Homemade Halloween Fun — 1926

Welcome Friends!

Dressing up in costume and going trick-or-treating to nearby homes was fast becoming popular in the 1920s however, it was not very feasible in rural areas. Instead, farm families and communities would plan their own kind of Halloween fun. Parties would be held in someone’s home or a community center. Games of every kind were played including the classic Bobbing for Apples, trying to eat a donut hanging from a string, Jack o’ Lantern carving, and going on a hayride. Interestingly, the object for most of the activities for teens and young adults was to “divine” who they would marry.

Each October The Farmer’s Wife magazine published Halloween party ideas to assist their readers in planning and hosting spooktacular get-togethers — similar to the way we use Pinterest today. Party suggestions included ideas for homemade decorations, games, and activities, designs for invitations, dinner, and refreshment menus including recipes.

Another vintage tradition that lasted into the 1930s was mailing friends and family Halloween greeting cards (examples below).

Each year I host an old fashioned Halloween party by getting together with family for homemade chili and donuts followed by a hayride with the grandchildren. Can’t wait!

Wishing you a fun and safe All Hallows Eve.

Thanks for stopping by.


A Witching Party for Halloween

By Nettie Rand Miller


Send your guests a frightening invitation by copying the following poem onto orange paper and attaching it to a witch cutout:

“On Halloween when witches ride,  
Come and have your fortune tried;  
The canny witch will read your fate,  
Assembling on the stroke of eight;  
Read your fate and tell you true, 
Just what the future holds for you;  
So mount your broomstick in good time,  
But ere the day send us a line.”

Name of Hostess........................................................

Decorate the living room to represent a witch’s home. By the fireplace stands an old broom and, on the mantel, place the framed picture of a cat cut from black paper on an orange-colored background.

The witch’s black kettle in which she brews her mysterious portions hangs in the fireplace. Lacking a fireplace, it may be arranged in a corner of the room. Cobwebs of gray paper cut in strips flitter in every available place. Jack-o’-lanterns grin in the dim light and a dismal paper owl or two perched on dead branches will add to the weirdness.


Calling Up the Witch is a good game with which to open the evening’s fun as it introduces everybody and is a good icebreaker.

The door should be covered with a length of black cambric (a finely woven cotton fabric) with a yellow circle in the center. Each guest is provided in turn with three hand-sewn bean bags shaped like witches’ brooms. Each guest takes a turn in throwing the broom bags, trying to hit the orange “knocker” while pronouncing his own name. Supposing the thrower is George Black, the form of address is “George Black summons the witch to appear!” and since the name has been given three times, once each time the bag is thrown, the company learns the player’s name if there are strangers present.

The keeper of the door holds up a wand whenever the knocker has been struck then turns to say: “Witch! Come forth!”

The witch opens the door, shows herself, and immediately closes the door. The game continues until all have had an opportunity to call up the witch.

The witch then appears and guests are asked to form a magic circle by joining hands, the witch remaining on the outside. She runs around the circle touching a player, who leaves his place and begins to run (similar to Duck Duck Goose). Those in the circle count ten aloud and the witch gives chase. If she succeeds in catching the other before the count is up or on the last count, she casts a magic spell over him and changes him into some other object. Then the victim by his actions tries to make the other players guess what it is. The first to guess correctly becomes the next witch or magician and if the first one touched is not caught, the first witch must try again.

MAGIC POTIONS — To Whom Shall I Marry?

A novel method of learning one’s fate is by way of magic philters (potions) which the witch produces from her cauldron. The philters are simply small bottles filled with water and flavored in some harmless pleasant manner to suggest a magic draught. One might contain a little raspberry syrup; another, diluted currant jelly; a third could be darkened with a small piece of licorice; another similarly treated with a peppermint drop or two.

Witch labels are pasted on each philter with an appropriate interpretation. The white bottle might read:

“Whoever drinks a spoonful of the potion on All Hallows Eve shall immediately hereafter see drift before his or her mind’s vision the face of the person he or she is to marry.”

For the red liquid:

“Whoever takes a spoonful of this potion shall immediately think of the one he or she is to marry.”

For the dark liquid, there is the promise of seeing very soon the person the recipient is to marry.

In a similar manner, other potions may be arranged and the witch blindfolded takes them in turn from the cauldron.


