My Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley, put together some notes of conversations she had with her grandmother, Sarah Boone. I figured I would include some of those notes here.
First, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone was born May 17, 1869 in Clinton County, IN & died September 8, 1955 in Sheridan, Hamilton County, IN. She had been living with her daughter, Mary Boone Millikan, for 10 years since the death of her husband, Alva Lorenzo Boone (1861-1945).
Sarah’s grandchildren called her “Granny” at her request. She was known as “Gee-Gee” to her great-grandchildren. She also went by “Allie” because her mother was also named Sarah. Her parents were Sarah Alexander Erp (1829-1912) and Allen Erp (1826-1885). Allen and Sarah were married at the home of her father, William P. Alexander, in Kentucky on October 17, 1844. Sarah Erp later rode horseback to central Indiana with one baby and “one on the way.”
Margaret did not remember talk of the Alexander relatives in Indiana, but many Erp relatives were there. Granny kept in touch with Kentucky “cousins” through letters for years. She even took a trip to visit them in her later years. The Erps settled in Sugar Creek Twp, Clinton County, Indiana.
Allie was the 8th of 9 children recorded in the Erp family Bible. The first son, William Singleton Erp, died before the age of 16. The second child, Hannah, died at age 3. Daughter, Mary, married and died childless six years later. The youngest, Norman Frank, married but died a year later without a child. Allie and four brothers, Andrew Jackson (1850-1909), Allen Jefferson (1852-1927), Joshua Kerry (1858-1912) and Aaron Union (1861-1937), lived to marry and raise families. Below is a picture of Allie and these siblings with their mother, Sarah Alexander Erp.
Back row: Aaron, Allie, Joshua. Front row: Allen, Sarah, Andrew
The Erp family lived in a one room log cabin with a door that was fastened with a bar, one window and a fireplace. It had a floor but no carpet. Later, a “lean-to” kitchen was added on. It was made of boards, not logs. Not only was it used as a kitchen but it had a bed. They kept a “boarder” who slept there. The “lean-to” also had an oblong “step stove” with two holes on one level and two more on a higher level.
The log cabin fireplace was a source of heat and light and was used for cooking. Sometimes they filled a pie pan with grease, soaked a wool rag in it, hung the rag over the edge of the pan and burned it for light. They had some tallow candles which they probably made and must have been treasured items used for special occasions.
Sarah Erp wove cloth to make their clothing and bedding and her loom filled one corner of the cabin. Three beds and a trundle bed were also in the cabin. As Allie grew up, walls were papered with pages of “The Police Gazette.” Once a snake worked behind the paper and someone grabbed it, thinking it was a mouse!!
In the Summer, they cooked over an open fire out of doors using a crane to hold big iron kettles. Allie spoke of four posts with morning glory and cucumber vines and a shed sheltering the open fire. The family raised 8-10 hogs and had chickens that provided meat & eggs. A cow provided milk and cream butter. They had to dry beef, cure meat and eat the rest. With refrigeration unheard of, they sometimes had to “sweeten” meat with soda. They fried some meat, put it down in jars and poured on lard to cover it and had it for later use.
They had potatoes, dry beans and dried green beans, which “weren’t good!” They also had dried apples, peaches and pumpkin. Pumpkin was cooked until done, cut into thin slabs on a bread board and stood up by the fire until dried. Later, it was soaked and used to make pies. Grapes and elderberries were gathered, put into jars and covered with sorghum molasses.
Fireplace cooking was done in big iron kettles hung over the fire on hooks on an iron bar. Bread was cooked on a board. They had biscuits once a week. Cornbread was made of corn they ground or grated on a “grater.” “Egg butter” was made in a big iron skillet: “Heat butter, pour in molasses, add beaten egg, spices or nutmeg.” Sounds good and rich!
More next time…