Sunday, March 19, 2017

Re-living the Untold Story of Great Women of the Past.

 I am a Living History Reenactor.

You may have heard of women in history, like Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Elizabeth Keckley, Sissieretta Joans, Duchess Quamino or Phillis the slave cook of the Hazard family. These women are from as early as the 1700's to the Post Civil war times. .
I have done much research as possible on these women and made it a mission to tell their stories of strength and endurance though adversities.  .




*Phillis the slave of the Hazard family. was  a 19th century South County Rhode Island Cook of Extraordinary Talent.
Phillis, a South County slave from Senegambia, cooked the best jonnycake.
“She didn’t create jonnycakes, but she perfected them,”

Phillis was a cook of Thomas Hazard, a major landowner in South Kingstown. Hazard, who was also known as “College Tom,” distinguishing him from the many other Thomas’ in the family,  freed his slaves in the 1740s, but many stayed on to work for him. Phillis was among them.

“The reason for that was that you had slaves, and they were there for life. This wasn’t a temporary employee. Whatever you did, you got them to do it well, so if you were rich, like the Hazards, you had 20 slaves and each one had a specialty.”
“Phillis,was just the best cook in all of South County.”
In 1797, College Tom’s grandson, Thomas Robinson Hazard, known as “Shepherd Tom,” wrote a book that included an extensive recount of Phillis’ cooking. The book, which wasn’t actually published until 1915, was titled “The Jonny-Cake Papers.”
It is considered as the second black cookbook in America, so rich is it with descriptions of her dishes and cooking techniques.
Although Phillis and her cooking aren’t the only subjects of “The Jonny-Cake Papers, Shepard Tom “just kept coming back to her.”
He added that the Hazard family adored Phillis, considering her to be the best cook in the state.
“And maybe in America, and they brag about her in this book—the way she cooked, how she cooked, how much she used, where she got her milk from.”
Within “The Jonny-Cake Papers,” Phillis’ cooking technique is described in great detail.



 However, no actual recipes were ever recorded.
“[Phillis] was first and foremost the authority on baking jonnycake using whitecap flint corn.
That whitecap flint corn was ground at Hammond’s Mill, now the site the Gilbert Stuart Museum in Saunderstown.
  Telling the story of Phillis as a living history re-enactor, I would explain how Phillis would have used ingredients completely local to South County.
“She had really quality ingredients to use. “And remember, the Hazards were rich people. So whatever she wanted—she was a cook that said ‘I want’—and she would get.”
The details of her secrets, not only how to bake jonnycakes, but how to serve them are extraordinary.”
 

The Johnny-cake Papers Of "shepard Tom,": Together With Reminiscences Of Narragansett Schools Of Former Days Hardcover – August 9, 2015




 

* Charity "Duchess" Quamino 1739-1792
 "Duchess" Quamino was born in Africa in 1739, and was sold into slavery. She was held as a slave by the William Ellery-Channing. .
  “Duchess” was known for her frosted plum cake,  In 1792 Duchess dies in Newport; recognized as the Pastry Queen of Rhode Island.



 She served George Washington twice and purchased her freedom with money made by selling baked goods.
In 1774 John Quamino , Duchess's husband was sent to study at College of New Jersey (the future Princeton University) to train as Christian Missionaries. He was one of the first Africans to attend college in America.



*Sissieretta Jones,  (1869-1933)
 An African-American singer of classical songs and opera. Soprano Sissieretta Joyner Jones made a name for herself in tours of Europe and the United States both as a solo performer and as the leader of the Black Patti Troubadours, a theatrical ensemble that bridged the gap between 19th century minstrel shows and 20th century vaudeville.






Sissieretta was born in Virginia but she moved to Rhode Island with her parents at the age of seven. She grew up in Providence where she took piano lessons and sang in various Baptist churches  (her father was a Methodist Episcopal preacher). She began her professional career singing in Rhode Island, nearby Massachusetts and Boston. She expanded her repertoire beyond church music to include American parlor songs, classical European art songs and opera.
During this time, at the now shocking age of fourteen, she married a local hotel bellman, David Jones, who would for a number of years be Sissieretta’s business manager.  At the age of nineteen, however, she moved to New York City where she continued her music studies with various vocal teachers and began concertizing to glowing critical reviews, many of which compared her voice to that of the famous Italian opera star of the day, soprano Adelina Patti.  In fact she was called “the Black Patti,” a sobriquet that followed her for most of her career.
Sissieretta Jones: ‘The Greatest Singer of Her Race,’ 1868-1933, published May 15, 2012, by the University of South Carolina Press.






