, in addition to the 100 hogs and 420 Plymouth Rock hens and 225 other chickens. The crops produced were vegetables, fruit, hay grain, eggs and potatoes. The 27 acres of potatoes were shared with the county jail. The residents did all the work caring for the crops and livestock. The Poor Farm also had a hospital and a juvenile home.

Power Station Brick Work
By Ian Poellet-Wikimedia Commons
The peak number of residents happened during the depression around 1935, when there were over 600 living there. There were 535 men and 63 women. The job boom that came in the 1940’s with the onset of World War II, depleted the number of residents. After the war, many of them left, but there were some who were so used to institutional life they couldn’t make it on the outside and chose to stay.

Cupola on Main Building
By Ian Poellet-Wikimedia Commons
By the 1960’s, many of the lands were leased and the herds were sold. The Poor Farm building was renamed Edgefield and became more of a nursing home. In the 1970’s the number of residents declined as private nursing homes or home health care became more popular. In 1982, the last resident left Edgefield and the place was locked up.

Like most abandoned places, Edgefield suffered from vandals and no upkeep. Water pipes burst. Graffiti covered the walls. Much of what had been left was looted and stolen. Edgefield had been a haven for many but now was in disrepair and needed to be demolished.

But, the historical society stepped in and didn’t want to see such an important part of Multnomah County’s history destroyed. For five years they fought to save Edgefield. They finally won but now faced a difficult decision of what to do with the old Poor Farm. They listed the property with a New York auction house and received no bids. No one wanted a rundown farm.

Edgefield 2008
Ian Poellet-Wikimedia Commons
Then, in the 1990’s, two brothers had a vision for the property. A vision that would maintain the historical aspect but also incorporate a fun place to visit. They began by opening a winery, but added a brewery, and a movie theater. There was doubt about their success, since Edgefield was so far outside Portland. They added in a small lodging part in the building and kept going from there. Today, you can go to Edgefield for dinner at one of the restaurants, or to a concert. You can walk in the gardens or visit one of the artisan shops on the property. Edgefield is a popular place to visit and see some wonderful historical buildings.

Here is a link to the McMenamin’s Edgefield property detailing all they offer. If you are ever in Portland, take the time to visit and see the historical buildings and grounds. Think about what it meant to those who were struggling to have a place to raise their food and to have shelter.

McMenamins, Photo by seamusiv
Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever visited Edgefield or heard of it? Do you have what was once a Poor Farm in your area? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Friday, January 17, 2020

Recipes or Receipts?

by Davalynn Spencer

The first time I saw the word “receipt” used in a historical cooking reference, I thought I’d misread the word “recipe.”

I hadn’t.

Recipes were once called receipts. As an author of historical fiction, I did some checking to find out which word I should be using for my stories set in the 1800s.

Both receipt and recipe are derivatives of the Latin word recipere, a verb meaning to take or receive.

So what’s the difference?
A well-used recipe from the author's collection.
In today’s vernacular, recipe refers to instructions and ingredients used for cooking purposes: The 3 x 5 card on which my great-aunt Laura wrote out instructions for her pie crust.

Receipt is a statement of money or goods received: The strip of paper from a cash register given to me after I buy something at the market. (Though I guess they’re not just “cash” registers anymore are they.)

The early 1700s saw the advent of “recipe,” but it didn’t supplant “receipt” until well into the twentieth century, as indicated by these three volumes: Tullie's Receipts: Nineteeth Century Plantation Plain Style Southern Cooking and Living; Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the pages of Godey's Lady's Book, and Confederate Receipt Book, a Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, Adapted to the Times.

Amazingly, the usage of our modern word recipe for culinary-related purposes, is a mere three-hundred years old.


We have trees that are older.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, recipe became part of the English language in the 1400s and was used by physicians. It was not used in reference to cooking until 1716. Culinary verbiage prior to the 1700s was receipt, so says the OED.

However, other historical resources say it was the word “receipt” that pharmacists used. Physicians wrote the word at the top of the prescriptions, recording what the patient received, as in a formula for a medicinal preparation. The letter R with a slash through the right leg became an abbreviated form of the word receipt, and went on to serve as a brand, logo, or icon identifying pharmacists and pharmacies.

Of three research sources for this article, two agreed to the evolution of the emblem from the word recipe, and one insisted that Rx was the medicinal abbreviation for recipe.

Regardless, one particularly interesting book is Dr. Chase's Family Physician, Farrier, Bee-Keeper and Second Receipts Book. 
Dr. A.W. Chase, image courtesy of Google Books.
It contains receipts for corn bread, beer, Parker-house rolls, wedding cake, and camphor elixir, as well as instructions for brick-laying, butter-making, and dealing with cholera, colic, and the common cold.
Title page, courtesy Google Books
Winter-evening reading, to be sure.

