Loving to Eat – Is it Instilled in Our DNA?

Let’s talk about food.  That doesn’t seem to be very genealogy oriented, but, if you think about it, food is very much a family and friends occasion.  It doesn’t matter if you are cooking for two or twenty, the thought and preparation beforehand will make it a feast.

Whether it is a meal for Ritchey and I, or cooking for a crowd, there is much preparation before hand – not only just the cooking, but the thought of what herbs and spices would make this taste better?  How about this vegetable and a small salad?  What bread would taste best with this meal?  We want our family to enjoy their food and make this meal a memorable occasion.

Once during the 1930’s a salesman happened to stop by my great-grandmother Frances Barber Linton Montgomery’s home at lunch.  Even though she was having only the very basics of a depression era meal – fried pork fat, greens, potatoes and boiled eggs –  she invited the gentleman to eat with them.  My grandmother was distressed that her mother would ask someone to eat their ‘poor’ meal!  But since the invitation was issued with a kind heart, and the food was served with love, he said it was the best meal he had eaten in quite a while – and ate with relish.  The definition of hospitality – ‘the cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests’.  We should all remember that – it says nothing of fancy food, crystal plates or numerous dishes offered.  It speaks of treating guests, or family, with love.

My paternal grandmother, who cooked on a wood stove all her life, always added fried chicken wings to my father’s lunchbox – specifically for my mother.  It was her favorite piece of chicken and my grandmother remembered it.  This was before my parents married, so it was the love for a possible daughter-in-law that drove her to do this.  I remember her biscuits, warm and golden from the oven, her fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  I always wanted to be in the kitchen with her when she cooked, because it was warm and cozy, and the smells were wonderful!

My son-in-law once said he wished he appreciated his food as much as we did.  He likes to eat, but it’s not quite the almost ‘religious’ experience we have when it comes to food.  Is that part of his DNA – eat to live, but not an experience to enjoy, not only the food and the thought and preparation that went into, but the tantalizing tastes in your mouth and the discussion of how it was fixed, what was used, how did you get that particular flavor?  As we eat one meal we will discuss what we will have at another!  Is that instilled in your DNA?  Is it something you can learn?

Both sides of my family loved to eat.  My parents both came from farming families, so much of the food was grown on the farm – from the livestock they raised, to the vegetable gardens and fruit trees growing in the yard.  Both were young children that lived through the depression, but as my mom said many times, they always had plenty to eat.  Any time there was a gathering food was involved.  From the treats my paternal grandmother brought out while the adults were playing cards, for all to share, to the wagons filled with food in the yard when everyone gathered – such as for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary.  I can remember special delicacies that each of my aunts made – and we always wanted that particular aunt to make that dish!

My maternal grandmother sold her fresh churned butter to make a little extra money.  Mom said before she sold it she took a knife and made little flowers and leaves on top for a pretty pattern.  Her butter and eggs were gladly accepted by the Springfield grocers – because they always sold well!  And grandmother’s baked chicken and dressing are something I drool over to this day – I can still taste it!  Mom always talked about her mother’s bread pudding.  I never had it, but it must have been superb.

And to make special memories with your family doesn’t require expensive ingredients.  My sister loves my Cannellini Beans paired with a skillet of cornbread.  How easy can you get?  Her family doesn’t care for dried beans, so she never cooks them at home.  I try to make this for her often, and  I thought I would share this recipe with you today.  What special dishes do you serve to those you love?

Cannellini Beans with Sage and Garlic

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans
  • water
  • ½ stick butter
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • handful of dried sage

In a large pan rinse cannellini beans thoroughly. Add water to cover beans by about three inches. Bring to a boil then turn heat to medium. Stir occasionally, watching beans carefully. You may need to add a little water now and then to keep at the suggested level. After an hour add the butter and a good pinch of salt. Continue cooking until beans have softened and the soup becomes thick – approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Lower heat to medium low.  Add black pepper, garlic and sage. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Serve with cornbread.  Enjoy!


