150-year-old book holds cure for ague but not flu

Recently, I had a request for some information about an old bottle cap that a friend in Geauga County had found. It was from a farm that also bottled and retailed Golden Guernsey milk in the Chardon area.

I have a book that was given to me several years ago by some dairy farmer friends about Ohio dairies. It lists every milk processor by county that was ever in business. It listed the dairy where the bottle cap came from but didn’t have any other information.

Out of curiosity, I counted the farms that bottled and retailed milk or made cheese or were just processors who bought milk and processed it. There were about 395 in business in Trumbull County over many years. Now they are all gone, a remarkable change.

In the process of finding my book on Ohio dairies, I came across my antique one titled “Dr. Chase’s Recipes or Information for Everybody.” It was written by Dr. A.W. Chase, M.D., and published in 1865. You can see that it would have real up-to-date information since it was about 150 years old.

I thought that maybe it would have a cure for the virus that is so serious right now. So I spent some time looking through it. It is divided into departments that today we might call chapters. I turned to the Medical Department to see what I could find.

None of his recipes seems to fit today’s serious problems. He did spend some time on the overuse of alcohol in the medicines of the day. He listed what he called “spiritual facts.” These included:

One, whiskey is the key by which many gain entrance into our prisons;

Two, brandy brands the noses of all those who cannot govern their appetites;

Three, punch is the cause of many unfriendly punches;

Four, ale causes many ailings that beer brings to the bar;

Five, wine causes many to find a winding way home;

Six, champagne is the source of many real pains.

From all this, you might say he didn’t think alcohol was an appropriate medicine.

He spent a lot of time talking about a problem called “ague.” I’m not quite sure what that really is, but it may be related to today’s flu. Reading some of his cures for ague, it seemed to me the cures might have been worse than the disease.

For example, one of the cures called for quinine, Dover’s powders (whatever they are), mucilage of gum, Arabic and sub-carbonate of iron. Maybe you know what some of these things are, but I didn’t.

In the Saloon Department, there are several interesting recipes. There is one for molasses candy and another for popcorn balls. If you followed their recipe, you would make 100 popcorn balls. That might be enough if you are having a party, which we are not supposed to do in these days of the virus.

If I had the time, I could spend hours reading some of the cures, recipes, ideas for baking and cooking, and hints for handling household problems. It is interesting to see what might have been popular in 1865 and before.

My father used to say that his mother would refer to this book many times for information about health problems as well as for cooking and baking information. It was probably the best information she had.

On the back page, someone had written recipes for making vinegar, apple fritters and cough syrup. These were apparently things that were commonly made.

One other little booklet that I found is titled “Sparks of Laughter,” published in 1921. Along with many jokes, it had a sections on how to be a toastmaster and how to tell a funny story.

So there are interesting books of 1865 as well as many in 2020.


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