Clearly the exchange from receipt to recipe was not instantaneous nor complete. We’re talking about language, after all, and we know how slowly it changes. I would argue that language, especially the English language, is one of the few things that truly evolves.

Basically, it depends upon whose grandmother was sharing her family’s secret for breads, cakes, etc. as to whether she used receipt or recipe.

Few, if any, today use the word receipt when speaking of a recipe, whether literally or metaphorically. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone tout their receipt for success?

Just in Time for Christmas

Retrieving Mams’s receipt book from the bottom of a satchel, Abigale took it to the rocker and began searching for inspiration. Her grandmother’s distinctive flourishes filled the pages, receipts for pies and cakes as well as potions and salves. As Abigale thumbed through the collection, a folded paper slid to the floor, one she’d forgotten about. ~Just in Time for Christmas

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Civilian Conservation Corps: Roosevelt's New Deal

Several months ago, My Cowboy and I were riding around on the backroads of Mississippi one Sunday afternoon. We meandered down one road and crossed the “canal”, then later we crossed it again on a different road.

Something niggled at my brain and I asked if he thought the canal was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). A research trip (online) was in order! While I have yet to discover if the canal was built by the CCC, I did find tons of amazing things that were constructed in my neck of the woods.

But first, a bit about the CCC.

The CCC was a voluntary public work relief program to create jobs, education and skills for young unmarried men in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It was the brainchild of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal that provided manual labor where needed in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.

In operation for nine years, the CCC saw 3 million young men pass through its ranks. The outbreak of World War II brought a halt to the program as young men were drafted into the armed forces.

Here are just a few of the projects completed in and around where I live…

Union High School, Union, MS: The National Youth Administration constructed the 1938 1-story vocational building at the Union High School. Superintendent of construction was Simon Brown. The building remains in use by the school system.

Leake County Courthouse, Carthage, MS
Photo: Susan C. Allen © Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 10/03/2015 
Leake County Courthouse, Carthage, MS. The three-story, brick and cast stone Art Deco courthouse was constructed 1935-36 as Public Works Administration (PWA) Project Miss. 1042. It was remodeled in 1976.

Neshoba County Library, Philadelphia, MS
Photo: Susan Allen © Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2013 

Neshoba County Library, Philadelphia, MS. The rustic log cabin was the first library built in Philadelphia, Mississippi, although the library had been established several years earlier in space in two other buildings. It was a community effort spearheaded by the Twentieth Century Club. The WPA also provided the first paid librarians.

The building, relocated to a park when a new and modern library was constructed, was almost totally destroyed by a tornado in 2011. Only the flooring, chimney, and fireplace remained. It was reconstructed in 2013 in a joint effort of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and City of Philadelphia.

Shockaloe Trail, Bienville National Forest
, Source © 2016 Trail And Ultra Running
Bienville National Forest Improvements, Forest MS. The CCC workers built roads, cleared trails and took on the task of reforestation, but they also reeducated locals with the idea that “public land was to be appreciated and was not simply a place to log, trespass and burn.”

This is just a sample of the many projects the CCC completed in the nine years it was in existence, not to mention the lives it changed in the young men who got to be a part of it. It was a fascinating period of history and I can’t help but think that many young men and women would benefit from being involved in a similar program in this day and age.

Do you know of a CCC project where you live? If not, check out this resource on the Living New Deal CCC Projects in your stomping grounds. You might be surprised!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Old Time Camp Meetings

My husband and I were at his work Christmas Dinner and we had the privilege of sitting across from his boss, Paul. Paul is a huge history buff and an encyclopedia of information. During our conversation, a fire at Balls Creek Campground came up. Balls Creek is in Catawba County, NC.  The camp meeting campgrounds is used specifically for just that, camp meetings, which are usually held in August. After some questions about the 'tents' that had burned at the campground which are actually buildings, my interest was spiked. 

I think most of us have heard the term Camp Meetings and visualize something in our heads of what they were like. Surprisingly there are still camp meetings today in some areas, NC having two in their state. And surprisingly they are still somewhat the same considering the difference of one hundred plus years.

So what were they, really? Presbyterian minister James McGready is credited for the first large Camp Meeting in America in the late 18th century. 

Camp meetings came about due to the mass amounts of Americans who flooded out west in the late 18th century. Although the west population grew immensely, western America had vast amounts of land and people didn't live close to each other or for that matter many didn't live close to a town. This is what brought about the circuit riders of the mid 1700's to the frontier and to the rural areas of the south.

