October 30 - November 6, 1857 - An Apple-Paring Bee

Friday 30th.  Otis went to Lyons, & sold a load of wheat for six shillings a bushel. Bought two flat-irons, [a dozen] Candlesticks, cotton-flannel, nails. Glass, hammer, wicking 1 ball 1 lb saleratus &c. Marian & Henry came P.M. & staid 2 or 3 hours & brought a basket of apples.

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Wednesday 4th. Marian gave me an invitation to a pareing bee there in the evening & we went & staid all night. Solomon, Ellen, Jerome,  & Daniel; S. Jackson; Ann & Cornelius [McKelvey]; Amos & Ellen Kinney; Justine, Catherine & Mary M.; Mary Jane Sutton; Ellen, George & Abigail B.; Mariah & Edward M.; William & Edwin W.; Riley Griffin & Pheba Root, were there. Danced after they got done pareing apples.[semicolons added for clarity]

Thursday 5th. Rained all the forenoon & some P.M. We came home about noon. Mr. Howe & Mr. Long called to write with our pen & ink. Very warm for the season.

Friday 6th. High winds & pleasant. Otis husked corn at fathers.




The several shopping lists in Rosette's journal offer fascinating details of her housekeeping in the shanty she and Otis had shared since June. Because she had an infant by now, the cotton-flannel was likely for him, and the candlesticks and wicking promise a candle-making project very soon. "Saleratus" is disputed a bit among my sources, but it is enough to explain it as baking powder. Before the purchase of the flat-irons, Rosette was borrowing from their neighbors the Longs across the road.

Some apple harvesting had begun in July, and Otis purchased apple trees then to plant on his farm. Several times Rosette mentions baskets of apples coming from various neighbors - sometimes these may be gifts but sometimes purchases or trades. The guest list from the paring bee is typical of the MANY gatherings detailed in the journal. Even just everyday visiting often happened several times a day, men and women in different groups visiting in a circle of a couple of miles' radius. Sometimes an evening visit became an overnight stay, as weather and lack of lighting might require.

For details from a delightful magazine account of an apple paring a few decades later, one that helped shape a scene in the novel, please subscribe to the email list.

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