Archive for the ‘Household’ Category


Where Do The Bottles Go?

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 24, 1906

Where Do The Bottles Go?

Question Not Easily Answered by Busy Milk Men — Many Housekeepers Borrow Them at Times

“Where do the pins go?” is an old and trite query that has never been satisfactorily answered. The modern dealer is puzzled by a similar question equally difficult of solution: “Where do the milk bottles go? No matter how carefully or plainly they are marked, they say, there is a constant shortage which can not always be accounted for by the breakage which is, of course, to be expected.

“Our regular customers,” said one of the prosperous dealers a few days ago, “are very good about returning the bottles. It is the chance purchaser who runs into the store for a quart or a pint who is apt to be careless about sending back the bottles.”

“Yes, the bottles belonging to different dealers are always getting mixed,” continued the same speaker. “Many people, who are both willing and anxious to return the bottle, can not realize that it matters what dealer gets them, just so they are handed to some one of us. Some times I have bottles belonging to three or four different dealers, all plainly marked, left at my store or handed to my drivers by people who seem to think they have done their duty in a most exemplary manner.

“We had a good deal of trouble getting them to their proper owners until the last one of us established a sort of exchange in his milk store. the store is centrally located and when any of us gets another’s bottle by mistake we just stop and set it on a shelf behind the door there and look among the collection for our own. There are generally bottles representing half a dozen dealers or so on this shelf, which we find a very convenient institution.”

Variously Used

“It is a surprise how many uses cna be found for a milk bottle. They are a convenient shape, solid and strong, and the four different sizes in general use suit quite a variety of purposes. They come back to us in all sorts of conditions.

“Some housekeepers appear to depend upon them for supplying a shortage in the supply of bottles for catsup or pickles. They are quite popular receptacles for pear butter, apple butter and other sort of jams which need not be air tight. People seem to think we ought not to object to loaning them for a few months for such useful purposes.

Sometimes Coal Oil

The use we do most seriously object to our patrons putting the jars to is that of a substitute coal oil can. Every once in a while, when we put a quantity of bottles into the scalding tub, we notice strong fumes of coal oil. Of course that means that the whole tubful of bottles must be taken out and thoroughly washed through several waters in order that the offending bottle may be certainly secured, and nobody have cause to complain of the flavor of the milk next morning. If we could find out who was guilty of putting milk bottles to such a use it is likely that person might have trouble in getting bottled milk, but the bottles are returned with others and we are apt not to notice until the hot water gives it away.

A great many bottles are ruined by carelessness in taking out the pasteboard tops, say the dealers. People in a hurry force a carving fork hastily between the bottle and the cap, or often strike the tip carelessly when trying to force it off with some equally clumsy implement, and the result is nicked and uneven edges, which often extend themselves into cracks, which in time spell the fate of the bottle.

A neat little wire implement has been invented for lifting the cap and some of the dealers have presented one to each customer, finding that hte small outlay is more than made up in the improved condition of the bottles.


Refrigerators in City are Robbed

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 10, 1904

Refrigerators in City are Robbed

Residents in East Part of City Are Up in Arms Over Petty Depredations

Bad Characters in the City

Everything Left in Refrigerators on Back Porches in the Neighborhood of Second Avenue South and Thirteenth Street Disappears

Residents in the eastern part of the city have been suffering lately from the depredations of sneak thiefs (sic) and are arming themselves and have determind (sic) that if they catch any one around their places in the night hour it will go hard with them. Of late several people living in this vicinity have had their refrigerators opened in the night and have in consequence found everything eatable gone in the morning.

The refrigerators have been so thoroughly stripped that people when they see the doors of their refrigerators open in the morning are surprised if they find the ice has not been taken. The people in this neighborhood have decided that the matter has gone too far all ready (sic) and are making strenuous efforts to locate the petty thieves. Mrs. D.B. Johnson had her refrigerator opened Monday night and everything was taken. The next night the refrigerator of W.A. Shephard which was sitting on the back porch was opened and everything was found to be gone the next morning. The contents of both refrigerators were all gone, the thieves taking everything in one, from some cold chicken and meat down to the butter, eggs, and milk. From the quantity and from the variety and class of everything taken it is shown that the thieves are not looking just for dainties but are feeding solely from the articles taken from the different refrigerators over town.