These pioneers who took on settling a wild west longed for fellowship and worship. The circuit riders were clergy men assigned to geographic territories that they would travel to. They'd minister to the people of those areas. But this still didn't fill all the needs of the settlers. The Camp Meetings helped fill that gap. The meetings were always held at a time when families could leave their farms, crops, and work to spend several days away in travel, fellowship, and worship.

Circuit Riders

Word of mouth, newspaper ads, flyers, and posters were ways the word of Camp Meetings got out. As many as 10,000 to 20,000 people would show up at these events. Many would travel long distances to gather and worship. The settlers would pitch tents, and camp out for days as the outdoor Church Camp Meeting continued for up to a week. The service would go all day and well into the night. There would be lots of preaching, prayer meetings, singing, as well as weddings and baptisms. This week long of fellowship helped to revive and renew the spirits and the settlers. 

1839 Methodist Camp Meeting
The powerful preaching that took place in these Camp Meetings is credited with help starting the Second Great Awakening. Not only the desire for fellowship and the yearning for worship brought people in, but also curiosity. During those compelling sermons, many souls were saved. This caused churches to grow in the west.

How about you? Did you know what a true Camp Meeting was? Have you been to a real Camp Meeting before? How about your family, parents, grandparents? 

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.

After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.

Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.

                     PURCHASE HERE

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Grace Darling - Lighthouse Heroine!

I came across the story in my search for heroines from our past. So often only heroic men get mentioned but there were many women throughout history who performed heroic feats.  This one in particular must be considered within the context of the time. Women simply didn't do such things. It was unheard of for a genteel woman to risk her life in such a courageous way. Especially a lady so young. Here's Grace's story.

The Farne Islands lie off the coast of Northumberland, England. They are not really islands but more a collection of rocky outcrops. When the tide comes in, many of them are wholly submerged making them extremely dangerous for passing ships. In 1826 a new lighthouse was built on the outermost island, Longstone.  The lighthouse was a round tower 85 feet high containing 7 circular rooms. A man named William Darling became the keeper and moved to the lighthouse with his wife, Thomasina and 9 children.  By 1838, however, most of the children had grown up and only one girl, Grace, and her younger brother were living with their parents in the tower.

Young Grace was 22 years old and was described as having  "a comely

countenance. . .rather fair for an islander. . . and with an expression of benevolence and softness most truly feminine in every point of view."

The accident that would bring this young lady notoriety happened on September 5th 1838. The Forfarshire, a steam ship, was bound for Dundee with a mixed cargo of hardware, fine cloth, soap, boilerplate and spinning gear. Captain Humble had his wife on board, along with 55 passengers and crew. As the ship headed north up the coast, the winds increased and the seas roughened.  Regardless, the Captain decided to continue onward rather than seek shelter. At approximately 6:00 pm they passed the Farne Islands, steaming between the inner sound and the mainland. But as night fell, the conditions worsened and a damaged boiler forced Captain Humble to shut down the engines. Setting the fore-and-aft sails, he decided to turn back and run before the gale, passing by the Farne islands again.  But the storm overcame them and the 400 ton vessel drove hard into the end of Harker's Rock. Within 15 minutes, the deck opened up and the ship split in two. The stern section swept away and sank, drowning Captain Humbel and his wife and 41 passengers and crew. The forward section was stranded on the rocks with twelve people surviving, including one woman two children, a clergyman, a fireman and the ship's carpenter

As dawn broke, they managed to seek shelter on the rock, but the freezing wind and sea spray threatened to kill them off with hypothermia.  When the ship struck at 4:15 AM, Grace was on watch in the high tower. At 4:45, she could barely make
out the ship in the pre-dawn glow. She immediately woke her father and for the next few hours, he used his telescope to see if there were any survivors. Finally around 7:00 AM, William Darling spotted men on the rock.  He had to get to them straight away but his 20 year old son was on shore, and William could not row a boat by himself.

According to the legend, Grace had to persuade her father to launch the boat and insisted she join him. The gale was still raging and the passage to the survivors would have been extremely turbulent and dangerous. With Grace heaving on one oar and William on the other, they rowed toward the wreck with Mrs Darling watching from the lighthouse. They finally reached the survivors, but the cold had killed the clergyman and the two children, who died in their mother's arms. While William crawled on the rock to assist the survivors, Grace was left to manage the heaving boat on her own and to hold it
off the rocks. The woman and four of the men clambered aboard the boat and they set off on the mile long trek back to the lighthouse, an equally treacherous journey, especially now with the extra weight. Finally they made it ashore and headed back out to get remaining survivors

It was several days before the story became public. Somehow it caught the ear of the Duke of Northmberland and exploded from there into a series of newspaper articles, interviews, even a play. Grace became a national heroine. Artists painted her picture, poems were written about her exploits, Staffordshire figures were made in her likeness and hundreds of engravings were produced to commemorate the rescue.  Yet Grace always took this in stride, refusing to accept the praise and even quietly blushing at the attention.

