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Samuel Maclay, apple butter bee, cider, corn, courting, schnitzing


A set of handwritten notes copied from the Journal of Samuel Maclay and a book entitled The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania, transcribed by Alfred L. Shoemaker. Within, a detailed account of a tradition known as "apple butter bees" is documented, where young people would join together to make the apple butter and play games. The notes also describe the process of using tar when planting corn.

Corresponds to:

Packet 353-8


Journal of Samuel Maclay Publ. by John F. Meginness

Williamsport 1887

In 1790

April 30th

p 7 “Stopped at the Sign of the Boar in Millers Town at James Long’s. Drank 2 quarts of syder for which I paid 1 s, 9 d.

p. 10 Thursday, May 6th. Spent the morning in preparing our landlords corn for planting with tar; after it was tared I found that the fouls would not eat it and found that a small quantity of tar is sufficient, 3 quarts I think plenty for a bushel, and by dusting it with ashes after the tar is put on it, it may be handled without any inconvenience from the tar.

The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania by Solon J. and Elizabeth Hawthorn Buck Pittsburgh 1939.

pp. 354-355: “Among the Germans especially, the apple-butter bee in the fall was an occasion for a party. A large iron kettle filled with cider was hung on the crane, or, if the night was fair and moonlit, over a fire kindled outside the cabin. Meanwhile young men and girls joined in the apple ‘snitzin’, (doubtless a corruption of the German word ‘schnitten’, to cut). The apples were pared, those to be used for butter were quartered and cored, and others were cut in discs and strung on thread to be festooned around the fireplace to dry. When the cider had boiled down sufficiently, the quartered apples were added to it, and young couples took turns in stirring the mixture with a long paddle, while the rest of the party played games indoors. The joyful opportunity of stirring the butter by moonlight with the girl of his choice more than counterbalanced for the bashful swain the awkwardness of having to ask a particular young lady to stir with him. Many a county courtship must have been forwarded by the apple butter bee.”



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Notes From the Journal of Samuel Maclay and The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania



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