October 2, 1866: Cyclist George M. Hendee born. In 1883 a Washington D.C. newspaper would report, "George M. Hendee, of Springfield, Mass., is the most remarkable bicyclist in America when speed and stamina are concerned. He is champion of America at all recognized distances, and holds best on records at almost every distance between a quarter of a mile and twenty miles. George is the pride of Springfield, and in September, when the club of which he is a member gave a three days' meet at Hampden Park, he received only one defeat. Then the people of the city felt sad, and ladies promenading the streets were seen wearing his picture with black margins. During the meet, those of the stores that were open for business sold Hendee clothing, Hendee hats, Hendee shoes, and even Hendee corsets for ladies were for sale. The celebrated Kentuckian, Charles Jenkins, of Louisville, raced against Hendee one day, but was beaten. Hendee also beat "Doodle Robinson and Charles D. Vesey, the English bicyclists, with consummate ease." --Evening Star, December 26, 1883, p. 6.
October 6: Happy birthday, Jenny Lind! Born October 6, 1820.
Jennie Lind was a Victorian singing sensation, and beyond that she was an incredibly kind and generous human being. Lauded as "The Swedish Nightingale," her magnificent voice was admired around the world, and her concerts (in halls which seated thousands) constantly sold out. She gave innumerable concerts to benefit charities, as well as doing personal kindnesses whenever she saw people in need. Just one of her concerts yielded $4,000 for charity in the 1850s! Once when a poor, working girl bought a $3 ticket to one of Miss Lind's concerts, the girl told the ticket seller, "There goes half a month's wages, but I'm determined to hear Jennie Lind!" When the ticket seller reported the story to Miss Lind, she gave him a twenty-dollar gold piece and ordered him to find the girl in the audience and give it to her.
P.T. Barnum, who organized Miss Lind's concerts in America, wrote, "With all her excellent and even extraordinarily good qualities... Jenny Lind was human, though the reputation she bore in Europe for her many charitable acts led me to believe... that she was nearly perfect. I think now that her natural impulses were more simple, childlike, pure and generous than those of almost any other person I ever met." (Quoted from P.T. Barnum's biography, p. 341.)
Miss Lind was a celebrity of incredible renown and people were eager for details of her life. Cookbooks even printed recipes for her favorite foods, one of which is referenced in my historical novel, Delivery Delayed:
"At the other end of the table Addie asked everyone to pass down their bowls, then handed them back full of sago soup.
"Now, my cookbook said this is Jenny Lind's favorite soup," Addie told everyone. She giggled and added, "So you can blame the soup if people start breaking out into song!"
Laughter broke out around the table and Ken started humming the "Jenny Lind Polka."
Lizzie started explaining to Isaac, "Jenny Lind is a very famous soprano—"
He smiled and held up a hand. "I know Jenny Lind, of course. The Swedish Nightingale."
"That's right!" Lizzie smiled, then settled into eating her soup with a very comfortable expression…"
A 19th-century recipe for this soup appears in the book's appendix.
October 8, 1871: Great Fire of Chicago
October 9, 1888: Washington Monument opened to the public. More about the monument: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc72.htm
October 12, 1895: Port Townsend's football team defeats Vashon College. Read the account of the game:
The Old Gold and Black Victorious http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/the-old-gold-and-black-victorious.html
Dan Bracken, who is mentioned prominently in this article as an important player on the Port Townsend team, was living in our house at the time this game took place! He was a teamster by trade, and lived here with his siblings. Their father was the son of Irish immigrants and their mother was a native Klallam. (Researching Dan's sister Mathilda —whose old room is now my writing den— gave me the idea for the character of Mary Breagan in my Tales of Chetzemoka series. The names Bracken and Breagan both come from the same Irish root meaning "freckles".) The story of the Bracken family is told in chapter eight of my non-fiction book, This Victorian Life. When Gabriel and I talk about the Brackens and Dan's football picture comes up I like to tease my husband that he's lucky that it's been over a hundred years since Dan lived in our house —because wow, that man was good looking! Gabriel just laughs and tells me he's not jealous.
October 24, 1861: First transcontinental telegram in America sent
October 26, 1881: Shootout at the Okay Corral.
October 28, 1886: Statue of Liberty dedicated
More details: https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/oct-28-1886-statue-of-liberty-unveiled/?mcubz=3
For the spooky month of October, check out the Mysteries section of the Victorian reading list on Favorite Books page. This page contains many, many links to free pdfs and free audiobooks of works by our favorite 19th-century authors!
PROVISIONS IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
From Isabella Beeton's The Book of Household Management, 1893 edition.
Vegetables. - Artichokes, beets, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, celery, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, turnips, vegetable marrows - various herbs.
Fruit. - Apples, black and white bull aces, damsons, figs, filberts, grapes, pears, quinces, walnuts.
