Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photos and Video from Holly Grove Stew

This weekend, we attended a "stew" at Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County, TN.

When I was a kid, both grandparents had an endless supply of "stew" kept in jars and brought out anytime the family gathered to eat. This particular kind of stew is unlike anything I have encountered anywhere else in the world. 

Holly Grove Baptist Church figures prominently in my genealogy. Around 1875, my third great grandmother, Nancy Castellaw, donated the land where the event was held for a school to be built. Dorsey H. Watridge, the brother of my third great grandfather donated the land next to it for the church in 1886. In 1900, Jeremiah Fletcher Castelaw, the brother of my second great grandfather donated the land that would be used for the church's cemetery. My father attended the church as a boy and his parents were members there for many years. Many of my ancestors are buried in the church cemetery.

The church holds a "stew" each year as a fundraiser.

A book published in 1939 by the Federal Writers' Project, called "Tennessee: A Guide to the State" references "stew" and is likely the type that is still prepared in Haywood County, TN today although squirrel meat has been replaced with chicken and beef. The book calls the making of this kind of stew a "distinctive activity" of Haywood County.
"Haywood County is one of the oldest towns in West Tennessee. It has grown because of productivity of the cotton lands of Hatchie River. A distinctive activity is the making of Old Virginia Brunswick Stew. For many years, Brunswick stew suppers , with squirrel as a meat base, have been held in Haywood County, usually around the small lakes or clubhouses of the river bottoms."
If you want to make your own batch of stew, you can try this recipe which is from Milton and Becky Booth (another ancestry connection - my second great grandfather is buried in one of Milton's fields)  who are also featured in the video above. You may want to invite a few friends over since the recipe calls for 18 chickens and two roasts.
18 Chickens
2 Beef Roasts
3 gallons of tomato juice
3 gallons of ground corn
4 cups of sugar

Use a 20 gallon pot. Cover chickens and roasts with water. Cook until chickens are done. Remove bones. Add sugar and tomato juice. Cook approximately 1 hour.  Add corn. Stir continuously. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Below are a few photos from the stew:

1 comment:

  1. The Outlaws still do the squirrel stew each year on Labor Day for our annual get together. You're welcome to attend ... only one year that I can remember has the stew not included squirrels. The men spend a week in the bottom each year during squirrel season and one year they simply didn't kill enough to make it, so chicken and beef were substituted that year.