Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987 Page: 29
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disgusted most people. Deeply in debt,
Borden liquidated his assets and moved to
New York State, where he began processing
In this period, the three daily meals
were practically identical, with the most
substantial fare being served at the afternoon
dinner. Supper was generally a light
meal composed primarily of leftovers.
When visiting in New Washington, Mrs.
Matilda Houstoun noted: "We breakfast
at nine on hot corn bread, and pork
dressed various ways; there is, moreover,
good milk and eggs, tea and coffee. We
dine at two, on roast pork, boiled ditto,
and corn bread, and at seven o'clock in
,he evening we sup on the same."
Etiquette, or table and social manners,
was just being "codified" in this period of
Jacksonian Democracy. In the 1830s and
1840s, more than fifty "learning how to
behave" manuals were published in America.
The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne
noted that "people at just this stage of
manners are more disagreeable than at
any other stage. They are aware of some
decencies, but not so deeply aware as to
make them a matter of conscience."
Typically in this period, while forks
were set on the table, the knife was used
instead for picking up food from the
plate. Napkins were rare or nonexistent,
and people wiped their hands on the edge
of the tablecloth. Everyone commented
on the speed with which individuals ate.
Francis Sheridan, a British visitor to the
republic, described the dinner hour at
Texas' finest hotel, the Tremont House in
Galveston: "Dingle, Dingle, Dingle, goes
a bell at which magic sound the doors of a
large room are thrown open, and the
crowds of Boarders rush head-long in, and
in less than ten minutes rush head-long
According to historian Daniel Boorstin,
the indifference that Americans and
Texans displayed toward the quality of
their food or even variety comes from an
early nineteenth century belief "that all
foods had the same nutritive value. There
was supposed to be one 'universal element'
which helped the body grow, which
kept it warm and working, and repaired
the tissues. It did not much matter what
you ate, as long as you ate enough of it."
And the Texas republic was a land of
abundance, a land of milk, honey, and of
A young man traveling in Tyler County
in the 1840s mentioned the culinary delights
of Texas when he commented: "I
don't see how a man can live," he wrote,
"as you folks do and be a Christian, for
the Ticks, the black Mud, the sand flies,
and musketoes-dry beef, black coffee,
sweet potatoes, and other hard features of
your country would ruin me. It is the
most perfect purgatory of any place on
Ellen N. Murry is the curator of education at the
Star of the Republic Museum in Washington,
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987, periodical, Summer 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45437/m1/29/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.