Back to Great-Granny’s recipe book for more home recipes. Some of the ingredients had us scratching our heads in bemusement, but we’ll share the recipes here anyway. You’ll never know when you need to mention one of these in a story sometime!
Measurements are usually given in drams or drachms (same thing, different spelling), which is shown as ‘dr’ and a number. The Britannica encyclopaedia defines as this “An apothecaries’ dram contains 3 scruples (3.888 grams) of 20 grains each and is equal to one-eighth apothecaries’ ounce of 480 grains.”
Other measures used are ordinary ounce (oz) and pound (lb). Liquid measures used are pints and gills (a gill is ¼ of a pint).
We’re used to buying whatever beauty products we want, when we want. For most Victorian women, these were too expensive or difficult to come by. So, being inventive and clever, they created their own:
1 oz pure wase (?) 2 oz spermaceti 1 pint almond oil.
Melt together and mix well. Beat in 12 drops attar of rose and 3 oz honey. Put in jars and cover securely. It will last a long time.
For Chapped Hands/Dirty And Rough Hands
Chapped Hands Recipe One 1 dr carbolic acid 1 oz glycerin
Mix with water and apply to hands.
Chapped Hands Recipe Two Take an equal quantity of glycerin and methylated spirits and mix thoroughly together to rub on hands after washing.
For Dirty, Rough Hands Use Bicrolium Jelly, which removes all dirt and makes them soft and white.
Hair Tonic 1 oz Lavena de Composee (?) ¼ dr menthol crystals 3 oz Bay Rum
Falling Hair Get some Boranium from chemists (pharmacist) and mix with Bay Rum
For Grey Hair
To keep hair from turning grey, obtain some Tammalite (?), dissolve it in Bay Rum and apply this lotion every day.
Shampoo 1 teaspoon Stallax dissolved in hot water
Home Care Products
Most housewives found it easier and cheaper to create her own polishes and cleaners, rather than buy ready-made ones. Here are a couple of recipes:
Cheap boot polish
1 dr hulball (?) 1 dr turpentine 1 dr neat’s foot oil
Melt hulball and mix with oils, and put in a tin. This makes boots waterproof.
A good floor polish
1 dr bees wax and scrape it into a jar. Pour over it enough paraffin to cover it and put on stove to melt. When cold it is ready for use. Is a good furniture polish, too.
Do you have old family remedy recipes like this that you’d like to pass along? Post them into the comments here (or email them to email@example.com) along with the name of your ancestress who is credited with the recipe, and we’ll add them to the relevant page in the Resources section.
Here’s the first of a new series of mid-month posts about… well, stuff that might be of interest to our readers, and to writers who want to add a note of authenticity to their stories. These posts will cover a whole range of topics on the history of the old West. We hope they’ll be interesting, useful and fun. Enjoy reading this post, and be grateful for modern medicine!
For many Victorian families, seeking treatment from a doctor or drugs from a pharmacist was prohibitively expensive, a situation made worse in the American west where medical professionals may have been few and far between. Many families relied upon recipes for home remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation, using ingredients commonly available from a local apothecary or pharmacist – or, in some cases, the local butcher! This page gives you the recipes from the collections of two ladies: one an English Victorian (using her spelling, which was variable at times) and an American.
Measurements are usually given in drams or drachms (same thing, different spelling), which is shown as ‘dr’ and a number. The Britannica encyclopaedia defines as this “An apothecaries’ dram contains 3 scruples (3.888 grams) of 20 grains each and is equal to one-eighth apothecaries’ ounce of 480 grains.” Clear as mud.
Other measures used are ordinary ounce (oz) and pound (lb). Liquid measures used are pints and gills (a gill is ¼ of a pint).
Methods are often patchy, at best, and don’t give the sort of precise instructions we are used to – no oven temperatures, for example. But remember that the Victorian housewife used a stove (in the US) or a kitchen grate (UK) where the fire was always on, winter and summer, to ensure they could cook. They were used to controlling recipes by the position they’d put things in the oven.
The recipes often contain ingredients that are now controlled drugs (opiate derivatives such as laudanum, or poppy syrup) or poisonous (such as syrup of squills, or belladonna), which were all then readily available and bought over the counter. Dosage instructions are sometimes missing – if they aren’t mentioned with the recipe below, then they aren’t given. That alone must have made taking these remedies a bit of an adventure.
So our advice is, don’t try these at home!
(i) From the Receipts (Recipe) book of Julia Robson Winter
Julia Robson Winter (1872-1962) was Starry Diadem‘s great-grandmother (Starry’s first name is Julia, after her), born in the Co. Durham area of the UK. Her ‘receipt book’ was started just after her marriage in 1894, and she and her daughter Caroline kept it going for decades. It was handed on to Starry when Caroline died in 1978.
