James Henry Van Natta was well into his 70s when he published an article in the Deseret Evening News, January 8, 1897, in which he recalled a frontier meal consumed when he was about eight years old not far from Erie, Pennsylvania:
In 1825 my father [William Van Natta] moved six miles west, through dense forest, took a claim of 100 acres of land, and commenced to clear and cultivate it and make a home. The following year another family moved in and located two miles west of us. Father and myself went to see our neighbors, and the meeting was pleasing to all. When meal time arrived we were invited to join them and partake of their fare, which we willingly did. It will be incredulous to some, but I will state the facts. Their bread was mixed and baked in blocks of beech wood set before a fire. The chief dish was a trough of falled tree cut and made smooth, a piece of clean home made linen spread over the top. A cow was led across the log and placed over the dish, the cloth acting as a strainer. The milking done, the cow was carefully moved to one side. Bread was crumbled in, and armed with wooden spoons, we enjoyed an excellent meal.
William, the oldest son of James Van Natta (AKA Jacobus Van Etten) and Lena Busch, had earlier served in the War of 1812, where he had the distinction of being captured by the British the day after his discharge. Later in life he lived in the city of Erie was a sailor on the Great Lakes, which may have been the end of him. His son James Henry converted to Mormonism in 1841 and later practiced polygamy, following church teachings at that time.
WILLIAM VAN NATTA born 26 Dec 1791 Poughkeepsie, New York married Sarah Thompson 5 Nov 1816 Ulster County, New York died 23 Jul 1853
Ancestors: We have a good idea of his eight great-grandparents, and more beyond them on this father’s side where noted names are a mix of Dutch (Van Etten, Ostrander, De Hooges, Post, Traphagen) and English (Pangborn and Coddington).
Siblings: Two of William’s three siblings, Henry and John, had descendants.
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