Monday, December 12, 2016

The Holidays in the Old Town of Eaton and a "Thank You".

Morse House
First I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who donated cans to our museum can drive…. thanks…it was a success. Another thank-you to the helpers – Michele Kelly, Barb Keough, Jen Caloia, Chris Klein and a special thank you to Steve Brown for hosting us.

The season is upon us… yes that time of year.  I often get questions on what the “Holidays” would have been like in the old days of Eaton when it was just a fledgling community with log or stone buildings and no access to a shopping center... except perhaps traveling to market in Albany one hundred miles away!.

So I thought on the information I had in my archives and came up with this…Old Town Eaton as we call it was not far removed in tradition from its home base of Sherburne & Natick, Massachusetts.   In her book Old Town Folks author Harriet Beecher Stowe talks about the family of Deacon Badger. Badger was really a Bigelow who was her husbands Grandfather and her own relation via the Stowe family ties. This couple in essence is the Grandfather and Great Aunt or relative of a number of the Eaton settlers at that time including Joseph Morse’s wife Eunice Bigelow, the Morse’s and the Stowe’s and others.  The book gives us insight into the family life and “Holiday” baking.

From Old Town Folks
On holiday food: “The pie is an English institution, which, planted on American soil, forthwith ran rampant and burst forth into an untold variety of species. Not merely the old traditional mince pie, but a thousand strictly American seedlings from those main institutions to new uses. Pumpkin pies, cranberry pies, peach pies, huckleberry pies, cherry pies, green-currant pies, pear pies, plum and custard pies, apple pies, Marlborough-pudding pies, pies of fanciful flutings and architectural strips laid across and around and otherwise varied, assisted the boundless fertility of the mind, when once let loose in a given direction.”
Morse House Kitchen
The piece goes on to describe hundreds of pies put into an open back room that allowed them to freeze an be bought out throughout the holiday season and sometimes up until April.”
* I guess this inspired our traditional Thanksgiving Pie Sale.
One of Eaton’s great little stories is of a preacher who was so long winded that in the “Holiday Season”  the women at the service would be totally unnerved by his dragging the “Holiday” sermon on and on while their wood-fired ovens could be burning the food set for the holiday dinner.

If any of us can picture cooking the family feast over a wood fire or in a wood fired Brick oven?
 Since many of the residents were relations I am sure you can picture large family gatherings and a bill of fare that was gathered from the collective families larder. A long cry from today’s  shopping at Price Chopper or Wegman’s.

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