Riley’s Picks November 2020

Promissory note: United States Army to John Green, 1862


This fascinating little document is a promissory note from the United States Army issued in 1862 to John Green, promising to reimburse him for fifty-seven bushels of corn. The note does make sure to state that if Green were to fail as a loyal citizen and aid the Rebels in any way, this note would be forfeit. One can only hope that Green fulfilled his duties and the Army honored this note because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $34.20 in 1862 was the equivalent purchasing power of $881.34 today!

Diary: Caleb E. Iddings, November 8, 1892


In a particularly topical passage from his diary of 1982, Dr. Iddings writes about the Presidential election of 1892, between Democrat Grover Cleveland and Republican Benjamin Harrison. Iddings describes a process that will be well understood for most Americans; getting up early and traveling to his nearest polling station to attempt to beat the crowds and vote. For him, he voted in Olney, and discussed how the county had universally adopted the Australian ballot for the first time, which is the system of private ballot voting to protect voters and is the system we are all familiar with today!

Club Minutes – The Neighbors, June 10, 1965


It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by small and, frankly, insignificant issues in 2020. One such problem is the bewildering amount of spam phone calls. I get around two to three each day, driving me insane. This feels like a specifically modern annoyance but as I read through these highlighted Neighbors Minutes, I noticed Ethel Thomas complaining about crank calls from a Virginian disc jockey. Apparently she was cold-called by someone asking her to identify a song. Several other members of the club had similar experiences. Poor Ethel – if only she knew that her particular frustration wasn’t going anywhere.

Directions for roasting a turkey in “Domestic Cookery…” by Elizabeth E. Lea, 1845


Found on this page of “Domestic Cookery” is a simple recipe for roasting a turkey, which is equally familiar today as it likely was when first published. I must say, however, that at one point it says to lay the turkey in salt water for ONLY twenty minutes and no longer. My father would definitely disagree! He brines his turkey in salted water and herbs for DAYS before our big Thanksgiving meal. Although circumstance is forcing many of our plans and traditions to be altered this year, I hope everyone is still able to have a good meal and enjoy the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!