Eveline’s Senior Year: Root Beer on the 4th

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks (now months!) ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesSee:
Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town
Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes
Eveline’s Senior Year: Smallpox
Eveline’s Senior Year: What Are You Serving?

It is Independence Day weekend in the United States, which got me thinking about something my mother wrote about her childhood.

Memories written by Doris Hoskins Hockensmith, undated

We used to have family gatherings a grandma Coates’, especially holidays like July 4th. We would make home-made ice cream and grandma made root beer which was always cooling in the cave.

Eveline was my mother’s mother and “grandma Coates” was Eveline’s mother. It made me wonder if Grandma Coates started making root beer for her own children and family when Eveline was a girl – possibly for the 4th of July in 1917 and 1918.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a family recipe for root beer saved among the recipe cards. But a quick google search led me to several recipes and images – mostly of advertisements and recipe booklets for yeast. Below is the cover and list of recipes from Fleischmann’s in 1917.

Recipes: White Bread, Quick Method; White Bread, Sponge Method; White Bread, Over-night Method; Graham or Whole Wheat Bread; Bran Bread; Oatmeal Bread; Gluten Bread; Raisin Bread; Nut Bread; Parker House Rolls; Tea Biscuit; Tea Rolls; Dinner Rolls; Lunch Rolls; Wheat Muffins; Graham Muffins; English Muffins; Oatmeal Muffins; Cornmeal Muffins; Potato Biscuit; Potato Buns; Sally Lunn; Waffles; Wheat Griddle Cakes; Buckwheat Cakes; Plain Frosting; Currant Tea Ring; Children’s Buns; Sweet French Buns; Hot Cross Buns; English Bath Buns; Oven Scones; Zwieback; Cinnamon Cake; Apple Cake; Doughnuts; Coffee Cake; Toast; Bread Crumbs; Steamed Bread; Steamed Bread Pudding; Brown Betty; Savarin; Rum Sauce; Refreshing Summer Drinks; Lemon Pop; Root Beer; Kumyss; Dandelion Wine.

Fleischmann’s Yeast even included a poem about root beer in a pamphlet.

Root Beer, the finest summer draught
That ever slaked man’s thirst,
By grateful millions daily quaffed,
As made by matrons versed,
Owes all its life – and ’tis a feast,
To Fleischmann’s Peerless Compressed Yeast.

The Yeast Foam Company used this attractive ad and recipe.

accessed from Pinterest

Old Thyme Recipes blog shares this recipe from a 1915 Fleischmann’s pamphlet:

Root Beer

1 cake Fleischmann’s Yeast
1 bottle root beer extract
5 gallons fresh water, slightly lukewarm
4 pounds granulated sugar

In extremely hot weather use one-half cake of Yeast.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the extract, then the Yeast thoroughly dissolved in a little water, mix well and bottle immediately, using strong bottles or jugs, and tie the corks in securely. Set in a warm place thirty-six to forty-eight hours; in cold weather, a little longer. Then remove to cellar or other place of even temperature, but do not put it on ice until a few hours before using.

I’m tempted to give it a try, but maybe a smaller batch! McCormick has two recipes on their website – one that uses yeast and one that doesn’t, if you’re game.

This was also the time of the Temperance movement and root beer was promoted as a tasty alternative to alcohol. And in mining communities like Mystic, where they sometimes referred to their community as “little Chicago,” I imagine it was hoped that root beer would slake the thirst of hard working miners.

In August of 1917, shortly after the United States joined WW1, the United States Food Administration (USFA) was created to focus on food rationing for the greater good. Restrictions on sugar were especially pronounced. “Sugar Means Ships” stated one popular poster. While Eveline’s mother may have served her family root beer on July 4, 1917, it is less likely that she did for July 4, 1918. (More on food and cooking in a future post.)

My mother and her mother (Eveline) always loved ice cream. When my mom and I lived with Eveline and my grandfather Tom Hoskins, grandma would order her groceries to be delivered on Saturdays. Every Saturday there was vanilla ice cream (Grandma’s favorite treat) and root beer (Grandpa’s favorite treat) after supper. Saturday was a good day!

Oh yes – about that cave … when my mother said the root beer was stored in the cave, she was referring to the cellar where they kept potatoes, canned goods, and so on. Not a real “cave” cave.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where the prompt photo encourages imagination. I encourage you to pay a visit!


Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Eveline’s Senior Year: Family and Friends on Chairs – or Not

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesSee:
Eveline’s Senior Year: Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town
Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes

The prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week features a heavily carved chair circa 1900.

Old Chair In Reykjavik Museum, Cornell University Library Collection : Sepia Saturday 619 Prompt Image

How to make a chair fit with the theme of Eveline’s senior year? I looked for photos that might have been taken inside her home. I didn’t find any, but there are a few photos of people sitting on chairs. There are also photos of people outside her home. They were taken not long before or after, if not during, Eveline’s 1917-1918 school year and provide another glimpse into her life during that time.

I’ll start with a photo of Eveline holding her youngest sister, Nellie. Eveline and Nellie both had February birthdays – Eveline born in 1901; Nellie born in 1912. Nellie would have been about six during Eveline’s senior year. She looks a little younger here, I think. I wonder if the photograph was to commemorate their February birthdays?

Eveline and Nellie Coates, circa 1915-1917

Below is Eveline’s brother Leonard (“Lindy”). He was born in March of 1910, so he would have been about eight during Eveline’s senior year. He might be a little younger in this photo, but close enough. The dog is tied to the handle of the wagon where Lindy sits, holding a long stick.

Leonard “Lindy” Coates

Eveline’s older brother, John, had his photo taken in uniform while sitting in a carved chair. John registered for the draft during the summer of 1917. This photograph was likely taken not long after Eveline’s graduation in 1918.

John Coates, 1918

That’s the end of the photos of family members sitting circa 1917-18. So we will move outside. I have shared this photo of Eveline’s parent’s before. The backdrop of a painted house with white trim is consistent in other family photos. It must be the family home.

Joseph and Mary Harris Coates

Eveline’s sister Marjorie was born in 1906, which would make her about twelve in 1918. I’m going to call this close enough. Her hat looks the same as the one Lindy wore in the earlier photo.

Marjorie Coates

These are not all of Eveline’s siblings, just the ones I found photos of around this time in her life. It must have been a busy house with at least eight of the nine living siblings at home. As the oldest girl, it would fall to Eveline to help with the chores and the care of her younger siblings.

Eveline kept some photos of friends and neighbors.

Bernard and Mary Reinscop, neighbors
Marion and Eveline Morlan, neighbors
Maggie Train

As I looked through old newspapers, names of other Mystic residents appeared repeatedly – motoring to Centerville or attending a club meeting or a party. Eveline’s family very rarely made mention. They never seemed to go anywhere with anyone. Until …

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, IA, 21 Jul 1917

Eveline had a party! She hosted her class. At the covered bridge. In the middle of the week in July.

Finding this made me inexplicably happy.

Unfortunately, I have not seen any photo that records the events of the day or who was there. Although her graduating class was small, they would not all fit into one car. The names Fenton and Ford do not appear on a list of classmates, so the drivers of the cars must have been family friends who offered to drive those who did not live within walking distance. There is one photo of Eveline with some girlfriends.

Top to bottom: Unknown, Eveline Coates, Unknown, Alice Tingle, Unknown

I only know the identity of the two girls leaning left – Eveline and her friend and classmate Alice Tingle. I think you can tell which one is Eveline by her hair! All of the girls look like they could be incoming high school seniors and there is water, so it’s possible this photo goes with the newspaper reference to a party, but their long sleeved dresses make me wonder about it being July. Eveline and Alice attended normal school in the summer of 1918, so this photo could have been taken with friends there. In any case, they look like they are having fun – and at least one of them is sitting. On something.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday and my family history. Get comfortable in your chair and visit other Sepia Saturday bloggers here.

Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesSee:

Vintage Postcard – Grosvenor Hotel, London (Sepia Saturday 611)

The prompt photo for Sepia Saturday nudged me to focus on the town of Mystic, Iowa – the places where Eveline spent time, the places that represented her world and her town. Alas, there were no hotels or buildings quite as grand as the one in the prompt photo. The population of Mystic in 1917-1918 was somewhere around 2,700. The population increased from 1,758 in 1900 to 2,663 in 1910. By 1920, the population had grown to 2,796. These were the boom years when coal production peaked in the city and county.

