Monday, April 22, 2019

Mary Randolph's refrigerator described by Harriott Pinckney Horry in 1815

On the trip north from her South Carolina plantation the 67 year old made a point to stay at "Mrs. Randolph's" - a renowned boarding house.  It was full, but Mr. Otis (from Boston) gave up his room and Horry was able to write in her journal about the refrigerator and a table fan.

This post is my winning trifecta — 1) unusual apparatus, 2) Mary Randolph, and 3) a detailed Federal/Georgian description — just in time for the Kentucky Derby next week.

The second edition of Randolph's The Virginia Housewife, 1825 included a sketch and description of a refrigerator.  In past posts I have detailed the refrigerators of Randolph HERE and the one patented in 1802 by Thomas Moore HERE

Harriott Pinckney Horry journal -

Sunday 28th. Virginia.   May
"Arrived at Richmond intending to stay at Mrs. Randolphs , but her house so full she said she could not receive us. When Mr. Otis [Harrison Gray Otis 1765-1848 Boston, son of Samuel Otis d1814] ran down to the door and insisted we should take his room, so politely that we accepted it and found excellent fare and genteel treatment.

Mrs. Randolph has 5 packs of Ice brought to her door every Morning, for which she pays ½ a Dollar and which she keeps in a Refrigerator that preserves the ice 24 hours The outward box is 4 feet long 4 high & 3 ½ wide  The iner box is 4 Inches smaller, both made very tight and the space between the two boxes ram’d tight with powderd charcoal ^over which a board is naild all around ^ a cover shuts close down over this ^inner Box 4 Inches from the top^ and an outside Cover to the box which leaves a space of 4 Inches between the 2 covers in both of which there are hinges to open it in part where you take out the things cool’d. There must be a slip of wood naild round the inner Box for The inner cover to lodge upon 4 Inches from the top, this inner box is put upon a bed of Charcoal 4 Inches thick and then the rest of the space fill’d with the Charcoal. a tub is put into the Middle of the box & an open frame fill’d with Ice put in the tub into which the ice drops as it melts, a couple of shelves pierced with holes holds a number of Bottles and pans &c with Butter and meat & are put around the frame but nothing touches the ice.

We rode about the town with Mrs. Randolph to see the beautiful prospects with which this place abounds and went to a brick yard where the bricks are moulded in sand and burnt in damp cases…

Mrs. Randolphs Table fan keeps off all the flies and keeps the table cool & tho’ a common thing which we have seen many of, this works so easy…"

On her return home on October 27, 1815 they had to stay at the Swan since "Mrs. Randolph being sick &" ... "her house full."

More posts on Mary Randolph HERE

More posts from Harriott Pinckney Horry HERE

Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1815 Journal, 28 May 1815, in The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry Digital Edition, ed. Constance Schulz. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2012. (accessed 2019-01-05).

Randolph, Mary.The Virginia Housewife. Washington: 1824, 1825, 1828, ed. Karen Hess.  image

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
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