Volume 1


Fourth Edition Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1920
Copyright 1917 by Clarence Ray Aurner

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, submitted April, 2013


The food in those days was corn bread, hominy or hulled corn, wild game, salt pork or bacon, honey, and fresh or dried pumpkin. Wheat or white bread, tea and coffee, or cultivated fruits were to be had only on special occasions. The corn and hominy could be prepared at home and wild fruit such as berries, crabapples, and grapes could be found in many places. Wild turkeys and prairie chickens were plentiful, and deer meat or venison is often mentioned in the stories of the pioneers in Iowa.

Honey was found in hollow trees along the streams, and many persons have said they saw so much of it that they did not care for any more. In the southern part of Iowa, a mysterious trail was found which seems to have been made by some “bee hunters”. In following along the streams to search for bee trees and to carry the load of honey a wagon had been used. But no one ever learned all about these bee hunters who owned and used a wagon to carry away their honey.

The hominy, which was very common, was usually made at home. Wood ashes were covered with water which was allowed to run down through them. This strong liquid, called “lye” after it had been “leached” or passed through the ashes and caught in the bucket, would loosen the outside hull of the corn. The corn was covered with this lye and after standing for a number of hours it was taken out and the lye was washed off along with the coarse cover of the kernel of corn. Then it was a simple matter to boil the corn until it was soft and tender. A large quantity could be made at once and there were many ways to cook it. Nowadays people buy factory hominy in cans, and the corn kernel looks very much like that prepared long ago by the log cabin housekeeper in her simple way.

In order not to go hungry in the long winter time, the family must find some way to keep the good things of summer. The pumpkin was among the first vegetables that the settlers raised and it was preserved for winter by being dried. In the same way the meat secured in winter must be prepared for the summer. It was not unusual to see dried pumpkin and other summer crops hung about the cabin in the winter, and cured or dried wild meat in the summer time. In this way everything possible was done to keep a supply of food.

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