Bewitched partners will seek their fate in still another way: The men are lined up in one row and the girls in another, while the witch stands between them and does her best or worst in choosing partners. Blindfolded, she walks down the men’s line and touches a man, immediately going across to the girls’ line and touching a girl while these two step out as partners. When all are paired, they line up in a column and pass before the witch who tells their fortunes in pairs.


Such dainties as the following may be served:

  • Rolled Bread and Butter with Olive and Cream Cheese Filling
  • Chicken Sandwiches
  • Witches’ Surprise
  • Mixed vegetable Salad
  • Witches’ Cakes decorated to represent cat faces, owls, etc.
  • Ice cream Goblins
  • Ginger Ale

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine for Farm Women October 1926, Page 491; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota *Article may be edited for length and clarity.

A Wagon Train Vacation

I love the adventuresome can-do spirit of the mother who submitted a letter to THE FARMER’S WIFE in October 1921 reporting her family’s wildly successful vacation in a covered wagon. With three children in tow, the family traversed three hundred miles to experience the adventures of their pioneering ancestors. The author even took along a “small” camera to document their journey. Those photos would have been a great treasure for her descendants.

Happy Reading!



DEAR FARMER’S WIFE: I have had the misfortune to lose my list of subjects and am not sure that vacations was one of the subjects but believe it was. If it was not, it should have been for vacations are rare and wonderful things on the farm. So, I am going to tell about the most wonderful vacation we ever had.

To begin with, I received as a present for Christmas last year, The Covered Wagon by Emerson Hough. The children were so interested in it that I told them how their own great-grandparents came from back east, hundreds of miles in covered wagons.

I remember so many tales of their pioneer days that one day I had a happy idea and suggested to the children that we take a trip in a covered wagon ourselves. They hailed the idea with delight. It was harder to get their father in the notion but finally, he agreed to try it. We decided to go to see my parents who live about three hundred miles west. We got a man to do the chores while we were away and then we prepared for our trip.

We covered the wagon with heavy duck that would keep out wind or rain. We took bed springs, mattress, and bedclothes. My husband slept on a small mattress and covers on the floor of the wagon. In the daytime, this was rolled up and put under the big bed out of the way. Under the bed, I also kept the suitcases and a covered box of provisions.

We took an oil stove to cook on when we could not make a campfire. We dressed the children in coveralls and barefoot sandals.

Many were the beautiful scenes we viewed and many the fine people we met.

I took a small camera and snapped some of the most beautiful and interesting places and jotted down in a notebook the names and some facts about each place. The children learned more about their state, its cities, occupations, and so on than they ever would have learned from studying the history of South Dakota. When we got to the western side of the state where there is free government land, thousands of range cattle, and no mail routes, we all were surprised.

Many were the pretended attacks made on our camp by “hostile Indians” and the valiant battles put up by the three small members of our party. When we came to the country where sure-enough Indians lived, they still had more to learn. Remembering the Indians of The Covered Wagon, they were rather surprised after arriving at their grandfather’s house when a real Mr. and Mrs. Flying Horse and their three children came driving in one day and stayed for dinner. We enjoyed their visit too. They were the Indian neighbors of my parents.

We greatly enjoyed living in the open. How soundly we slept and how we ate. Our youngest child had always been delicate but at the end of that trip she had gained in weight and has kept on growing ever since. That trip cost little but was worth much. I hope for another like it some time. – Gypsy, South Dakota.

How To Be a Good House Guest — 1926

Visiting family or friends for the holidays in the 1920s required advanced planning and preparation for the would-be travelers as well as the hostess. Overnight stays were often necessary due to long slow travel times. Being a good house guest (in any decade) includes politeness, courtesy, good manners, and a general thoughtfulness for the hostess – are they having a nice visit as well? Below is a submission published in the Letters From Our Farm Women section of THE FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE addressing this issue. The readers of the magazine voted it “letter-of-the-month” and its author, Mrs. K, received a ten-dollar ($150 today) cash prize demonstrating that the information was very pertinent. Although Americans are much more casual when visiting and entertaining now than we once were, it behooves us to give some thought to this “mighty good counsel.” Happy Reading!


 Mighty Good Counsel

DEAR Farm Mothers:

I want to tell you about some of the courtesies I feel I must teach my children.

When visiting my friends and relatives, I am nearly always treated with politeness and courtesy, but when they visit me, they often fail in this respect.

I have often wondered why this is so and at last, have come to the conclusion that we parents are neglecting to teach our children these things. They learn to be polite hosts or hostess by precept and example at home but, as the faults I have in mind are not very noticeable in childhood and are committed most frequently away from home, the parents are not there to see and correct.

