Alexander Family Recipe Book

View Online
[Library Title: Alexander and Hillhouse Family Papers, 1758-1998 ]

Manuscript Location
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library
Holding Library Call No.
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
United States
Date of Composition
ca. 1850s
This recipe book is part of the library's collection of the papers of the Alexander and Hillhouse families of Sunbury, Georgia, Washington, Georgia, and Savannah, Georgia. The library has identified the book as belonging to the Alexander family, which was established in this country by physician Adam Alexander (1758-1812). Born in Scotland, he emigrated to Sunbury (Liberty County), Georgia, where he acquired land and married Louisa Frederika Schmidt (1777-1846), who was born in Stuttgart, Germany. The couple had a son and a daughter. The Alexanders' son, Adam Leopold Alexander (1803-1882), was a plantation owner in Washington (Wilkes County), Georgia, Chatham County, Georgia, and Maury County, Tennessee.

This recipe book is compiled in a pocket-size volume of 90 pages. (The pagination has been supplied.) The bulk of the recipes are handwritten, but there are also many pasted in recipes clipped from printed sources. The written recipes are in a number of different hands. About two thirds of the recipes are culinary and one third medical, with just a few practical household recipes. The book is difficult to date. It contains a number of recipes suggestive of the first third of the 19th century, including a cake leavened with pearl ash (page 25), a dessert cream stiffened with isinglass (page 62), and a "Rice Johnny Cake" baked on a "johnny cake board" before an open fire (page 77). But it also includes recipes suggestive of the second third of the 19th century, such as a chicken stew served in a chafing dish (page 30), rice bread made with "yeast powder," an early term for baking powder (page 35), and a beef stew cooked on "the back of a range" (page 65).

The book contains a number of recipes characteristic of 19th century southern cooking, including shrimp soup, okra soup, rice bread, rice waffles, corn muffins baked in muffin rings, rice muffins, puffs for breakfast, and rice johnny cake. The johnny cake recipe notes that the cake can be made with sweet potatoes (finely grated, though the recipe does not say this) instead of rice. This would make a popular conceit of the 1850s that was often called "sweet potato pone." 

To access the digital scans of this book, scroll down to Series 3, Folder 44 of the finding aid.