The Historical Society of Woodstock presented the first program of its year-long celebration of women’s rights activism in October of 2020,, with plans to continue the celebration in 2021. The Historical Society has not yet announced the dates for its continuing program festival.
Marguerite Kearns participated in a Zoom panel discussion on October 10, 2020 that highlighted previous suffrage activists with Woodstock connections (Elisabeth Freeman and Edna Kearns).
One of the “anti” arguments was that suffrage would make a woman unfeminine. She would leave her home and family and go do manly things. My great-grandmother Edna Buckman Kearns didn’t let that claim go unchallenged. While campaigning for women’s suffrage, she made a point of telling people that winning the vote wouldn’t detract from her ability to care for a home and family.
ONE GOOD QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING
Indeed, women voting would help everyone. One of my favorite pieces from her archive is an article in which she wrote, and I paraphrase, “I can campaign, and I can can.” (I never met her, and she died before my Grandmother Wilma was grown, so I don’t know how much she really cared about the “domestic arts,” but she certainly knew what to say and do to help the cause.)
I don’t can out of necessity to feed my family through the winter, thank goodness, but I do enjoy preserving food on occasion. I generally do so to save bumper crops – I will dehydrate tomatoes (especially wonderful in soups), make fruit leather, can a delicious peach salsa (so much work, and so worth it!), and make other things that I wouldn’t buy in the grocery store because they’re too expensive or I don’t like the ingredients. This summer a friend’s tree had a surfeit of pears that she happily shared with me. With organic apple butter easily costing $8/jar, it’s a treat we rarely purchase. I decided to make some pear butter with this bounty.
A QUICK WAY TO PREPARE PEAR BUTTER
You could certainly make this on the stovetop, but it would take longer and require more attention than using the InstantPot/an electric pressure cooker. I’m very cautious about food safety when canning and only use recipes that I’m sure are safe. This recipe is adapted from several Internet sources, based on what I had and what I felt like at the moment of cooking, so I chose to freeze it instead.
Wash, core, and slice enough pears to nearly fill your pot. Add the juice and zest of a couple of small oranges or one nice big one, and add 4 tablespoons or so of lemon juice. (From a jar is perfectly fine – I won’t tell the citrus police on you.) Add a teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon, more if you like your fruit butter extra-spiced, a bit of allspice, and some nutmeg; I just grated the nutmeg directly into the pot, but it was probably about ½-1 teaspoon. Pumpkin pie or apple pie spice blends would definitely have worked, each with their own flavor profile, but I had the individual spices and used them instead. I added about a tablespoon of vanilla extract (we make our own, so I don’t know how it compares to the commercial version in strength). If you live in New Mexico, consider adding some chile flakes or powder. Add two to three cups of sugar. Use more if your pears aren’t really sweet and ripe, less if you prefer for the flavor of the fruit to shine through.
Close the lid and set the pot on manual cook, 15 minutes or so (shorter if your pears are really soft and in smaller pieces; longer if your pears are firmer and in larger pieces). Let it release pressure naturally if you have the time, or quick-release if you’re in a hurry. Blend the pot contents – leave a few chunks if you prefer that texture, or make it as smooth as possible if that’s what floats your boat. If you want it chunky, you may find that using a potato masher instead of blending works really well. (I did a combo – put as much as would fit in my blender and then potato-mashed the rest. That way I had a fairly smooth butter with the occasional small chunk.)
COOK DOWN UNTIL IT’S THE RIGHT THICKNESS
I then returned the pear-butter-to-be to the InstantPot, which I put on slow cooker, high, and cooked for a long time. You want the liquid to cook down until the pear butter is the thickness you prefer. I propped the lid open with a spoon until it had cooked down enough that it no longer splattered out of the pot, then removed the lid entirely, and stirred every hour or whenever I remembered. I probably let it cook down 10-12 hours; it would have been much faster if I’d cooked it down on the stovetop, but I would have had to stir much more often and I decided I’d rather the process take longer but require less hands-on effort.
WOULD GREAT-GRANDMOTHER EDNA KEARNS HAVE APPROVED?
I ladled the pear butter into sterilized jars and froze most of them, saving one to eat right away. It was scrumptious, and I like to think that Great-Grandmother Edna would have approved.
The October 2020 panel discussion sponsored by the Historical Society of Woodstock (NY) continues in 2021 with more highlights about how the small Hudson Valley community hosted many suffrage activists during the turn of the 20th century. The historical society is hosting a year-long celebration of women’s rights from 2020 to 2021.