Whether it is the members of some family who are doing this to get a living or is some one who is in the city attending the races is not explained, but the residents in the part of town where the depredations have been committed think it is men who are living at the race course and are able to get all their food in this manner. The depredations as far as reported have only extended to the neighborhood of Second avenue south and Thirteenth street, but as the people in this part of the city are all preparing to put a stop to it and are not leaving things where they can be got at, it is probable that the thief’s (sic) will be forced to commence operations in another part of the city. So every one who has been in the habit of leaving things in the refrigerators on the back porch are advised to discontinued (sic) the practice at least while the races are going on as disreputable characters are sure to be around at such a time.

While every effort is being made to apprehend the guilty persons it is a very difficult matter as with so many bad characters in the city at such a time the city police have a great deal to look after.

(Editor’s note: This was an issue the following year, as well.)

Information from the 1908 city directory for Fort Dodge:

W.A. Shephard: 1322 Second Ave. S. He was the president of Shephard Hardware Co., 831 Central Ave. (Hardware, Tinsmiths, Heating and Plumbing). His wife’s name was Georgia.

Mrs. D.B. Johnson: 1328 Second Ave. S. Delbert B. and Anna Johnson. He was a conductor on the ICRR (Illinois Central Railroad). He is not listed in the 1909 directory. There are three possible listings for her. Anna M. Johnson was a stenographer for Fort Dodge Grocery Co., boarding at 900 I St. West Fort Dodge. (Note:  Street names changed a couple of times, so this is not the same I Street as today.) Anna O. Johnson boarded at 204 H St., West Fort Dodge. Anna S. Johnson was a seamstress, boarding at 234 N. Second St., North Fort Dodge.


Choice Delicacies in the Market

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 11, 1904

Choice Delicacies in the Market

Home Grown Vegetables are Increasing Supply in the Groceries

Berries to Come From West

No Changes in the Live Stock and Grain Markets Since Last Week

The markets are but little changed this week. Vegetables are about the same in kind, quality and price. Home grown beet green and spinach add the only variety this week and both are welcomed with enthusiasm by the housewife who is planning a Sunday dinner. The shipping of vegetables from the south is pretty nearly shut off by the incoming  of the home grown truck. The new potatoes, new string beans, new cabbages, of course are coming from the south as yet, but even their time is not short, as all these with the exception of cabbage will soon be supplied by local gardeners. New potatoes are expected by July 4th at the latest by local gardeners and string beans will be in evidence in two weeks at the latest.

In fruits there is also little change. The first scrawny little peaches are beginning to show themselves and strawberries will climb up again next week from three for a quarter to 10 cents straight at least. The Missouri crop is exhausted and that state will cease to ship. All berries next week will come from the Hood river district in Idaho and from Colorado. Fort Dodge has received its last full car shipment for this season. All shipments will come in local from Omaha and the freight rates being thus made higher, the berries are bound to go up in prices. The home grown berries are reported to be ripening. It is expected they will come on the market the latter part of next week. All other fruit remain the same.

Live Stock and Grain.

Stock and grain markets show no changes this week with the exception of chickens, which have dropped a cent a pound, selling now for 7 cents to 9 cents a pound ($1.68 to $2.16 per pound today).

The markets are as follows:

Market item 1904 price Adjusted for inflation
Corn 60 cents $14.27
Oats 10 cents $2.39
Wheat 75 cents $17.96
Hay $5.50 to $6.00 $131.72 to $143.70
Hogs $4.10 to $4.25 $98.19 to $101.79
Cattle $3.00 to $3.25 $71.85 to $77.84
Chickens 7 to 9 cents $1.68 ro $2.16
Turkeys 10 to 12 cents $2.39 to $2.87

Housewives Recipes

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The Fort Dodge Messenger & Chronicle: March 31, 1916

Housewives Recipes

Fort Dodge Women Contribute Tested Receipes in the Culinary Art.


Lamb Chops
Sweet Potato au Gratin
Cole Slaw
Brown Bread
Brown Betty

Sweet potato au gratin

5 medium sized cold boiled sweet potatoes, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, salt, pepper, milk, one cup breadcrumbs. Cut the potatoes in to 1-3 inch slices. Put a layer in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Dot over with butter. Add second layer of sweet potatoes, add milk to cover. Add buttered crumbs and bake until brown.

Fish Balls With Tomato Sauce

1 1/2 cups fish flakes, 3 cups potatoes, 2 tablespoonfuls butter, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 can tomatoes, 1/2 onion, 3 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoonful butter, 1 tablespoonful flour.