1 oz tincture of cayenne 1 oz tincture of rhubarb 3 dr laudanum 1 oz essence of peppermint 1 oz spirits of camphor 2 dr oil of pennyroyal
Dose: 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon in well-sweetened hot water.
Recipe One 2 dr laudanum 2 dr oil of aniseeds 2 dr syrup of squills 2 dr paregoric 1 dr oil of mint 2 ozs of Spanish (liquorice) 1 lb of treacle.
Recipe Two 2 dr syrup of squills 2 dr syrup of poppies 2 dr Friar’s Balsam 2 dr paregoric
Shake well before taking 1 teaspoonful, 2 times a day.
Recipe Three 1 dr peppermint 1 dr paregoric 1 dr spirits of nitre 1 dr ether 1 dr laudanum 1 dr aniseed
Put ½lb treacle into a jug, pour ½ pint of boiling water over it and let it stand until cold. Then shake ingredients well and add to treacle and water.
½ a wine glass-ful for an adult, a little less for a child.
Recipe Four ½ oz of ipecuana wine (that is: ipecacuanha or ipecac) ¼ oz essence of ginger 4 oz syrup of squills
Add to 8 oz bottle and fill up with water.
Dose: 1 teaspoonful every 4 hours.
There are actually several more recipes in the book, but you get the general idea.
Recipe One 2 drams (drachms) each of: – tincture of rhubarb – laudanum – essence of peppermint – spirits of champher (camphor) – cayenne tincture
Recipe Two 2 dr peppermint 2 dr red pepper 2 dr camphor 2 dr rhubarb 4 dr opium or laudanum
Adults 12 to 18 drops on sugar (cube).
Recipe Three 1 dr tincture of capsicum 1 dr oil of cassia 1 dr oil of aniseed
10 drops on sugar.
1 oz best Turkey rhubarb 1 oz of B Carbon Potass ? syrup of sugar
Put into a jug and pour over 2½ pints Boiling water keep in the steam until cold, then add 1 oz of spirits of wine and 1/10th oz of (?) peppermint.
1 tablespoon-ful before breakfast every morning.
6 dr of laudanum 2 dr of hearts-horn oil (harts-horn) 1 dr of soap liniment 1 dr of belladonna liniment
Mix it and shake well together.
Recipe One ¼ lb Epsom Salts 20 grains Pot sulphate of iron (potassium?) 20 grains quinine 5 drops sulphuric acid
Dissolve in 1 pint hot water.
Dose: 1 wineglassful in the morning.
Recipe Two 1 packet of Lions Blood herbs 1 packet of Lions Constipation herbs ½ oz of liquorice juice
Boil 1 pkt blood herbs and ¼ pkt constipation herbs for 20 minutes together, then add juice and two tablespoons of treacle.
½ gill of turpentine ½ gill of white wine vinegar whites of 2 eggs
Shake well together in a bottle and let stand for 24 hours, then use.
Salves and Ointments
Recipe One 3 oz lard 1 dr beeswax 1 dr camphor 1 dr spermaceti 1 red precipitate powder
Grate wax, camphor and spermaceti and put into a jar, then add the other ingredients. Place in the oven top until it is melted, then stand the jar in a dish of cold water, stirring until it stiffens.
Recipe Two 1 lb mutton suet ¼ lb lard 2 oz olive oil 2 oz beeswax 2 oz burgundy pitch (?)
Cut suet up into small pieces and render down over a slow fire, then strain it into the other ingredients which must have been previously melted. Simmer the whole for about ¼ of an hour, then pour into a suitable receptacle to cool.
Recipe Three get 2½ oz resin 1 oz yellow wax 4 oz lard
Melt them together over a slow fire, strain the mixture through muslin and stir constantly until cold. This is good for scalds or burns.
Recipe Four 1 oz beeswax 1 oz white pitch 1 oz white resin 2 oz frankincense 2 oz Venice turpentine ½ mutton suet
Render suet in the oven. Bruise beeswax, white pitch, white resin and frankincense. Add suet after it has been strained, and let stand in the oven until is is all properly dissolved, then add the Venice turpentine. Set it to cool.
Recipe ½ pint of best vinegar ½ oz camphor ½ oz spirits of wine 1 oz best turpentine 1 new laid egg
Break up camphor and put in with spirit of wine in a bottle. Beat up egg into the vinegar and when the camphor is melted, add the egg and vinegar to the spirit of wine. Then add turpentine, and shake it all up so it gets thoroughly mixed. Rub this mixture on sprained joint. It should be kept in a well-corked bottle. It is also good for rheumatism.
