Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been awhile since I last posted, and I really don't have a ton of time to post right now. But today is the anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite uncles, Fred Shaffer. Happy birthday Uncle Fred! We love and miss you. He left us in 2011. He was always the fun loving one, with the jokes and tall tales.

He would appreciate today's post, as I think it's pretty amusing. It has absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving, other than I am sure the family was thankful for all they had. I just happened to read this when doing some research for a paper for school.

Our Revolutionary War veteran and founding family member Michael Zirkle built a still on his property. The exact site is apparently unknown, but at his death his estate was auctioned and some of  the items included corn, rye, wheat, dried apples, cider, and brandy. His farm passed through his son Jonathan and to his grandson Michael J. Zirkle, who left this recipe: (all spelling as printed in the book - partial recipe only)

"January 28 1838 Shenandoah County Virginia Holemans Creek for to still Rye & Corn first Make you Est take 6 quarts Boiling Watter and than But 2 or 3 galling Cole watter in you Tup and than 12 galling watter and than one Bushel Corn meal and Stior it Ride will and than let it stan one half hour and than take 24 galling and stir it well and than spret chop it over it so that the thumpt cant gid out..."

[All the above recipe and auction items from page 21-22 of "Life Along Holeman's Creek" by Rev. J. Floyd Wine, Commercial Press, Stephens City, Virginia 1985.]

I like to envision the thick German accent this was written in as I am reading it. I just wish I had a photo to go along with it! A few things to remember, as we tend to put our own modern lens on these things from the past. In 1838, alcohol was likely still safer to drink than water, and cider was the most common beverage, especially in the rural areas where orchards were easy to grow. One of the first things most people did when clearing a farm in a new area was plant an orchard - and it wasn't for the health factor of fruit!

So this Thanksgiving, raise your cider glass in a toast to our ancestors and think about all they went through to get to America and to sustain life on their farms in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio so that we could be here today. And to our families around the world that we can't be with, let's all think of each other and raise our glass to the health and well being of Shaffers and Zirkles and their descendants everywhere.