Tag Archives: history

More on the dough board

Claire emailed her father for more details about the dough board they gave us this weekend, and here is what he wrote back:

William Rice was young and fought in the Confederate Army and was part of the fighting men of the South who made a valiant effort to defend Atlanta. He was shot in his right side, and the bullet went through his side and out his back. A medic or a friend inserted a part of a sheet into the wound and pulled it all the way through the wound. After a period of time (unknown to me) he walked from Atlanta to an area on the Mulberry River that flows into the Black Warrior River, and he claimed ownership of about 140 acres of fertile land near the river. He could have claimed the land that now is Birmingham, as Birmingham was not founded until 1871. He married and while he was recuperating from the wound and unable to farm the land, he took a knife and carved the piece of wood that became the board on which my grandmother made her biscuits each day. Carving gave him something constructive to do each day. My grandmother used the board and my mother used the board to make biscuits each morning. After my mother all but stopped making biscuits due to their weight and their health, I asked for the dough board because of the history and the representation of the lives surrounding the dough board, the carving and the uses over the years of making biscuits. That is all I know.

Something old and broken

We visited my wife’s parents this weekend, and they sent us home with something old and broken. In this case, though, it’s pretty cool. What you see here is a dough bowl carved by my wife’s great-grandfather William Rice with his pocket knife pocket knife after he walked home from the Battle of Atlanta to Blount County, Alabama, in 1864. Family history says that that he was shot through the abdomen and threaded a piece of bedsheet through the bullet hole to stop the bleeding. When he got home, he cut down a tree and carved this bowl while he recuperated. What a badass!

The bowl measures approximately 15 x 25 inches (38 x 64 cm). ┬áIt’s been stored in an unairconditioned storage room and has dried out and split in the middle. It appears to have had one or more coats or modern varnish or polyurethane applied to it. The question now is, what to do with it? The purist answer is probably nothing: stabilize it as is. Nonetheless, I’m tempted to fill the split, sand it to remove the modern finish, and put a coat of varnish oil on it so we can get some use out of it.