When our children go visiting, we say, “Now be good; don’t eat too much; don’t take large mouthfuls; be sure to say ‘thank you’ and ‘If you please.’ Thus, we teach them to look after themselves and show their good breeding rather than to be thoughtful of the people they visit.

Here are some rules I am teaching my children:

  1. Stay no longer than invited unless urged very much—as if the urge was meant.
  2. Answer all invitations promptly. It may save people work and help in their plans.
  3. State, at start, how long you can stay. Many visits are spoiled by worry as to whether the visit will be a week or month.
  4. Leave before welcome is worn out.
  5. Write if there is a change in plans.
  6. Avoid surprises, except in short calls. Many a woman has worked all through a visit, who otherwise could have been ready and enjoyed it.
  7. Retire at a reasonable hour.
  8. Ask about time of rising and never appear until family has been up a while. Where there is no furnace or bathroom, it is sometimes impossible for a family to get baths because the company is up first, last to bed and around all day.
  9. Do not sit or stand in people’s way.
  10. Do not snoop around, listen at doors, nor enter private rooms uninvited.
  11. Help at work but do not say you “hate” to do the kind you are doing. Learn to use tact. Do not say, “This floor is so dirty; let me sweep it,” or “The flies are so thick; shall I kill them?”
  12. Do not offer to do every little thing you see undone. If the hostess sees you are unhappy unless everything is in order, she will continue to work instead of visit.
  13. Do not visit with others while hostess works, then read when she is ready to visit.
  14. Do not order the family to get any article needed about the home, nor buy meat or such after two or three meals unless you are very close relative. Then that may be your duty and privilege—not otherwise.
  15. Do not talk strange religious doctrines before children.
  16. Give others a chance to talk and don’t be forever giving advice about their affairs.
  17. Don’t stand around dining room or kitchen, as if in a hurry for a meal.
  18. If one of the family needs to eat before the rest, do not sit down with them to eat unless the hostess suggests it.
  19. Do not count cakes or other food to see if there are enough for all, and do not take the worst piece. Your hostess wants you to have the best.
  20. Do not rise before the hostess and begin to clear the table. She may wish to rest and visit.
  21. Try to eat a reasonable amount of what is set before you. If you do not, your hostess will be made considerable trouble trying to get something you do like.

Now, my readers, don’t say, “There haint no sech animal; no one does such things these days.” They do, for all these “don’ts” are built from my own trying experiences. The city and town people break these rules as much and perhaps more than the country people, and the well-educated as much as those who have less education. –Mrs. K., Michigan FWM

The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN, October 1926, Page 481; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Take Time To Live

An article in the October 1926 FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE advises farm women to “take time” to live – an adage Gladys Taylor remembers from her college days. She advises women to take time to teach and enjoy their children. Take time to read good literature and listen to good music. Take time to keep up on current affairs and to be a responsible voter (a newly won right for women). Take time to care for oneself. Take time for fun family activities. Take time to take photos (a popular new hobby after WW I). Last but not least, take time for spiritual life for these things are not just for time but for eternity.

Old fashioned wisdom that still has relevance today. Happy Sunday!

~ Elaine

“Take Time”

By Gladys E. Taylor

ONE of my professors at college once said that he could preach a sermon on the two little words, “take time.” I do not know what he might have said in such a sermon but I have often thought of this counsel and have tried to adopt it into my own life.

The life of a farm woman is of necessity full. I have learned this from experience and yet my advice to all farm women is, “take time” to live! Learn to work for speed and efficiency in your housework. Drain your dishes instead of wiping a presumably unsanitary towel over them. Use a pretty oilcloth table cover that can be wiped off after every meal. Teach the children to put things away after using them. Do not spend the time to iron common sheets, pillow slips, and other articles which are just as well—and some maintain—better without it. These are but a few of the time-savers which can be used and thus permit us more time to “live.”

Take time to get acquainted with those children of yours. They need your comradeship and sympathy, whatever their ages. Show an interest in the things which interest them. Learn their strong points and help to develop them. Remember that you are their most influential teacher. Give them daily lessons in honor, kindness, and justice.

Teach them to like good books and good music.

Take time to read. As a voter, it not only is your privilege but is your duty to keep posted on current affairs. Do not vote for a certain individual because he runs on the ticket of the party to which your husband or father belongs, but vote for him because he is the best man! Read the classics. Good literature will both rest and uplift you.

