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Suffragette Spice Cake & Cornelia Fairbanks

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

In an effort to get everyone ready to VOTE on November 3, we have been making suffragette recipes from The Woman Suffrage Cook Book (1886.) Remember, many fought hard for the right to vote, so make sure to get informed and use that right to have your voice heard! Whether you vote in person or by mail, get informed about the candidates before you cast your ballot!

If you are at all familiar with the school districts in Union County (or are a bit of a Presidential history buff), you probably recognize the name Fairbanks. Fairbanks Local School District covers the towns of Milford Center, New California and Unionville Center, which makes sense since the 26th Vice President of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks, was born in Unionville Center in 1852.

Rather than focus on Charles, we will be looking more closely at his wife, Cornelia Cole Fairbanks, one of the most politically influential women you may have never heard of. Born in Marysville in 1852, she was a strong and progressive voice in the women's suffrage movement. She was the daughter of Ohio State Senator Philander Cole and was educated at Ohio Wesleyan, where she met her husband. After the Fairbanks moved to Indianapolis, Charles became a U.S. Senator and they moved to Washington, D.C., where both husband and wife were very politically involved. Cornelia is recognized as a pathfinder for women in politics due in large part to her involvement in the highly influential Daughters of the American Revolution, a lineage-based patriotic organization that still exists today and has a long history of service and genealogical/historical research. Leadership roles in this organization were quite possibly the most politically powerful roles for women at the time. Like many women, her political influence was often behind the scenes, but she was nonetheless a very well-respected woman for her political cleverness and progressive ideas. Cornelia Fairbanks died in 1913 and was buried in Indianapolis, the city where her and her husband's political careers really took off; it is easy to forget both of them were born and raised in Union County, Ohio!

This week's suffragette recipe from The Woman Suffrage Cook Book (1886) is for spice cake. We topped the cake with an old-fashioned boiled frosting (kind of like marshmallow fluff) and a dusting of cinnamon. In a 350-degree oven, cupcakes took about 30 minutes. Note: We used brown sugar instead of white for added color and moisture.

Since boiled frosting is tricky business, we chose to work with the old recipe, but incorporate some of our modern marshmallow-making knowledge: Combine 2/3 cup water and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a pot and bring to a boil until reaching soft ball stage (235-245 degrees on a candy thermometer.) Whip two or three egg whites to stiff peaks with an electric mixer. Slowly pour the syrup over the egg whites, continuing to run the mixer. Beat until cool and fluffy (this will take quite a while - keep feeling the mixer bowl until no heat remains.)

Suffragette Spice Cake Cupcakes will be for sale the weekend of October 3. All proceeds benefit the Union County Historical Society. Don't forget to bring your Union County Bicentennial Passport to get it stamped!

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