Gilbert Ratcliff – WWI Soldier Killed Day Before Armistice

All casualties of war are sad, not only for the parents and family, but the rest of the country.  No one wants to lose a child, spouse, sibling, relative or friend.  But to be killed the day before the armistice took effect must have been an extra blow to the loved ones of Gilbert Ratcliff.  Since his parents were not informed until December 6, I’m sure they were ready to welcome their hero home from the war, sure that he had made it through. 

My uncle, Robert Carrico, was killed in Sicily in September of 1943.  My mother, her parents and siblings, never got over his death.  Even in her last years she would tear up talking about Robert.  I’m sure Gilbert Ratcliff’s photograph was hung on the wall, in prominent view, for all to see and remember – I know Uncle Robert’s was.

Gilbert Ratcliff, Co. L, 11th US Infantry, born August 22, 1890, killed November 10, 1918, in Argonne Forest, France.  Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Saturday, December 7, 1918

Six Gold Stars on Shelby’s Honor Roll

Gilbert Ratcliff’s Death Makes Total of 26 Casualties From the County

Shelbyville, Kentucky, December 6th.  Shelby County has given its sixth life to the cause of liberty and freedom.

Mr. and Mrs. Logan Ratcliff were notified by the War Department today that their son, Gilbert, who was in his twenty-seventh year, was killed in battle in France, November 10, the day before the armistice was signed.

Ratcliff went to Camp Zachary Taylor May 28 and sailed overseas the following August.  He was attached to a machine gun company.

Shelby’s other hero sons are:

Corporal Jesse N. Martin, who died April 7.  Private Luther Stevens, whose death occurred some time in July; Sergeant Frank Jesse, death reported July 23; Corporal Aaron Devine, who died in August, and Noah Wilmott who died October 14.

In addition to these six fatalities, four Shelby boys have died in France from disease, fifteen in training camps here and one in an airplane accident, making the county’s honor roll, unofficially, twenty-six.

Chicago Wedding Photo

I have a lovely wedding photo to share with you today!  The lovely bride and handsome groom look ready to take on whatever life has to offer – hopefully it was a good life with many happy memories.

The photograph was taken by Pulaski Photo Art Company, 957 Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Edwin Barber Clarkson Obituary

Barber Clarkson, February 7, 1860 – February 14, 1909.  St. Rose Catholic Cemetery, Washington County, Kentucky

The News-Leader, Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky

Thursday, February 18, 1909

E. B. Clarkson Dead

Mr. E. Barber Clarkson, one of the best known farmers in Washington County died at his home four miles north of Springfield on last Sunday evening after a short illness of pneumonia and heart trouble.  The deceased was born in this county 58 years ago and was a son of the late Mr. Dora Clarkson, his mother being a Miss Edwards.  In early life Mr. Clarkson married Miss Etta Taylor, who together with five daughters and three sons survive him.  There was probably not a more honorable nor upright man in the county than Barber Clarkson.  His word was as good as his bond and he never made an enemy and had a host of friends.  He had been engaged in farming and stock raising all of his life.  He reared a large family which was always well provided for.  Besides his wife and children, Mr. Clarkson is survived by a brother, Mr. Sidney Clarkson, of the county, and a sister, Mrs. T. P. O’Bryan, of Springfield.

The deceased was a member of the Catholic Church and his funeral took place at St. Rose Tuesday morning.

Etta Taylor, wife of B. Clarkson, 1862-1920.

Edwin Barber Clarkson was the son of Stephen Theodore Clarkson and Martha Linton Edwards.  He married Etta Clark Taylor May 11, 1878.  Etta Clark Taylor was the daughter of Benjamin Springer Taylor and Martha Jane Janes.  Their children were James Eugene, who died in 1895; Martha Evelyn, who married Samuel Donatus Mudd; Annie Mary, who married John Earl Snider; twins, Mary Alberta and Sidney Albertus, who died before 1900; Francis L. K.; Mary Catherine; Mary Sally; Marguerite, who married Reed Crume; Thomas Dominic, who married Annie Mae Lanham; Charles Albert; and Edwin Bertram, who married Elizabeth Taylor.

