December 19, 1851

Coal

Dec 19th Friday  After breakfast went to making

my citron made quite a long job of it nearly two before it

was all done had about 14 or 15 lbs  The coal

affected Jane so much that she nearly fainted 

and had to go to bed & I had to get dinner

After I got through with the citron I put

the things back into the store room from the

shed chamber & put it in order  Spent eve at Olivers

Coal was the fuel of choice at the Ames compound, but it had some negative aspects (beyond its environmental impact, a more modern concern.) Dust and smoke from burning coal was noxious, its particulates containing toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic.  Yet much of America was turning to coal for fuel to support the growth of manufacturing and the expanding rail traffic, and to replace the use of wood in homes.

While working in the kitchen making candied citron, Jane McHanna was overcome by the coal smoke and smell.  She went to bed to recover, leaving Evelina at the stove to finish up and make dinner. No doubt Evelina was concerned for the health of her servant, but no doubt she was somewhat peeved to be doing Jane’s job again.

Citron, meanwhile, was the fruit of choice for fruitcake.  Not as familiar to us nowadays as it was in 1850, it was cooked and candied and used for special baking.  Both Evelina and Jane would have known how to cook it down.

 

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