Put the potatoes (cut in small pieces) and fish in a stew pan, cover with boiling water and cook until the potatoes are done. Drain off the water, then mash and beat until very light. Add the milk and butter and season with pepper and salt. Next the unbeaten egg and whip until light. Shape into balls, roll in egg and sifted bread crumbs, then fry in smoking-hot fat for just a moment. Drain on soft paper.

Tomato sauce – Stew the tomatoes, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf ten minutes, then rub through a sieve. Cook the flour and butter in a saucepan until bubbly; add the tomatoes slowly. Season with salt and pepper and pour around fish balls. The entire cost of fish balls and sauce enough for a family of four will not exceed twenty-five cents. (Editor’s note: The twenty-five cent meal would be around $4.95 today. Remember this was wartime, and economizing and saving meat were important. In addition, this was published during Lent, so that was another reason to save meat.)

Lentil Cropuettes

1 cup lentils, 1/2 cup water, 1 stalk celery, 1/2 onion, 3 sprigs parsley, 1 cup bread crumbs, 2 tablespoonfuls flour, 2 tablespoonfuls butter, 2-3 cup milk, 1 egg. (Editor’s note: I’m honestly not sure if the milk is 2 to 3 cups or 2/3 cup, since there is a hyphen in the original article. I lean toward 2/3 cup because it’s not plural.)

Soak over night the lentils, celery, onion and parsley. In the morning cook to a pulp, strain through a sieve, add bread crumbs, egg and salt and pepper to taste. Make a sauce by creaming together the flour and butter and pouring on gradually the milk. Bring to the boiling point, add the lentils mixture and mix thoroughly. When cool, form into balls, dip in egg and crumbs and fry in deep, hot fat. The recipe should serve at least three people. This dish is a splendid substitute for meat.

(Editor’s note: There are more recipes, which I will add later and then remove this note.)


Fresh Vegetables on Local Market

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 19, 1904

Fresh Vegetables on Local Market

New Products From Farm and Garden Tell of Advent of Spring.

Strawberries Now in Season

While There Are Many Vegetables and Fruits to be Purchased.

There are quite a number of fruits and vegetables of spring in the market this week to tempt the pocketbook for the Sunday dinner.

Strawberries are quite plentiful this week and are of a good quality, selling at 30 cents per quart ($7.18 in today’s money – per quart). The egg plant has also made its appearance a close follower of grape-fruit, cauliflower, tomatoes, aetc. (sic)

Some fresh ground horseradish, just out of the frozen ground is also on hand, a welcome and strong reminder that spring is here.

Eggs and butter are still about the same price, the former bringing 15 cents per dozen ($3.59) and the latter twenty cents per pound ($4.79).

Fruits are about the same as last week. Oranges, bananas and apples are on the market and some fine specimens of all three varieties are exhibited at the stores about town.

The new potato is daily expected from the south, along with new cabbages and other vegetables which are the usual arrivals of this time of year.

In meats, there are all kinds of fresh fish and plenty of fine fowls of all kinds on the market. Some particularly fine ducks appear at the various meat markets of the city this week.

The oyster is getting in his last work of the season, selling for forty cents per quart ($9.58).

After the plain fare of the winter season, the fresh crisp things of spring are going like hot cakes before the onslaught of the afternoon marketers, but the supply is good, and Fort Dodge will have an opportunity to die (sic – should be dine) high SSunday (sic).

(Editor’s note: I am not familiar with the price of oysters today, but the other prices kind of shock me. The equivalent of $7.18 per quart for strawberries, $3.59 for eggs and $4.79 for butter seems high. Especially the strawberries.)


Sidetracked and distracted

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Well, here it is, that rare thing on this blog: a personal note from the editor.

I originally planned to scan a couple of pages I had printed out from old ads in The Messenger. However, I don’t have my printer/scanner hooked up right now and I spent a good chunk of the day looking for free eBooks on

So I owe you a valid post for today.

I’ll get to it.

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information (1889):

Household Recipes

(Page 71)

Axle Grease.
  1. Water, 1 gallon; soda, 1/3 pound; palm oil, 10 pounds. Mix by heat, and stir till nearly cold.
  2. Water, rape oil, of each 1 gallon; soda, 1/3 pound, palm oil, 1/4 pound.
  3. Water, 1 gallon, tallow, 3 pounds, palm oil, 6 pounds; soda, 1/2 pound. Heat to 210 deg. Fahrenheit and stir until cool.
  4. Tallow, 8 pounds; palm oil, 10 pounds; plumbago, 1 pound. Makes a good lubricator for wagon axles.
How to Shell Beans Easy.

