The Real Duncan Hines—The Man, Not the Cake Mix

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena uses old newspapers and other online resources to learn more about Duncan Hines—whose real-life accomplishments were so much more than just getting his name onto boxes of cake mix.

When you hear the words “Duncan Hines” you may visualize a homemade cake. Today, most people recognize the Duncan Hines name as one gracing the front of cake mix boxes, but Duncan Hines was a real person who had an interesting foray into the food and hospitality businesses.

photo of a box of Duncan Hines cake mix

Photo: Mixer and box of Duncan Hines cake mix. Credit: Gena Philibert-Ortega.

In today’s world if you want a recommendation for a hotel or a restaurant you look for a website. Prior to the Internet you most likely used a guide from an organization like AAA (the American Automobile Association) to choose where to stay on a vacation or work-related trip. But whom did your family rely on for such advice in the mid-20th century?

The Traveling Foodie

Duncan Hines didn’t start out to become an everyday name associated with food and lodging. He didn’t even start out working in the food industry. Duncan Hines (1880-1959) was a traveling salesman for a printer who, as he racked up miles crossing the country for his work, ate at lots of restaurants. In 1935 he shared his recommendations in a Christmas card and quite by accident stumbled upon a new venture.*

That Christmas card eventually became a business. The Duncan Hines brand was not unlike the multiproduct brand names we see in the food industry today. Products associated with famous chefs or homemaking experts like Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart follow in Hines’s footsteps. His coveted reviews of restaurants expanded to hotels—he even rented out signs that proclaimed an establishment recommended by him. Eventually his name graced a multitude of food products including the well-known cake mixes of today.

Hine’s Ratings & Recommendations Books

Adventures in Good Eating, his multi-edition book of restaurant recommendations, blossomed into regular newspaper columns that included recipes from restaurants he had reviewed.

Duncan Hines: Adventures in Good Eating, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 24 August 1948

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 24 August 1948, page 9

The success of Adventures in Good Eating led to Hines’s hotel guide entitled Lodging for a Night (digitized on Internet Archive at http://archive.org/stream/lodgingfornight00hinerich#page/n5/mode/2up).

There is no doubt that Hines became a celebrity in his own right. Lodging for a Night includes a warning that “a surprising number” of imposters who claim to be his family had been known to ask for free food and lodging. Hines warns proprietors to refuse such offers (pg. xiv).

photo of the cover of the Duncan Hines book "Lodging for a Night"

Photo: Book cover of Lodging for a Night by Duncan Hines. Credit: Internet Archive.

Hines’s descriptions of hotels are reminiscent of conversing with a good friend. He not only provides some of the basic information a traveler would need but also includes comments about the proprietors—like in the listing for the Sutter Hotel in Yuba City, California. Hines writes: “If you want to see what a man with brains can do with a hotel that 2 year ago was not any too good, drop in and meet Mr. Hass” (p. 61). In his write-up of the Oak Creek Lodge in Flagstaff, Arizona, Hines reports that the owners are Carl and Ethel Meyhew, along with their son and daughter (p. 19).

Duncan Hines was a well-respected figure, and that respect led him to lecture on food issues (such as warning against eating a poor breakfast), as seen in this 1954 article from a Texas newspaper.

Duncan Hines Warns about Poor Breakfasts, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 8 October 1954

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 8 October 1954, page 2

At one time the Duncan Hines name was on a multitude of products, everything from ice cream to baking mixes to hams. For a man who was once a traveling salesman, his Christmas card idea turned into an industry that Americans are still familiar with today.

photo of an ad for Duncan Hines smoked hams

Photo: Duncan Hines ad for smoked hams. Credit: Internet Archive.

Dig into the online archives now to learn more about the life of Duncan Hines, read more of his restaurant reviews in Adventures in Good Eating in the newspaper, and more.

___________________

* Duncan Hines. He is the traveler’s authority on where to eat by Phyllis Larsh. Life. 8 July 1946. Page 16-17. Available at http://books.google.com/books?id=JEoEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=Duncan%20hines%20life%20magazine&pg=PA16#v=onepage&q=Duncan%20hines&f=false.

I found one of my ancestors in the 1881 Canadian census. What do I do now?

I found one of my ancestors in the 1881 Canadian census on http://www.familysearch.org/What do I do now?

Good work.

FamilySearch.org is a terrific free site – with helpful indexes like the 1881 Canadian census index.

You may see the original census page at a website put up by the The Library & Archives of Canada. It has the 1881 (and other) census records online – free.

New Brunswick Vital Records are online – free.

I copied out the index citations for Ella’s brother Charles and sisters: Agnes and Elizabeth.

But, now look carefully at these records. In the census – the mother’s name is: Mary and in these vital records it is given as Annie Stewart.

So, you need to determine – if these records are for the same family or not.

