The Ladies’ Floral Cabinet, September, 1878, offered the following suggestions for window, fireplace and mirror decorations during the summer months:


…During the summer time, when our fire-places are not in use, it is the taste of many ladies to decorate them with floral and woodland treasures.  The wicker basket seen in this illustration is filled with moss, having at bottom a large pan with abundance of earth, and in it are placed a great variety of plants, which do well in the shade.

Another long basket or tray is put on the mantle, where are growing flowering plants, with vines at either end, and ferns at the back next to the glass.  A beautiful way to finish the decorations of such a mantle is to take the tips of ferns leaves, and, sticking their stems into the wicker basket, let them point outward and hang down.  It gives a finish far beyond anything of artificial manufacture…



Summer Dressings for the Fireplace

On May 13, 2016, in Manship House, by mjones

Manship House Museum, Kate’s room summer fireplace treatment.

Before the invention of air conditioning, homes were prepared for the heat, dirt, and insects of the summer months.  After a thorough cleaning, houses were completely transformed to survive the oppressive summer heat.  Carpets were taken up, cleaned, and stored for the summer.  Straw matting was often used as a summer floor covering.  Heavy draperies were taken down, cleaned and stored.  Slipcovers covered upholstered furniture, and netting or gauze covered gilded surfaces such as picture frames and chandeliers.  Mosquito netting was used over beds to deter insects.  Fireplaces were cleaned and decorated for the summer.  Magazines and household guides offered a variety of suggestions for adorning the fireplace opening.  Cassell’s Household Guide, published in 1875, suggested the following summer fireplace treatment:

Shredded Tarlatan with Myrtle Wreath

For handsome steel grates fire papers are not generally used.  Purchase a yard and a half of tarlatan, and pull it entirely to pieces, thread by thread.  Fill the grate and fender entirely, as full and as lightly as possible.  The fire-irons are removed, greased with mutton fat, rolled in paper, and put away in a dry closet for the season.  Arrange a slight wreath of myrtle on the top of the heap, or carelessly throw a few well-made muslin roses about the tarlatan in the manner as shown in Fig. 4.  It is very tasteful to use pale-colored tarlatan, the shade of the furniture, for this purpose, but the tint should be extremely light.  A little gold, sold for the purpose, looks well on the colored cloud thus arranged in the stove.  Nothing can be prettier than the palest shade of pink tarlatan, unraveled, in the grate, with a few moss roses carelessly arranged about it, and the lace window curtains lined with pink tarlatan throughout, a couple of shades deeper in tone.  Very pale green contrasts better with gold than with flowers.



Visitors Center Repair

On April 1, 2016, in Manship House, by mjones

Workmen remove rotten exterior wood.

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.


Coffee Substitutes

On March 4, 2016, in Manship House, by mjones

American Citizen (Canton, Miss.), Nov. 23, 1861.

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.


Making Coffee

On January 15, 2016, in Manship House, by mjones

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.


Christmas Cake

On December 16, 2015, in Manship House, by mjones

Jennie June’s Cook Book, published in 1878, included the following recipes for Christmas cakes:


     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.


     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.


Christmas Dinner

On December 9, 2015, in Manship House, by mjones

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.



On November 6, 2015, in Manship House, by mjones

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.


Manship House Wallpapers

On October 23, 2015, in Manship House, by mjones

George Washington panel, central hall, Manship House Museum.

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.


Mississippi College Banner

On October 16, 2015, in Manship House, by mjones

Mississippi College banner.  Accession number M1976.5, MDAH Museum Division collection.

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.”