November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Site Research - Revolutionary Christmas at Yorktown

Yorktown Virginia has been taken over by the American colonial army.  They have set up encampment near the York River.  Feeding such a large number of men takes some planning.  This time of year those soldiers are looking for something that reminds them of home.  We are sure the French soldiers will find our fare a little bland but the cooks are working hard.  Ovens are built into the ground.

(Yorktown Victory Center in Yorktown, Virginia click here.)

Nearby, local farmers are preparing for the coming winter. 

Table has been set at the farmhouse for a Christmas feast, with a tablecloth set out!

Pigs have been slaughtered and every part has been utilized in some fashion.

One example is a bladder ball, in which the bladder of the pig is stretched and eventually stuffed with beans.  The pigs bladders were also used to seal crocks of food, to preserve them for the winter.  Brine, a mix of salt and water, was a common method of preservation.  If you have not tried brine preserved cucumbers you have really missed out! The vinegary pickles don't taste anything like brined pickles.

Don't worry about the turkeys!  They have a job to do.  They will eat the tobacco worms in the fields and will not end up on the table come Christmas day!

Here in the mild Tidewater area, our northern brothers may be quite surprised to find greens still growing!

Bacon cooked with greens is one way to give nutrition and fat for our hungry men.

Mothers may gather goods into baskets and bring inside - wooden gourd bowls for grinding and punched  metal lamps to use during the long winter nights.


  1. LOVE the pix, Carrie, especially those gorgeous turkeys! I'm so glad to hear they aren't going to furnish a Christmas feast!

  2. No, Joan, I will admit that I didn't know that their primary purpose around here was to eat the tobacco worms. No turkey on my table this Christmas, either, a pot roast!

  3. I enjoyed the photos. Thanks for the post!

  4. Thanks SUZANNE! I live only a few miles from this place. I was so sad to hear they are going to possibly take down the robotic exhibit when they remodel.

  5. This is wonderful, Carrie! I have never been to Yorktown and I learned so much. Those worm-eating turkeys were new to me as well! Love it! And wow...pig-bladders...I know they used everything out if necessity but...wow!! Thanks for a great post!

  6. Great pictures, Carrie!! Is this some historic site? Sorry, but the pig bladders really got me.. uggg.. not sure I'd want to eat anything stored in there. LOL

  7. Merry Christmas everyone!

    Oh, those turkeys. My mom has memories of picking tobacco worms off her uncle's tobacco plants in Virginia, and making her own stick of leaves to hang in the barn. Tobacco farming was my family heritage from the early 1700s (or maybe late 1600s) up until my grandfather, who became a carpenter instead.

  8. ELAINE, I used the turkeys for worm eating in my new MS and I had never heard that before. They have some really nice people working over at the Victory Center and many are fellow Yorktown residents!

  9. MARYLU, sorry, I failed to put the link up, but it is there now - Yorktown Victory Center http://www.historyisfun.org/Yorktown-Victory-Center.htm I agree, the idea of eating something sealed with a pig's bladder was pretty disgusting, but it was really neat to watch them do the process.

  10. LORI, the guide through the National Park service said that at the time of the American Revolution our fields around Yorktown were pretty bare because tobacco farmers had leached out the soil so badly that the land had to lay fallow.

  11. Carrie, yes, tobacco is very hard on the land. Back when there were plenty of acres left to clear and replant, it wasn't an issue. But true, it didn't take long for such practices to really strip the soil. All this became an issue in one of my novels, set on a tobacco farm in the Piedmont. I sure learned a lot researching that book.


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