Passenger Pigeon And Pickled Crabapples

Passenger Pigeon And Pickled Crabapples

Rogers Historical Museum serves up feast for the eyes

It will be a warm and cozy Christmas at the 1895 Hawkins House, with plenty to eat, gifts under the tree and decorations galore. But the seasonal celebration by the Rogers Historical Museum still carries a profound reminder.

“In many ways, I think the Hawkins House helps us to remember how lucky we are to have so many conveniences at our fingertips today,” says the museum’s director, Serena Barnett. While electricity came to Rogers in the same year the Hawkins House was built, there was still no indoor plumbing.

“The Hawkins House helps us to understand what living in that period of time was like right before the availability of ‘piped in’ water, as well as having plenty of hot water on demand,” she muses. “Then, they had to carry water in from the pump or well outside, then boil water on the stove to have any hot water. Now we just have to turn on the tap.”

That doesn’t mean the holidays were bleak, however. It was a time in history where homemade gifts were still valued, but the store-bought opportunities were exciting.

“A middle-class family, such as the Hawkinses, would have chosen to make their own decorations using inexpensive materials they had at hand, such as popcorn for garlands, paper from newspapers or magazines for chains and ornaments, and fresh locally gathered greenery for wreaths,” Barnett says. “Some items, like ribbon and glue, would have been purchased from the dry goods store. Gifts were a mixture of homemade and store-bought items. A new shirt or dress would have most likely been handmade, while a china doll or a shaving kit would have been purchased, either at a local store or from a mail-order catalog. Making homemade crafts together as a family activity for the tree and for gifts was an important part of Christmas — and maybe, even more important than feeling they couldn’t afford the expense of buying new things.”

This year, the theme for the holidays at the Hawkins House is a new one, “A Victorian Culinary Christmas,” made possible, Barnett says, by the generous support of the Rogers Museum Foundation.

“While many of our past Christmas tours have discussed some of the foods that were traditional during the holiday celebrations at the turn-of-the-20th century, they have never really been the main focus of the tour,” Barnett says. “While not every family would have eaten the same Christmas dinner, we wanted to give a culinary perspective to how folks living here in the Ozarks used the foods available to them to celebrate the day. We have used a multitude of artifacts from the museum collection to help our guests to imagine the joy and cheer of Christmastime in early Rogers.”

Some of the culinary choices — pickled crabapples or roasted passenger pigeon with chestnut stuffing — might not appeal to modern palates, Barnett admits. However, “there’s also much that we would still recognize as being on our own Christmas dinner tables,” including home-preserved foods such as canned green beans, pickled vegetables and fruit jams.

“The main culinary difference between now and then was the time and effort that went into the preparation of the meal,” she explains. “Another difference was limited availability of certain fresh foods that folks in the Ozarks can now enjoy year-round as they were then only available seasonally at the grocers. Also, not all foods were purchased at the store. Bread was usually baked fresh daily in the home and almost everybody, even those living in town, had a big garden, fruit trees, strawberries, etc. growing in season in the back yard. They raised chickens to eat and to have fresh eggs. Many had a cow either for milk or for butchering. Some raised a pig to butcher every year.

“They thought anything they could raise themselves was much better than buying at the store. There was a certain pride in making or growing it at home.”


‘A Victorian Culinary Christmas’

WHEN — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Friday & Saturday, through Jan. 2

WHERE — The Hawkins House at the Rogers Historical Museum

COST — Free

INFO — 621-1154 or

FYI — In accordance with the city of Rogers covid-19 policy, acceptable face coverings are required to be worn during your visit, and tour group size will be limited to allow for social distancing.

Categories: Family Friendly