By Curt Oden, Exline Correspondent
The weather lately, sure seems to be backwards. We had nice, warm weather earlier in the spring and now, the closer we get to summer, we are experiencing chilly, rainy weather and occasional frosty mornings.
The new recipe for the week, is one that I recently had at a relative’s house. It is very good and very rich.
Buttermilk Chocolate Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts nuts
Directions for the brownies
Blend the sugar, baking soda, flour and salt together. Set aside.
In a medium size saucepan melt the butter. Then, add the cocoa and water. Bring to a boil and pour over the dry ingredients. Once that is mixed together, pour in the buttermilk. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend everything.
Bake in a prepared 10-½ by 15-½ sided, brownie pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake.
Directions for the frosting
Using a medium size saucepan, melt the butter then, add the cocoa and buttermilk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts and mix together.
While the frosting is still warm, spread over the entire top of the brownies. These are delicious.
The last week of April is a pretty time to visit the state of Virginia. That is when they have Historic Garden Week throughout the state. This year it was held from last Saturday, April 21-28.
Each year, visitors may tour over 250 beautiful gardens and other landmarks. Even as you drive along in that state, you may see Redbud and Dogwood trees that are in bloom, growing wild along in the woods, which adds springtime color to your adventure.
The tour each spring, is sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia. Different gardens, historic homes and locations are featured in various areas.
On one of our trips during Historic Garden Week, back on Wednesday morning, April 24, 1991 we visited the plantation home known as Tuckahoe, which is southwest of the capital city of Richmond, Va. in the James River Valley.
The estate sits way off of the main road. You approach the historic home by a long, tree shaded lane, that has the view of the mansion in the far distance, as you approach.
We had to make an appointment to visit this old estate, where we got a private tour of the home and grounds by the head housekeeper. It is a private residence and not usually open to the public. As I recall, it was only open that year, for touring, during garden week.
Tuckahoe is one of the finest, preserved examples of an early Colonial Virginia plantation from the 1700s. Besides having its old mansion, it still has its original out buildings that have been persevered since the plantation home was constructed in 1714 by Thomas Randolph.
The wooden sided home itself, is built in an early Georgian style in the shape of an “H“ with a huge Great Hall that you come into when you enter. Inside the home, we got to see the lavish wood paneling, old period furnishings and beautiful mirrors.
The plantation office building is still there, as well as the Servants houses and the Spring House where the milk, butter and cheese could be kept cool. These items would be stored in crocks and lowered into the cold water, to keep them fresh, before refrigeration was invented.
The brick kitchen building is still there too. In the 1700s it was not considered good, to be able to smell food cooking, plus there was always a fire hazard because of cooking over a fire in an open hearth fireplace, so the food cooking was done nearby in a separate building.
Between the kitchen building and the main house, it was known as “Battercake Express” or Whistler’s Walk”, where the young servants would carry the food from the kitchen building to the main house at meal time.
It was called “Whistler’s Walk” because the person carrying the food, was supposed to whistle all the way to make sure they were not tasting the food on the way to the main house.
While we were there, since it was Historic Garden Week, we also got to see the beautiful tulips that were in bloom, along with all of the other pretty spring flowers that graced the grounds.
There were ladies from the local garden club who were in the yard, making beautiful arrangements from fresh cut azaleas and other spring blooming trees and blossoms to display in the house for garden week. The property at that time, was still a working farm, when we were there.
The Randolph family was a renown early Virginia family and this is the only Randolph home that is still preserved.
Thomas and his wife Maria Randolph, lived on the working plantation in the home he had constructed there. Thomas’ first cousin was Jane Randolph of Dungeness Plantation. She was the wife of Peter Jefferson. They lived on a plantation on the south side of the James River at a place known as Fine Creek.
Just prior to Thomas Randolph’s death, Peter Jefferson bought an adjoining plantation, west of Tuckahoe, known as Shadwell and the Jefferson family moved there.
Maria died in 1742 and Thomas Randolph died in 1745. After Maria and Thomas Randolph‘s death, in accordance with Thomas’ Will, Peter and Jane Jefferson moved to Tuckahoe in the spring of 1745, to raise the three Randolph children.
The Jefferson’s also had three children of their own, with their youngest being their son Thomas Jefferson, who was not quite two years old.
Young Thomas Jefferson, spent his early years on the Tuckahoe Plantation. The one room building that he and his own siblings and cousins, attended school in, is still preserved on the property. He attended school in that building from 1748 until 1752, from the ages of 5 to 9 years old.
