LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 12

SugarHelpsMakeLemons IntoCharlotteLeRoy’s
OnNovember7, Iamscheduled
tosharesomeof the research that I
amdoingon the1823manuscript
receipt book that belonged to
CharlotteLeRoy– Jacob’swife.
She was born in 1800 in Bos-
ton.We don’t knowmuch about
her early life. We know that she
had a sister Helen (whomarried
her husband’s cousin –whowas
alsonamedJacobLeRoy)and that
Charlotte had two other siblings
whodiedveryyoung.Her father,
in1820,was inNewYorkCity.At
some point the familymoved to
Franceand itwassaid thatThom-
asmade a fortune inEurope.
In 1821, Charlotte’s mother
died in France and was buried
there. The family history indi-
cates thatCharlottewaseducated
in France, but that has not been
proven. OnMay20, 1822,Char-
lotteDownesOtismarried Jacob
LeRoy in New York City. The
date in the receipt book is June
16, 1823, Pelham, New York.
Her first child, Thomaswas born
a fewweeks lateronJuly9,1823.
It is speculated that he was born
inLeRoy, but at least one source
indicates he was born in New
York City – only a few miles
fromPelham. (Pelham isactually
in theBronx.)TheLeRoy family
owned property in Pelham and I
nowbelieve thatThomaswasnot
born in LeRoy but in NewYork
City - - perhaps Pelham.
There are many recipes in the
littlebook, andaccording toPeter
onDutchhistoryandDutch food,
at least ten of the recipes are of
Dutchorigin. (Moreon theDutch
recipes later.)Many of the other
recipes include lemons, oranges,
and even limes.
Think about that - - - where
did lemons, oranges and limes
come from in1823?Certainlynot
FloridaorCalifornia.Fromwhat I
canfind out,most of the oranges
and lemons came from Spain
and the Mediterranean region.
Pickedgreen, theywerepacked in
boxes and shipped toNewYork,
sometimes taking weeks before
being sold.
The benefits of lemon juice to
alleviate scurvy had been known
for a long time, especially on
shipboard during long months
at sea. So apparently Charlotte
wanted tomake sure she had all
her recipes for lemon cake, and
pudding, and lemon drops, and
lemon cheesecake written down
for hermove to the frontier town
named after her father-in-law.
I have to wonder, howmany of
those lemon recipes did she use
after she came here, but maybe
she hadboxes of lemons shipped
fromNewYorkCity toLeRoy.
With lemons, itwasnecessary to
have sugar, and preferablywhite
refined sugar that came in cones.
Most of the folks inLeRoyprob-
ably used maple sugar that they
could make themselves, but the
LeRoy family had the money to
buywhite cone sugar.
So I did a little more research
and was surprised at what I dis-
covered. I knew that the source
of sugarcame through the islands
in the Caribbean, produced by
slave labor. But what I didn’t
know,was thatmost of the sugar
refineries were located in New
YorkCity.Asearlyas1730, sugar
was being refined in New York
at a refinery owned by Nicholas
Bayard.By1760, sugar refineries
wereownedby leading families–
theVanCortlandt’s,Cuylers, and
In 1764, British Parliament
passed the Sugar Act which
taxed all raw sugar coming into
American ports. This taxation
helped to fuel the need for the
Revolutionary War. After the
British capturedNewYork City,
theyused the largebricksugar re-
fineries for prisoners. Conditions
in the sugar house prisons were
horrendous andmanymen died.
But after thewar, the sugar refin-
eries went back into production
and expanded. By 1870, almost
half of the sugar consumed in the
United States was refined in just
oneNewYork refinery.
By 1882, the American Sugar
RefiningCompany was the larg-
est refinery in theworld. InMay
became one of the original 12
companies listed in the Dow
Jones Industrial Average. By
1907,98%of thesugarused in the
UnitedStateswas refined inNew
YorkCity. (So it stands to reason,
that all the sugar shipped to Le-
Roy for the production of Jell-O,
came fromNewYorkCity.)
In 2000, the sugar industry in
NewYork City was devastated
by a strike that lasted nearly
two years. In 2004, refining
operations stopped at the huge
Domino refinery. The Domino
refinery sitewas declared aNa-
tionalHistorical Landmark, and
there are plans for adaptive use
of the buildings.
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