Take time to care for yourself. Be as careful to make yourself attractive in the eyes of your husband as you were when he was your lover. Pay especial attention to your hair, your nails and your clothes. Have outside interest which will take you among women who have something else to talk about than their neighbor’s affairs. Active thought stands off old age.

Take time for picnics and pleasure excursions with your family. Take time to get “snaps” of your children as they are growing up. They will mean much to you in later life.

Take time for spiritual life. Your soul needs food even more than your body.

So, I might go on and on saying take time to do these things which, after all, are not for time but for eternity. Think them out for yourself. FWM

The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN October 1926, page 510; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Ideal Farm Home III

In the third and final installment of the Ideal Farm Home Contest, emphasis is placed on the size and functionality of a farm kitchen. As more and more men and women moved to the cities for employment during the 1920s apartments with small kitchenettes were being built. Wise farm women knew that that style of kitchen would never do for them. Important farm improvements were also listed such as good fences and neatly painted outbuildings. These ladies definitely understood what an ideal farm home was whether they had one or not. There is also a shout-out to the top eight prize winners of the competition. Happy Reading!


Part III

As the living room is considered to be the heart of the home, the kitchen is the farm woman’s workshop and greater stress was laid by our friends upon having the kitchen well planned than upon any other one feature, as it is through efficiency here that the farm woman saves time and strength for the greater task of homemaking. Our readers say that the kitchenette of the city apartment is not practical for the farm home. The farm kitchen must be roomy enough to prepare food for more than the immediate family circle but not be so large that there is great lost motion in daily meals-getting. The kitchen must be sufficiently compact so that one person can do the work most of the time in these days when help is so hard to find and large enough so that more than one can work there in comfort when there’s a “gang” to feed. And they say – these sensible, wide-awake women – that their kitchens must be attractive, pleasant, cozy, comfortable, cheery. The walls must be finished in harmonious colors; the woodwork must be so finished that it will be easy to keep clean; the floors must be easy to clean and comfortable to stand on (good linoleum is in favor). The working space must be planned to fit the particular need and sink, tables, shelves, stoves of a height to fit the woman who works. The work units must be grouped to save steps. There must be windows over sink and work table so that the workers can see the beauty of sky and grove, garden and orchard, distant hills, while her hands are employed.

Yes! They know what they need, farm women do, and, as the years go by, their fine, sturdy idealism and practical common sense are bringing better conditions about, not only in farm homes but in farm communities.

  • PLENTY of lights and lights where they are needed – in the kitchen over sink and stove and worktable; in the living room at the places where people want to read; in the closets and at the heads of the beds.
  • A dumb waiter from the kitchen to the basement; a dumb waiter to be enclosed in screen and lowered with its load of food to save many trips up and down the basement steps. Stairs that are wide and with low “risers”; also, wide stairways.
  • Running water – hard and soft; hot and cold.
  • Houses mouse and rat proof.
  • Good chimneys, for fire protection.
  • Plenty of reading matter.
  • Good pictures; music.
  • Plenty of closets, rods for hangers, shelves for hats and shoes.
  • Window seats, with drawers, chests or cupboards beneath for toys, magazines, sewing materials.
  • Good fences in good condition for “good fences make good neighbors.”
  • Buildings well painted and the painting kept up, for both economy and appearance.
  • Electricity, from power line or individual farm plant.
  • Built-in ironing board, in good light.
  • Power for washing machine, separator, vacuum cleaner, iron and so forth.
  • Clothes chute.
  • Lift to attic for taking up seed corn, trunks and so forth.
  • Place indoors to dry clothes in bad weather.
  • Closet for brooms, dust mops and so forth, some want such a cleaning closet on each floor.
  • Cross ventilation in bedrooms.
  • Porch upstairs for airing bedding.
  • Good outbuildings, kept in good repair.
  • Good water supply inside and out.
  • Rocker in kitchen with something to read nearby.
  • A location chosen with reference to good school, church, roads, community and marketing facilities.
  • Workbench or workroom for the men folks.
  • Full length mirrors in bedroom or sewing room.
  • Shower in washroom where men can take a quick shower when they come from fields.
  • Storage space for canned fruits and vegetables and also for root vegetables, apples and so forth.
  • Wood box and icebox that can be filled from outside.
  • Central heating plant.
  • Fireplace.
  • Radio both for business and pleasure.
  • Cupboard between kitchen and dining room, with door or slide that can be used at mealtimes and with long drawer that slides both ways.
  • The house wired for electricity even when service cannot be installed immediately.
  • Medicine cabinet in bathroom; if bathroom is on second floor, a second cabinet in washroom or kitchen for emergency and first-aid supplies.
  • Work table on castors in the middle of the kitchen.
  • Fire extinguishers.
  • Bathtub built in because easier to clean around it.
  • Playroom for children – several mentioned gymnasium in basement.
  • Smooth woodwork – no crevices nor grooves to be cleaned.
  • House that can grow with family.
  • House located and planned with reference to prevailing wind – either for protection from them or to take advantage of them in summer.
  • House planned for hospitality, not only to individuals but to community.
  • Orchard for home use if not for sale of fruit.
  • Garage under same roof as house.
  • Storage room for supplies bought in large quantities and for farm products.
  • Kitchen built so that windows give good view of farm lot and farm buildings and at least one window looking toward road. FWM