Pour upon the pods a quantity of scalding water, and the beans will slip very easily from the pod. By pouring scalding water on apples the skin may be easily slipped off, and much labor saved.

How to Clean Bed-Ticks.

Apply Poland starch, by rubbing it on thick with a cloth. Place it in the sun. When dry, rub it if necessary. The soiled part will be clean as new.


Housecleaning Time at Hand

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The  Fort Dodge Messenger: March 16, 1906

Housecleaning Time at Hand

Carpet Beating and Similar Scenes Will Soon Appear.

Cafes Will Do Rushing Business While Family Man Stays away From Home.


If your wife is growing restless, if she tentatively tugs
At the dingy window curtains; if she studies all the rugs;
If she talks about wall paper, if she views the window panes
With an eye that sees them tarnished by a lot of streaks and stains,
Then you may as well be patient and as quiet as a mouse,
For no feeble man can stop her –
she will

You had better plan for boarding somewhere else a day or two,
For the changes are she’ll start it with a rustling, bustling crew
Of scrub women and of dusters, and the chairs will block the hall
And a lot of dainty china will be put where it will fall –
And an aproned, towsled, draggled sight will say she is your spouse
For the signs of spring are potent –
she will

You will eat upon the ice box, you will sleep upon the stove,
You will slip upon a box of soap and down the stairs will rove;
You will find your valued volumes mixed with kitchen pans and pots;
For the time you’ll be an alien – you and all your little tots –
And there’ll be a time of trouble, time of shake, and dust, and douse,
Till the fever has subsided – she will

-W.D. Nesbitt

The above verse seems singularly appropriate to the season which will soon be fairly launched upon the populace. House cleaning time with all its sorrows, labors and exasperations will soon descend upon the public, to the public (sic), to the unutterable disgust and uncomfort (sic) of the long suffering family man, and the hard working housewife. Only the laboring woman and the professional carpet beater will rejoice and “Everybody will work, but Father,” who will take his meals down town while the  household is uptorn; to the profit of the cafe and the restaurant keep keeper (sic).


Wheeler & Wilson’s Sewing Machines

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The Democrat: March 1, 1862

Wheeler & Wilson’s Sewing Machines

It has been our fortunate lot, or (rather that of our “better half” to become the owner of one of the above named Sewing Machines. It is useless to deny that these Machines surpass in EVERY respect all other Machines of the kind manufactured. There are not less than a half dozen in our town and the admiration of the “fair six” (sic) is beyond all bounds. Most other Machines compared with this patent are like a “mud wagon” compared with a rail road car. See Advertisement in our columns.


Suggestions For The Christmas Tree

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Dec. 23, 1905

Suggestions For The Christmas Tree

A Few Aids on How to Make and Decorate The Children’s Joy.

Woodsmen in the north woods who gather the harvest of Christmas trees mae (sic) a point of choosing young spruces and evergreens that have circles of branches able to support the toys and decorations that the Christmas spirits make grow on the limbs. The more symmetrical a tree is, the better its price, and if it has a terminal twig standing straight and sturdy on the very top, with fragrant boughs in ever-widening circles to the floor, it is sure to be carried off by the first Santa Claus messenger that appears on the scene.

Cones on the branches are a decoration of themselves, and if there is a chance to make a good selection, choose a tree that is fragrant; the balsam is a joy in its healthful perfume.

Ready-made stands may be purchased from a quarter up. That significant “up” goes a long way aloft, but the 25-cent of even the 15-cent stands do just as well.  The trunk of the tree should be shaved down to fit the hole, or the hole made larger if you will, or the stand fastened to the floor with wires or hooks and the tree guyed to the ceiling or the woodwork of the room. These first careful steps prevent the Christmas tree in all its finery from meeting disaster, and it is a sorrowful matter for a Christmas tree to tumble when laden with gifts.

A soap box makes a substantial stand and is far safer than many little wooden frames. There are iron stands that may be screwed to the floor and which are perfectly safe. The box stand permits the trunk of the evergreen to go clear through the box and stand on the floor. It is well balanced in this way and when the box is covered with evergreen wreaths or green crepe paper and a little snow scene, with halls (sic) and valleys and a top house and animals made on the box surface the effect is very pretty indeed.