* Elizabeth Keckley, February 1818 – May 1907

Former slave turned successful dressmaker in Saint Louis who purchased her own freedom; friend and confidante as well as dressmaker to Mrs. Lincoln; grieving mother and widow; author of a controversial and popular memoir; abolitionist; and finally, sewing teacher. 






 Elizabeth Keckley established her own business in Washington and soon powerful politicians’ wives clamored for her gowns. She employed as many as twenty apprentices in her shop. Keckly was intimately involved with the Lincolns. She attended the sick bed of the Lincoln’s dying son Willie, and became Mary’s closest confidante. Elizabeth used her influence with the president’s wife to solicit relief for contrabands, slaves who had freed themselves by fleeing behind Union military lines; many lacked shelter, jobs, and provisions. Keckly founded a Contraband Relief Association, with support from noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Elizabeth helped Mary dress for special occasions, and groomed the President’s hair: When almost ready to go down to a reception, [Lincoln] would turn to me with a quizzical look: “Well, Madam Elizabeth, will you brush my bristles down tonight?”

Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, And Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley






 * Sarah Forbes Bonetta (1843-1880)
Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933)
 Sara Forbes Bonetta was a West African Egbado Omoba who was orphaned in inter-tribal warfare at the age of eight and subsequently captured by slave-raiders. Intended by her Dahomeyan captors to be a human sacrifice, she was rescue...d by Captain Frederick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria, "She would be a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the Whites," Forbes wrote later. He named her Sara Forbes Bonetta. 

 


Queen Victoria was impressed by the young princess' exceptional intelligence, and had Sara raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class. In 1851 she gained a long lasting cough that was caused by the climate of Great Britain, something that a West African like her was thoroughly unaccustumed to. She was sent to school in Africa, and later returned to England when she turned 20. She was then sanctioned by the queen to marry Captain James Davies at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton in August, 1862, after a period which was to be spent in the town in preparation for the wedding. During her subsequent time in Brighton, she lived at 17 Clifton Hill in the Montpelier area. Captain Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period, and the couple moved back to their native Africa after their wedding. Sara was subsequently baptized at a church in the town of Badagry, a former slave port. She died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis. Her husband had previously been concerned about her because she appeared to have had a cough that would not go away; she was eventually diagnosed with what was termed the consumption. Her daughter by him, christened Victoria, also served as the goddaughter of the Queen of England.
Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933)


Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933)



   
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sissieretta Jones was a world-famous soprano who in June 1892, became the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York. Touring internationally in the late 1800s and early 1900s, she sang both classical opera and performed in musical comedies with her own troupe.
Born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner on January 5, 1869, in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was the child of Jeremiah Joyner, a pastor, and Henrietta Joyner, a singer in the church choir. After moving with her family to Rhode Island when she was six, Sissieretta began singing in the church choir, which was directed by her father. When only fourteen, she married David Richard Jones, who became her first manager. Later, she formally studied voice at the Providence Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the Boston (Massachusetts) Conservatory.
- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/jones-sissieretta-1869-1933#sthash.afPWNxU3.dpuf

Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933)



   
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sissieretta Jones was a world-famous soprano who in June 1892, became the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York. Touring internationally in the late 1800s and early 1900s, she sang both classical opera and performed in musical comedies with her own troupe.
Born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner on January 5, 1869, in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was the child of Jeremiah Joyner, a pastor, and Henrietta Joyner, a singer in the church choir. After moving with her family to Rhode Island when she was six, Sissieretta began singing in the church choir, which was directed by her father. When only fourteen, she married David Richard Jones, who became her first manager. Later, she formally studied voice at the Providence Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the Boston (Massachusetts) Conservatory.
- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/jones-sissieretta-1869-1933#sthash.afPWNxU3.dpuf










Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fashion Week Rhode Island 2017


Queen Victoria of England set the Victorian fashion trend back in 1830s to 1900s.



The Industrial Revolution bridged Europe and America with regards to travel and fashion.
 
