Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1911 (2)

She Had a Question, 1911 (2)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 17, 2010

Back again to 1911, to read the advice of Catherine Hurst to the questions posed by the young ladies of that day. She’s not so much Dear Abby this time as she is a beauty consultant and an early 20th century substitute for Google.


What can I do to cure a sty?

Take a bit of lard the size of a pea; work in dry calomel until a thick paste is formed; apply to the eyelid. It has a soothing effect and cures quickly.


Would it be proper to give a boy a photo of the girls of their crowd if he is in the same crowd? – Flower.

There would be nothing improper if he desires one.


Will you please tell me the names of the three women who were with the first company of Utah pioneers? and had they any children with them? – J.B.W.

The three women were, Clara Decker Young, wife of Brigham Young; Harriet Page Wheeler Young, wife of Lorenzo D. Young, and Ellen Saunders Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball. There were two children – Isaac Perry Decker, stepson, and Lorenzo Sobieski, own son of Lorenzo D. Young.


Would you kindly tell me what the letter “G” stands for in Karl G. Maeser’s name? – A.C.B.

The letter G. stands for Gottfried.


To Verla’s query – No; I would not correspond with the young man.


From where do we get the expression “pin money?” – Jane.

When pins were first invented, they were so very expensive that only the wealthy ladies could afford them, and it became customary when a woman was married to give her a certain sum of money with which to buy pins. This was known as pin money. The expression has survived to this day, although it now applies to a woman’s spending money in general, as pins are no longer a luxury requiring a special appropriation.


Could you give me some remedy for perspiring hands? Also what articles are necessary to manicure one’s nails? – Mary

One half ounce tincture of benzoin, ten grains of tannic acid, two ounces of elder flower water and six ounces of rose water. Bathe the hands two or three times daily.

A pair of curved nail scissors, a file, orange wood sticks, a polisher and box of nail powder.


Is there a poem called “The Sleeping Sentinel, and who is the author? – Gladys.

Yes. The poem was written by Janvier in commemoration of an act of clemency by President Lincoln in pardoning a young Vermont volunteer at the very moment when he was being led out to be shot, for sleeping at his post. The first public reading of this poem was by Mr. Murdock, and took place in the White House. The president, the poet and a large assembly being present. There is a slight poetic license, when he describes the president arriving with the pardon, as being accompanied by the sounds of rolling wheels, whereas the president went on horseback to the place of execution.


Is it proper after returning from a theatre or dance to ask your escort into the house? – Flo.

You should not ask him in, it being entirely too late. Kindly bid him goodnight at the door, and retire as soon as possible thereafter, if you value good health.


What is the origin of the word honeymoon? – Blanche.

This expression to designate the first few weeks of married life, had its origin among the nations of northern Europe. To many people now, however, the term “Honeymoon” signifies simply the wedding journey, and thereafter we often hear the expression “On their honeymoon.” The real meaning of the word is made up of two words, “honey” and “moon,” and means a moon or month of sweetness. Among the Norsemen of ancient Europe it was the practice for newly married couples to drink a beverage made from honey. This was their drink for thirty days after marriage, and so the first month of married life was called the honey month or honey moon.


Can you give me a good recipe for candied cherries and pineapple? – Katherine.

You proceed as for preserving, then drain the syrup off and put the fruit in a very moderate oven, sprinkling well with powdered loaf sugar, which will gradually penetrate the fruit while the fluid part will evaporate. They should be turned every few hours, fresh sugar being sifted over each time. Keep in boxes or drawers.


“Ellen.” You should not go contrary to the wishes of your parents. They are much wiser than you, and love you very, very dearly. If you are obedient to their counsel, you will respect yourself more, and have the blessing of God and the love of your associates.


Will you tell me what to use when washing ribbons to prevent them from being limber? – Vonda.

Add a small quantity of sugar to the rinsing water.


When and by whom was the Star Spangled Banner written? – Laura.