A true heroine.

I've always wanted to write Grace's story! Maybe someday I will.  


Monday, January 13, 2020

A Peek Into a c. 1940 Kitchen

by Denise Weimer

Innovations and advances in technology peppered the years leading up to the Second World War, as my recent research into that time period revealed. So far, it hasn’t yielded a novel, but let’s make a quick blog stop in a spot not unaffected by all that change, a cozy c. 1940 kitchen.

Can you picture the checkered curtains at the windows and smell the cookies baking? Do we have any readers who remember what a kitchen from near this time period looked like? If not their own growing up, perhaps a grandparents’ kitchen which hadn’t evolved?

Kitchen design moved away from freestanding cabinets on legs to a built-in look with appliances fitting flush with the cabinets. Many kitchens featured a large, one-piece sink unit with a draining area and a garbage pail below for compost. Plumbing was against one wall with appliances on the other. The floor might be covered with new Armstrong linoleum and shined with wax.

Automotive design was reflected in appliances from ranges to toasters, boasting smart chrome speed lines and airfoil curves (Old House Online, “The History of Stoves”). Timers and gadgets became popular, but unfortunately, your toaster wasn’t as advanced as it looked. You’d place your decorative chrome unit on the stove and turn your toast manually.

The Magic Chef Series 700 featured an “Artile” surface gas stove. Its automatic button made a match necessary only for lighting the candles on the dinner table. The GE Hotpoint Range of 1932 had a flameless electric coil, and instead of the right rear coil, a pot could be sunk down into the stove for cooking soups. A family could purchase a Frigidaire B-10 electric range for around a hundred dollars.

Refrigerators also offered new luxuries such as crisping pans for veggies and an enclosed compressor in the top, a big change from one in the basement. A small compartment at the center of the top shelf offered a space to make ice cubes. 

Prefer something hot to drink with your cookies? The hot water in our Sunbeam Percolator has bubbled up to the top of the pot and traveled down through the grounds. Coffee’s ready.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:  
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Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Ancient Practice of the New Year's Resolution

By Kathy Kovach

‘Tis the season for shedding old habits and resolve to make oneself a better person. My peers are currently discussing writing goals, but when asked about mine, I duck faster than my thirteen-year-old self during a round of junior high dodge ball. In my plethora of decades on this earth, I can count on one hand how many resolutions I’ve kept. My intentions were always pure. They included the popular promises of most Americans. Eat right. Exercise. Curb my scented candle obsession. Okay, that last one might be just me.

At any rate, what are the origins of this practice? When were the first human beings to change their lifestyles and set themselves up for failure?

1909 Postcard
As with many traditions, this one has its roots in pagan Babylon. Their unwritten calendar began in March, but the concept was similar. Make promises. Appease the gods by paying their debts and returning objects they borrowed. Go back to doing what they’re destined to do. Rinse. Repeat. In medieval times, knights would make a Peacock Vow by placing their hands on either a live or a roasted peacock and vowing to remain chivalrous throughout the new year, thus upholding their values. My guess is they went to a cooked bird after a knight lost a hand to an aggressive beak.

1915 Postcard
By 46 B.C., Julius Caesar declared January 1 as the beginning of the new year, paying homage to the Roman two-faced god Janus. With one face looking behind, and the other looking forward, it seemed fitting that he would symbolize looking back to the old year and looking forward to the new. The Romans made sacrifices to this god and promised good conduct in the future.

The New Year Resolution took on various forms of redemption as Christians decided to forego the debauchery rampant with revelry. By 1740, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church,
John Wesley by George Romney
created the Covenant Renewal Service or Watch Night Service as it came to be commonly called. Late at night on New Year’s Eve, the congregants read scripture, sang hymns and prayed for the coming year. They confessed past sins and resolved to be better moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud anyone who wants to better themselves. But for me, I know my limitations. And my resolve. I like the idea of the early Christians praying for the coming year. Only God can make me a better person. But some people enjoy making that yearly resolution, and some will reach that goal. How about you? What kind of resolutions do you make? Are they serious or silly? Have you ever accomplished a 365-day commitment to your goal? As for me, there's a sale at Yankee Candle and it's calling my name!

A Bouquet of Brides Romance Collection
Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?
"Periwinkle in the Park" by Kathleen Kovach
1910, Colorado
Periwinkle Winfield is a hiking guide helping to commission a national park. But a run-in with a mountain man who is determined to keep the government off his land may place her in great danger.

Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband Jim raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.