 In order to research fashions of the Victorian era in relationship to today's fashions, one must examine the foundations of the Victorian fashion.




*We welcome lady Estelle, a Victoriana reenactor, donned in her authentic reproduction of the 1880's Victorian Walking Suit.






It's Taffeta close-fitted Waist Coat with a tailed look in the back, show off her bustled full length under skirt layered with a heavily bustled over skirt.  Also donned with a matching hat and reticuleShe finish the look with detachable lace collar and cuffs.
 

  A Victorian lady never showed her legs in public. When she need to lift her skirts to ascend stairs, she would do so showing her handsome ankle boots only, no higher.




 The properly attired Victorian lady is never seen in public without her hat and gloves. The hat is secured to her head with a very long hat pin. 

Remove hat and show hat pin.  

  Note: The hat pin also was a form of weapon or protection from attack in public.------




Lady Estelle will be removing the top layers, with the help of an assistant, to show how the foundation garment create the desired look of the times.


   *The first layer of undergarments of a proper Victorian women. This is her Over Petticoat, often, with an elaborately embroidered hem. It is worn over the layered under petticoats . Sometime as many as six petties, depending on the era.



This is the garment that brings the most fullness to the outer garment.  Made of layers of flounced cotton and a pretty laced hemline----
 Remove this item.

 
*The next item was wore in the 1880's, taking the place of the large hoop skirt. The wired cage.. .This spring steel structures that was very light, rather than imprisoning women in cages (as some of the reports and images suggest) they had a liberating effect. They freed women from the layers and layers of heavy petticoats and were much more hygienic and comfortableThis is called a fish tailed cage.






So you ask, How does one sit in this thing? Well, Very lady like. 

 





She lifts up one corner of her cage and sits down sideways on an arm-less chair.  She gently pushes down on her skirt to prevent it from popping up. Very interesting piece of garment.-------
Remove this garment.



*Next item of clothing is the Under Petticoat, usually quite plain . Often Under Petticoats were made of  flannel fabric and were heavy, bulky and generally uncomfortable. It was mainly for the warmth of the legs. 
The petticoat were also made of light cotton and worn with a corset cover.
 










The corset cover was worn for two reasons. One, to prevent the bones or laces of the corset to show though the bodice or waist coat. The second is to protect and keep the corset clean from clothes dyes. These pieces were easy to wash and were washed often.------
Remove these two pieces


The next item worn under the Victorian dress is the corset which, with its back lacing, has a front busk closure. This style of Victorian corsets were first introduced in the late l840s. Knowing how to lace a corset was necessary to achieve the correct look in Victorian fashion.

 

The lady had to have help getting into and out of her corset.

The modern day Victorian, Lady Estelle, spent many hour learning how to get into her corset by herself and with half the time.
Note: The stockings and boots were the first items that a Victorian lady would put on in the morning. 
The reason is, that once she put on her corset, she was not able to bend down to tie or lace up her boot.------
Remove the corset

*Worn under the corset is the Chemise, an unshaped undergarment which reaches just below the knees and has a drawstring neckline. This garment was close to the skin and also help keep the corset clean. Corset were difficult to wash because of the steel closure and boning.




 Beneath the chemise, Lady Estelle is wearing bloomers.

 The bloomers are calf length with scalloped, embroidered hems. Bloomers were usually wore by young girls and older women wore drawers.
Show drawers in hand.

 The drawers had a back button closure and open legged for convenience to use the necessaryVictoria Secrets has nothing up on the Victorian woman.
Even the Victorian ladies stocking were often made of cotton or silk, decorated with satin bows and lace. It was held up with fancy guarders. No one every seen these lovely little things in public, but the Victorian women knew she was beautiful from underneath.-------


With this understanding of the fashion's  foundation, it shows you the journey that fashion has taken into the 21st century.



Thank you to Lady Estelle for being the keeper of  fashion's past.









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My Victorian Hostess Gown


Honorable Mention:

Costume Contest USA Entry 29.) Dress: Historic Hearthside House Hostess Gown Victorian Costume Contest



Victorian Dress Costume ContestComment by JUDGE Lisa Schnapp: 8/15/2010

"Lovely, glowing creation blended of soft, feminine hues. A stunning gown that embodies Victorian style femininity..."








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