Abstinence: Updated with historical info

Note, dated Dec. 3rd, 1899:


We the undersigned solemnly promise God being our helper to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage.

John P. Bugden
Frank E. Bugden
Nellie L. Bugden
M. Clara Bugden

Found in a very rough copy of "The White House Cookbook" by Mrs. F.L. Gillette. Published by L.P. Miller, 1890.

Bonus material - here's the inside cover of the cookbook:


Some readers were cool enough to send in some more information on the Bugdens -

First, Jerry writes:

A search of US Census records indicated that the Bugden family lived on 102nd Street in Manhattan in 1900.  Father John, age 36, was a traveling salesman.  Wife Clara was 34 and daughter Nellie was 9.  Frank E. was probably Edward (or Edwin), age 11.

Lisa adds:

Here's a little summary of my findings with some interesting notes:

John P Bugden, born  Feb 1864
married ~1885 to
Clara M, born  July 1866

Frank Edward Bugden, born Oct 1888
Nellie C Bugden, born Aug 1890

In 1900 John P Bugden was working as a traveling salesman.

From 1910 on John is listed as a grocer.

From 1910 on Frank E Bugden is listed as a dentist in his own office.

Frank married Allie Beecher who lived less than 3 minutes from the Bugden household in New Rochelle.  In 1910 they were living with Allie’s parents, and by 1920 they had moved across town (approximately 10 minutes away).

Nellie married William Hall and they resided with her parents until at least 1930.  She is listed as the enumerator on the census sheet her family is recorded on in 1930 (I’ve never run across this before).  Her husband is listed as a ship master.

The 1880 census shows that John’s mother’s name was Nellie and he had younger brother, Frank.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any hints about whether or not they kept to their pledge.

Thanks guys!

-Click to enlarge photos-


  1. Interesting find. I was originally thinking it was signed after prohibition until I reread the date. Now it would have been hilarious had the note been found in between two recipes for alcoholic drinks. A touch of irony. Do you keep track of where in the book the bookmark was left?

  2. Cat, it was right there under the front cover.

  3. fascinating-- would love to know the backstory. Wonder if the folks were able to keep their promise-- somehow I doubt it :-)

  4. pinkpackrat says "Somehow I doubt it."

    There are actually a lot of people in this world who, for religious or personal reasons, can abstain from alcohol quite easily. I'm not saying this to be a snot, but to shed some realistic light on cultures that we feel so far removed from that we can't fathom their lives. Some of your friends and associates in 2010 live totally alcohol-free lives, and so it's not that absurd to think that a family a hundred years ago might have been able to do it.