Ff – is for Fabulous Finds from afar…

Family History Through the Alphabet

It arrived… or to be more precise, “they” arrived, bringing memories from afar. There they were sitting snugly, or maybe even smugly, inside my letter box, safely wrapped in their own cocoons, just waiting to be dis-covered. Eureka!!! … all the more of a delight for having arrived so un-expectedly. Two battered and careworn Cookery Books, the topic for this week’s Family History Through the Alphabet post – I could hardly believe my eyes.

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… after that moment of musical madness with our late, and great Ozzie, Heath Ledger… back to the story.

A few days after receiving some rather sad news I needed a dis-traction, so logged onto eBay and began trawling through a list of old recipe books. Up she popped, like a blessing from the deep – The Barossa COOKERY BOOK”. It was clearly quite old and sadly attracting very little attention from the “punters” so, with less than an hour to go, I whacked on a modest bid and went back to blogging. Hours passed before I remembered, so logged back on and was greeted with the words:  

“Congratulations! You have won…”              

Whooo Hooo!!!   Amazingly no-one had placed a bid after mine – it seemed that this little old book “had my name on it”, so to speak. 

About to click over to “Pay Pal” and up popped an advertisement, of the eBay kind, advising of another old Cookery Book which was a “Buy Now” offer. What could I do, eh? Another old dear quietly saying, “Looka me!!!”. I looked: it was a 1939 South Australian Education Department text book with the title, “MANUAL of DOMESTIC ART (COOKING)”. Within the blink of an eye I’d clicked on the “Buy Now” button and was immediately the anticipated owner of two old Cookery Books. Two old Cookery Books which woud describe the type of food our Ancestor’s ate, and the manner in which it was cooked, not to mention the addendum of “Household Tips” which was always included in Cookery Books of the past.

Well, it turned out that “The Barossa COOKERY BOOK” certainly was almost “…too good to be true”, in more ways than one. Along with the recipes of the first Barossa Valley settlers, my children’s Prussian Ancestor’s, comes a shameful story of intolerance, abuse and dis-crimination. A story which must be told and must be remembered.

Skjold – 1841

Fleeing religious persecution, these intrepid souls travelled aboard the “Skyjold” with Pastor Fritschke, arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 27 Oct 1841. You can read how intitially they stayed with Pastor Kavel and his first wave of Lutheran immigrants at Klemzig, before heading north and settling in the historic Barossa Valley. An area which is now widely re-cognised as the home of fine wine and gourmet food. The settlers named their town Bethanien which,

… was the name of the Biblical village where Jesus was a guest of honour in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus” (1)

and set about working hard, re-paying their land debt to speculator, George Fife Angus, and prospered. South Australia’s “German” settlers soon became highly regarded and recognised as hard working, reliable and valuable citizens and many took out Australian Citizenship within a few years of arrival… then things changed. The cause?… the First World War. Australia was an ally of Great Britain and at war with Germany. Overnight these trusted and highly regarded citizens became “the enemy”.

Barossa men from German backgrounds fought with the Australian Army – some died, yet still their communities were suspected of dis-loyalty and persecuted. Lyn Leader-Elliott writes;

“The ethnic base of the Barossa has a very strong German component, and the events of the two world wars had a bigger impact on these communities than any other in the twentieth century.” (2)

Throughout South Australia the names of these towns, settled by these Prussian / German pioneers, were anglicized. Bethanien was no ex-ception. It was renamed Bethany which still stands today.

Tanunda Soldiers’ Memorial Hall

So, what does all this have to do with my modest little Cookery Book? … Well, the “Tanunda Club”, just outside of Bethany, was a centre for community activity and in 1913 they proudly built their own hall, prior to the start of World War 1. However, it didn’t take long for the anti-German suspicions to have a profound effect and the military authorites forced its closure just two years after opening. At the end of the war, and five years after the closure of Tanunda’s German social Club, the hall was bought by the Tanunda Insitute committee and re-named “The Tanunda Soldiers’ Memorial Hall”. Clearly my modest little Cookery Book was one of the Insitute’s fundraising activities, for printed in the front is:

“Proceeds of the sale of this book devoted to
TANUNDA SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL HALL
Obtainable from:
THE SECRETARY, INSTITUTE, TANUNDA, S.A.”

How I love reading the recipes and might even try a few :-)  The donors clearly show their German/Prussian heritage with names like; Miss Esther Nietschke, Mrs U.R. Heinze, and Gladys Spaetz, however Anglo-Celtic names also feature. I especially like that the recipe for “Scotch Shortbread” was donated by “Mrs Frank Cowan, Edinburgh Scotland” and can’t help but wonder if Mrs Frank Cowan was a Scottish immigrant within this strongly German community, and was proudly announcing her heritage, or was the recipe sent from relatives in Scotland? 

What is a story about an old Cookery Book without a recipe?… I ask. There are many interesting dishes to share, eg, Mutton and Tomato Pie, Mock Tripe and Jugged Hare but it’s the following which “wins the guernsey”;

OX TONGUE

     Cover ox tongue with water, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, a little salt, 1/2 doz. Cloves, 2 bay leaves, 2 onion, a little carrot and parsnip. Simmer for 3 hours. Strain it and skin the tongue and cut into slices. Mix in saucepan 2 tablespoons butter with 3 tablespoons flour, stir until it browns and then add the stock the tongue has been boiled in. Add a little milk extract if liked. Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add enough stock to make it a nice thickness, then add about 2 tablespoons of sweet wine, then add tongue. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with small squares of pastry or toast.

  - S. Seppelt, Seppeltsfield

This recipe was chosen mainly because of its donor, S. Seppelt from Seppeltsfield. Seppeltsfield is, of course, both  location and name of the famed “Seppeltsfield Winery” of South Australia. I’m guessing that this S. Seppelt was probably born about 1880-1890 and can’t help wondering where he/she fits into the Family History of the Seppelts of Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley, South Australia.   

A modest little old Cookery Book, picked up on E-bay “for a song”, and carrying so much history. I’m still smiling about this “Fabulous Find from afar”.  

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RESOURCES: 
(1)  THE GROSSERS FROM GRUENBERG 1841-1991, Roy Grosser, ed. Lutheran Publishing House, 205 Halifax Street, Adelaide SA 5000. (0977/91) ISBN 0 646 05329 9
(2)  This is an author produced postprint of:
Leader-EIliott, L 2002. Changing Heritage, Changing Values, Memories of Two World Wars in the Barossa Valley. In D.Jones (ed.), ’20th Century Heritage – Our recent Cultural Legacy’, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban design and Australia ICOMOS Secretariat: Adelaide, 109-115. Archived at Flinders University: http://www.dspace.flinders.edu.au 

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

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5 thoughts on “Ff – is for Fabulous Finds from afar…

    • Thanks Alona. Wasn’t till googling “Tanunda Soldiers’ Memorial Hall” that it’s historical significance became apparent. Appreciate so much that you always post such encouraging comments… not just to me but to all participants. Cheers

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