The cash prizes were awarded to the following women:

  1. Mrs. Foster Tyler, Licking County, Ohio                                        $50.00
  2. Mrs. J.H. Studley, Kankakee County, Illinois                                $25.00
  3. Mrs. Vera M Elliott, Medina County, Ohio                                     $10.00
  4. Mrs. George H. Sommers, Rice County, Minnesota                    $10.00
  5. Mrs. S.V. Barnes, Nobles County, Minnesota                                $10.00
  6. Mrs. George Leahy, Roberts County, South Dakota                      $5.00
  7. Mrs. Earl Frost, Wayne County, New York                                     $5.00
  8. Mrs. Clifford P. Lawrence, McLean County, Illinois                      $5.00

The Ideal Farm Home II

This post is the second installment in a three-part series on the Ideal Farm Home competition sponsored by THE FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE October 1926. Farm women were asked to describe what would make a farmhouse perfect. Running water was at the top of the list, along with a special washroom for the men, a well-lighted sewing room, a “living porch” and a sizeable dining area. The living room was considered the “heart of the house” at that time, and to be considered ideal it must have easy access to good books and music. As I have transcribed these articles, I have felt especially thankful for all the modern conveniences that I usually take for granted. Happy Reading!


Part II

OUR readers, of course, practically are unanimous in demanding running water as the greatest single labor-saver – lifesaver indeed! – for the farmhouse.

An almost unanimous demand is for a special washroom for the men as they come in from their outside work. Usually, they suggest that this washroom be in connection with the laundry and so arranged that the men can go straight from it to the dining room or living room without having to go through the kitchen. It also provides a place for outside wraps, overshoes, mittens where they will be dry and warm and – out of the kitchen.

If farm women have pet peeves, the chief seems to be concerning the decoration of the kitchen walls with wraps and having men tramping the kitchen at mealtime.

A well-lighted sewing room is considered an essential and on the first floor so that the work can easily be picked up in odd minutes between other jobs.

Several women suggested a regular sewing cabinet built in the wall, with drawers below for supplies, a drop-leaf door which can be used for a cutting table, drawers and pigeonholes for small sewing supplies in the upper part. Of course, they say, the sewing room must have a good light.

Porches were discussed from all angles. Some farm women think their real living porch should be at the side of the house with only a small entry to the house in the front; others, wish the front porch for their summer living room. A back porch, fairly large and well-screened, is considered a real necessity. Many suggest that it be glassed in for winter use.

The living room was spoken of over and over as “the heart of the house” and farm women insist that it must be exactly what that name indicates, though they differ as to just how this shall be brought about. Nearly all of them do mention two things toward this end – books and music without which family life, farm women, are not complete. The value of good pictures is distinctly recognized. Farm women, almost without exception, do not consider home complete unless there are flowers, winter, and summer. So, they say they must have a glassed-in porch or fernery in front of the window in the living room, or give them wide window sills, even in the kitchen, for their beloved flower pots.

The dining alcove or the separate dining room – this subject was discussed thoroughly. More than 81% of the women who entered the contest say that the farm home needs a separate dining room large enough so that the table can be spread to accommodate guests and extra hands such as threshers and silo fillers. And they say the dining room should be big enough so that children need not wait until the second table or eat in the kitchen when the friends and relatives gather in for holiday celebrations. Some of them solve this problem by having an opening between the dining and living rooms sufficiently large so that the table can be extended into both rooms.