The Jefferson family lived at Tuckahoe for seven years and returned to their plantation at Shadwell in 1752.
Later, the eldest Randolph son, Thomas Mann Randolph I, inherited their family home of Tuckahoe when he became of age.
Upon his death in 1745, his son Thomas Mann Randolph III, inherited the plantation. He had an older brother named Thomas Mann Randolph II, who was a child from his dad’s marriage to his first wife.
Thomas Mann Randolph I, died in 1848 and his wife Gabriella survived. She then married her second husband, John Brockenbrough.
John Brockenbrough built a town house in the city of Richmond. During the Civil War, this town house became the White House of the Confederacy, where the Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis lived during that war.
They eventually sold Tuckahoe and moved to Bath County Virginia. In 1828 the Brockenbroughs sold Lower Tuckahoe to the Wight family. By 1850 the Allen family bought Upper Tuckahoe that had the plantation home on it from the Brockenbroughs. The Allens also purchased the Lower Tuckahoe part of the land from the Wight family.
Joseph Allen and his family moved in to the Tuckahoe home on the upper plantation and his son Richard Allen moved onto the lower plantation. Richard did not make it at farming and he sold the Lower Tuckahoe Plantation. By 1898 Upper Tuckahoe with the house on it, was old at auction.
The Coolidge Family of Boston, then bought the home and 600 acres for $13,000. The Coolidge family were direct descendants of the original Randolph family from Tuckahoe. They would use it as a place to come and relax from Boston.
By 1935 the Coolidge family sold Tuckahoe to Isabelle (Ball) Baker. She was a descendent of another old Virginia Family. The Ball family, who was related to George Washington’s mother, Mary (Ball) Washington.
Isabelle (Ball) Baker was the widow of Addison Baker. Their daughter, Jessie Ball Baker married William Taliaferro Thompson Jr. Jessie and her husband had a son named Addison Baker Thompson. When we visited there in 1991, he was the master of the plantation at Tuckahoe. He was a lawyer and a corporate jet pilot. At that time, he lived on the plantation with his wife and four children.
Only five families have owned the land at Tuckahoe since 1714 and they were the Randolphs, Wights, Allens, Coolidges, and the Baker-Thompsons. Plus, the Peter Jefferson Family lived there from 1745 until 1752, because young Thomas Jefferson’s mother Jane, was a relative of the Randolphs.
That was a very interesting old plantation home to visit as we heard about the old Virginia families that were all associated with the home over years, along with the history of the estate. It was also nice to get to see the pretty flowers and other blooming plants on their grounds.
Last Saturday evening, was a fun night at the Exline Old Country Store. Local guys, dressed up as lady waitresses, to serve the customers during the dinner at the store. They served Lasagna, breadsticks and a salad for $10 a plate, as a fundraiser.
This event was sponsored by the Exline Betterment Committee to raise money for the town’s annual 4th of July celebration.
The “gal” who was the waitress, with the most tips for that evening was Donnie West. For getting the most tips, Donnie received a prize. It was a man’s travel shaving kit, full of women’s cosmetics as a gag gift, but it also contained a $25 dollar gift certificate.
The Spring Clean Up for the city of Exline will be next week on May 4 and May 5 throughout the town. They will be picking up old refrigerators, microwave ovens, washers, dryers, newspapers, cardboard, old batteries and paint. No old televisions or computer monitors will be accepted.
There will be a charge of $2.50 a piece, to dispose of old tires. Items, must be placed by the curb, if you would like them picked up.
For further information, you may contact the mayor or the City Council.
The orders for brick sales for the display of the Methodist Church Bell, are going to be taken until Memorial Day weekend, so if you want one, you need to get your order in soon. They sell for $50 a piece. You may call Mary Ann (Campbell) Hurley at (641) 658-2691 or Jean (Traxler) Leach at (641) 658-2623 for further information.
Remember to make your reservations for the upcoming Exline School Alumni and Community Dinner. The event is open to anyone who is interested in our town and not just for former students of the Exline School.
It will be held on Memorial weekend at 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. The cost will be $10 per person. Reservations can be made by sending your check, made out to the Exline Recreation Committee, and mail them to Tina Sudbrock, 24950 236th St., Exline, Iowa 52555. If you would like further information, you may call Mary Ann Hurley at (641) 658-2691.
The Exline Church of Christ wants to let everyone know that they will not hold Vacation Bible School this year in June. However, it will be held during the month of August. When details are finalized about the dates, they will make the information available to everyone.