One of my ongoing debates with myself is whether pioneers drank milk as a beverage. I'm starting to get the feeling that for the most part, they considered it a food item, but not a beverage. I have run across one anecdotal secondary source which said that in the 1870s in St. George, a well-set table would have three beverages on the table at dinner time: one of water, one of the local wine, and one of milk. Also, I found the citation I mentioned previously about Cambric tea, but in that instance it seemed it was out of desperation, and even then considered as a substitute for solid food.
On the other hand, I often come across such items as these:
**Andrew Israelson, a Dane crossing the plains in 1864 at the age of seven had just sat down to breakfast when the cattle stampeded. "I was eating bread and milk, and I lost my spoon, a good silver one." Sounds like a breakfast cereal approach.
**Mary recalls her father, William Greenwood, pioneering in Iron County, 1856. "Father had one good cow that supplied them with all the milk and butter they needed. But they had very little bread to go with it. To make their milk seem more foodable they gathered bullberries and boiled them in it. The acid in the berries curdled the milk which gave them something to chew."
**Ruth Page Rogers recorded in 1854, "I had bought a pig of Mrs. Sheffield for which I paid two dollars. Two weeks I milked two cows for Ann Lapworth for which she gave me the skimmed milk for my pig." In this instance, the cream was kept aside for butter. It seems they valued the milkfats for butter and cheese, but the skim milk wasn't fit for anything but fattening pigs.
So... did they drink milk? Elizabeth Kane noted dining in a Mormon home in Provo, 1872, and there was creamy whole milk in a pitcher on the table. I guess some did. But I think more often milk was viewed as a raw product to be used in the creation of other food items. I'm still collecting evidence on this issue.
1 week ago