Special days in October:
October 4th: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals
19th-century animal images: http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/animals.html
19th-century animal articles:
A Plea for Pussy and Her Possibilities as a Pet (1889) : http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/a-plea-for-pussy-and-her-possibilities-as-a-pet.html
Our American Birds (1889) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/our-american-birds-1889.html
Purrings (Poem—1888) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/purrings-poemmdash1888.html
Was it an Angel's Song? (Poem—1883) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/was-it-an-angels-song-poem-1883.html
What Three Little Kittens Did: A Fact (Poem—1889) : http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/what-three-little-kittens-did-a-fact-poem.html
October 4—11th 2017: Sukkot (Jewish holiday)
19th-century Sukkot images scanned from our collection:
October 12, 2017 is World Sight Day
An 1891 article about Helen Keller: Helen Adams Keller
Victorian author Wilkie Collins wrote a particularly engaging romance with a blind heroine, entitled Poor Miss Finch. The protagonist feels that her blindness is not a burden, but rather a distinction and a blessing that allows her to see the world in ways denied to others. A free digital version is available here: Poor Miss Finch and a free audiobook version is available here: Librivox (free audiobook) version.
October 13th is the Feast Day for the patron saint of cyclists, La Madonna del Ghisallo.
19th-century cycling articles:
A Burglar, A Bicycle, and A Storm (Fiction—1896)
A Cycle of the Seasons: A Bicycle Romance in Four Meets (Fiction—1883)
A Cycle Show in Little (1896)
A Song of the Wheel (Poem—1883)
A Header (?) (Poem—1883)
A Midwinter-Night's Dream (1883)
A Modern Love Sung in Ancient Fashion (Poem—1884)
Bicycle Riding In The United States (1881)
Bicycler's Song (1882)
Bicycling and Tricycling (1884)
Bikes on Trains (1883)
Cycling's Value As An Exercise (1879)
Cycling for Women (1888)
Is Bicycling Harmful? (1896)
An Early Morning Ride (Poem—1883)
The Evolution of a Sport (1896)
Foreign [Bicycling News] (1884)
My Wheel (Poem —1883)
'Neath the Magnolias (Poem—1883)
On Wings of Love (Poem—1884)
Rosalind A Wheel (Fiction—1896)
Snakes in his Wheel (1895)
Wheelman's Song (Poem—1883)
The Wheelman's Joy (Poem—1883)
The Work of Wheelmen for Better Roads (1896)
Woman's Cycle (1896)
October 14th is National Fossil Day
An 1869 article about fossil hunter Mary Anning:
Articles of interest for Hallowe'en:
All Hallow's Eve (1895) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/all-hallow-eve-1895.html
A Supernatural Swindle (Fiction—1896) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/a-supernatural-swindle-fictionmdash1896.html
The Children of Arachne: European Spiders (1889)
Great Grandma's Hallowe'en (Poem —1887) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/great-grandmas-halloween-poemmdash1887.html
Mourning and Mourners (1888) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/mourning-and-mourners-1888.html
First ladies and spiritualism: http://www.firstladies.org/blog/first-ladies-the-occult-seances-and-spiritualists-part-1/
I always enjoy handing out candy at Hallowe'en (one for me, one for the kids, one for me…), but I also hand out coloring pages as well. It's fun to see that some young folks are more excited about the coloring pages than the sweets! Here's a "secret page" on our website that's not on the main menu —enjoy!
Coloring Pages for All Ages
The end of October is a traditional time for remembering the dead in a number of different cultures. It therefore seems an appropriate time to offer some links about Victorian mourning customs:
Mourning and Mourners (1888) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/mourning-and-mourners-1888.html
"All is Vanity": Image from 1892, with modern commentary
"An Anniversary": Artwork from 1893
"A Retrospective Widow": Cartoon from 1892
"The Evening": Artwork by Charles Dana Gibson, 1899, republished in 1906
"Etiquette of Mourning" article from Collier's, 1882: Google Books link
1861 Mourning attire
1870 Mourning dress and bonnets from The Peterson Magazine
1871 Mourning attire from Harper's Bazaar
1873 Half-mourning from The Peterson Magazine
1883 Mourning attire from The Peterson Magazine
1883 Mourning dresses from The Queen
1883 Mourning dress from The Queen
1883 Plastron for mourning from The Peterson Magazine
1885 Mourning dress
1886 Mourning dress from The Peterson Magazine
1889 Deep mourning outfit from The Peterson Magazine
1890 mourning dresses, for ladies and children
1891 mourning attire from Harper's Bazaar
If you are interested in Victorian mourning customs that are still practiced, check out WISP Adornments. Angela Kirkpatrick is a modern jewelry artist who makes mourning jewelry in the Victorian style, and is one of my oldest friends:
WISP Adornments on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wisp-Adornments-140903286083078/
WISP Adornments on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WispAdornments