DevoKids Post – Pennsylvania, The Keystone State

DEVO-KIDS-LOGO-iIn 1920, the first commercial radio broadcast took place in Pennsylvania, where it announced the winner of the presidential race. Can you guess which president?

See if you were right at Pennsylvania, the Keystone State.


Siege of Chattanooga

Beautiful view of the Tennessee River and Chattanooga from Point Park on Lookout Mountain

Beautiful view of the Tennessee River and Chattanooga from Point Park on Lookout Mountain

After the Confederates won the Battle of Chickamauga in September of 1863, Union generals anticipated an attack in Chattanooga. Those not working to build up fortifications waited in lines of battle to ward off an attack.

Another major battle didn’t come though some fighting erupted as the two armies met again. Southern soldiers took up positions on Missionary Ridge, which rose to about six hundred feet and formed a wall on the east side of Chattanooga. On the west side of the valley stood the impressive Lookout Mountain. Union General Rosecrans withdrew his troops from this mountain on September twenty-fourth.

Confederate cannons at Point Park Lookout Mountain with a view of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River in the background

Confederate cannons at Point Park Lookout Mountain with a view of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River in the background

The Confederate Army immediately occupied the dominant mountain that rose over two thousand feet above sea level. The southerners placed sharpshooters and artillery along the Tennessee River valley.

This blocked the flow of supplies to the Union Army in Chattanooga and placed them under siege.

Union soldiers waited anxiously for a truce to retrieve the wounded from Chickamauga and bury the dead. Confederate General Bragg allowed Union General Rosecrans to send ambulances and hospital supplies to the thousands of Northern wounded. These ambulance wagons crossed into Confederate lines where southern soldiers took over, picked up the wounded, and returned them as paroled prisoners of war.

Those who stood guard on the picket lines of both sides agreed not to fire on each other. This truce brought about socializing between the soldiers of both lines. They began trading coffee and tobacco or swapping newspapers. Soldiers crossed picket lines to play cards together, building tentative friendships that couldn’t last.

biscuit-crackers-973915_960_720Union supplies dwindled. Soldiers received half-rations of food. They built fortifications and worked harder than normal, but no one received sufficient food. This affected the animals. Mules and horses, so important in moving artillery and supply wagons, started dying by the dozens.

When the food was cut to quarter-rations, many wondered if they would all starve to death in Tennessee. Men lost too much weight to be healthy.

Ipresident-391121_960_720n mid-October, leaders in Washington combined the Departments of the Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland into the Military Division of the Mississippi and chose General Ulysses S. Grant to command it. Rosecrans was relieved of his command. Maybe Grant could unlock the siege and open supply lines.

IMG_0127After Union troops captured Brown’s Ferry, a supply route to provide food opened. The soldiers called it the “Cracker Line” for the hard squares of bread known as hard tack, a staple in their diet. A few days later, jubilant soldiers drew full rations. Only after stomachs were satisfied did some realize their dire circumstances. Before the shipment arrived, only four boxes of hard tack remained in the commissary warehouses.

Only then did they realize how close to starving the Union Army had come.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Korn, Jerry. The Fight for Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge, Time-Life Books, 1985.

Sword, Wiley. Mountains Touched with Fire: Chattanooga Besieged, 1863, St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

Woodworth, Steven E. Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, University of Nebraska Press, 1998.




Sagebrush Knights by Erica Vetsch


Four sisters offer themselves as mail-order brides after losing their father. The Wyoming Territory in 1874 gives them no other means of support. Luckily they all find husbands in Sagebrush.

One sister marries a man with a mischievous daughter. A second sister discovers her would-be husband has died. One sister longs to be special to her husband. Living as a wife of a sheep herder comes as a jolt to another.

Each one finds surprises. An enjoyable historical romance!

-Review by Sandra Merville Hart


Baked Lemon Pudding from 1877 Recipe


An 1877 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, has several recipes for baked pudding. Since lemon desserts are among my favorites, I decided to prepare lemon pudding.

