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Blue Mountain tea, Reading Times and Dispatch, sauerkraut, tea business, Peter Behney, golden rod
A set of handwritten, copied notes from the Reading Times and Dispatch of 1873 transcribed by Alfred L. Shoemaker, circa 1950. Within, Shoemaker details a story regarding Blue Mountain Tea and how it got its alternative name, "Pater Behney’s Kraut".
Nov. 26, 1873:
Reading Times and Dispatch
Among the crazy superstitions once prevalent in the adjoining county of Berks, but now happily dying out before the advance of education and culture; there remains one of which we were not aware until today. It related to sauerkraut, and is called “Gall Day” whereupon, it is said, if any person buys cabbage and makes kraut, the latter is sure to turn out bitter. Many housewives still believe in it, and did about five weeks ago, when the day occurred for 1873. - Lancaster Examiner
Dec 2, 1873 Quaker jests Crispin
P. 4, vol.1 Chester Countian
Dec. 30, 1873 Blue Mountain Tea.
We have received from Mr. Adam Deisher, of Tuckerton, this county, who is an active member of the Farmer’s Club, a package of “Blue Mountain” tea. This is a species of the “Golden Rod” family, botanically known as Solidago odoro. It is found growing on the summits of rocky hills and mountains, and is abundant on the Blue Mountain range skirting the northern boundary of Berks County. It is a sweet-scented herb, diuretic in its properties, and forms a pleasant tea, which to many tastes is quite agreeable. It grows to the height of three feet and bears on top a truss of yellow flowers. It is gathered in October in large quantities, and during the winter is sold at country stores, and by peddlers throughout the county at from 50 to 75 cents per pound. The above variety of the golden rod is distinguished from other members of the same family, of which there are many varieties, by its white stem, and long narrow pale green leaf. Another variety, having a red stem and broader leaf, is much more abundant, but of noxious qualities. The latter variety is known by the people living along the mountains by the “Pennsylvania German” name of “Pater Behney’s Kraut”, owing to an amusing affair which occurred a number of years ago. A certain Peter Behney, residing in Lebanon county, was desirous of engaging in the sale of blue mountain tea, which was found by a number of persons to be a profitable business. He accordingly proceeded to the Blue Mountain, and gathered a large quantity of the red stemmed variety, which he dried, and disposed of in packages to the farmers throughout the county. All who used the tea were taken with violent retching, and became very ill, when, upon investigation, it was discovered that Mr. Behney had gathered the wrong variety of the tea, and the red-stemmed golden-rod was then denominated “Peter Behney’s Kraut”, which name it still retains. An old man by the name of Joseph Nearing, residing in Millersburg, this county has engaged in the sale of Blue Mountain tea for many years, and has in this manner acquired, it is said, a considerable competence.
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Shoemaker, Alfred L., "Notes From the Reading Times and Dispatch, November 26 to December 30, 1873" (1950). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 245.
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