On the corner... of the past and present

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 7:15am

Ed. note: The Block Island Historical Society was founded in 1942. To help celebrate its 75th year, the Society’s Diamond Anniversary, The Block Island Times will be publishing sketches and photographs of some items it has in its collection throughout 2017.

Among the founders of the Historical Society in 1942 were Harold and Florence Madison. It was said of Florence “she would meet you at the door with a broom” — meaning she always had a task for everyone. The recipe below was included in the 1962 Block Island Cookbook compiled by the ladies of the First Baptist Church over many a winter night. 

Florence Ball Madison wrote: “This recipe was given to me by a Westfield, Mass. roommate at East Greenwich Academy, class 1897. Have made bushels of them for my father, Martin Van Buren Ball (born in 1838) whose chief request was “make them big.” 

The cookie cutter may be seen in the Block Island Historical Society Museum. 

Thin molasses cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

Cream together and add:

1 beaten egg

1 cup molasses (medium or light, not dark)

Rinse cup with 2 tbsp. vinegar and 1 tbsp. soda.


1 tsp. cinnamon

Scant tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. ginger

About 5 cups of flour (pastry preferred, although all-purpose may be used)

¼ tsp. cloves

Put in refrigerator for several hours. For easy rolling, add flour if needed. Bake in 350 degree F. oven. Reserve part in refrigerator for future use.