Chew Family Papers

The Chew Turkies

Monday, 11/24/08
In the past few months, there have been an extraordinary number of turkey references in the Chew collection. In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Leah and I decided to share some of them here.

The first document is selected from a larger group of surveys, agreements, and correspondence regarding a tract of land the Chews owned called "Turkey Nest."

I found this initially interesting because many of the tracts in Delaware and Maryland have "Neck" as part of the name (e.g. "Rich Neck"). I assume that the "neck" refers to the areas where land juts out into a body of water. When I first glanced at this group of documents, I thought this tract was called "Turkey Neck."

A more personal reference to turkeys in the collection comes from Samuel Chew's correspondence. He owned a farm in Maryland that was operated by John Mason. John experienced many upheavals in his work as a farmer--one of the more dramatic situations involved the barn, sheds, house, and hay catching fire. He lost most of his farm, but saved the animals and some of the structures. A relatively minor incident, by comparison, was the death of several turkeys. In his letter to Samuel Chew, he writes, "You may remember my showing you some Turkies I purchased. To my utter dismay, I found. on going out in the morning Two of my pets. dead. Upon investigating I discovered the painters had been here the day before. + had emptied the remains of paint on the ground...the Turkies had eaten too freely of white lead--no other casualties have occurred." (Dec. 1873) A sad tale, indeed.

All silliness aside, we hope you have a wonderful holiday. A little Chew-inspired card from Leah:


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