November 24, 2008

The Chew Turkies

In the past few months, there have been an extraordinary number of turkey references in the Chew collection. In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Leah and I decided to share some of them here.

The first document is selected from a larger group of surveys, agreements, and correspondence regarding a tract of land the Chews owned called "Turkey Nest."

I found this initially interesting because many of the tracts in Delaware and Maryland have "Neck" as part of the name (e.g. "Rich Neck"). I assume that the "neck" refers to the areas where land juts out into a body of water. When I first glanced at this group of documents, I thought this tract was called "Turkey Neck."

A more personal reference to turkeys in the collection comes from Samuel Chew's correspondence. He owned a farm in Maryland that was operated by John Mason. John experienced many upheavals in his work as a farmer--one of the more dramatic situations involved the barn, sheds, house, and hay catching fire. He lost most of his farm, but saved the animals and some of the structures. A relatively minor incident, by comparison, was the death of several turkeys. In his letter to Samuel Chew, he writes, "You may remember my showing you some Turkies I purchased. To my utter dismay, I found. on going out in the morning Two of my pets. dead. Upon investigating I discovered the painters had been here the day before. + had emptied the remains of paint on the ground...the Turkies had eaten too freely of white lead--no other casualties have occurred." (Dec. 1873) A sad tale, indeed.

All silliness aside, we hope you have a wonderful holiday. A little Chew-inspired card from Leah:

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