Archive for February 27th, 2018

Grandma’s Hot Tamales

February 27, 2018

We didn’t have a lot of traditions growing up. One of our best traditions was hot tamales.

In the fall, Grandma made hot tamales. She gathered a bunch of corn husks and soaked them in her sink until they became soft and pliable. While they soaked, she made the meat mixture and the cornmeal mixture. From what I remember, she used sausage, ground beef, and cayenne pepper for the meat, and basic cornmeal like White Lily or Martha White for the cornmeal mixture. No one has the recipe. She never wrote it down.

Basically, she made meatballs from the meat mixture, and cornmeal balls from the cornmeal mixture. She patted and flattened a cornmeal ball in the palm of her left hand, and placed a meatball in the center of it, then wrapped the cornmeal dough around the meatball, covering it completely.

She took sections of the softened husks and overlapped them, making a cradle for the tamale. When she had wrapped the tamale completely in cornshucks, that’s when the job of the grandchildren came in. We took turns sitting on a high kitchen stool while we held the shuck-covered tamale, tightly, by the ends. Grandma took thin strips of cornshuck and used them like string to tie each end and another around the middle.

She did this for hours. She made a batch of mild and a batch of hot. Then she cooked them in a pressure cooker.

I didn’t know that tamales were considered a Mexican dish until I was grown. I thought they were an East Tennessee dish. When I started doing genealogy, I found a pension file that showed that my grandmother’s Webb grandparents went to Johnson County, Texas, in 1881. After a few years they returned to East Tennessee. So I have an idea that my grandmother learned to make hot tamales from helping her grandmother, who had learned to make them while in Texas.

Years ago, my mother told us that our former neighbor, a woman named Amy, was a writer for Country Living, and had written an article about corn.  Amy included recipes in her article. One of the recipes was for hot tamales.

Tamales like these were made by the grandmother of a friend of mine when I was growing up in Tennessee. As she was not of Tex-Mex ancestry, I had no idea that tamales were “foreign” fare until much later in life!

Y’all? This was not my grandmother’s  recipe at all. I wrote a letter to Amy at the magazine and told her so. I never heard from her. Now that I have more age on me, I think that I looked like a jerk, because the spirit of the recipe is there. I just couldn’t see it.

Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0001Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0003

Trailing William Davidson

February 27, 2018

I promise you that my children will thank me someday. I’m rummaging around in a cabinet looking for some sort of something, and I find some papers about William Davidson.

He would be another one of my 5th great-grandfathers, and a contemporary of Josias Gamble, with Josias being my first and only link to the DAR. When I was researching DAR ancestry some 20 years ago, a member of the local DAR chapter said, “Patriot families married patriot families”, and that was a light-bulb-going-on-over-my-head moment. My goal was to prove that my William Davidson be recognized by the DAR. One of the difficulties with this particular ancestor is that there were at least 2 other William Davidsons in close proximity to the area that became Blount County, Tennessee.

So I’ll start here with the William Davidson that I know to be mine. He was born about 1750 and died in the early 1800s. Perhaps I can get those dates sorted out more closely at some point.

He was married, although I can’t locate a name for his wife, and she isn’t mentioned in his will, so I believe that she predeceased him. His will lists his children, and one of them is my Elizabeth Davidson who married Andrew Gamble.

DavidsonWilliam death of

This is from a microfilm about the early Blount County, Tennessee, records. I didn’t make a copy of the title page or the date because I gathered this copy when I was a newbie. Or perhaps I did copy that info, and it has become separated from this page. When you have moved as much as I have in the last 20 years, things have a way of disappearing. Perhaps I can sort out precisely where this came from, eventually.






This day came the parties by the Attos. and thereupon came the same jury as above; who being elected tried and sworn well and truly to try the matter in dispute upon their oaths do say they find for the plaintiff and assess his damage to thirteen dollars (p. 154) and three cents, and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that WILLIAM DAVIDSON had become security for the defendant for the appeal & the Death of sd. Wm. Davidson was suggested to the Court. Therefore on motion of the plaintiff it is considered by the Court that the plaintiff recover against the defendant the sum of thirteen dollars and three cents the sum by the jury aforesaid assessed together with his costs by him in this behalf expended for which execution may issue.

I can now throw out this piece of paper. My children will thank me.