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Sunday, December 11, 2016

One for the Dallas Fair: 12-Pound Sweet Potato

In The Dublin Progress, which I have been reading for mention of my Texas family names, I found an article in the October 27, 1897 issue about Dempsey Perry Coor, son of my g-g-great-grandfather, James Madison Coor. His farm was located outside of Dublin and he had brought in a very large sweet potato, of the Southern Queen variety, that weighed over twelve pounds.[1]



I love sweet potatoes, so I wondered what the Southern Queen variety is. According to Mother Earth News article, the Southern Queen matures in about 105 days. It produces “long, narrow tubers with white skin and white flesh. The original strain was introduced from South America in 1870.”[2]  Some people refer to these white sweet potatoes as yams (my father did) but they are not related to true yams at all.



It seems that sweet potatoes grow well in the south because they thrive in “warm, sunny climate and prefers loose, well-drained soil”[3] and have a long growing season. I also learned that southerners tended to like the sweeter varieties and northerners preferred the drier and mealy varieties.

I looked for a result of his sweet potato at the Dallas fair but didn’t find any other mention. However in the next issue the following week, there was another large sweet potato brought into town by E.P. Purvis that weighed fifteen pounds.[4] His certainly topped Dempsey’s sweet potato.

And even though Dempsey was not my direct ancestor, his growing of sweet potatoes was still a clue that my great-great-grandfather, W.C. Lancaster, who married Dempsey’s sister, Martha Jane “Doll” Coor, probably grew sweet potatoes, too.



[1] “Local Items,” 29 Oct 1897, The Dublin Progress, p 5, col 2, D.P. Coor, digital image, The Portal to Texas History (https://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 27 Nov 2016).
[2] “A Brief History of Heirloom Seet Potato Varieties,” by William Woys Weaver, Mother Earth News (http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/heirloom-sweet-potato-varieties-zewz1310zpit : accessed 11 Dec 2016).
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Local Items,” 5 Nov 1897, The Dublin Progress, p 5, col 3, E.P. Purvis, digital image, The Portal to Texas History (https://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 27 Nov 2016).

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

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