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Lee Home legacy: Docents share favorite recipes and prepare for historian's visit

 

Stephen D. Lee Home docents Rita Douglass, standing, and Marguerite Griffith look over the biography of Gen. Lee written by Dr. Herman Hattaway. Hattaway will be the special guest speaker Sunday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m. for the Columbus Lowndes Historical Society’s annual gathering at the Lee Home at 316 Seventh St. N. The public is encouraged to attend. In the foreground are favorite treats the docents will share recipes for in the Docents’ Dozen during Spring Pilgrimage. Get a sneak peek today.

Stephen D. Lee Home docents Rita Douglass, standing, and Marguerite Griffith look over the biography of Gen. Lee written by Dr. Herman Hattaway. Hattaway will be the special guest speaker Sunday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m. for the Columbus Lowndes Historical Society’s annual gathering at the Lee Home at 316 Seventh St. N. The public is encouraged to attend. In the foreground are favorite treats the docents will share recipes for in the Docents’ Dozen during Spring Pilgrimage. Get a sneak peek today.
Photo by: Luisa Porter

 

From left, Nanny’s sand tarts, lemon squares, teacakes and shortbread cookies are among Lee Home docents’ favorite recipes, displayed here in the historic house’s dining room.

From left, Nanny’s sand tarts, lemon squares, teacakes and shortbread cookies are among Lee Home docents’ favorite recipes, displayed here in the historic house’s dining room.
Photo by: Luisa Porter

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

After a disastrous fire destroyed most of S.D. Lee Junior High in December 1959, it looked for a while as if the smoke-damaged Stephen D. Lee Home that had served as the home economics building and cafeteria would be bulldozed with the charred remains of the school. Thanks to swift intervention by very concerned citizens, the circa 1847 home was not only saved, but now stands as a community jewel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

 

Its preservation has been the primary mission of the Columbus Lowndes Historical Society, the S.D. Lee Foundation and The Association for the Preservation of Antiquities for more than half a century -- all with no state, federal or city money.  

 

On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 25, the Historical Society invites the public to their annual meeting to learn more about the home's most well-known resident -- and an important figure in the post-war South -- Stephen Dill Lee (1833-1908). Biographer Dr. Herman Hattaway will present a free 3 p.m. program at the home at 316 Seventh St. N., next to the Columbus Lowndes Public Library. 

 

"We want younger generations to know about Columbus and the things that went on during a period when the South was being built," said Rita Douglass, a member of the Historical Society and one of about 20 docents who serve at the home, which houses the Florence McLeod Hazard Museum.  

 

Reliable rumor has it that the docents are custodians of some of the best sweet treat recipes in the Golden Triangle. Fortunately, they are willing to share. 

 

 

 

Goodies 

 

"During Spring Pilgrimage, when docents are hosting guests at the Lee Home, we've always served lemonade and homemade cookies," explained Lillian Wade, president of the Historical Society. "Often we're asked for recipes, and several of us began talking about ways to make them available. We also wanted a way to make money for the Lee Home." 

 

The group struck upon the idea of selling a packet of cards called the Docents' Dozen.  

 

"Each card will have a favorite recipe on one side and a bit of history about the Lee Home and Columbus on the other side. We think this will be a good way to spread the word about the home and city across the country," added Wade. 

 

The recipe cards -- which tell us how to make sweets like Florence Puls' Cocoons and Marguerite Griffith's Amber Balls -- will be available for Spring Pilgrimage 2012.  

 

Many of the docents also make delectables for the annual Country Store Bake Sale at the Lee Home. This year's event is set for Nov. 22. 

 

 

 

Sunday's program 

 

Herman Hattaway has been described as a "captivating historian." In his Lee biography, the award-winning professor emeritus of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City brings deserved attention to a noted Confederate military figure who became one of the new South's most progressive leaders. 

 

After adopting Mississippi as his home after the war, Lee used his military skills and discipline to work toward bringing prosperity and education to the South. He served as a state senator and was the founding president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Mississippi (now Mississippi State University). He also later headed the Vicksburg National Park Association. 

 

"Stephen D. Lee was more than just a Confederate general; he was a statesman and a great educator, and really helped define the new South," stated Wade.  

