What's your favorite pie? As a child, I was partial to lemon meringue. The higher the meringue the better. My Grandma Farmer was the master of whipping up the egg whites.
|Lemon Meringue Pie|
One of her relatives, Ship Captain Leslie Bryson, wrote after a visit that, "wretched & miserable pride forbade her to complain of her own choice & stir the stink among her Friends, although he [Dr. Wakefield] was in the constant habit of tentelizing [sp] and insulting her feelings with abusive epithets & jealous aspersions of all her connections."
She looked around and decided that the Argonauts, as the miners were called, needed coffee and dessert as consolation for hard days in the mines. According to the Placerville Democrat, May 8, 1891, Mrs. Wakefield baked dried-apple pies in deep, wide tins and sold the whole pie for two dollars.
In the beginning, she sold them from her down-town home. Folks would stop in for coffee ($.50) and a quarter of a pie for $.50. She sold an average of 20 dozen (240 pies) a week.
I'm doing good to prepare enough for a dozen turn-overs and I have the handy dandy apple peeler.
It is reported that over 100 different apple parer patents were granted from 1850 to 1890. Out of all the antique designs, only two have made it to modern time: the turntable design and the lathe design. The arc design didn't make it.
|Antique Apple Parers/Peelers|
Special thanks to Mark Viney,
curator of The Virtual Apple Parer Museum, for above picture.
Lucy remarked in a letter to friends in her home town of New Haven, Connecticut, that she worked long days "without anyone to fetch as much as a bucket of water." Apparently she didn't have the advantage of the Apple Bees
popular back east.
In 1850, she transferred her business to a log cabin on Main Street, somewhere about the site of Alderson's store, below the Post Office. Dr. Wakefield allowed his wife to use her inheritance money to pay $250 for the cabin.
|Dry Diggins, 1849 - became Placerville, CA, in 1854|
She wrote to relatives that she rose before dawn, finished the first batch by daylight, then baked a second batch in the afternoon. In the Fall of 1851, she decided she didn't intend to work more than three months longer. She was tired of work and only wanted enough to set aside funds for a comfortable life. The self-imposed deadline passed and she was still making pies. By that time, she had receipts totaling more than $25,000.
She wrote to her friends Lucius and Rebecca that "there is no way for a woman to make money except by hard work of some sort."
Her entertainment was Whist Parties at home in the evenings. Whist, according to Wikipedia, is a "classic English trick-taking card game which was widely played in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the rules are extremely simple, there is enormous scope for scientific play."
Whist was derived from the older game Ruff and Honours. Bridge is the game that replaced Whist as the most popular international game among serious card players. For fun you might want to play Whist at http://www.whist-cardgame.com/
Lucy took advantage of the 1851 California Legislation allowing residents of six months or more to file for divorce on such grounds as impotency, desertion, neglect, adultery, and habitual intemperance.
She filed the first divorce in El Dorado County, District Court of Coloma, on the grounds of cruelty and jealousy. The jury ruled in her favor based on her reputation of honest and hard work. It's said that being attractive didn't hurt either. She was awarded the couple's home, the bakery, all of her earnings, and the rest of her inheritance.
Not content to be the former Mrs. Wakefield, she persuaded California Senator Benjamin F. Keene to draft an act in the Statutes of California to allow women to change their names. When Chapter 201 was approved on February 28, 1852, Lucy changed her name back to Lucy Ann Stoddard.
In April, 1852, the California Legislature passed an act authorizing married women to do business as sole traders independent of their husbands. The inspired Lucy to begin a series of real estate deals.
She sold the Main Street log house and cooking stove to W.M. Krahmer and A.M.Halftermeyer for $1,000, a 300 percent return on her initial investment of $250. She paid $800 for the Thomas & Young Mercantile Store. She bought a lot on the east side of Main opposite the Mercantile.
On May 10, 1852, she married Christopher Clayton Batterman. Within a week of this marriage, she filed the first deed under the separate property act.
Lucy died at the age of 78. In her April 3, 1895 obituary, the Walker Lake Bulletin reported, "She was well known on the Comstock."
|Linda Farmer Harris|
Lin and her husband, Jerry, live on a ranch in Chimney Rock, Colorado. She writes historical fiction for adults and children. Her enjoyment of genealogy and family history adds unique elements to her stories.
Her novella, The Lye Water Bride, is included in the California Gold Rush Brides Collection (Barbour, 2016).