Debby Summey: A riddle for a deer hunter

  • Friday, February 1, 2013

Sally Durant Porter’s hand-stitched quilt. 

 There is a riddle for deer hunters at the end of this column, but first I have to thank my cousin for a gift I received from her a few weeks ago.
I’ve used my Great Grandmother’s diary a couple of times in my columns.  Her name was Sarah “Sally” Durant Porter.  Born in 1866, she raised ten children – five boys and five girls.  One of the boys was my grandfather, Alpheus Porter, and one of the girls was his sister, Esther Porter.  

Esther had a daughter named Rachel, who is now Rachel Stearns.  Passed down to Rachel was a quilt hand-stitched by Sally.  Two weeks ago, Rachel passed the quilt on to me through her daughter, Beth Thomas.  

This is one of the best gifts I have ever received.  I marvel at the tiny stitches.  When did she have time to quilt?  Between raising ten children, planting her garden, and the thousand other chores she performed as a rural housewife, I’m told she made many quilts.  Thank you, Rachel.  I’ll take good care of it and pass it on to my daughter one day.

Speaking of the rural housewife, I was at the Georgetown County Museum recently and browsed through the bound copies of “The Ladies’ Home Journal.”  In the issue published Feb. 15, 1911, there is an article entitled “What the Farmer Can Do to Lighten His Wife’s Work.”   One of the suggestions was to replace the outhouse with an indoor bathroom.  

The article states, “Very few farmhouses have bathrooms.  There is no excuse for the farmer’s wife having to bathe in a washtub when a bathroom may be fitted up at very little expense.”

The article describes how easily a bathroom may be added to a house.  “Such an outfit, including pump and tank with all necessary fixtures ready for installation, will cost from fifty-five to seventy-five dollars.”  
The article encourages indoor bathrooms to “forever stop the exposure of family members – often when in ill health – to the rain, sleet, snow or wind” through the bitter months of winter.

Winter is the time of year to be feasting on wild game. The Winyah Bay Heritage Festival is being held this year on March 2 and 3 at East Bay Park.  The kickoff event, “Cattails and Cocktails”, is Sunday, Feb. 10, at Hobcaw Barony.  The menu includes venison, grilled game, pork BBQ, duck, oysters, and fish stew.  Did I mention venison?  I love it, but there was a time when confusion reigned as to when deer could be hunted and venison could be sold.

In 1887, the Georgetown Enquirer newspaper reported that an Act passed in the General Assembly of S.C. in 1886 made it illegal to hunt and kill deer (and sell venison) between Feb. 1 and Sept. 1, except in Clarendon, Georgetown, Colleton, Williamsburg, Marlboro, Kershaw, Horry, Darlington, Marion and Berkeley Counties, where the shooting season started on Aug. 1.

“For instance, a dealer in the Charleston market offers venison for sale on Aug. 1.  If the deer has been killed in Berkeley County it is legal venison.  If it has been killed in Charleston or Beaufort County it is ‘illegitimate’ venison, and the killer and seller are both liable to fine or imprisonment.  But suppose a hunter starts a buck in Hell Hole Swamp, which is in Berkeley County, and runs him over to Toogoodoo, which is supposed to be in Beaufort County, and then finally chases him back to the Four-Mile House, which is in Charleston County and then kills him – all of this, to wit: on the 1st day of August, A.D. 1887 – is he guilty or not guilty of violating the Act of 1886?  And is the purchaser in Charleston County guilty or not guilty of the same offense?”

There are many references to deer hunting and venison on the GCDL website.  One is a recipe printed in the Georgetown Semi-Weekly Times on Feb. 3, 1897.  The recipe is for venison sausage, one of my favorites.

Into a small meat grinder, put one pound of venison steak and a half-pound of fresh, fat pork.  After grinding, season the meat with one and a half teaspoons of salt, two-thirds teaspoon of powdered sage, one-half teaspoon pepper.  Make this into “fat cakes” and fry until brown.  Makes my mouth water.

To the GCDL, the Georgetown County Museum, and to cousin Rachel ... thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.

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