Tag Archives: History

Ancient Egyptian fruitcakes? No, that’s not what I mean.

Read it in The Seattle Times today, that fruitcakes can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians placed some sort of dessert similar to a fruitcake in the tombs for something sweet to eat in the afterlife, so the story goes.

But in researching further, I’ve discovered this may not be true. Could be “ fake news.”

It is often referred to as legend and lore, which means physical examples are probably hard to come by and may not exist. I wonder if there are any surviving recipes on papyrus stashed somewhere.

Culinary lore claims that ancient Egyptians placed an early version of the fruitcake on the tombs of loved ones, perhaps as food for the afterlife. But fruitcakes were not common until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and barley mash were mixed together to form a ring-shaped dessert.

It was popular among soldiers, who had to journey to faraway lands and no doubt often went hungry.

Prized for its portability and shelf life, Roman soldiers often brought fruitcake with them to the battlefields.

Later, the oddity became a staple for those heading off to the Crusades.

Crusaders and hunters were reported to have carried this type of cake to sustain themselves over long periods of time away from home.

Thankfully, in the 21st century Western world there is no need for fruitcakes.

ajh

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Einwohner? Notes on German society in 1883, using my great grandpa as a case study.

GERMAN, A CHANGING LANGUAGE

Hmm. The only record that I’ve found of my great grandfather in Germany, which is a compliation of many sources I believe, lists his occupation in 1883. The German word is Einwohner.

Upon reading the word, I immediately began probling the tubes that make up the Internet to translate it, using everything from Google Translate to a hashtag on Twitter.

Not satisfied, I tried a mailing list on genealogy, geographic-specific, hosted by Yahoo and recvieved this wonderfully descriptive answer from Piotr Mankowski, resident of Nowogard, Poland, which was Naugard, Germany until World War II.

“Einwohner was a status and meant a person who rented or leased a flat or house in the village or town. In some cases, the person had to pay for the roof over his head by, for example, working for a day for the owner, especially if residing in the farmer’s house.”

Heniz Radde, who was born in a place called Gross Tuchen, which isn’t far from where my ancestors lived, and now lives in Switzerland, wrote a concise explanation.

“Today Einwohner means inhabitant and nothing else. But in the past, the word was in use for day laborer and very small farmer as well. Sometimes it was written Einlieger for the same.”

ajh

Bluetooth technology is named after Harald Bluetooth, whose initials in runic script — ᚼᛒ — make up the logo.

FIRST KING OF THE DANES

The Bluetooth name is an Anglicized version of the Scandinavian word Blåtand, sometimes spelled Blåtann. In Old Norse it’s Blátǫnn. The word is the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald Bluetooth who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom and, according to legend, introduced Christianity. The Bluetooth logo is a combination of Harald’s initials, using what are called the Hagall (ᚼ) and Bjarkan (ᛒ) characters.

ajh

Manhattan, 1887

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When my great grandparents landed at the Castle Garden immigration depot at the tip of Manhattan in 1887, this is what New York City looked like, at least on one street. It must have been exciting, traveling from the far reaches of Germany in Eastern Europe, likely visiting the cities of Stettin, Berlin and Bremen along the way, and ending up in New York City after crossing the Atlantic before setting out for their final destination, South Dakota.

ajh

Goodbye, Cousin

300px-Doty-42-4THERE ARE LOTS
of us, no doubt. Cousins, that is. As you go back in time, the fewer the people and therefore the increased likelihood that any two people today share a common ancestor.

Such is the case with a roguish character who sailed for America on the Mayflower as an indentured servant, Edward Doty. I am a descendant, thanks to my mother.

So was Dorothy Anne “D.A.” Murphy Van Nest of Scottsdale, Arizona. She died in September at the age of 95, and I learned about her connection to Doty and me from her obituary.

ajh

Hugh Hefner was a descendant of Puritan leader William Bradford.

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine and an ensuing media empire, recently died at the age of 91. And feminist icon Camille Paglia had a few thoughts.

“Hefner’s new vision of American masculinity was part of his desperate revision of his own Puritan heritage. On his father’s side, he descended directly from William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and was governor of Plymouth Colony, the major settlement of New England Puritans.”

An interesting take on Hefner and the sexual revolution.

ajh