Questions you might ask:
1. Are Annie & Mary the same person?
Perhaps one name is her first name and the other her middle name OR perhaps Annie died and Stephen remarried a person named Mary before the 1881 census was taken.

2. Are these two different families with similar names?

The oldest child listed in the census – William – was born in 1862. So you want to search the Church registers from 1850 on to check for the parent’s marriage record and the records for each of the children.

Like the birth records from the New Brunswick Archives – the Church records should give the mother’s maiden name.

Notice too – that Stephen Jackson was born in England – in 1881 he gave his age as 45 – that would make his birth year as approximately 1836. Let’s hope that he rounded his age – since British birth, marriage and death records were started on July 1, 1837.

3. Your next critical question is: When did they leave Canada and emigrate to the United States? If they are in the US by 1900 – you will want to look for them in the 1900 Census.
If they are still in Canada in 1901 – then you want to search for them in the 1901 Census.

You may use the 1900 Census – free at FamilySearchLabs

You may search the 1901 Canadian Census at the Library & Archives of Canada.

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Marriage Announcements -

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Whether you’re looking for a wedding announcement published on July 22, 1802, July 22, 1862 or July 22,1962 – GenealogyBank is your comprehensive source.
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(Dallas (TX) Morning News – 22 July 1962)
(Maine Eagle – 22 July 1802)
(Baltimore Sun – 22 July 1862)

TIP: Focus your search by the type of article – In this example limit your search to only the marriage notices. Click on the highlighted topic and only those articles will appear in your search.

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Find and document your ancestors in GenealogyBank – the best source for old newspapers & documents on the planet.

Period!

Possible Avery Family Artifact dating from 1689-1702 Found

313-year-old English silver sixpence, likely once owned by Rev. John Avery (1685/6-1754) found in Truro, Massachusetts. The coin dates from 1689-1702

The Boston Globe is reporting this unusual find of an early British coin found by Truro resident Peter Burgess while working in his garden.

“At first, I wasn’t sure what it was,” said Burgess. “It didn’t look so much like a coin, but like a brown wafer.”

The coin was minted during the reign of King William III – 1689-1702 who assumed the throne jointly with his wife Mary II – following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which overthrew her father, King James II. “William and Mary” were the only joint monarchs – both serving with equal authority.

Here is what the original coin looked like

Read the entire story here:
Bishop, Stewart. Cape man finds 313-year-old sixpence. Boston Globe 3 June 2009

What do you have for my town?

Sometimes genealogists look at GenealogyBank‘s 3,700+ newspapers and only focus on newspapers published in their home town.

Beginning researchers often concentrate on their local newspaper or other newspapers published in their state and don’t think they need the rest of the content in GenealogyBank.

When I first began researching 43 years ago – I found an obituary about Edward Kemp (1863-1926) published in the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Register (NEHGS Memoirs. January 1928. pp. 103-104).

The obituary said that he was born in County Cavan, Ireland. That would have been crucial information for my Kemp research at that time. But the article also said that he was born in New York City so I erroneously concluded this was not my relative. I thought our family was “only” from Stamford, Connecticut.

It would be years later that I would again find Edward’s obituary in the Register. The second time I recognized him immediately as my cousin. By then I knew that the family was from County Cavan – but I stared at that information and wondered – how was it I didn’t find this earlier? And, then I recalled that I had tossed it aside because he was from New York City.

Tip: Families move to other parts of the country. Use GenealogyBank to find your family obituaries; articles, and documents – no matter where in the country these items were published. Don’t assume you only want your hometown newspaper.

Let me give you an example – framed on the basic question researchers often ask – What do you have on Stamford, CT?

The question should be more precise. What do you have on Grace Stewart – who was born and married in Stamford, CT?

What was known?
Her name: Grace Toms
Approximate year/place of birth: born about 1896 in Stamford, CT
Spouse: She married “Charles Stewart”
Other: The rest of the “Toms” family lived/died in the Stamford area.

Problem:
Initial searches found nothing on them.
Charles Stewart and Grace Stewart are common names.

A search of GenealogyBank for Grace Stewart yielded 1,238 results – that is just too many to sort through to find her.

I narrowed the search to just the more recent America’s Obituaries section to see if I could locate her obituary notice.


That resulted in 143 hits – I could sift through those – but I first limited the search again by state – for just obituaries published in Connecticut newspapers. This time I got zero hits.

So I turned to search for her husband: Charles Stewart.

A search for him in the America’s Obituaries section for all newspapers produced 632 hits. When I limited the search to just CT newspapers I found one hit, but it was not him

I then repeated the America’s Obituaries section search for Grace Stewart but this time I added her middle name “Toms” to the extra search terms in “Include keywords” box.

Nothing.

