Hannah and her best friend, who is our guest for the week, are cooking up a storm. While they looked for new recipes to try, I organized my collection of cookbooks. Before long I was reading cookbooks, too. I enjoyed reading ’90s … Then and Now: A Historical Cookbook published by the Howe Chamber of Commerce in 1991. My great-great-grandfather, Samuel Wilkerson Young (1834-1909), settled in Howe in 1874, when it was called Summit, and established a residence, a general store, and served as post master.
The oldest recipe included in the book is Samuel’s formula for Seidlitz powders, a forerunner of Alka Seltzer.
Receipt for Seidlitz Powders
8 oz. Rochelle Salts
6 oz. Bicarbonate of Soda
(If for physic, only 4 oz. soda)
Mix will together
4 oz. Tartaric Acid kept separate
For a drink, take 2 Tea Spoonful of the Salts & Soda dissolved in water and a half Tea Spoonful of the acid in a separate Cup. Pour together and drink while effervescing.
—Samuel Wilkerson Young
January 30, 1870
Learning about the little formula that Samuel wrote down 139 years ago provided a glimpse into his 19th century medicine cabinet. It also helped me appreciate the epitaph of Mary Ann Lowder, purported to be located in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Here lies the body of Mary Ann Lowder;
She burst whilst drinking a seidlitz powder;
Called from this world to her heavenly rest,
She should have waited till it effervesced.