Workday Wednesday: A Trip to Town in 1906 by the Roberts Family of Jasper County, Iowa, Part 2

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Farm in Snow, Grundy Co., Iowa, via Library of Cogress; Farm Security Administration. This is NOT the Roberts family farm, but gives an idea of what it would have looked like in winter.

 

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

When the ROBERTS family went into town in 1906, it was not just a fun trip. Part of the reason for the journey was to sell products made on the farm to grocers in town.

As Edith M. ROBERTS told the story sixty years later,

“We lived ten miles from Newton, Iowa. Once a week, weather permitting, we made a trip to Newton, winter and summer. Mother made butter to sell, and the store, where mother took her butter, had regular customers for it, so we had to make this trip weekly if at all possible. It was said: “If for any reason we did not get to town, or were late in arriving, her butter customers would wait until mother did get to town.”

The “workday” of Edith’s mother concerning the butter they were taking to town actually took more than one day when one considered all the different tasks that ended up becoming beautiful, creamy butter. To start with, each day of the week would have begun early for Ella V. (DANIEL) ROBERTS, with a cold trip from the house to the warm barn with the milch (milk) cows. She would be carrying pails for the milk and likely one with water she had heated up on her stove, so that she could wash the udders of the cows and relax them, so that milk letdown would occur. Although a heavy, short and stout woman, Ellie sat on a small 3-legged stool, and would use her warmed hands to coax the white milk full of fat out of the udders. The two daughters (Ethel and Edith) would have helped at times, and maybe even son Georgie when he was young. The pails full of warm milk would be carried carefully to the house, trying to not spill what was likely about 40 lbs. of liquid and pail. The trip to the house would have started to cool the milk in the cold winters, and the high-fat cream would be rising to the top as they entered the warm kitchen. This whole  scenario would be repeated again in the evening- and every day, every week, every month, every year. Cows must be milked when it is time.

Edith continued her story:

“During the week mother would have churned the butter from thick cream, and worked and worked it with a wooden butter paddle to get out all the salt and brine.

Butter paddles, AKA Scotch hands, butter pats, etc, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0.

They say, that Mr. Hough, (the grocer where we took our butter,) would finger-test each role of butter for saltiness. (Not very sanitary, now is it?)

We had a special market basket that mother lined with newspapers, and then a snow-white sugar sack was put in, to hold the well formed oblong rolls of butter. Each roll had daisy design pressed in the top. Mother would carefully fold over the sack and set it aside to put in the bobsled in the winter, or in the buggy in summer, when we were ready to leave the house for Newton. These sacks had been bleached during the summer with salt and lemon juice. We always bought our sugar in 50 pound sacks, and flour in sacks or hundred pound barrels.”

Butter was not the only farm commodity brought in to town folks. Ellie made cakes and pies too, and,

“In the summer we had eggs for sale, but our flock [of] Plymouth Rock chickens did not lay well in the winter. Some said we should have a flock of Leghorn chickens, but dad would not have a fluttering Leghorn on the place, nor would he have any guineas, ducks, geese or Jersey cattle on our farm. My dad was pretty definite [sic] in his ideas.”

 

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “A trip to Town 1906– Wintertime” by Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck, written for her grandchildren in the 1960s-1970s.

 

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Series Navigation<< Travel Tuesday: A Trip to Town in 1906 by the Roberts Family of Jasper County, Iowa-Part 1Shopping Saturday: A Trip to Town in 1906 by the Roberts Family of Jasper County, Iowa- Part 3 >>