IN ADDITION TO ordering the ice for bachelor dinners, Trail End’s cook was responsible for shopping for food. She had to know which foods were in season, which could be obtained out of season, and who offered the best deals.
Supermarkets – stores where a wide variety of vegetables, dairy goods, meats and dry goods were offered – weren’t available in the 1910s. Shoppers had to go to individual markets – most of them on Main Street – to get what they needed: a butcher for meat, a dairy for milk, a green grocer for vegetables, a dry goods store for flour and sugar, and so forth. Some shops, like H. Henschke’s Fancy and Staple Groceries, offered delivery service. Others had to be visited in person, but might have better prices.
Along with Herman Henschke, Bob Terry was among a handful of grocers who went out of their way to get out-of-season foods – lettuce and apples, for example – shipped to Sheridan on railroad cars from farms and orchards in California, Oregon, Texas and Florida. These foods had a limited shelf life, so it was important for grocers to advertise in the local newspapers, in hopes that the special buys would be snapped up quickly. A smart cook, such as the one at Trail End, would keep an eye out for these ads and plan her menus accordingly.
TRAIL END COOKS
Although we know that the Kendricks kept a cook and maid on staff, we really don’t know very much about them. By studying census records, however, we have discovered a few facts about three of the cooks that worked for the family:
ELLA LOWE In early 1910, Mrs. Ella Lowe (1875-1924) lived with the Kendricks when they rented a house on South Main Street. She may also have been the cook who lived with the family in the Carriage House before the main house was completed in 1913. By 1920, the Ohio native was widowed and working as a cook at the Idlewild Cafe.
ANNA B. SIMMERMAN Swedish-born Anna Burgholm (1872-1934) and her husband George Simmerman (1868-1929) started working for the Kendricks in 1916. Sometimes they occupied the Chauffeur’s Bedroom, but they also had a small house a block north of the mansion. At eighteen years, Anna was the longest-serving domestic in the history of Trail End.
ELIZABETH HOTCHKISS By 1940, the widow Hotchkiss had already worked at Trail End for at least a year. According to census records, she was making $480 a year, working forty-eight hours a week (that comes to an appalling nineteen cents an hour – but she did get room and board). Unlike previous cooks, Mrs. Hotchkiss had achieved some higher education: two years of college.
Making use of federal census records is one of the best ways to track down people – especially domestic servants like cooks and maids – who don’t own land, homes or businesses.
The Kendicks employed full-time cooks at their ranches, too (Eula Kendrick hated to cook). While women (usually cowboys’ wives) cooked in the ranch kitchens, men were hired to cook on roundups. When they were out on their own, riding the fence lines, cowboys had to be able to cook for themselves.
It took a lot of food to keep the cowboys fed. Because the OW Ranch was so far from town – a two-day wagon ride – the Kendricks had to buy in bulk. The store they shopped at most often for groceries and general supplies was The Sheridan Commercial. The Commercial had its own dry goods and hardware store, a harness and wagon shop, plus a butcher shop. The items that showed up most often on the store’s OW Ranch invoices? Dried apples, prunes, flour, sugar, Arbuckles' Coffee and Post Toasties Cereal.
State Historic Site
Trail End overlooking Sheridan, circa 1912 (Gwinn Collection, SCHS)
(Sheridan Collection, TESHS)
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2014 - December 2015