But while nearly all the women wish a separate dining room, they say it is handy to eat in the kitchen at times and opinion is about equally divided between the dining alcove and a kitchen arranged to accommodate a meal table. Some say the alcove interferes less with the routine kitchen work and makes less “mess” in the kitchen and that it is most convenient to have it fitted up so that it is partially set off from the main part of the kitchen and still a part of the room. It is used for the breakfast of those who have to rise very early and then for the breakfast of the little folks who sleep later; for men who come in late to meals or for the occasional guest who is served a lunch between meals. Several spoke of using the alcove as a play nook for the children, where they can cut, paste, sew and carry on their other small affairs and be “out from underfoot.” Several suggest that the seats in this alcove be built as chests or boxes to accommodate playthings.

The farm dining room is used as the informal sitting room of the family, so, our readers suggest that it should have plenty of room not only for the usual dining-room furniture but also for a couch where Father and Mother can stretch out when they have a minute and where Baby can have his afternoon nap. A number speak of a built-in desk here; of this room’s use as a study room in the evening.

Farm women are practically one in realizing that the farm home is – must be – the business center of the farm. Many of the contributors to this contest suggest a small office for the farm man so that he can transact the business end of things in a business-like way and further suggest that it should be possible for him to take his business guests straight to this room or office from either the front or back hall, without taking them through the kitchen or the living quarters of the family.


The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN, October 1926, Page 472; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Ideal Farm Home Contest–1926

March 1926 THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN launched a competition for its subscribers — Describe Your Dream House and Win a Prize. The rules were simple. 1. Describe your Ideal Farm Home in a letter. 2. Keep your letter within 1,000 words. 3. The letter must reach the publishing office before May 1st. Submissions must also include a list of the ten points which you consider most important to include in planning any farm — ten items that simply should not be left out. The top prize would be fifty dollars cash! Hundreds of women responded. The “data” was analyzed and the results were published in the October issue. The number one amenity the farm women desired for an “ideal” farm home was electricity.

The original article summarizing the information gathered from the letters is quite lengthy so I have divided it into three sections. Each section will be published as a separate post. I hope that these farm women got to enjoy most, if not all, of these luxuries at some point in their life. Happy Reading!



Last March The Farmer’s Wife offered substantial cash prizes for letters from farm women describing their Ideal Farm Home. We also asked each contestant to list ten important points in the arrangement of a farm home.

This proved to be a subject on which many hundreds of our readers had clear-cut ideas and the letters received were at the same time very difficult and very delightful to grade and judge: difficult because, being sincere expressions on a subject concerning which our readers are well informed they were all uncommonly excellent; delightful, because they once more confirmed our established opinion of farm women as the finest and best and most know-how women in the world. Their judgement is good. ~The Editors

FWM 002

“A REMARKABLY large number of those who entered The Farmer’s Wife Ideal Home Contest, expressed their feeling that the building of the farm home does not begin with the actual house but includes the entire farmstead as the beauty, convenience and success of a farmhouse depends on its location and surroundings. Many spoke of the importance of the wood lot, from both the economic and the aesthetic viewpoints; shrubs to tie the house to the ground; flowers; shade trees for shelter and beauty. Many who live in the northern parts of the United States mentioned the need of a windbreak for shelter. Some whose “dream houses” are still in the future have already started by planting trees and shrubs on the chosen site. The one outstanding thought in the contest letters is the fact that farm women consider the farm home as a place for children and feel that any feature not suited to happiness, health, and development of children has no place in a farm home. Many mentioned the fact that windows should be low so that wee folks can see out; that there must be a place for children to play and a place for toys and childish treasures; that each child should have some nook or corner that is really his, even though it be only a drawer or a shelf or a bit of closet; a number spoke of gymnasium equipment in the basement; and many of the workbench for the boys as well as of the workshop for Father.

But the physical development of the child does not receive all the attention in the letters our farm women readers wrote on this fascinating subject, for over and over again came the demand for a place for plenty of books and magazines and almost everyone desired some provision for music and musical instruments – piano, phonograph, radio; some even are planning whole home orchestras.

THE contest letters show that farm women have done a lot of real thinking about the ideal house and home.

As to the type of house described in the contest letters: The plain square house still leads any other type in popularity because it is the most economical type to build. Other types are rapidly gaining favor. The bungalow and the story-and-a-half house both received many votes from farm women who feel that they save much time and strength which has in the past been spent in climbing stairs. Many mentioned the fact that the house which is low seems to fit better into the farm landscape, than one which stands higher and on a smaller foundation. Many spoke of the Dutch Colonial as being especially attractive in a farm setting and still giving a floor plan which meets the needs of family life on the farm.

