Anna’s Cookbook

Anna Mae (Casbon) (Kitchel) (Fleming) was the second of four daughters born to Jesse and Emily (Price) Casbon. She was born at Porter County, Indiana, 22 December 1876 and died at Orlando, Florida, 16 December 1957.

Thanks to Anna’s great-granddaughter, Jan Hoffman, I have some new material to share with my readers.

Jan has been going through her mother’s (daughter of Anna’s son, Jesse II) papers and other possessions and has found several items that were passed down from Anna. One of those items is this cookbook.

Cover and title page of The National Cookbook, by Marion Harland and Christine Terhune Herrick, 1896; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

We know this was Anna’s because of what is written inside.

Inscription of Anna’s cookbook; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

Anna Mea [sic]Casbon
   Valparaiso,
      Porter Co.,
         Indiana
            Box 924
               Age 20 years 3 days
               Dec 25 1896
                       to
               Dec 25 1955 =
                    59 years old

The book must have been given to Anna as a Christmas, or perhaps a combined birthday and Christmas, present. She was still unmarried at the time. (She married Newton Kitchel in July 1898.) It’s interesting that she added the age of the book in 1955. I wonder if she presented it to her granddaughter as a Christmas present at that time.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the history of The National Cookbook (although the entire book can be found online at Google Books), but there is quite a bit written about its authors.

Marion Harland is the penname of Mary Virginia Terhune (1830–1922). She was a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. She achieved success with a genre known as “plantation fiction.” She later expanded her writing to include domestic matters, such as household management and cookbooks. Those interested in learning more can read a Wikipedia article about her here.

Christing Terhune Herrick (1859–1944) was Marion’s eldest daughter. She followed in her mother’s footsteps as the successful author of many cookbooks and other domestic guides. You can read more about her here.

Anna’s cookbook contained additional surprises. One was this handwritten recipe for “Chilli Sauce.”

Anna’s recipe for “Chilli Sauce’; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

Jan says she is going to give the recipe a try. I’m looking forward to her report.

As you can see in the recipe, spelling was not Anna’s strong point. I’ve noted poor spelling in several things written by her. She even misspelled her middle name in the inscription. I don’t know if this reflects an interrupted education or some form of learning disability. I’m glad it did not stop her from writing.

Another item found inside the cookbook was this list of expenses.

A list of expenses found in Anna’s cookbook; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

This appears to be a list of expenses for rent, food, supplies, and other services rendered to an unknown party. It references “carring [sic] them around,” “trip West Point,” “hauling their goods from Clay Bank,” “Rig to get there [sic] company at Hartleys Warf [sic].” I’ve identified some of these places as being in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. Because of this, I suspect that the list was written when Anna and her family were living at Newport News, Virginia (under the surname “Fleming”—Anna’s second husband), in the late nineteen-teens to early 1920s.

Family items such as Anna’s cookbook and the handwritten notes inside it help to connect us to the lives of our deceased ancestors. Thanks again to Jan for sharing these. I’m looking forward to more goodies from her!

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