This history of early life in Logan County, West Virginia, was written by Howard and Daisy Adams. Howard (1906-1976) and Daisy (b.1915) were children of Major and Belle Dora Adams of Trace Fork of Harts Creek. Titled “The life of pioneers during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 19th century” and written in the late 1960s or early 1970s, their history marks the only known attempt by local people to reconstruct the story of pioneer life. This part of the history includes information regarding garden food and butter-making.
Everyone had a large garden which produced much of the eating of old-timers. Beans, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, beets, melons, pumpkins, squash, onions, mustard, and lettuce, parsnips, were all produced in large quantities. Yes, cabbage, tomatoes, peas, and a lot I’ve forgotten.
Most pioneers had an orchard of apples, pear, peaches, plums from which they got a lot of good eating. These fruits were put up in many ways, especially apples. They were canned, sulfured, dried, and made into apple butter. Making apple butter was done by peeling a lot of apples and slicing them up in small pieces. Then putting them in a big copper or brass kettle which was set in a furnace. To keep the apple butter from sticking or burning in the kettle after a fire was built around it a stir stick was used. To describe a stir stick it was a piece of one by five inch board about 2 feet long with a lot of holes bored in it. A handle was fastened to the top end of the board. The handle was around 8 feet long and was pushed and pulled across and around in the kettle of apples all day long. Apples were added to the big kettle about noon. Then the sugar or molasses was added along with flavor such as vanilla or cinnamon bark which gave the apple butter a good taste. After the sweetening was put in the butter began to flop out everywhere. You had to stir fast and watch out for the flopping butter because if it hit you it burned badly. Boyd I liked to lick those apple butter spoons. Well, enough about apple butter.
We mentioned butter from milk but never told how it was made. The milk from the cow was strained and put in a stone churn size 4 gallon. It was left in the churn until it soured or got thick as they called it. Then it was churned up and down by a churn-dasher: a one by 6 inch circular piece of wood on a handle. After it was churned about 30 minutes butter would form on top of the milk. Then it was dipped off with a spoon and put in a dish, salted, and set up to get cold. So long, butter.