Days Gone By - stories from the past

Granny’s Dough Bowl – Heart warming story

When Leland Barton and Mamie Cork were married in the little Wesley Chapel Church in 1897, the father of the groom presented the bride with a hand carved dough bowl he had shaped from a huge cedar tree in his front yard.


doughbowl

 

Scraps from the dough would be cycled back into a smaller batch

For 65 years Mamie took the dough bowl out of the flour box in the pantry, put in two handfuls of self-rising flour, a fistful of lard, and mixed until the fat was in particles smaller than peas, added buttermilk and worked it into a moist dough. It was transferred to a cheese cloth covered with flour on the metal-topped box and rolled out for cutting biscuits. Scraps from the dough would be cycled back into a smaller batch and cut again.

Biscuits were placed in the oven next to the roaring firebox. A woman was judged by her biscuits, hot and fluffy, flat and chewy, or hard as rocks. Some were almost as big as saucers, others slightly larger than a silver dollar. They would be served with sausages from the hogs killed in freezing weather, then processed by smoking in the smokehouse. Fresh eggs were abundant and grits completed the meal with homemade jelly and molasses to add sweetness and energy for a long farm workday.

The dough bowl was each woman’s equipment for crafting biscuits, yeast rolls, or piecrusts, and was a symbol of her mastery of the womanly cooking arts. Having it made especially for her greatly increased its value.

My mother cherished the dough bowl

Granny Barton died in 1963. My mother was the last surviving sibling in the Barton family and the cherished dough bowl came to her and eight years ago was passed down to me. It shows its age and there are spots where a fruit display stained the center, but it is an honored vessel. With five daughters it has been hard to me to decide who gets it next. Perhaps it will continue to have a place of honor for the next generation.

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague.

 

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About Dorothy Graham Gast

Dorothy Gast lives in Romulus, Alabama on the Graham family farm. She taught in Tuscaloosa County Schools for nearly 30 years. She has a "Mine, yours, and Ours" family. She has volunteered in numerous organizations after her husband's eight year struggle with Alzheimers' ended. She helped organize a volunteer fire department after she was 60 and served as board secretary and nationally certified firefighter after extensive training. Her attempts to get the community reading failed, but she contributed books to the new Sipsey Valley high school from the library in her home friends helped her establish.She is known locally by the silhouettes she cuts free hand of children. She began to write nostalgia stories after a grandson asked her to write down the stories often told at family events.

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63 comments

  1. What an amazing story !! Who knew biscuits could be so easy to make !! You are very fortunate to have received that bowl !!

  2. Loved this article! I remember so well my late mother in law making biscuits in a wooden bowl just like this one. One spot in it was so worn that each time I witnessed her making biscuits I thought it would be the last time….that it would break through. My mother actually made biscuits much fluffier and fatter. They were wonderful….never been able to make biscuits like either. Oh, I can make them, but they just are not as good!

  3. I am the proud keeper of my Granny’s doughboard carved from ash. One of my most treasured possessions.

  4. Thanks for the story. My granny had a dough bowl. She made wonderful biscuits also.

  5. I have one just like this, however, I cannot say that I saw it used by a family member. However, I use it in my kitchen as countertop storage.

  6. I have my paternal grandmother’s dough bowl. It is a treasure and I’ve often wondered just how many biscuits were made in that bowl!

  7. I have my paternal grandmother’s dough bowl. It is a treasure and I’ve often wondered just how many biscuits were made in that bowl!

  8. My grandmother had a special dough and biscuit making pan. I did not inherit her cooking skills, unfortunately, but that pan is a treasured memory and all the good buttermilk biscuits, dumplings and pie crusts that were mixed in there.

  9. I treasure my grandmother’s dough bowl! I never saw it without flour in it, always covered with a cloth … Waiting for her to add lard and buttermilk!

  10. I treasure my grandmother’s dough bowl! I never saw it without flour in it, always covered with a cloth … Waiting for her to add lard and buttermilk!

    1. That’s so heart warming I have my Great Grandmas who gave it to my Mom she gave it to me and Mom always had a cloth over hers Lol Mom used lard also.

