Cookbooks for Genealogy?

Yours truly is not a cook. Not at all. My husband does our family cooking.  However, upon reading a recent article in the Huffington Post on African-American cookbooks, I noted one of the cookbooks were written by a Tennessee native, Rufus Estes.  Titled “Good Things to Eat,”  the cookbook was published in 1911.

What caught my eye is that in the beginning of the book Mr. Estes gives an account of his family history, sharing notable events in his life that led up to his career as a cook.

  • 1857 – born a slave in Maury County and belonged to D.J. Estes
  • 1867 – his mother moved to Nashville, TN – home of his grandmother
  • 1873 – employed in Nashville by a restaurant-keeper named Hemphill
  • 1881 – moves to Chicago and got a position at 77 Clark Street where he made $10/week
  • 1883 – became a Pullman porter
  • 1894 – sailed to Japan and visited the Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo
  • 1897 – took charge of Arthur Stillwell’s (President of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gould Railroad) $20,000 private car
  • 1907 – became employed as chef of the subsidiary companies of the United States Steel Corporation in Chicago

And, in 1911, he publishes his cookbook. How interesting! I can’t say I would think to have found a mini-biography in a cookbook!  I downloaded the Kindle version to the book ($0) and will take a look at some of the recipes.  Think I can get the hubby to cook some?

Broad Ax newspaper of Salt Lake City. 6 May 1911

If you’ve found a genealogy gem in a cookbook, please let us know! It would be interesting to hear some of your finds.




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