Some of this Woodstock history is featured in An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights by Marguerite Kearns, upcoming from SUNY Press (State University of New York) in June 2021. Marguerite Kearns lived in Woodstock, NY for twenty years.
For Valentine’s Day we’re featuring this special program, plus a video in observance of Susan B. Anthony’s birthday.
Here’s the overview of the Woodstock program from the historical society web site.
So much has also changed over the course of a lifetime when I started at age ten to find out more about my suffrage activist grandmother, Edna Kearns. I spent years researching, writing, and dreaming, And then I got a publisher. Whew. That’s when my learning began with the expectations from a university press (SUNY Press, State of New York). A lot more work, plus a better book too.
I realized that what I did is a model for others doing something similar. Asking the question of “Why am I the way I am?” and then spending a lifetime answering the question by collecting evidence. I ended up with the story of how my grandmother’s work impacted four generations in my family.
My web site is: Unfinished-Revolution.com, and the book is scheduled for publication in June of 2021. Not 2020, mind you, the 100th anniversary of US women winning the right to vote, but 2021.
This book is not only for women’s history fans. It’s what we all should be doing. Collecting the basics about our own families.
So—do you, dear friends, have some direction to point me? Suggestions? Advice? I’m sitting here at my computer, day after day, trying to figure it out. So your input would be extremely helpful. I’ve been working on this book, in one way or another, almost all of my life. Not to mention blogging for the past 10 years (SuffrageWagon.org and SuffrageCentennials.com).
When I started, there was little out there written by a suffrage activist descendant like me. This is changing. Now I have to get the news to the right people and venues. Any ideas I’ll follow through on…An answer from you would be deeply appreciated. MargueriteKearns at gmail.com
What does the Chinese New Year have to do with the voting rights for women? We celebrate as many holidays and observances as we can here on the web site dedicated to the upcoming book by Marguerite Kearns.
Edna Buckman Kearns’s mother, May Begley Buckman, loved cooking, Some of her recipes were from the woman’s suffrage cookbook, a series published by suffrage activists separately as fundraisers and organizing tools. You can search “Feeding America, that has some of these cookbooks in full text.
a dinner table drama when Papa Buckman doesn’t come home for dinner when he’s expected. The scene highlights the double standards for men and women, even in a Quaker family where gender equality at home has been undermined by the values of the dominant culture. Edna’s mother, May Begley Buckman, cooks with recipes from women’s suffrage fundraising cookbooks.
March 8th is International Women’s Day. Get ready during March—Women’s History Month!
Think of how you can turn this day into an attention-getting event!
Help spread the word about the book,An Unfinished Revolution, by Marguerite Kearns. It’s about her grandparents and their women’s voting rights activism. All of this is woven into how four generations in her family were inspired.
On Unfinished-Revolution.com, we’re bringing to your attention how the past, present, and future are influenced by what we do today. Celebrate International Women’s Day in March. Get ready now by planning an event or commemoration in your family or organization.
During my long hard years blogging about the early women’s rights movement, I founded the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School and the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Now these stories are in a book, An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights. And the cooking school and cafe live on.
So do you think it was easy for me to blog for ten years about my grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon? I went through changes when I realized it would take a long time to convince Americans about the importance of the early women’s rights movement. In many aspects, it was a ragtag group of dissidents and eccentrics early on when the idea of women actually voting took hold.
What were my choices? Give up? I was too tough for that. Translate this to…I started a cooking school. Suffrage Wagon Cooking School. And this wasn’t out of character for the campaigns of the early 20th century. The activists used cook books as a vehicle for their organizing.
Here’s a video about Suffrage Wagon Cooking School made in 2020. Take a look at the cafe and cooking school’s offerings over the years at Suffrage Wagon News Channel (SuffrageWagon.org).
I’m spreading the word about August 26th—Women’s Equality Day. It’s the day we commemorate the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are no federal holidays for women, and U.S. women have been observing this day since 1973. That said, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2021 to spread the word that it’s time for someone or an organization to launch such an effort. Do you have any ideas? I’m asking everyone I can to either step up to the plate, or pass on the word.
Unfinished-Revolution.com is dedicated to preparing for SUNY Press (State University of New York) to release my book on June 1, 2021. Find out more on this digital platform about the upcoming book, as well as dreams about August 26th becoming a national holiday.
Happy New Year, 2021. January is Hot Tea Month to commemorate the many tea receptions held during the early women’s rights movement. At the turn of the century, most public spaces didn’t allow women to enter if they didn’t have an escort. Therefore, the few women-owned teahouses were often used for meetings. In addition, many public venues didn’t have women’s bathrooms. Women-owned teahouses could cater to women because they provided facilities for their patrons.