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Union County Recipe Project and the Orrs

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

In celebration of the Union County Bicentennial in 2020, Kitschen is participating in the Bicentennial Passport Program put on by the local Convention & Visitor's Bureau. Guests to participating businesses can experience special items produced exclusively for this bicentennial year and collect a stamp in their passport. Passports are available at participating businesses and were also distributed in the Marysville Journal Tribune this spring.

One of our offerings this year is a selection of baked goods made using recipes from Union County families. Many of these recipes date back to the 19th century and open the door for some fun and fascinating research on life in Union County closer to its founding year of 1820.

An excellent source for recipes is the Centennial Buckeye Cookbook, originally published in 1876 as a fundraising opportunity for the First Congregational Church in Marysville. For those interested, the church is still located on Sixth Street near the courthouse in Marysville. Women of the church contributed recipes to the book and copies were sold through many revisions over many years to help fund building projects at the church. The Ohio State University Press has since reprinted the Centennial Buckeye Cookbook in all its historical glory with a great introduction by Andrew F. Smith.

Within the cookbook are many names familiar to local history buffs in Union County - Shearer, Orr, Scott. These were influential families of the time and, while most known history and influence revolves around the patriarchs of these families, the recipes contributed by their wives and daughters can offer a glimpse into an important aspect of women's lives during the 19th century - cooking. We will be offering a brief, albeit sometimes male-centric, overview of the family's history along with the corresponding recipe. The hope is to expand our knowledge of the families and add to our information as our historical baking project continues throughout this bicentennial year. We really hope to expand our knowledge of the female members of these influential families, as that information can be hard to come by in the history books!

Proceeds from the sale of these baked goods will be donated to help fund projects at the Union County Historical Society, which runs a museum by the courthouse on Sixth Street.

The first of our historical recipes is from the Centennial Buckeye Cookbook and was contributed by Mrs. Mary F. Orr. An email exchange with UCHS President Robert Parrott confirmed that she was in fact the wife of the famous Colonel Noah Orr, the Union County Giant, whose life-size portrait can currently be found on Fifth Street in downtown Marysville. At 7'8" tall, Noah Orr was a successful performer and showman who traveled the United States performing musical comedies with the Liliputian Opera Company. His giant chair and extremely large shoes can be found on display at the Union County Historical Society Museum.

A few notes on the recipe: "Just flour enough to roll" equated to about 4 1/2 cups, plus more for dusting the rolling surface and pin. the dough was very sticky, so I refrigerated it for about two hours before rolling and kept my rolling surface, pin, cookie cutter and spatula well floured. These cookies are meant to be baked in a "quick oven." Keep in mind, these women were using wood fired ovens; the modern equivalent would be about a 400-degree oven. Baking time is "when done a very light brown." In my oven, this took approximately 8-10 minutes for a thinly rolled small cutout cookie. Preparation suggestions in the cookbook include sanding with sugar, adding a raisin or currant in the center of each cookie or brushing the hot cookies with sugar syrup before cooling. I also chose to do some cookies with a cinnamon sugar sprinkle, one of my personal favorite cookie toppings.

Six-packs of these cookies are for sale for $2 at our farm market located at 22102 State Route 739 in Raymond. Saturday 6/6 and Sunday 6/7 12:30-6:00pm. Drive thru and preorder/curbside service only to ensure social distancing.

Sources/Further Reading:

More about the Noah Orr art installation in Marysville:

If you would like to contribute a recipe or any additional information to our project, please contact Katy at

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