Window to the Past
A Christmas legend and recipes of old
By BOB HOLDGREVE
(Editor's note: The following items were all taken from the Delphos Herald in the 1870s, unless otherwise noted.)
A Christmas Legend
It was Christmas Eve. The night was very dark and the snow was falling fast, as Hermann, the charcoal-burner, drew his cloak tightly around him, and the wind whistled fiercely through the trees of the Black Forest. He had been carrying a load to a castle near, and was hastening home to his little hut. Although he worked very hard, he was poor, gaining barely enough for the wants of his wife and his four little children. He was thinking of them, when he heard a faint wailing. Guided by the sound, he groped about and found a little child, scantily clothed, shivering and sobbing, by itself in the snow.
"Why, little one, have they left thee here all alone to face this bitter blast."
The child answered nothing, but looked piteously up in the coal-burner's face.
"Well I cannot leave thee here. Thou would be dead before the morning."
So saying, Herman raised it in his arms, wrapping it in his cloak and warming its cold hands in his bosom. When he arrived at his hut, he put down the child, and rapped at the door, which was thrown open and the children rushed to meet him.
"Here wife is a guest to our Christmas Eve supper," said he, leading in the little one, who held timidly to his finger with its tiny hand.
"And welcome he is," said the wife, "now let him come and warm himself by the fire."
The children all pressed around to welcome and gaze at the little newcomer. They showed him their pretty fig-tree decorated with bright colored lamps, in honor of Christmas Eve, which the good mother had endeavored to make a fete for her children.
Then they sat down to supper, each child contributing of its portion for the guest, looking with admiration at its clear, blue eyes, and golden hair, which shone so as to shed a brighter light in the little room; and as they gazed it grew into a halo round his head, and his eyes beamed with a heavenly luster. Soon two white wings appeared at his shoulder, and he seemed to grow larger and larger, and then the beautiful vision vanished, spreading out his hands as in benediction over them.
Herman and his wife fell on their knees, exclaiming in awestruck voices, "The holy Christ-child," and then embraced their wondering children in joy and thankfulness that they had entertained the heavenly guest.
The next morning as Hermann passed by the place where he had found the child, he saw a cluster of lovely white flowers, with dark green leaves, looking as though the snow itself had blossomed. Hermann plucked some and carried them reverently home to his wife and children, who, treasured the fair blossoms, and tended them carefully in remembrance of that wonderful Christmas Eve, calling them chrysanthemums; and every year as the time came around, they put aside a portion of their feast and gave it to some poor little child, according to the words of Christ: "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of these, my brethren, you have done it to me."
Bread for the poor
Jacob Miller informs us that on Christmas morning, he will give three loaves of bread to every poor family in this town. The heads-of families may call themselves, or send their children to his grocery, on North Washington street. This is a good example in true charity. Let others follow it. --Van Wert Bulletin.
The sulphur spring, three and one-half miles southwest of Delphos, was the scene of what might be properly termed a spontaneous picnic Sunday. Four or five hundred people from Delphos, Van Wert, and the country about the spring, gathered in the beautiful grove, without any previous arrangement, and notwithstanding no one crowd expected the other, they joined harmoniously in the sports that followed, consisting of foot-racing, wrestling, jumping, pitching horseshoes, etc., until they were tired, when they quietly dispersed.
There is a project on foot to convey the water from the sulphur spring, through pipes to the city park, to, supply a fountain.
Prominent among the actual business interests of Delphos is the brewery. It is conducted by a stock company, they having purchased the old brewery of some twenty-five years standing, about four years ago; and to give an idea of the increase of the business done at this extensive establishment, we will say that the first year they had a capacity for making six hundred barrels lager, but their beer becoming so popular from its superior qualities, they were compelled to add to their facilities for manufacturing, and today they have a capacity for making five thousand barrels. Through the politeness of Mr. H.P. Eysenbach, the Secretary and Treasurer, we were permitted to pass through this fine establishment, and we will try to give the reader a faint description of what we saw. The building is built of brick, 104 feet long, including an ice house 18 feet wide and 75 feet long. We passed from. the office to the brewery room, which is supplied with a huge kettle for brewing the beer, and holds 35 barrels.
The room next to this is the barley floor, where the barley is received and prepared for the steep tub and malting process. This passes down to the malt cellar, where the barley is sprouted and made into malt. It is then carried to the malt kiln on the third floor, kiln dried, and is then ready to be made into beer. We passed to the cellar where the beer is kept. The old cellars contain huge casks capable of holding 450 barrels. The new and larger cellar has recently been completed which has casks newly made capable of holding 1,200 barrels of lager.
These cellars are constructed on scientific principles for the circulation of pure cold air, which keeps them perfectly cool. The fermenting tubs are in the front cellar, of which there are twelve, with a capacity of holding thirty barrels each. We then took a look at the, ice pond, constructed by the company in rear of the brewery. This pond supplies ice for the business, which enables them to secure it at better advantage and ensures a crop each year.
An elevator passes from the pond to the chute above, and the ice is raised by gigs, propelled by horse power: while one gig passes up with a load, another passes down to be loaded. These gigs are self-acting, unloading themselves into the ice house. Mr. Eysenbach tells us that the ice can be cut and put into the house for ten cents a load.
These ice houses hold 1,500 tons, and are now nearly filled. One thing that speaks well for home enterprise is that the Company has, in building and in manufacturing their casks, patronized home manufacturers and mechanics, thereby doing their share towards promoting prosperity to the town. Half of the expense incurred in producing the beer go to the labor they employ. To those who have not seen this important enterprise we would say, go and take a look at it. The excellent qualities of their beer has gained for them large sales, and is fast becoming popular in other towns besides Delphos.
Old recipes from 1870s
To fry rabbit
Cut them in joints and fry them to a nice brown in butter. Send then to the table with fried parsley or liver gravy.
Slices of toasted bread dipped in wine or milk and fried in honey are excellent. Then instead of calling the "fried bread," they are Tarejas, an excellent Spanish delicacy. Please understand there is neither butter nor lard. Simply melt the honey in a pan, and when it is very hot put in the bread, which is served hot also after becoming nicely browned.
Cabbage and sausages
Cut the cabbage very thin, put it into the stew-pan with a small piece of ham, an ounce of butter, at the bottom, half a pint of broth, and a little vinegar, let it stew three hours. When it is tender add a little more broth, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of pounded sugar. Boil till the liquor is entirely wasted. Then put it in to the dish and lay fried sausages on top.
Take 12 medium-sized crackers and pound them up fine, then stir them into two quarts of milk and water, equal parts: add four eggs, one cup of sugar, one cup of molasses, one pound of raisins, one teaspoon of cloves, one of cassia (a cinnamon substitute), one of nutmeg, two of salt, two of royal baking powder. When well mixed together pour it into a buttered earthen pudding pan, and bake it in a moderately warm oven four hours: then let it stand until cold, and it will turn out whole, and look as well and taste deliciously.
Compiled by Robert Holdgreve
President of Delphos Historical Society
December 19, 1998 Delphos Herald Newspaper