The first phase of work to repair and weatherproof the Visitors Center exterior is now underway. This phase of work will focus on repair of the Visitors Center back porch. Repairs will include replacing the porch enclosure, repairing the eaves, re-leveling the porch, improved drainage, and improved lighting. The ca. 1920 Visitors Center was built by Dudley Phelps, grandson of Charles Henry Manship.
During the Civil War, families on the home front and the Confederate forces suffered from food shortages. Coffee was often particularly difficult to obtain. Many substitutes for the popular beverage were offered in newspaper articles and magazines. A wide variety of roasted plants and vegetables were tried as substitutes for coffee. The American Citizen, November 23, 1861, suggested drying peeled sweet potatoes cut in small pieces and then grinding them the same as coffee beans. The dried, ground sweet potato and coffee mixture was suggested not only for its economy, but also for its superior flavor.
During the mid-nineteenth century, most coffee was purchased in bulk, as green unroasted beans at the local general store. The green coffee beans were then roasted and ground at home. Coffee was usually brewed just by boiling the grounds in water. The Young Housekeeper’s Friend, by Mrs. Cornelius, a cookbook and housekeeping guide published in 1867, provided the following instructions for making coffee:
To roast Coffee.
As this must be done well in order to have good coffee, directions for it may not be amiss. There are often little stones in coffee, of the same color with it; therefore, pick it over carefully. If you have no coffee-roaster, put it into a round-bottomed, iron kettle, and let it be where it will be hot an hour or two without burning; then put it where it will brown, and stir it constantly until it is done. If it is left half a minute, the kernels next to the kettle may be burnt black, and this is enough to injure all the rest. It should be a dark, rich brown, but not black. Before taking it up, stir in a piece of butter the size of a small nut. Put it, while steaming hot, into a box with a close cover.
In a small family, not more than two pounds should be roasted at once, as it loses its freshness by being roasted long before use. For the same reason it should be ground as it is wanted. The practice of grinding up a quantity for two or three weeks, is a poor one. The best kinds are the Java and the Mocha, and it is considered and improvement to mix the two. West India coffee, though of a different flavor, is often very good.
To make Coffee.
Put a coffee-cup full into a pot that will hold three pints of water; add the white of an egg, or two or three clean eggshells, or a well cleaned and dried bit of fish-skin of the size of a ninepence. Pour upon it boiling water and boil it ten minutes. Then pour out a little from the spout, in order to remove the grains that may have boiled into it, and pour it back into the pot. Let it stand eight or ten minutes where it will keep hot, but not boil; boiling coffee a great while makes it strong, but not so lively or agreeable. If you have no cream, boil a saucepan of milk, and after pouring it into the pitcher, stir it now and then till the breakfast is ready, that the cream may not separate from the milk.
Jennie June’s Cook Book, published in 1878, included the following recipes for Christmas cakes:
A MAGNIFICENT CHRISTMAS CAKE.-1.
Two pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of raisins, stoned and chopped, two pounds of currants, cleaned, one pound of citron, cut into strips, one pound of butter, ten eggs well-beaten, four tea-spoonsful baking powder mixed with the flour, a pint of sweet milk, lemon, nutmeg, and allspice to taste, and a little salt. Mix and beat thoroughly. Put in plenty of spice. Bake four or five hours, and then ice. Trim it with holly wreath, and branch.
Four eggs, two cups of brown sugar, half a cup of molasses, one cup and a half of shortening, (half butter and half lard), one cup of milk, either sweet or sour, five cups of flour, two large tea-spoonsful of soda, two large tea-spoonsful of soda, two large tea-spoonsful of ground cloves and one grated nutmeg, a tea-spoonful of cinnamon, one pound of chopped raisins, citron. A table-spoonful of brandy improves this. Eggs not to be beaten.
CHRISTMAS CAKES FOR GOOD CHILDREN.
Three heaping table-spoonsful of sugar, two heaping table-spoonsful of butter, one egg, two table-spoonsful of corn-starch or maizena, put into three cups of flour, a small cup of sweet milk, a heaping tea-spoonful of cream of tartar, and half of soda, a pinch of salt, a few Zante currants. Roll out in powdered sugar, cut in strips, and twist them round like champagne cakes. Sprinkle over them colored caraway comfits. Bake quick, a light brown.
Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, first published in 1880, suggested the following bill of fare for Christmas dinner:
CHRISTMAS DINNERS.-Clam soup; baked fish, Hollandaise sauce; roast turkey with oyster dressing and celery or oyster sauce, roast duck with onion sauce, broiled quail, chicken pie; plum and crab-apple jelly; baked potatoes with jackets, sweet potatoes, baked squash, turnips, southern cabbage, stewed carrots, canned corn, canned pease, tomatoes; Graham bread, rolls; salmon salad or herring salad, Chili sauce, gooseberry catsup, mangoes, pickled cabbage; bottled, French, or Spanish pickles; spiced nutmeg-melon and sweet-pickle grapes, and beets; Christmas plum-pudding with sauce, Charlotte-russe; cocoa-nut, mince, and peach pies; citron, pound, French loaf, white Mountain and Neapolitan cakes; lady’s fingers, pepper-nuts; centennial drops, almond or hickory-nut macaroons; cocoa-nut caramels, chocolate drops; orange or pine apple ice-cream; coffee, tea, and Vienna chocolate.
