2017-11-01 / In This Place

In This Place

By Kate Van Benschoten

Many families in our area still do a lot of things the “old fashioned way,” from mundane chores to extraordinary feats of what is modernly referred to as “homesteading.” Some folks harvest and prepare their own firewood, some raise their own food (meat, fruit and vegetables), some build their own homes from scratch. For me, there is something deeply gratifying about harvesting food and “putting it up” for the winter months. It is time consuming to be sure, from picking, washing, preparing and finally to canning the items, there is nothing simple or quick about it, but the satisfaction gained from “free” food, home preserved, being laid out on my table is worth every minute. Sometimes, we can get a bit overzealous with our canning and prepare so much food that some gets a bit lost in the pantry! Such was the case for one family, whose story appeared 1948. At that time, the process of home canning food had been around for roughly 75-100 years, making their story that much more historic and wonderful to remember. December 31, 1948: Finds Jar of Berries 75 Years Old

“Mrs. Laura Thomson of this village found a jar of huckleberries while cleaning the cellar of her recently purchased home. The label bore the date 1874, and stated that they were picked by Mary McFarland Hewitt for Wilson McFarland. Mrs. Thomson’s husband, Milton, was a grandson of Mary F. Hewitt.

It is odd that the berries should have been kept for so long. They seem in perfect condition, the entire upper portion of the Mason jar had been dipped in sealing wax. It would be interesting to sample a dish of them to see if huckleberries tasted as good 75 years ago as they do today. — J. P.”

Recently, the grandchildren of Laura Thomson came in to the News office with the news clipping and the famed jar of huckleberries (now almost 144 years old), which they had found kept together in their basement. As is typical in our small-town intimate experiences here, my own mother recalled to them that not only did she know their grandmother Laura, but that she herself used to live behind her on Scott Street in Margaretville. Mom and her siblings used to cut through Mrs. Thomson’s yard each day to go to and from school, and left a well-worn path.

Mrs. Thomson loved the habit, and even invited them in for tea once. She had currant berries in the yard, which the kids used to eat, and she made delicious currant jam from them. Clearly Laura was as talented and lovely a homemaker as Mary had been!

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-11-01 digital edition