Family Recipes: Now & Then

Selected recipes - some from family, friends and papers, ancestors and unknown sources. No guarantees: some of these are tried-and-true, others are just 'tried' recipes. #history #food

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grandmother Mary Kirby Willis’ Cookies (c. 1791-1873)

Grandmother Mary Kirby Willis’ Cookies (1791-1873)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease cookie sheets.

4 ½ c flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 c brown sugar
½ tsp salt scant
1 c shortening
2 eggs scant
1 tsp baking soda in 4 TBLS milk
½ tsp lemon flavoring
nutmeg – to taste – less than 1/2

~Combine flour, cream of tartar, brown sugar, salt, shortening.
  ~Mix well, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well, nutmeg to taste.
~Bake on greased cookie sheets, a few minutes, watching for doneness in a 350 degree F oven.
~Cool cookies on rack.
I found this recipe in a recopied in several places.

My great grandmother, Bertha Hawxhurst (Tyson),  wrote that this recipe was:

“My oldest recipe for Grand. Willis’ cookies” and was found in “old book” (apparently the handwritten recipe was pressed in an old book).

Who might this Grandmother Willis be, and how old is this recipe?
At first I assumed it would be my great-great-great grandmother Mary Fry Willis (1817-1898).
But realized that she wed Isaac Hicks (1815-1900), so she would have been called "Grandmother Hicks" not Willis.

So, I decided it must be her mother's recipe. Her mother was Mary W Kirby (1791-1873), who married John Willis (1790-1864).
Mary and John were Quakers from Long Island, as were their descendants.
The recipe must date from the pre-Civil War era.
Very old, indeed!
I have no photos of Mary Kirby Willis, but I do have one taken of her husband John Willis.
John Willis (1790-1864), the husband of Mary W Kirby (1791-1873), father of Mary Fry Willis.

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