Cornbread has been a staple food in the South for centuries, and also in the Manship household. In 1877, fifteen year old Minnie Manship entered her best cornbread recipe at the state fair, and won first place. By 1877, recipes for cornbread were similar to those of today. Modern quick bread recipes are a result of the early nineteenth century discovery of chemical leavening agents such as pearlash and saleratus, that led up to the baking powder we use today. Prior to the introduction of chemical leavening agents, sourdough or yeast, or the addition of beaten eggs were the common methods of incorporating air into baked goods. The new chemical leavening agents reduced preparation time, but required an acid like sour milk or citrus to make baked goods texturally light. Pearlash and saleratus had an unpleasant aftertaste and were soon replaced with baking soda and baking powder. Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book, published in 1869, contains several recipes for cornbread with pearlash or saleratus as the leavening agent.
Sour Milk Corn Cake.
One quart of sour milk, or buttermilk.
A large teaspoonful of pearlash.
A teaspoonful of salt.
Stir the milk into the meal enough to make a stiff batter, over night. In the morning, dissolve the pearlash in warm water. Stir it up quickly, and bake it in shallow pans. If the milk is sweet, it should be made sour by adding to it a teaspoonful of vinegar.
Corn Muffins (from the South).
One pint of sifted meal, and half a teaspoonful of salt.
Two tablespoonfuls of melted lard.
A teaspoonful of saleratus, in two great spoonfuls of hot water.
Wet the above with sour milk, as thick as for mush or hasty pudding, and bake in buttered rings on a buttered tin.
In 1857, Charles Henry Manship built his Gothic Revival style home on the outskirts of Jackson. The house is based on a design for a “Cottage Villa in the Rural Gothic Style” in A. J. Downing’s Architecture of Country Houses, a popular pattern book published in 1850. Manship used his house as a showplace for his skills as a craftsman. Cypress doors were painted to look like exotic mahogany, native pine mantels were marbled to resemble stone, and the dining room was grained from floor to ceiling to imitate a paneled oak room.
Manship was likely influenced by A. J. Downing, a nineteenth century tastemaker, in the selection of wallpapers for his new home. In The Architecture of Country Houses, Downing warns his readers that “a good deal of taste is requisite in the choice of paperhangings.” He elaborates with a discussion of which papers are most desirable and what types are to be avoided:
“All flashy and gaudy patterns should be avoided, all imitations of church windows, magnificent carved work, pinnacles, etc. Those papers which are in the best taste are either flock-hangings–or fresco-papers, which give the same effect as if the walls were formed into compartments or panels, with suitable cornices and mouldings. If the fresco-papers . . . are chosen, they will produce a tasteful, satisfactory, and agreeable effect, in almost any situation. A very artistic and excellent effect is produced, by employing paper of a single plain color for the whole ground of the wall, and forming lines, panels, and compartments, by portions and strips of other plain colors.”
During the ca. 1980 restoration of the Manship House, period reproduction wallpaper borders, similar to the original borders, were installed in panels in the central hall. According to family recollections, the central hall also contained wallpaper panels depicting statues of George Washington and perhaps Benjamin Franklin. These panels were likely from a series of French wallpaper panels made for the American market entitled “Les Grands Hommes” printed by the Jules DeFosse firm in 1856. The series depicted sculptural figures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Lafayette. The reproduction Washington and Lafayette panels were installed during the ca. 1980 restoration.
Charles Henry Manship, born in 1812 in Talbot County, Maryland, was trained in Baltimore as an ornamental painter. In 1836, Manship arrived in the small city of Jackson, at a time when skilled craftsmen were needed on the construction of new public buildings. He soon opened a shop of his own where he sold paint and fine wallpapers. Manship was also a skilled sign painter and banner maker. The following article from The Comet, April 19, 1879, describes the fine workmanship of a banner Manship made for Mississippi College:
“We were shown by Mr. Manship Monday a banner that he had just finished for the Hermenian and Philomethean Societies of the Mississippi College at Clinton. It is made of white and blue silk, and the artistic skill displayed by Mr. Manship in painting and ornamenting it is simply magnificent; we are unable to describe it more minutely from the fact that the characters on it are peculiar to the society and with which we are not familiar, it is very pretty however and reflects great credit on Mr. Manship.”