On September 13, 1814, by Francis S. Key. When the British retreated to their ships from Washington, they carried with them as a prisoner a beloved physician Dr. Beans. Mr. Key, a gentleman of culture and affability of manner, consented to go with a flag to the British squadron, and endeavor to secure the release of Beans. Mr. Skinner went with Mr. Key and they found the fleet at the mouth of the Potomac. They were preparing to attack Baltimore, and refused to let either of the three return, so they witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry from one of the British ships with great anxiety, especially on the night of the 13th. The fort was silent and they did not know whether it had surrendered or not. In the dim of the early light they saw “our flag was still there.” It was while pacing the deck of the British vessel in great anxiety that Key composed the “Star-spangled Banner,” which immortalized him. Key and his friends afterward gained their liberty.


Where can I obtain a book that will be helpful to me with my first baby? – Mrs. B–.

“Baby’s Requirements” is a book written especially for young mothers, to be of help to them with their first baby. It contains full directions for a baby’s first wardrobe, the toilet basket and its contents, the bed and bathing, its food and feeding, etc. It also treats on a few common ailments that will be helpful to you. This book can be obtained by sending to the Ladies’ Home Journal, Curtis Pub. Co., Phil. The price is 25 cents.


Do you know a good recipe for polishing horns of animals for making hat and coat hangers? – Delia L.

They are usually polished by machinery. To do so by hand is very fatiguing, as one must keep rubbing constantly for hours, hard and briskly. It is the constant friction that does the polishing. If they are black horns use charcoal and oil; if white, use pumice and oil. If smoothness be required before polishing glass or emery is used.


To “June’s” query – No, I would not.


To “Celia G” and “Mrs. Rose”: Unwelcome hair on the arms. Take two ounces of pure peroxide of hydrogen, and a few drops of ammonia and wet the hair. It may need several applications.


“Betsy” – (1) Much depends on conditions and regulations. Under appropriate management there would be nothing improper. (2) The young man should write first. (3) Yes, if they are respectable young men.


“Sunflower” – There would be nothing improper if you should.


If “Julia B” is not engaged to the “other” young man, there would be no impropriety in what she suggests.


Can you tell me some way to clean children’s felt hoods? – Young Mother.

Take some corn meal or salt, and gasoline and wash them, then rub them with dry cloth. They will look like new. The same gasoline will do to use again. Strain through wire strainer and put aside. The dirt will settle and leave the gasoline clear again.


To “Elsie” – it is not good form to stand at the gate any length of time; better be walking.


Rosilla – (1) Keep the blood in good condition. Avoid meats, rich gravies, spices, sweets and pastry. Put a pinch of cream of tartar in a glass of water and drink daily for a week or two. (2) I know of nothing to correct what seems perfectly natural to you.


Kindly tell me what to do for calloused elbows. – A.L.

Use plenty of cold cream or olive oil on your elbows, first softening them with cloths wrung out of hot water. Fill the palm of one hand with cream or oil, and place elbow in it, rubbing round and round. If you will persist in this treatment you will soon have smooth elbows. Cucumber cream is whitening.


“Nance” – Once in two or three weeks is often enough.


Why are American people often called “Yankees”? – Phebe.

Yankee is the popular name for the New Englander in America, and in Europe is applied indiscriminately to all natives of the United States. Its origin is uncertain, but the common explanation is that it is a corruption of the word English, or French “Anglais,” as pronounced by the Indians. In Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms is a statement to the effect that yengees or yenkees, was a name originally given by the Massachusetts Indians to the English colonists and that it was afterwards adopted by the Dutch on the Hudson, who applied the term in contempt to all the people of New England, Heckwelder (an authority on Indian matters) states that the Indians applied the term yengees specially to the New Englanders as contradistinguished from the Virginians or Long Knives, and the English proper Saggenash. As early as 1713 it is said to have been a common cant word at Cambridge, Mass., in the sense of good or excellent. During the war of the Revolution the name was applied to all patriots, and during the Civil War all Southerners applied it to all the people of the North.



  1. Ms. Hurst not being readily available, I relied instead on my friend Google to find a copy of the poem, The Sleeping Sentinel.

    President Lincoln’s reprieve was only temporary. The events described in the poem occurred in September 1861. In April 1862, the young soldier, William Scott, was killed in battle, near Yorktown during the Peninsula Campaign.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 17, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  2. Dear Catherine Hurst,

    What is nail powder?