The question of lights is solving itself. Few persons use candles on trees since electric lights are in. The candle is a dangerous top – too dangerous where there are children, when a tipped candle may mean a blazing tree and a death or a suffering mortal for the rest of his life. Pine is very inflammable, and the beard and trimmings of Santa Claus, many celluloid ornaments, gilt streamers and dry wreaths invite a match to make a glorious blaze. Do without candles for the sake of safety. Little electric lights and a small battery cost very little more than a supply of candles and are perfectly safe.

In trimming the tree invention and ingenuity tell. Of course strung popcorn and cranberries are always pretty, and then there are those long wreaths of tinsel with stars with streamers, the Christmas angel in gold for the top of the tree and a lot of colored balls and transparent ornaments which may be bought by the dozen.

Children enjoy seeing little dolls perched about in the greenery and the little stockings filled with candy for every visiting guest, and the pink and white peppermint candies. Expenses may run high if you wish but a tree can be trimmed for almost nothing. The popcorn and cranberries may be strung by the children themselves, and the kindergarten wreathes of rings come in nicely to give color to the trimming.

A few cents invested in pay tissue and crepe paper with a pot of mucilage and some old-fashioned books to be cut up, and the children will make a lot of funny t hings for their tree. They can gild nuts and tie red apples to the limbs and make tiny bags of colored net. they just love to do these thins for themselves.

Many families who have kept up the custom for a long time trim their tree secretly on the afternoon of Christmas eve and then distribute gifts from the branches with great ceremony on Christmas eve or on Christmas morning. Even if children know the fiction, they delight in keeping alive the Christmas Santa Claus myth, and a member of the family dressed to personate the jolly elf is welcome.


Christmas Trees are in the Stores

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Dec. 22, 1904

Christmas Trees are in the Stores

Custom Grows of Decorating

The Trees Come From The Pine Forests of Michigan and Wisconsin – Southern States Furnish The Other Decorations

Holly and misletoe (sic) everywhere. There is no end to the Christmas green. The windows of all the stores are filled with it; and garlands of it festoon the interiors. There has never been a time in Fort Dodge, when there has been as great a showing of the Christmas foliages as there is this year.

Great heaps and stacks of Christmas trees block the side walks in front of the stores, and the whole atmosphere of Central Avenue is pregnant with the fragrance of the pine forest. The trees are of all sizes, and in price ranges from 25 cents ($6 today) up to as high as $5 ($120). Already the sale on them has commenced strongly. There will be hundreds of small trees sold to private families in and about the city. The Christmas tree is gaining in popularity  every year as a means of pleasing the children at home.

It is only within the past few years that this has become a yearly habit with Fort Dodge people. Eight or ten years ago, with the exception of the large trees used by the churches in their public Christmas festivities on Christmas eve, the practice of using trees in this city was rare. About eight years ago the citizens began calling for them and the merchants commenced ordering them along with a little holly and mistletoe. Both the trees and the other greens met with a ready sale, and each year since that time, the amount of such stuff ordered for the holiday season has been increased up to the present time, wehn the trade on this class of goods has become enormous.

Holly is always the more popular of all the Christmas greens. It holds its beautiful color for weeks, and the bright scarlet of the berries set off and intensified by the dark foilage (sic), makes a most pleasing bit for decorative purposes. The greater part of the holly and mistletoe received here from the southern states. The trees are fresh from the spruce forest of Michigan and Wisconsin. The evergreens, of which the beautiful garlands are made, come also from the northern part of Wisconsin, where they grow up about the bases of the big trees.

These garlands are becoming ever more popular. Up to a very few years ago they were unknown in this city. Shortly after the first of the Christmas trees arrived on the market however, they made their appearance along with the sprigs of holly and mistletoe, and at once became very popular for Christmas decorations. At the present time the making of these garlands has become a great industry. For weeks in advance of the holiday season, great forces of women and children, interspersed with a few men, are at work weaving the evergreen on the wire frames. The garlands, when completed are stored away in a damp place,  until they are shipped out to fill the orders that are flooded in upon them from every town in the country.

Foreigners Get Big Trees.

“The Danes, Swedes and Norwegians buy the finest trees they can secure for their churches and Sunday schools,” said a big dealer yesterday. “The Americans and Germans usually buy the smaller trees for home use. It shows the customs of the countries. You know in Sweden and Germany they make a great deal over Christmas and usually great companies congregate to celebrate. Thus it is the Swedish and Norwegians people here like to have their Christmas observances in the churches, and no trees are too large or too good for them. But the Americans and the Germans more especially seem to prefer to have Christmas at home, to have trees in the parlor for the children to exclaim over when they come down early Christmas morning. Hence we sell the smallest parlor trees to them.”