Monday, March 28, 2016

Sesquicentennial of Jane Gilmor Howard's HUGE million dollar relief fair

150 years ago on April 2, 1866 the ten day fair of the Ladies’ Southern Relief Association began in Baltimore. The President "Mrs. B. C. Howard" and her hardworking crew raised and distributed over $160,000 (that's $2.3 million! 2016) for starving Southerners.

And yes, that is the same Mrs. B. C. Howard who wrote the Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen cookbook in 1873 - at age 72 - to gather more money for charity.  Jane Grant (Gilmor) Howard (1801-1890) was married to Benjamin Chew Howard (thus the BC) son of the famed RevWar Col. John Eager Howard of 'Belvidere'. More HERE and recipes HERE

Following the end of the Civil War Southerners had to cope with the death or maiming of many of their men, the ravages of war on their land, destruction of homes and property and what crops could be planted were ruined by droughts or floods.

The 1864 Sanitary Fair, pictured above, had been held at the same location – Maryland Institute Hall  - and raised about half of what the Ladies Southern Relief Assn. garnered.  Howard released an extensive report listing the directors and managers, the ladies in charge of each state and some letters from officials of those states stressing the need and how the funds were used.

Many of her Howard sisters-in-law and Gilmor sisters with 350 women managers and board members (and over 50 men as "auxiliary managers")  worked to gather items, assist in the sale, and be on committees for each state to disperse the funds collected.  All those who made items to sell or donated items were not included, so the number of volunteers was far greater.

Jane Howard’s lasting impact, in this sesquicentennial of her phenomenally successful fundraising fair of 1866, is because of her coordinating the large number of volunteers many individuals were saved from starvation; and by writing her cookbook for “benevolent undertakings” she preserved recipes used in 19th century Maryland.

©2016 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

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