One more try. I repeated the America’s Obituaries section search for Grace Stewart but this time I added “Stamford” to the extra search terms “Include keywords” box.

Success!

Grace Stewart
Washington Post, The (DC) – February 4, 1992
GRACE STEWART, LAWYER, ASSOCIATE JUDGE, DIES
Grace M. Stewart, 93, an associate judge of the Municipal Court in Washington in 1952 and 1953, died of pneumonia Feb. 1 at the Collingswood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rockville, where she was a patient for five years. She was a Washington resident off and on for 74 years.


Mrs. Stewart was appointed to the court after serving as executive assistant in the attorney general’s office. She worked for the Justice Department for 24 years.
After she left Municipal Court, she was on the staff of the Senate District Committee and later became administrative director of the Washington office of Executive Manpower Corp, a recruitment firm. She retired in 1973.


A native of Stamford, Conn., Mrs. Stewart attended American University and its law school. She was a typist with the Veterans Administration before she became a lawyer at Justice.

She belonged to the Federal and Women’s Bar associations and Phi Delta Delta legal fraternity.

Her husband, Charles Stewart, died in 1920. Survivors include two daughters, Barbara S. Eskey of Rockville and Patricia S. de Hoffman of La Jolla, Calif.; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Copyright (c) 1992 The Washington Post

Tip: Don’t only concentrate on your home town newspaper. You can find articles about your family published in out of state newspapers – in this case the Washington Post.

Tip: Be sure to be creative in adding/removing search terms to fine tune your search.
Tip: Search GenealogyBank now.
What will you find?

Kentucky Newspapers online

List of Kentucky newspapers that are scheduled to go online on GenealogyBank in the months ahead.

Quickly find obituaries; birth, engagement & wedding announcements; and so much more.

(Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home …. courtesy of Library of Congress, Music for the Nation)

List of upcoming Kentucky Newspapers that will be added to GenealogyBank

Bardstown, KY. Western American 1803 to 1804
Frankfort, KY. Argus of Western America. 1816 to 1834 Frankfort, KY. Guardian of Freedom. 1798 to 1804
Paris, KY. Western Citizen. 1804 to 1816
Russellville, KY. Mirror. 1806 to 1807

and here’s the list of Kentucky newspapers that GenealogyBank already has online:

Bowling Green, KY. Daily News. 7/2/1999 to Today
Covington, KY. Kentucky Post. 4/2/1990 to 12/31/2007
Danville, KY. Mirror. 9/3/1804 to 12/1/1807
Danville, KY. People’s Friend. 1/30/1819 to 1/30/1819
Frankfort, KY. Frankfort Argus – variant title: Argus; Argus of Western America
2/3/1808 to 6/28/1821
Frankfort, KY. Kentucky Journal. 12/5/1795 to 12/5/1795
Frankfort, KY. Western World. 7/7/1806 to 6/8/1810
Ft Mitchell, KY. Kentucky Enquirer. 1/1/1999 to Today
Georgetown, KY. Telegraph. 9/25/1811 to 12/22/1813
Harlan, KY. Harlan Daily Enterprise. 11/17/2005 to Today
Harrodsburg, KY. Kentucky People. 3/18/1870 to 8/25/1871
Henderson, KY. Gleaner. 4/14/2006 to Today
Lancaster, KY. Political Theatre. 11/18/1808 to 7/26/1809
Lexington, KY. Kentucky Gazette. 3/15/1794 to 12/28/1837
Lexington, KY. Lexington Herald – variant titles: Lexington Daily Press; Lexington Daily Press-Transcript. 1/1/1907 to 12/31/1922
Lexington, KY. Lexington Herald-Leader. 5/1/1906 to 12/31/1907

Lexington, KY. Lexington Herald-Leader. 1/25/1984 to Today
Lexington, KY. Morning Herald. 1/1/1896 to 4/30/1906
Lexington, KY. Reporter – variant title: Kentucky Reporter. 3/12/1808 to 12/25/1820
Lexington, KY. Stewart Kentucky Herald. 7/14/1795 to 9/15/1801
Lexington, KY. Western Monitor. 8/3/1814 to 12/20/1817
Louisville, KY. Courier-Journal. 1/13/1999 to Today
Louisville, KY. Weekly Courier-Journal. 5/19/1879 to 7/29/1889
Maysville, KY. Eagle. 1/19/1815 to 3/27/1818
Middlesboro, KY. Daily News. 2/1/2007 to Today
Owensboro, KY. Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. 9/1/1988 to Today
Richmond, KY. Globe. 1/24/1810 to 0/17/1810
Russellville, KY. News-Democrat & Leader. 12/13/2005 to Today
Washington, KY. Republican Auxiliary. 8/15/1807 to 8/15/1807
Washington, KY. Union. 3/8/1814 to 5/19/1817