The building where Evelline spent most of her time away from home during her senior year was the new Mystic High School, which opened its doors in 1915. Eveline shared some thoughts about the new school in an autobiography she wrote when she was sixteen, perhaps in the fall of 1917:

Then came the fight for the new school house and a half term of school in the U. B. Church. This didn’t benefit any of us as we did as much talking and so forth, as ever.  But in the new building a perfect rule of tyranny began. For no talking is allowed after you enter the building until you leave again.  Of course we obey this rule in every respect, even keeping still during recitation.

Mystic High School. Mystic, Iowa. Scanned from Eveline’s collection.

Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

The photo below appears in History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987. All those children sitting outside the United Brethren Church lead me to believe that this was taken during the time it was used as a temporary school. Surely all those children did not attend the church!

United Brethren Church, early 1900s. Scanned from History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987

I don’t know if Eveline is in this photo. I think the older girl 4th from the left in the back row most resembles my grandmother. Or maybe the 6th girl from the left??? (Click to enlarge.)

I’m not sure what church Eveline attended, or how often she was present. She was baptized at the Church of Christ in 1916, where the funeral of her grandmother Celia Jenkins Harris was held. Other family funerals seem to have been at the Methodist Episcopal Church, and that is also where Eveline married in 1923. The photo below includes the Methodist church and the “old” high school, which was torn down and rebuilt.

M. E. Church and High School, Mystic, Iowa. Before 1915

The History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987 states that there were five churches in town: Methodist, Christian, United Brethren, Catholic, and Second Baptist. No Church of Christ is listed to confirm Eveline’s baptism.

But Wikipedia has an explanation for that: “The churches are independent congregations and typically go by the name “Christian Church”, but often use the name “Church of Christ” as well.” I’ll assume that the Church of Christ in town was commonly referred to as the Christian Church.

Scanned from History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987

The streets of Mystic were unpaved, subject to ruts, rain, and dust if not oiled. Main Street was paved with bricks sometime in 1918. Some residents had cars and were reported in the newspaper to have “motored” to one town or another to visit family or attend an event. Many likely still relied on horse powered transport as well as their own two feet. I found a few pictures from the 1920s-30s of people on horses in town and another of the mail being delivered in another part of the county by horse and buggy. There is an undated photo of Eveline’s parents, Joseph and Mary Coates, standing by a buggy. In 1917, they would have been 50 and 45, respectively. It is hard for me to tell their ages in this photo.

Joseph Coates and Mary Ann Harris Coates, undated

If you wanted to travel to Centerville, the county seat, you could hop on the Interurban.

Following are a few memories shared by a Mystic resident, with some photos interspersed:

In 1910 our Sunday afternoon entertainment was watching trains come and go from the Mystic Depot.

Later on, streets were oiled to Walnut City, making an initial improvement. In 1918, Main Street was bricked which remains to this day. The town burned twice. The first fire was in 1910 and burned the east end of town from Second Street to the west. In 1911, it burned from Second Street towards the east. Bradley’s Bank did not burn until the fire in 1912. The livery barn on Second Street stopped the fire because the posts were cut which toppled the metal roof thus smothering it.

Mystic, Iowa. 1909

Mystic had two opera houses. The first one was on the north side of the street over Scott and Minor’s Grocery Store. It burned down when Mystic burned the first time. The second Opera House was located where Strand Theatre stood. Karl Breeding operated the first “picture show.” Mystic also had a town band under the leadership of Lem Hicks. A community symphony orchestra was also formed, consisting mostly of French and Belgian musicians. At one time, Mystic had three hotels and many boarding houses. Every year Mystic had a Fourth of July celebration which included a Sham Battle, shooting blanks out of guns.

History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1997. pg. 37-39.

The burned out portions of Main Street were rebuilt mostly in brick. I visited Mystic with my aunt and uncle in September 2016. We were trying to cover a lot of area that day, including cemeteries, and you can see from the clouds that bad weather was approaching, so our time was limited. I only took the one photo of Main Street from the car. I wish I had taken more and that I had done a little research before I made the trip so I would have had a better idea of what to look for. Oh well. It appears that I was at the opposite end of the street from the old photo above.

Main Street, Mystic, Iowa September 2016

Not a full picture of the town that Eveline knew and loved, but a glimpse. I’ll keep working on it!

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday. Click the link to see and read how others have responded to the prompt.