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By May 27, 2020 Read More →

Nancy Prescott’s Diary- Rhubarb Cream Pie

Nancy Prescott came to Peterborough with her husband Samuel and their children when he was hired as an overseer The Phoenix Mill House - Nancy Prescottat the Phoenix Mill. Because of his position, they were able to rent one of four small mill houses. Their home was situated about 25 feet from the Nubanusit River on Samuel Smith’s downtown mill property.

Today, their home is one of the few structures that remain of the large Phoenix Mill complex built between 1791 and 1827. The Phoenix Mill produced cotton sheeting for most of the 19th century. Later, it made chairs, paper buckets and other products before it was razed in the 1920s. The Phoenix Mill House is now a living history space where visitors can see how a mill family lived at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

For the next few months we will share entries from Nancy Prescott’s diary. Though the diary is fictitious, the information about the Prescott family and facts about living in Peterborough in 1837 are based on historical research. We hope you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse of the lives of this Peterborough family from 1837.


May 27, 1837

Samuel reminded me at breakfast this morning that there’s still plenty of rhubarb that’s ready for picking.

I know in most families the garden is considered woman’s work, but in this family Samuel does most of the garden Close up of Rhubarb stems and leaves- Nancy Prescott Diarypreparations and maintenance. He tends to check it every morning before he leaves to go to the mill at a little before 7:00. The children and I do help out with some weeding and watering. They take turns getting buckets of water from the river before school each day.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with today’s rhubarb and I think I’ll make my mother Lydia Hannaford’s rhubarb cream pie. She made it all the time for us when I was growing up in Northfield, New Hampshire. Here’s how she taught me to make the filling. Mix together some sugar, a handful of flour, a fair amount of nutmeg, 2 beaten eggs, and a bowl full of chopped rhubarb. If Mother didn’t have enough pie dough, she’d just put a bottom crust in the pie pan but if she wanted to be fancy she’d add some strips of dough on the top as well.  It usually takes about an hour to cook in a hot oven. Mother said if the knife placed in the center came away clean, the pie is done. I always thought it was funny that Mother referred to this as a cream pie when there’s absolutely no cream in it.

Lydia Hannaford’s Rhubarb Cream Pie

1 ¼ c. sugar

¼ c. flour

Nutmeg to taste

2 eggs, beaten

4 c. rhubarb, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then pour filling into a prepared uncooked pie shell.

Bake at 400°F for approximately 1 hour. The pie is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the pie before serving.


Learn more….

The History of Rhubarb


Read more…

Nancy’s Diary



Nancy Prescott’s Diary published on May 27, 2020