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Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor
Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release: August 21, 2014

Facebook: WV Commerce - State Parks

Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer (304) 957-9365 hoy.r.murphy@wv.gov


Pam Salisbury, Blennerhassett Island State Park 304-420-4800 Pamela.d.salisbury@wv.gov

"The Frontier Table" is set at Blennerhassett Island State Park Aug. 24, a book about historic foods and an early look at resources of the 1800s; Foodways Tours Aug. 30

PARKERSBURG, West Virginia – Local historians Martha and Richard "Dick" Hartley have spent the past 25 years researching the food that early settlers in Western Virginia prepared and ate. Unearthing more than 230 reference sources, they have assembled little-known facts and fascinating anecdotes about the struggles and triumphs of our ancestors after they crossed the rugged mountains and floated down the rivers into what is now West Virginia. Their research can be found in their book "The Frontier Table – A Treatise & Source Book on Western Virginia Foodways History - 1776 – 1860."

The Hartleys will be discussing and signing copies of "The Frontier Table" Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History in Parkersburg from 1:30 to 3 p.m.  Light refreshments of foods prepared from historic recipes will be served. The Hartleys will present a short commentary on some of their remarkable food findings at 2 p.m. Scott Cain will provide hammered dulcimer music. Dr. Ray Swick will serve as event host and answer questions about the museum and the history of the island and the Blennerhassetts.
The book also shares information about crops that were planted and harvested, about food and food equipment which was available for purchase or barter, and about the cultural influences on the peoples coming into the Western Virginia "melting pot." The book's numerous illustrations include historical sketches and prints from the Western Virginia region by early artists. It is rich in unique and cultural heritage and increases our understanding of the importance of food production to the frontier family table. The references guide readers to sources and more in-depth information about antebellum West Virginia.

The Hartleys, West Virginia natives, volunteer as museum docents and hearth cooks, bringing the fare of an earlier time to the present as they prepare and serve foods using historic recipes and methods. As docents in period costume, they explain and demonstrate the backbreaking daily chore of getting even the simplest foodstuffs ready to serve to a hungry family. They truly understand the trials of early settlers food supply, preparation and storage.

Foodways Tours Aug. 30

Two special Foodways Tours are planned for Saturday, Aug. 30, with the Hartleys sharing Mid-Ohio Valley food history. The tours will be held during regular tours at the Mansion on Blennerhassett Island at 12:45 and 2 p.m. In period costume, the Hartleys will share the role food played at the Mansion as well as foodways facts and history about the Blennerhassetts and their neighbors. The Hartleys will be available for book signings at the conclusion of each Mansion Foodways tour and at the Island Gift Shop before and after these tours.

This special foodways emphasis is part of the Apple Butter Weekend Aug. 30-31 at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Apple Butter Weekend features the Stillwell 4-H Club, dressed in colonial style attire, turning apples into apple butter over an open fire in a copper kettle on the island. There is no charge other than the sternwheeler fare to the island.

To learn more about the Hartleys and their interests, visit www.WVHearthCook.com. For more information about these events, call the Blennerhassett Museum at 304-420-4800 or visit www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com.


Photo Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Martha and Dick Hartley will be in period costume during their "The Frontier Table" book signing at Blennerhassett Island State Park Aug. 24 and during "Foodways Tours" Aug. 30.
Photo Courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.  Martha and Dick Hartley will be in period costume during their "The Frontier Table" book signing at Blennerhassett Island State Park Aug. 24 and during "Foodways Tours" Aug. 30.