What follows are features found in the November 28, 1895, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. I hope you enjoy these installments from Rangeley’s past and a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

(Editor’s comments in Italics otherwise the copy has been reprinted just as it appeared in 1895).

Early Thanksgiving Days

The first recorded Thanksgiving was the Hebrew feast of the tabernacles. There have been but two English Thanksgivings in this century. One was on Feb. 27, 1872, for the recovery of the Prince of Wales from illness; the other, June 21, 1887, for the queen’s jubilee. The New England Thanksgiving dates from 1633, when the Massachusetts Bay colony set apart a day for thanksgiving. The first national Thanksgiving proclamations were by congress during the Revolutionary war. The first great American Thanksgiving Day was in 1784 for the declaration of peace. There was one more national Thanksgiving in 1789, and no other till 1862, when President Lincoln issued a national proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving. Since that time the president has issued an annual national proclamation.

Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the Prince of Wales, contracted typhoid in November 1871 and had been near death. Upon his recovery, she held a National Day of Thanksgiving celebrated in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The last three quarters of the 19th century is known as “Victorian Age” due to her long rein during the pinnacle period of the British Empire. The current, Queen Elizabeth II has since overtaken Victoria for the title of longest serving British Monarch and will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Carry Out the Idea of Plenty

Oysters. Mock To fulfill the chief end of its being there must be too much to eat at the Thanksgiving dinner. That, too, is ono of the traditions of the day. All the decorations of the table must carry out the idea of plenty, the heaped-up fruits, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, mandarins, bananas, that form the centerpiece; well filled dishes of bonbons, salted almonds and olives, the vases of flowers that mingle their perfume with the odors which steam from the high piled plates of the guests. A couple of small pumpkins, hollowed out, lined with paper and filled with nuts and raisins, will remind the feasters of what might otherwise be overlooked in these degenerate days— that the festival is of New England origin. The same fact may be further suggested by serving the sorbet in pumpkin shaped paper cases and by a toast in sweet cider to the pilgrim fathers— who would, by the way, have been mightily shocked could they have foreseen the lavishness of the banquet. The modern Thanksgiving dinner must be good and well cooked. It must contain a variety of dishes, but they must be dainty and have sauces and dressings and garnishing’s suggestive of the day. Delmonico’s chef gives the following as his idea of a fin de sole Thanksgiving feast:

Oysters, turtle soup, Rissoles of sweetbreads, Boiled bass with cream sauce, Potatoes hollandaise, Turkey stuffed with chestnuts, Oyster fritters, with cranberry jelly, Broiled breast of mallard duck, Celery salad, with mayonnaise & Roquefort cheese, Mince pie, Ice cream and Café

When one considers how hard folks such as farmers, woodsmen, and housewives had to work just to make ends meet in1895, and how dependent they were upon the success of field crops, gardens, livestock or to simply not become injured or fall victim to some deadly 19th century illness preventing them from doing the work itself…Thanksgiving, on the high-societal scale shared above was probably fun to dream about. However, if it could be splurged upon by the common family of the day, a simple roasted turkey with all the fixings was lavish enough and likely provided an even deeper sense of appreciation perhaps.

Local Paragraphs

It don’t do to oversleep if you have any idea of taking the morning train. Every day you can see hustling by some belated would-be traveler.

 The office of the old RANGELEY LAKES was near where Books Lines and Thinkers is today, and the S.R.& R.L. railroad station was located just east of the Rangeley Inn.

C. W. Barrett is busy preparing for his next season’s boat building. He built upwards of thirty last year and intends to go way above that number this winter.

Barrett is widely considered the best builder of the famous Rangeley Boat ever. At one time, there were nine different boat shops in operation  in Rangeley building 20- 50 boats of the builders own adaptation of the now iconic watercraft. One might say that Rangeley was to wooden row boats what Detroit would become to the automobile.

Heaven help the man that has to go through Rangeley after dark these nights! It is so dark you can’t see the sidewalk and so muddy you can’t follow the road.

Imagine, no streetlights and folks went to bed early so their kerosene lamplight was not shining out their windows. And we think things are quiet in town at night in late fall now!

The growth of Rangeley may be seen from the fact that in former years the Oquossoc House could accommodate all that came while now, nearly every night, guests have to be roomed out.

The Rangeley Lake House was just being completed as 1895 ending, so the old Oquossoc House was it. As shared above, the local folks took in temporary boarders and travelers to make an extra dollar here and there.

Mr. Barrett informs us that near Gull Pond is a spring that throws out a stream of water that would fill a three-inch pipe. This would give a supply sufficient for the town for several years.

I would like to see this spring someday, as would Poland Spring I would imagine. Shhhh!

Baked Indian Pudding

What follows was found in the “Cozy Corner for the Ladies” section of the paper…

Put one quart of milk on the stove and scald. Stir into this six rounded tablespoonfuls of meal wet in cold water and continue to stir till the meal is well scalded. Then take from the stove and add 1 1/2 cups of molasses, two eggs, one cup cold water, 1 quart of cold milk, a little salt, and butter the size of an egg. Bake four hours in a moderate oven.      – Mrs. George Winter, Kingfield

My mother used to make Indian Pudding and would add dried cranberries, walnut pieces and raisins to a recipe much like this one. Try sprinkling the top with a little brown sugar about halfway through baking. It warmed the soul on a raw fall day. She would top it with fresh whipped cream. YUM! No offense intended, but I just cannot bring myself to call it, ‘Indigenous Peoples Pudding’. Until next time, be well!

In November 1895 the brand new Rangeley Lake House was just receiving a fresh coat of interior paint in preparation of its grand opening the following spring.

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