Children of Daniel Dunscombe Duncan and Frances Rosetta James

Today I went to the boxes of genealogy information brought to me by my cousin, Garwood Linton, originally of Logan County.  Garwood’s Linton family descends from Benjamin Franklin Linton, son of Captain John Linton; I descend from son William Linton and daughter Nancy Linton.  

This list of information on the family of Daniel Dunscombe Duncan and Frances Rosetta James is in the handwriting of Louis B. Linton.  I believe he was another Linton cousin my great-grandmother, Frances Linton Montgomery, corresponded with during the 1920’s and 30’s.  Louis B. Linton’s mother is the Susan Mary Duncan on this list.  She married Thomas Alvey Linton.  And Thomas Alvey Linton is a brother to John Wesley Linton, Garwood’s 2nd great-grandfather.  Wow!  Those complicated Linton lines – but then all family lines usually are!

We plan to visit Logan County and western Kentucky later in the fall, and will stay at Garwood’s airbnb farm cottage – it is lovely and the scenery is breathtaking!  We will rest and relax – and I’m sure there will be some genealogy research involved.

Daniel Dunscombe Duncan, August 23, 1833 – February 28, 1910, married Frances Rosetta James, September 28, 1854.  She was born December 15, 1833, and died December 22, 1915.  Their children are as follows:

  1. Ida Elizabeth Duncan, July 20, 1855 – 1919.
  2. Sam Henry Duncan, March 29, 1857 – September 27, 1944
  3. Susan Mary Duncan, January 17, 1859 – August 3, 1907
  4. William Edward Duncan, November 28, 1860 – June 27, 1898
  5. Isaac Lunsford Duncan, December 25, 1862 – March 19, 1936
  6. Lennie (Fanny Ann) Duncan, February 15, 1864 – January 17, 1928
  7. Robert Lee Duncan, August 24, 1866 – October 12, 1915
  8. Walter Duncan, October 12, 1868 – March 12, 1941
  9. Charles James Duncan, October 17, 1870 – May 25, 1898
  10. D. D. Duncan, Jr., October 13, 1872 – August 30, 1936
  11. Thomas Price Duncan, May 24, 1875 – December 11, 1957


A Historical Sketch of Mercer County for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904

Ritchey and I visited Glover’s Bookery, located at 862 S. Broadway, in Lexington, Saturday.  They have a very large section of books on the history of Kentucky, as well as county histories.  You never know what you will find.  It depends on which estate sales they visited, or who has brought books in to sale.  Let me just say we hit the jackpot.  My pockets are now empty.  But it was money well spent!

One of my treasures is a small booklet by A. B. Rue, the author and photographer of Historical Sketch of Mercer County, Kentucky (Illustrated) The Within Photographs Were Made For The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis – and the date is 1904.

I had never heard of Mr. A. B. Rue.  There are Rues in Mercer County, but did not know one of them was a photographer – or that he had a wife who was a famous portrait painter!  The following biography gives us a good idea of the life of this couple.  In the 1900 census of Mercer County, Archibald Rue is 57, had been married 35 years, and was a photographer.  His wife, Jessie, was also 57, had six children, four of whom were living at the time, and she is listed as a portrait painter!  Their daughter, Lelia Linney, 33, divorced, a lady’s perfume saleswoman, was living with the couple, along with her three children, Jessie, Cleon and Margie.  Insco Rue and Margie Rue also live in the household with their parents – Insco is a photographer and Margie is in school.