Mrs. M.J. Woods of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, an 1877 cook, provided a recipe titled Delicious Lemon Pudding.

The recipes in this cookbook are usually incomplete or unclear. For instance, Mrs. Woods asked cooks to “line dish with paste.” This was the first time I read this in a recipe and didn’t know what she meant so I sprayed my pie plate with cooking spray.

I used the juice and zest of one lemon with one cup of sugar. After separating two eggs, the yolks were added to the mixture along with three tablespoons of flour.

Mrs. Woods directed cooks to then add enough milk to “fill the dish.” I chose a cup of milk, which ended up working well for both the ingredients and my pie plate.

Nothing was said about heating the mixture on the stove so it went directly into a 375-degree oven.

IMG_2038The pudding looked like the picture after twenty minutes. Something wasn’t right. The dessert also had a yummy lemon flavor yet tasted too sweet.

I made a second batch, decreasing the sugar to ¾ cup. This time I heated the mixture to a light boil then baked it. Twenty minutes later, the difference in texture improved as did the taste.

IMG_2040The dish also called for meringue. Beat two egg whites with four tablespoons of sugar. This ratio did not whip up even with a table mixer.

Using the whites of two medium eggs and two tablespoons of sugar – the correct ratio – didn’t work either. Three medium egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar worked beautifully.

I took the lemon pudding with meringue to a picnic. My friends found it delicious.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.




This Week In History: Battle of Perryville


Wednesday, October 8, 1862

Confederate General Braxton Bragg led his army into Kentucky, a border state, in the summer of 1862. The largest battle fought in that state happened near Perryville at the Chaplin Hills; therefore, it is called the Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Chaplin Hills.

Buell’s Union troops in the rear didn’t hear cannons and musket fire from the front lines because of an atmospheric phenomenon that masked the noise. Buell didn’t hear the familiar combat sounds that would have prompted him to send in reserve soldiers.

This phenomenon also affected Bragg. Though the Southerners won, being outnumbered more than two-to-one and low on supplies prompted him to retreat.

This ended the Confederate invasion of Kentucky.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Long, E.B with Long, Barbara. The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865, A Da Capo Paperback, 1971.

“Perryville,” Civil War Trust, 2016/08/03

Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney


Daria finally gives up hope of finding her husband alive in a remote area of South America after their baby is born. She mourns her missionary husband and learns to love again.

Her second husband, Cole, helps heal her sorrow. Then her first husband, Nate, is found alive. While rejoicing over finding Nate, Daria wonders which husband she is bound to.

It’s a terrible situation for Daria and her children that is not easily resolved.

This story stayed with me a long time after reading it.

-Review by Sandra Merville Hart


Baked Chocolate Pudding Recipe from 1877


An 1877 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, has several recipes for baked pudding. I decided to prepare one for chocolate pudding.

The recipes in this cookbook generally leave a lot to the imagination, but ingredient measurements were given for this one.

I scalded 4 cups of milk with three ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate. While this cooled, I separated five egg yolks and set aside the egg whites for a meringue topping.

IMG_2026When the chocolate mixture cooled, the egg yolks were added along with one cup of sugar. The mixture was poured into a prepared baking dish.

No suggestions were provided for baking times or temperatures so I baked it at 350 until softly set, about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, five tablespoons of sugar were added to the egg whites and mixed at a high speed until white and fluffy, about two minutes in a countertop mixer.

IMG_2021After the pudding cooled, this meringue was spread over the top and browned in a 425 oven.

My pudding was too runny. It was also too sweet, so I tried again.

I reduced the sugar to ¾ cup. I increased the oven temperature to 375 and baked about 40 minutes. The consistency thickened on the second batch of pudding, though it wasn’t as thick or smooth as I’m used to seeing.

The original recipe is from 1877 cook, Miss Greeley Grubbs of Richmond, Indiana.

I’m a chocolate lover. This chocolate pudding tasted yummy. If you want to reduce calories, leave off the meringue. I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.