    Signed, confused in the 21st century

    Dear Catherine Hurst,

    Are there other titles of possible poems that might exist, or did your correspondent just get lucky with her guess about the Sleeping Sentinel?

    Signed, amused in the 21st century

    Comment by jeans — May 17, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  3. Nail powder, still available to recreate that 1911 beauty experience. (You rub it on the surface of your nails. I think it is mildly abrasive to clean off stains and ripples and to make your nails shine a bit.)

    Thank you, Mark, for linking to that and for going beyond to tell the rest of the [sad] story.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 17, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  4. Nothing like rubbing mercury (II) chloride into your eye!

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 17, 2010 @ 9:39 am

  5. As usual, I think the best material is the unknown, unpublished queries the prompted the answers.

    Comment by Clark — May 17, 2010 @ 9:44 am

  6. J., do you suppose I should put a disclaimer — DO NOT TRY THIS IN 2010 — on all these columns?! {g}

    Me, too,Clark. What in the world is okay to do once in 2 or 3 weeks but not more often? Just what is Julia B. proposing to do with the “other” young man? Ye snakes and garters — I want to know!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 17, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  7. RE 5: Ah, mystery.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — May 17, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  8. The Yankee definition reminds me of an old Yankee joke I heard while living in Boston.

    “To the European, a Yankee is an American. To an American, a Yankee is a New Englander. To a New Englander, a Yankee is a Vermonter. To a Vermonter, a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast. And to a Vermonter who eats apple pie for breakfast, a Yankee is someone who eats it with a knife.”

    Comment by Bruce Crow — May 17, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  9. I assume that the newlyweds were drinking mead for 30 days … so they spent the first month of marriage drunk?

    Comment by queuno — May 17, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  10. I agree, Clark — the terse “No, I would not” responses are the best.

    However, what really stuck out to me this time are the scores and scores of odd ingredients and remedies that folks must have had to have available in their cupboards back in 1911. The voluminous list of distinctive ingredients is mind-boggling to this 21st-century dude (who must take a lot of stuff for granted):

    cucumber cream? elder flower water? tannic acid? dry calomel?

    And all this is in addition to the particular (and peculiar) ways that more familiar ingredients are prescribed to be used, like sugar, gasoline, salt, water, etc.

    Oh my. Sister Hurst’s motto must have been “Every Member an Apothecary,” I guess.

    Comment by Hunter — May 17, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  11. Hunter, we probably have all the same ingredients in our own cupboards; they’re just included in the household products and foods we already use. Bleah.

    Comment by Paul Robichaux — May 17, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  12. Dear Anyone,

    Please- what does ‘limber’ mean, as in ribbons become it after washing if not rinsed in sugar water?

    I’ll check back after I have whitened my hairy arms and dealt with my calloused elbows. The perspiring hands will have to wait!

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — May 17, 2010 @ 11:48 am

  13. “Limp” I presume.

    And if you don’t want perspiring hands, don’t ever get excited like a teenaged girl.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 17, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  14. “limber” as in “too limp and flexible” I guess.

    Guessing, of course, is my strong suit, and so much fun with a post like this. “Once in every two or three weeks” That’s how often Nance’s boyfriend could come calling if they weren’t dating seriously. Rosilla, told to avoid greasy food, obviously has zits, and Elsie needs to keep walking so the standing and talking at the front gate doesn’t turn into kissing. (It’s harder to kiss and walk at the same time, I presume…)

    Comment by Clark — May 17, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  15. I realize that these were published years before Borden introduced the world to their “spokescow” Elsie, but, anachronistic or no, Elsie’s question made me think of this lovely little verse:

    We walked in the lane together
    The sky was covered with stars
    We reached the gate in silence
    As I lifted down the bars
    She neither smiled nor thanked [nor kissed] me
    Because she knew not how
    For I was only a farmer’s boy
    And she was a Jersey Cow.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 17, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  16. Thanks to Mark B. for answering the question about standing too long at the gate.

    The best part of these questions is the response of all of you. Myself, I wouldn’t want to put lard in my eye, with or without the dry calomel.

    Comment by Maurine — May 17, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

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