Sponsored By GenealogyBank

20 September 2013

Clues in Cookbooks

Virtually any old book or item can contain genealogical clues. A person just has to look. A 1921 church cook book published in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, contained numerous recipes from women in four north-central Iowa towns over two hundred miles away. There were over a dozen women from these Iowa towns who submitted recipes--with probably one "non-local" recipe on every few pages. Obviously there were several families who migrated to that region of Iowa from Warsaw, Illinois.

And if nothing else, the book documented residential information that may not have been available elsewhere.


  1. I would love to see that cookbook! All of my maternal lines were living in the Warsaw area at that time. Their surnames were HARRISON, KIRKENDALL, HOWES, HAMILTON and YORK.

    1. There are actually HOWEs entries--for Ola Howes I think. The cookbook in question was from the Salem-Sutter Presbyterian Church--actually near Warsaw. Most of the ladies are of Germanic origin....

  2. Great tip! My German lines include a mini-migration pattern, from 1850's Columbiana Co. OH to Fond du Lac Co., WI. Next generation-- not all related, but familiar surnames-- moved further north, to Marathon and Pierce Counties, WI. It would be special to find a recipe submitted by [or used by] a relative, in a church or club cookbook, also a more personal addition to their timelines. Some cookbooks might even lead to photos and further data.