One of early Jackson’s most colorful citizens was Colonel Alexander Keith McClung (1811-1855). Contemporary of Charles Henry Manship, Alexander McClung was known as a Mexican War hero, orator, statesman, and as a duelist. Originally from Kentucky, McClung arrived in Jackson in the early 1830s to establish a law practice. Although not very successful as a lawyer, McClung was active in Whig politics, and fought gallantly in the Mexican War with Jefferson Davis. He was perhaps best known and feared as a duelist. Dueling in the early 1800s was a formal, ritualized method of settling matters of honor. McClung was reputed to have fought in as many as fourteen duels and killed ten men. He committed suicide with his own dueling pistol in the Eagle Hotel in 1855.
One of McClung’s most noted duels took place on December 29, 1838, across the river from Vicksburg. The Southern Marksman, Clinton, Mississippi, January 1, 1839, reported the event as follows:
“The following are the particulars of the duel between McClung and Menifee, given us by a person who was present at the fight.
THE DUEL AT VICKSBURG. – The duel between McClung and Menifee came off on Saturday the 29th ist., they were to have fought at 11 o’clock A. M. the time specified, and many started across the river as early as day break, thinking that the time reported was to evade the multitude that would be assembled, and that the fight would take place at sun rise, and boats were continually crossing from that time until the parties met on the ground for combat. There were as many as 35 skiffs and yawls crossing and recrossing at one time, until a quarter past twelve o’clock M. at which time there were assembled from six to seven hundred persons to witness the scene. Menifee and his party were on the ground before eleven o’clock – McClung and his party arriving about 12. Both parties appeared to be very collected, and in fact, in high spirits. The prevailing opinion was that McClung would be killed, as he had practiced but a few days with a rifle; whereas, Menifee is considered a proficient in the use of that weapon. McClung took his station 2 or 3 minutes previous to the arrival of Menifee on the ground laid out. On perceiving his opponent (Menifee) dressed in light summer coat buttoned close, he threw off his green blanket coat, and taking a bowie knife and a large pistol from his belt, deposited them on the ground, and went through the preliminaries of the duel in his shirt sleeves, when his coat was replaced by his second. At the signal, both fired, Menifee’s party having won the word, McClung fired first, Menifee in a second afterwards; McClung’s ball passing over Menifee’s head, and Menifee’s ball passing within an inch of McClung’s body, in the range of the abdomen as was discovered by examination, as Menifee’s ball lodged in the fence in the rear of McClung, and directly in a range of the line where he stood. McClung appeared to be very much vexed after the first fire, and threw his gun (which was a United States Yauger) four or five feet from him, exclaiming that he had fired in the air, as it went off before he had taken aim-but for myself I thought he had brought the gun to a dead level; and Menifee and some of his party heard the ball as it whizzed by them, and it passed as they supposed within 2 or 3 inches of Menifee’s head. After this, both parties retired to their respective cabins, and were on the grounds in fifteen minutes after, all prepared, the word given, McClung fired and Menifee fell-and for one minute, all supposed him dead; the wound being directly above the right eye, was supposed by many to have passed through the head; but it was different, as it was only a scale of the ball, the ball having struck the extra guard that protects the tube of Menifee’s rifle, broke it off, knocked off the cap, and broke the hollow part of the hammer that presses on the tube, thereby glancing and striking him as above stated, the ball being split. It was the opinion of many, that had not the ball struck the guard it would have passed over Menifee’s right shoulder, and would not have injured him. In about ten minutes after Menifee fell he was on his feet and expressed a wish to walk to the boat, which his Physician and friend Jackson would not permit.”
Howell, H. Grady, Jr. Invocation to Death: The Final Hours of Col. Alexander Keith McClung. Madison, Miss., 2014.
The Southern Marksman, Clinton, Mississippi, January 1, 1839.
Late in life, Charles Henry Manship recorded some of the incidents in his long life for his children. This version, entitled “Record of a few of the incidents and events in the life of C. H. Manship dedicated to his children,” includes his recollection of Alexander K. McClung, soldier, duelist, and statesman. A transcription of the second paragraph follows:
…In 1861 was Secretary Democratic Executive Committee. When I came to Jackson found the State House just fairly started. The walls up to 1st story window sills, and old man John Robb preparing the sills of sand stones from a quarry just below the Miss. Springs. The Legislature of the State was in session where my shop now is, the Old State House. This session was led by the brilliant Sargent S. Prentiss and Hon. S. J. Gholson, leaders on two sides of a vexed question, “The admission of the Chickasaw Delegation.” There was quite an array of talent on each side such as our modern legislature is not burdened with. The election of U. S. Senator had just transpired and R. J. Watkins had won the post, leaving many bitter stings to be healed. A. K. McClung a very brilliant and fearless man, ready for strife at a moment, had several conflicts from this cause. He and Wash Coffee were on opposite sides, which it was thought would produce bitter bloodletting at their first meeting, It so happened I witnessed that 1st meeting. Both men ready, but after staring a few seconds the charm was broken. Parties being between them this spell which very intense was broken and no blood as predicted. Coffee shortly after moved to Arkansas and died. Col. McClung after a varied fortune committed suicide blowing his brains out with his own trusted dueling pistol…