  11. Have a large one from the 1820s. Still in the kitchen

    1. 1820’s? Have never seen a wooden dough bowl that old. That’s a treasure.

  12. Have a large one from the 1820s. Still in the kitchen

  13. Wesley Chapel church in the Central community in NW Alabama?

  14. Wesley Chapel church in the Central community in NW Alabama?

    1. I believe it is Wesley Chapel near Romulus in central Alabama. This is a story by one of our contributing writers Dorothy Gast and she is from around that area.

  15. No bowl but wooden butter mold! Filled it many times after churning at my Granny’s!

  16. My Father made my Mother one in 1930 I still have it,I wont my great grandchildren to see mother dough bowl !!!

  17. It is often called “treen ware” because it is made from trees. Poplar is another popular wood used.

  18. I have my great grandmother’s dough bowl.

  19. I have my great, great grandmother’s dough bowl. It’s been handed down through the years. It is one of my most cherished possessions. I used to watch my grandmother prepare pie crusts and biscuits from this bowl.

  20. there’s an antiques place between Bellingrath Gardens and Dauphin Island that has beautiful dough bowls, all sizes. Some are in better shape than others, of course, but they’re all pretty.

  21. I have a dough board and a rolling pin

  22. I have two of those, one was my Mommas and one was Willies Moms.

  23. I have two of those, one was my Mommas and one was Willies Moms.

  24. Such great memoris standing in a chair helping make bisqick with Mama Minnie. Proble more mess then anything, but I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  25. My mother -Clara Glendyn Etheridge and my daddy Sumner Edward Twilley were married in the back seat of a rumble car in the yard of Wesley Chapel in Magnolia, Alabama. I think it was in Magnolia or Arlington Alabama! Could this be the same Wesley Chapel do you think?

  26. I have one of these bowls from my mother.

  27. I have one made from a popular tree.

  28. I love wooden dough bowls……..they should be cared for , lots of stories in each one

  29. Gary N Ren’e Stanley, remember the dough board I gave you? It belonged to my great grandmother.

  30. my grandfather made my grandmother one when they got married. I do not know what year that was, however she used it until she was no longer able to cook. YEARS later I was reading history about the native american indians (cherokee), there was a picture of a wooden bread making bowl. It seems these were used by the cherokee’s many many moons ago.

  31. Wondering if anybody around carves these dough boards? Would love to buy one. I remember my mom making biscuits every morning! I bet my biscuits would taste better made in one!

    1. Charles Phillips in Theodore has these at excellent prices. Low inventory on small ones right now.

    2. Susan I would to get in touch with him!

  32. My great-grand father carved one for my grandmother . I now have hers & I put a arrorheads in it.

  33. I have one that my great great grandfather made for my great grandmother. I also have a rolling pin that my daughter uses to make the BEST pie crusts with.

  34. Funny I just read in an ancestor’s will the wooden dough bowl should be left to his wife, unless she remarried! On his death bed, a dough bowl!

    1. In those days, every single item had to be listed in wills, or it would be taxed. Have seen feather beds, cooking pots, etc listed!

    2. Yes they were all there! Didn’t know about the taxes!

  35. Btw, my bowl has a crack in the middle! Any ideas how to fix? Soak in olive oil?

  36. I have one. It was my Mother in Laws. I do not know how old it is,
    But it came from OK.

  37. I have one of those that belonged to my great-grandmother. She was married in September, 1900.

  38. I have our family’s dough bowl. One of the few family pieces that exist.

  39. Interesting story and the bowl is really neat, but I don’t believe they had self-rising flour 68 years ago.

  40. Always wondered what happened to it?

  41. I have my Gr Gr grandmothers my sister has the other grandmothers

  42. I have my dad’s mother’s in my kitchen!! It was passed down to her and was so worn it had to be repaired on the bottom!

    1. Lori I have my grandmother’s too

  43. Thanks…l enjoyed that…..sometimes I think I should have been born to live in those simpler times!

  44. Self rising flour originated in 1845

  45. Iva Lee Holmes memory….4 boys and 3 girls to cook for…flour bowl was used every morning…
    .

  46. Tara Herring Chambliss recognize this bowl

  47. I have one. It was my great grandmother’s.

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