Aunt Hannah’s Famous First Brownies!

Dear Isaac and Maia,

I don’t know why I haven’t gotten out for more adventures this winter – I guess it is still January. I have time. But, today’s adventure was making brownies from a famous recipe out of an 1899 Machias, ME Cook Book. The recipe was submitted by Marion Kelly – who happens to be my 1st cousin twice removed (meaning she was my granddad’s first cousin). That makes her your 1st cousin 4X removed. Big deal, right?


Well, this is one of the FIRST brownie recipes ever published!!! I have a few sources on that, too. In fact, it was my research into genealogy that I found the recipe.

What does that mean?  Our family invented the brownie!!!  Crazy, right?  The best site on family history is here –

Brownie’s Food (1899)

So, my granddad on mom’s side was John Kelly Hartt, son of Rebecca Kelly and Rev John Hartt.  Hannah Kelly was Rebecca’s sister, both daughters of David Longfellow Kelly and Rebecca Hartt (yes, Rebecca and Rev John were 1st cousins once removed).  Aunt Hannah’s daughter-in-law submitted the recipe to the famous cookbook.  Hannah Kelly also contributed to the book.


I am hoping to learn more about the family – but I do know Hannah married a Capt John S. Kelly (likely a relative) and moved from New Brunswick, CA to Wisconsin. My grandparents on mom’s side came from New Brunswick and Maine but a lot of them left in the late 1800s, including my granddad.  He came to Wyoming and became a sheep rancher.  Here is how I am related to Hannah – she is my great-grand aunt.  That makes her your 3rd great grand aunt.


So, I found the old reprint of the cookbook on Amazon, as well as a modernized version of the same recipe.  I had to make them!  This is my first try and I have to do gluten and lactose free.  I made a couple of subs because I didn’t want to go to the store (choc powder and chips vs grated chocolate).  I used almond milk and a pre-mixed gluten-free baking powder.


It was an experiment – they were pretty doughy, so I put them in and cooked them for a bit over an hour.  That might be the gluten free flower because it seems to be denser than other flours.  They tasted good, though.  I need to play with it some more.  I figure that since I am family, I could come up with some new versions of Aunt Hannah’s Brownies (called Brownie’s Food in the Cook Book).  Like the gluten-free, lactose free recipe once I perfect it.  Add nuts?


A couple of other fun-finds the last couple of weeks with our family history.  Did you know we came from the Mayflower ship originally?  My great 10th grandfathers, Richard Warren and Francis Cooke were on the ship!  They are your great 12th grandfathers!



We are also related to the famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – actually down both my granddad’s dad’s and mom’s side.  People married into the same families a lot in New England.  Here is my relationship – yours would be two generations further.


I am planning to write a family story for you because mom’s family was here in America very early.  Lots of kinda-famous people.  It’s fun.  Dad’s family is that of immigrants from Germany and Ireland who came much later.  For now, I will end with a poem by our cousin Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


Out of the bosom of the Air,
      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
            Silent, and soft, and slow
            Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
            The troubled sky reveals
            The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
            Now whispered and revealed
            To wood and field.
Love, Grandma Hartt

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