The frame house is a leader but there is a distinct tendency toward brick and stucco as they are more resistant to fire and also because of the lower cost of upkeep even though the first is somewhat higher. Fireproof roofs are mentioned again and again.

It is the consensus of opinion that the farm home should have at least one bedroom downstairs for the reasons that the farm mother must be nurse as well as housekeeper and that there are often either old people or small children in the farm family and the downstairs bedroom saves much time and strength.

The location of the laundry is a question on which there is much disagreement. Of the women who expressed themselves, 56% feel that the laundry in the basement is most practical; 23% would have it on the same floor as the kitchen; 3% want it in a building separate from the house. Those who favor the basement feel that it takes the “mess” away from the living floor; those who wish it on the first floor locate it near the kitchen so they can attend to the many other things a farm mother has to do while working and avoid carrying clothes up and downstairs. A place undercover for the drying of clothes in winter is considered essential.

The laundry room, these practical folk point out, whether in the basement or on the first floor, can also be used in canning and butchering seasons and the laundry stove should be of a type adapted to these needs. There should be in the room a table with a very heavy top to be used for laundry purposes and the oven for baking use on hot summer days. They suggest that baking can be done here while the fire is going for laundry work.


Our Future Citizens

Letters from Our Farm Women” was a long-running column in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN.

To encourage submissions, the magazine awarded a prize of ten dollars (a value of over $140 today) for the best letter published each month. All other letters published, about five per issue, earned a three-dollar prize. The topics were as deep as the writers’ insight and as broad as their imaginations. They were all sincere and thought-provoking. This letter from October 1926 addresses loyalty and citizenship at a time when the War To End All Wars–WW I — was part of recent memory. Enjoy!     


Letters From Our Farm Women–October 1926

DEAR Friends: A good citizen must first of all be loyal to God and country; then he will be both good and great at heart, worthy of trust wherever placed in life.

So, I try to go deep in the training of my children. To begin with, we ourselves are obedient to the laws of the land, thus setting them the best example we can. From the first, our little folks are taught right from wrong and that wrongdoing is always followed by its consequences. Love and loyalty to God, parents and home must be established first. Later, obedience, love and honor to teachers and Sunday School teachers and others who may be placed above them; as they develop, they are taught to apply the same principles in relation to County, State and National government.

In order to be successful in teaching citizenship, we have God in our plan; if His teachings are followed, our children will not be lawbreakers.

We observe special days, such as Independence Day and Flag Day, instill in the children’s minds the importance and origin of the day. We have always made a great deal of our own birthdays, so I think that is why every special occasion becomes a birthday to us. Christmas is the Lord’s birthday, not just a time to hang up stockings and eat lots of candy; Independence Day is our Nation’s birthday, not merely a day to shoot firecrackers and make a noise; and so on.

This is my own, my native land!

Sir Walter Scott, Poet (1771-1832)

Public celebrations are good and have their place but it seems to me that sometimes too much stress is placed on outward display. The leaders are very often people who do not hesitate to break the laws in many ways and children do not learn real patriotism from such. So, I feel that if the principles of good citizenship are to be implanted deep in our children’s hearts and souls, it cannot be left to outside teaching—we must instill thoughts of virtue, purity, the nobility of nature, sacredness of marriage and home and family life, the awful consequences of crime, and thus, with the help of Heavenly Father teach them, in cooperation with the church and school, to be good and useful citizens of our dear United States for “This is my own, my native land!” ~Mrs. M. P., Minnesota FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page 478; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

Cookbook Lady’s Spanish Rice

Recently I published a post titled Behold! The Power of Cheese that featured recipes from the October 1926 issue of THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN. The article was promoting the use of cheese for its flavor, versatility and nutritional value. A recipe called Cheese-Tomato Rice, which uses cheese as a garnish, reminded me of my Spanish Rice recipe because of the similar ingredients. It is interesting how much more flavor we like in our food compared to what was acceptable one hundred years ago. Whenever I serve this dish to company or at a potluck, I get a request for the recipe so I thought I would share it here. It is a great side dish for most any Mexican or Tex-Mex entree, just be sure to garnish with plenty of cheese. Enjoy!


