The Heirloom Nutmeg

Kate Flora: This past weekend we were visiting friends in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. IMG_1754As we were eating a delicious breakfast coffee cake, the hostess said she thought she could taste a bit of nutmeg. That led me to tell her the story of my jar of heirloom nutmegs.

I was named after my father’s father’s sister, Kate Burke, who used to operate a general store in Bingham, Maine. When I was a child, Great Aunt Kate was long gone, but we had one remnant of that store up in our attic–a large black antique metal time of nutmegs. When my mother would cook using nutmeg, she would get a nut from the big black tin and grate it on an old metal grater. Eventually, the big tin was sold as an antique and the nutmegs moved into a large Ball canning jar. That jar, with nutmegs that must by now be over a hundred years old, resides in my kitchen cupboard. When grated, those nutmegs are as good as the tin you’d buy at the store.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 9.39.42 AMAs is probably the case in many old Maine families, I have little bits of family history tucked away around the house. In my kitchen drawer, I have an old towel wrapped in plastic, with this on the label:

In a file in my office, I have a copy of Kate M. Burke’s application to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, with the details of her genealogical right to become a member Captain Solomon Walker, the ancestor who “assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of Captain,” and this description of Walker’s service:

Solomon Walker was commissioned as Capt. the Revolution army July 5, 1776. Company part of Lincoln Co. Regiment. Capt. Solomon Walker was also a soldier in the French and Indian War. In September 18, 1738, was a member of Capt. Hills Co. of Volunteers , Berwick, Me. Capt. Walker settled in Woolwich, mow Wiscasset in 1750, as per records in Boston Mass. Genealogical Society Rooms.

Capt. Walker raised a company of 72 men in Woolwich and Pownalboro, which was a part of the Lincoln Co. Regiment. Lieut Drummer Sewall of Bath commanding. He was at the battle of Fishkill on the Hudson, June 17, 1778, when he and his men did valiant service. His services for his country were many, among which the retaking of the ship Mast Head in Sheepscott River near his own home, being one of importance. He served thro the entire war. 

Read more about the retaking of the ship carrying masts here: https://www.wiscassetnewspaper.com/article/wiscasset-american-revolution/99511

Along with running the store, Kate Burke was an amateur painter, and four of her paintings, including one of my grandfather, Arthur H. Clark, fishing, hang on our walls today. It’s fun to have some remnants of that family history here in the house. Also fun to bake with nutmegs that once dwelled in a general store in Bingham.

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5 Responses to The Heirloom Nutmeg

  1. I remember that jar of nutmeg. Sure did have a nice smell.

    Like

  2. Tina Swift says:

    That’s a very professional-looking painting! I can smell the nutmeg now.

    Like

  3. Lea Wait says:

    What fun! Your ancestor wasn’t named, but was one of those I wrote about in my CONTRARY WINDS, set partially in Wiscasset in 1777. And you and I never connected on that!

    Like

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