(ii) From the recipe book of Zelma Irene (Heaney) Larson
Zelma was Buckskin‘s maternal grandmother, whose handwritten recipe book has been printed out for her descendants to treasure.
Beat all together and spread on a cloth. Place cloth, mixture side down on chest. Leave on all night. It will not blister skin. Makes three applications for a child
For boils and ulcers
Place a piece of bread (white bread) over the affected area. Drip HOT milk (whole milk) on to bread until saturated and let sit for 10 or so minutes. Will draw poison to a head to be drained.
Do you have old family remedy recipes like this that you’d like to pass along? Post them into the comments here (or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org) along with the name of your ancestress who is credited with the recipe, and we’ll add them to the Home Remedies page in the Resources section.
A New Years Message from the Lancer Fiction Gateway Team
‘The words we leave behind in stories or books, whether read or not, are our legacy. It may be the only one we leave, and we should make sure they’re there for everyone. Someday someone might stumble across this book, the words…well, they might mean something to them.’
Selected writings of Abraham Lincoln (Feb.12,1809-April 15,1865)
The Lancer Gateway Team wants to thank you for your support during the past year.
We’ve had several hurdles to jump in 2020. The biggest of which was the loss of Anna’s original Lancerlovers site and having to move all the stories to a new home. Working together Anna Orr, Sandy Sharp, Ronnie Fish, Margaret Pollitt and Margaret Smith completed the task in less than three months.
Once Lancerlovers was archived in it’s new home, we realized the need to have all our fiction in one place. The answer was the creation of the Lancer Fiction Gateway . Working together we’ve made the Gateway the home of not only Anna’s Lancerlovers site, but also Karen’s Lancer FanFiction. In addition, for our reader’s convenience, we’ve added links to as many Lancer stories we can find on the internet.
As the quote above reminds us, the stories are our legacy to the fandom and 2020 has been Lancer fiction’s most successful year ever.
We end the year proudly reporting the Gateway is now the home of 220 authors and 3,129 stories, either currently archived or linked to the site.
The Gateway went live in May. Between May and August, the site was populated with stories from LancerLovers and LancerFanfiction.
LancerLovers stats, May – December 199,089 views, 28,115 unique visitors, and stories have had 977 comments
LancerFanFiction stats, August – December 27,963 views, 5,103 unique visitors and stories have had 104 comments.
For 2021 we look forward to your continued support. Enjoy reading the stories and remember to thank the authors for sharing their legacy with us. Lancer Fiction Gateway
Happy New Year From Anna, Karen, and Sandy The Lancer Fiction Gateway Team
AUTHORS ~ please note and follow the advice on formatting stories in the submissions guidance ~ please ensure we have your most up-to-date email address
Quite a big update this month! As well as the normal run of new stories, we’ve added our Specialist list of stories set during Hogmanay/New Year. We’ve published the site stats for November, too.
Also check out our plans for a series of mid-month blog posts that will cover anything from history to interesting facts to brilliantly useful on-line sources and directories. Not only do we hope you find these extra posts interesting, we’re throwing them open to you to contribute if you wish to. See below in the Plans for 2021 section
Both LancerLovers and LancerFanFiction consists of a collection of sub-sites, with authors’ stories posted to the site corresponding to their author name – so author ‘Harriet’, for example, will be posted to subsite F – K. The system collects stats for each of the subsites, to show visitor numbers and pages (that is, stories) viewed. We’re sparing you the individual stats this month, but the total figures for each main site for November are:
These figures don’t cover visitors to the Gateway who then go on to view externally hosted stories (those on FFN or AO3 etc).
PLANS FOR 2021
Starting in January, we’re planning to post occasional mid-month blog posts that will cover topics of interest to writers and readers of Western stories. We aren’t promising (threatening?) one every month, but as topics come up or we find interesting snippets in our Research pages, we’ll share them. We’ll continue to remind you of holiday-related stories when that’s appropriate, too (Easter, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas etc).
For our first post, look out in mid-January for Home Remedies, a look at how people treated minor illnesses when access to medical help was expensive or difficult. Not everybody could call upon Sam Jenkins in Green River, and instead made their own remedies for anything from cough to rheumatism. That was true of the UK as well, and Anna raided her great-granny’s recipe book to share some of those remedies here.
Big Question: would any of you be interested in an occasional guest spot for one of these posts?
Have you found something really fascinating about the old West that you’d like to share? Is there some aspect of Western life that you want to talk about? If so and it’s likely to be of general interest (rather than something very narrow and niche), then let us know, and perhaps we can build up a programme in which everyone in the Lancer Community can take part.
A wonderful New Year to you all, Lancer fans! Let’s hope 2021 is kinder to us than 2020.
Lancer Gateway Team 27 December 2020
Contact us about this update by leaving a comment below the post.