Cookbook Lady's Spanish Rice

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1–2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed (not cooked)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • S&P to taste
  • Shredded Mexican Blend cheese for garnish


In a large Dutch-oven, over medium heat, saute jalapeno, bell peppers and onion in oil until onion is translucent. Stir in cumin oregano, coriander and garlic powder. Add rinsed rice to the spice and vegetable mixture and saute for two minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock, salt and sugar; bring mixture to a simmer. Cover tightly, place Dutch-oven in oven and bake at 350* for 16 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Remove from oven and allow rice to stand for five minutes. Toss in chopped cilantro, drained black beans and season to taste. Garnish with plenty of cheese.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com

Are Your Children Healthy?

Hello History Lovers!

Inhaling droplets spread by coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing, or close face-to-face contact is the leading mode of respiratory disease transmission. No, I’m not just speaking about Covid-19. I’m talking about centuries-old contagious diseases that spread into the early twentieth century — tuberculosis, smallpox, diphtheria, and others. The Spanish Influenza, however, came seemingly out of nowhere but followed similar methods in its spread. These diseases were also spread by touching objects, including clothing, blankets, or skin sores, contaminated by infected droplets. Many cities during the 1918 flu pandemic closed theaters and schools, outlawed spitting in public, even outdoors, and promoted mask-wearing in an effort to curb the spread of influenza. A high mortality rate was another common denominator of these diseases within specific segments of the population.

During WW I America lost more servicemen to the Spanish Influenza than in combat due to the close quarters of military personnel, especially on ships, and the fact that there was no effective medical intervention available. In the early 1920s, the science of vaccinations was in its infancy, and even though an antitoxin had been developed for Diphtheria, the disease was still a leading cause of death in children at that time. Vaccinations for tuberculosis and smallpox were not widely accepted or promoted until after WW II.

Scarlet Fever, a highly contagious strain of the strep bacteria, was another potentially deadly disease for infants and young children sometimes leading to Rheumatic Fever. Those who survived were often left with serious health complications such as permanent hearing loss, heart, joint, or brain damage. Unfortunately, antibiotics that could arrest the disease were still two decades away. Couple this with concerns about childbirth and maternal health, proper hygiene and sanitation, the need for accessible health care in rural areas, and a safer food supply within cities, it becomes apparent that early-twentieth-century women needed information. Information regarding what she could do to help mitigate these issues within her family and community. Newspapers and periodicals such as THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN were important sources available for the dispersal of up-to-date information to rural women. Below are other examples of the types of information rural women could access:      



“In The Health Of Our Children Lies The Future Of Our Nation”

By Walter R. Ramsey M.D., Associate Professor, Diseases of Children, University of Minnesota

What the States Are Doing — 1926

THE Massachusetts Department of Health is entering the second year of a ten-year campaign dealing with the prevention of tuberculosis. The Massachusetts authorities are stressing the importance of food and nutrition as a means of prevention. A number of splendid pamphlets have been issued in this connection. These pamphlets are free to the residents of the state. Write to the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Maryland State Department of Health is launching a campaign to have all school children protected against smallpox, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. This campaign involves a general program of education as to the nature of these diseases and means of prevention. Making the child fit to fight these serious children’s diseases by inspection and treatment before the beginning of the school year is becoming a state policy that might well be carried out in other sections of the country.

THE Connecticut State Department of Health is attempting to meet the needs for child hygiene work in opening child health centers in various parts of the state. At these health centers, young children can receive free examinations and inspections by their local or state departments. For particulars address Dr. A.E. Ingraham, 8 Washington St., Hartford, Connecticut.

THE West Virginia Department of Health has conducted a Mothercraft correspondence course since 1922. This course includes instruction as to prenatal care and touches also upon practically all of the problems encountered from babyhood up. Many mothers have availed themselves of the opportunity for instruction and they pronounce the course very helpful. Applicants should address the State Department of Health, Charleston, Massachusetts.

THE Massachusetts State Department of Health is conducting an extension course in Mothercraft. This course is in the form of fifteen complete lessons. The course is sold for four dollars. These lessons have been very carefully prepared and will be found most instructive and helpful. For particulars address the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Pennsylvania Department of Health has recently issued a baby book that is not only attractive but helpful. This book covers not only matters dealing with the feeding and clothing of the child for health but also pays attention to the matter of child training and discipline. Pennsylvania mothers can secure this book by addressing the State Department of Health, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

THE Maryland Department of Health is watching over the welfare of the public by exercising very close supervision over the canneries of the state. This supervision covers a careful study of conditions under which canned products are processed and packed, thus insuring healthful products. Before being placed on the market such canned products must have the approval of the state authorities. FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page 487; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.