The Danville News-Advocate, Boyle County, Kentucky

Tuesday, July 12, 1904

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, was an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri, from April 30 to December 1, 1904.  More than 60 countries and 43 of the 45 American states, claimed exhibition spaces at the fair.  It is remarkable that I hold a small piece of what was shown to the world as part of Mercer County, Kentucky.  The photographs shown by A. B. Rue gave my little corner of the state a wonderful and varied history to share with the rest of the world, including the right to call Harrodsburg the first town in Kentucky and the oldest permanent American settlement west of the Appalachians.

I will have so much more to share with you from the pages of this booklet!

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Jefferson County, Kentucky

A. B. Rue, formerly a photographic artist of high repute in Louisville, is a native of mercer County, Kentucky; was born in 1842, and is a son of Nelson and Margaret (Adams) Rue, both natives of Kentucky, but whose parents came from new jersey at an early day and passed their lives in this state on a farm. A. B. Rue is the fourth in a family of nine children born to his parents. He remained on the home farm until 1861, when he enlisted in Company F, Nineteenth Kentucky Volunteers, and was in active service the three years following, being promoted to second-lieutenant in the meanwhile, and mustered out as a first-lieutenant at Louisville in 1865.  He took part in the following engagements:  Mill Springs, Cumberland Gap (and the campaign from the latter to the Ohio River), Arkansas Post, and in all the engagements by Grant in the siege of Vicksburg.  At the latter place he was taken ill and was unfit for duty about four months, after which he returned to his regiment in New Orleans and remained with it until mustered out as stated above, when he entered college at Cincinnati.  In 1866 he learned photography at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and for seven years followed his vocation in various towns through the state.  In 1881 he located in Louisville at No. 341 Fourth Avenue, where his merits as an artist were soon recognized and where he was actively employed until 1888, when he moved to Harrodsburg, Kentucky.  He was married, September 5, 1865, to Jessie Anderson, a daughter of Henry T. Anderson, so well-known as a Reformed minister.  Mrs. Rue is celebrated as a portrait painter, and has studied under the best masters in America.  She has followed the art for many years, and is an artist of superior talents.  Mr. and Mrs. Rue are the parents of six children:  Lelia, Insco, Zoe, Letcher, Margie, and one dead.  Mrs. Rue is now a member of the Presbyterian Church, while Mr. Rue is a member of the Warren Memorial Presbyterian Church; he is a member of the G.A.R., I.O.O.F., K. of P., and K. of H.


Dmytro and Maria Spilczak Buried in Toronto

In loving memory of Dmytro Spilczak, September 29, 1883 – January 6, 1960, beloved husband of Maria Kushnirenko, October 13, 1887 – February 15, 1972.  Assumption Catholic Cemetery, Mississauga, Toronto, Canada.

We’re a long way from Kentucky today!  Ritchey and our son, Linton, were in Toronto earlier this month.  And, of course, during any visit, they will stop at a cemetery for a few photos!  This one was taken at the Assumption Catholic Cemetery, in Mississauga, Toronto, Canada.  As you can see, a loving husband and wife, Dmytro and Maria Spilczak.  I tried to find information about the pair, but since they died more recent than most of those I write about, perhaps that’s why little could be found.

I did find a manifest of alien passengers for the United States on the S. S. Polonia, sailing from Trieste, in June 1913.  Dmytro Spylczak, age 30, was a farm laborer from Austria, and his nationality is given as Ruth (as were several others from Austria).  I’m not sure what this means.  Several weeks ago I read Frederic Morton’s A Nervous Splendor, Vienna 1888/1889.  A very interesting, although sad read, and I did learn there were many nationalities, or groups of people gathered under Emperor Franz Joseph’s crown.

The rest of the ship’s list said he was going to Winnipeg, he paid for his ticket himself, he was in possession of $20, was going to join a relative, and was born in Austria.  The name of the relative was not listed.

Dmytro Spilczak

If this were Dmytro’s first trip to Canada, did he leave his home country due to the rumors of war?  Even in the book I just mentioned, 1888/1889 was a time when people already felt the rumbles of war – 23 years earlier.

Maria Kushnirenko Spilczak

We are fortunate to have photographs of the couple on their gravestone.