 

The home, as well as the second-floor museum, will be open Sunday for free tours. (They are also open every Friday and on other days by appointment.) 

 

Eulalie Davis is chairman of the Board of Directors of the S.D. Lee Foundation, which owns the home. 

 

"At the museum, you'll see Civil War memorabilia, china, crystal, doctors' kits, and period clothing, including several wedding gowns of local families during that time," said Davis of the museum that bears her mother's name. "And we love for school groups to come." 

 

The home's and museum's stories are preserved by Carolyn Burns Kaye. 

 

"Carolyn is the devoted caretaker of the Lee Home and is its official hostess," said Davis. "We really could not do all we do without her and her knowledge." 

 

Kaye, the S.D. Lee Home and the museum were recently awarded the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's inaugural Carr Black Award, recognizing outstanding work by Mississippi museums or individuals in preserving, interpreting and presenting public aspects of the state's history, art or culture. 

 

 

 

Worth remembering 

 

Like many others in Columbus and nearby, Lillian Wade's commitment to the Lee Home is rooted in the past.  

 

"My class was the last class to go all the way through the junior high, to eighth grade, before the school burned," she said. "I had home ec in that front parlor room; the big dining room was a cooking area. I lived across the street from it when the fire happened. 

 

"That house has been a part of my landscape for as long as I can remember, and the way it got saved was a miracle," she continued. "I'm really devoted to keeping it in good condition and having it available to the public."  

 

Like Wade and Davis, the home's many supporters take their mission to heart -- to preserve and pass on to future generations an important part of the past and show how it helped shape us. 

 

Learn more about that interesting past at Sunday's program.  

 

For more information about the Historical Society, contact Wade at 662-328-8012. 

 

 

 

GRANDMOTHER'S TEACAKES 

 

Makes about 36 squares 

 

 

 

1/2 cup butter, softened  

 

1 cup sugar  

 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

 

1 egg 

 

13/4 cups flour 

 

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter, sugar and baking soda. Beat in egg. Beat flour into mixture.  

     

  • Roll out on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with a round glass jar or cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  

     

  • Bake in a 350-degree oven seven to eight minutes, or until edges are golden. Cool.
 

 

Source: Willa Andrews Savelle. "My grandmother lived in a big old farmhouse in Haynes, Ark.. It is still in the family. Teacakes were always in a pie safe in the pantry. I never went to Grandmother's when there were no teacakes." 

 

 

 

GENE GASTON'S LEMON SQUARES 

 

Makes 36 squares 

 

 

 

2 cups flour  

 

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar  

 

2 sticks oleo 

 

Pinch of salt 

 

     

     

  • Cream oleo and sugar and add flour and salt. Pat the mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch or square pan. Push up on sides. 

     

  • Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out of oven. Lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees.
 

 

 

 

4 eggs  

 

2 cups sugar  

 

4 tablespoons lemon juice 

 

Grated rinds of 1 to 2 lemons (zest) 

 

     

     

  • Mix the above ingredients together. Pour into crust. Bake 25 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar with sifter.
 

 

Source: Donna Holleman 

 

 

 

SHORTBREAD COOKIES 

 

 

 

1 cup butter  

 

1 cup sugar  

 

1 egg, white and yolk separated  

 

2 cups flour 

 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

 

Chopped nuts 

 

     

     

  • Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolk, and beat well. Add flour and vanilla. Mix well. Pat thin onto a greased cookie sheet, putting a little flour on your hands if needed. Beat white until frothy (not much).  

     

  • Spread on the top of dough, smoothing by hand. Chop nuts fine and spread on top; pat down. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Cut into squares while warm.
 

 

Source: Helen P. Hardy 

 

 

 

'NANNY'S' SAND TARTS 

 

 

 

2 sticks butter 

 

5 tablespoons powdered sugar 

 

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 

 

2 cups flour 

 

2 teaspoons vanilla 

 

     

     

  • Cream sugar and butter. Add flour, vanilla, and pecans. Work this and form into small log rolls (or balls).  

     

  • Cook in moderate oven (325 degrees to 375 degrees) for 1/2 hour. Roll in powdered sugar.
 

 

Source: Virginia Heatherly

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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