top of page

Another View of Adeline Little Miller’s Gingersnap

Observant readers will find this recipe familiar. We featured it in 2020. This link will take you to our earlier post:

While this recipe is a repeat, the numerous people and stories with which this recipe connects us make it quite worthy of revisiting; the resulting cookies are great - and the Castle test kitchen had an abundance of molasses.

When featured In 2020, we focused on Adeline Little Miller’s contributions and her efforts to make the construction of First Presbyterian Church’s 1851 building a reality. Although it was chartered in 1838, this was the first building that the church had dedicated for its sole use.

By the time of Mrs. Miller’s passing in 1889, First Presbyterian Church had dedicated a new church on the southwest corner of Court and South Harrison Street – the building that continues to serve the congregation after 138 years.

In the last sermon given in the 1851 church building, the Rev. A.F. Bruske recounted the history of the original building and its importance to the congregation:

“Let us think of the structure itself and the changes it has witnessed. This building, the face of which has been familiar to the people of this city for more than thirty years, was begun in the spring of 1851.” -The Saginaw Evening News, November 16, 1885

Keeping in mind that this is the second time we have featured this recipe, we thought it would be appropriate to focus on the second building constructed for the congregation.

The groundbreaking for a new church was held on November 10, 1883. Designed by Saginaw architect Fred W. Hollister, the cost of the building was reported to be $42,000. On November 20, 1885, The Saturday Evening News provided a detailed description of the soon-to-be dedicated structure, noting: “The greater part of the amount has been raised this week, and the trustees intend on Sunday to dedicate the church free from debt.” The author was especially impressed by the design of the spire:

“Its graceful lines are drawn exquisitely, its proportion is faultless, and it is as handsome a tower as can be found in the state of Michigan.”

The author described and evaluated almost every interior feature -many of which still define the space today:

“The woodwork is of black birch. The factory work was done by D.H. Hardin & Co, of this city, and is a standard specimen of the work that this firm can and is daily turning out. The wainscotting running around the room is about five feet high. The work is rather heavy and is paneled. The panels are narrow and contain some neat jointing, etc.”

The paper reported that the stained-glass windows were funded by “intermediate classes and the Bible classes of the Sunday School.” “They were purchased from W.H. Wells & Bro., of Chicago, and cost $1,350. The glass is a rich, pleasant color, emitting a soft, delicate light into the rooms.”

The Saginaw Evening Courier the article concludes:

“The plans were drawn by F.W. Hollister and were entirely original. There is no other church anywhere that is a duplicate of this design. The scribe of this department is greatly indebted to Mr. Hollister for ‘pointers’ and assistance cheerfully given. In regard to the building, nothing more remains to be said. This elegant edifice will be dedicated Sunday with appropriate ceremonies, and the Presbyterian society will have a home of worship of which they may well be proud.”

And, we add – adapting words from Rev. Bruske’s 1885 sermon:

Let us think of the structure itself and the changes it has witnessed. This building, the face of which has been familiar to the people of this city for more than 138 years.

The Recipe: Gingersnaps

Adeline Little Miller's Gingersnaps

1 c. butter

1 c. sugar

1 c. molasses

1 tsp. cloves

½ c. water

1 tsp. soda, dissolved in water

1 tsp. ginger

Enough flour to roll to a stiff dough


Cream butter; gradually beat in sugar and molasses. Then add soda dissolved in water, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and flour. Roll very thin on floured board, cut out and bake in 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Mrs. Miller was one of Saginaw's earliest pioneers. In 1836 she and her husband, Rev. Hiram Miller, founded the First Presbyterian Church, the first church organized in the Saginaw Valley. Adeline personally raised most of the money needed to build the church while her husband supervised construction and did much of the work himself.

Her brothers also played important roles in Saginaw history. Norman Little is remembered as the founder of East Saginaw, whose boundless faith in the area brought financial backing and settlers from the East. Col W. L. P. Little was East Saginaw's first banker, a lumber baron, and salt manufacturer. He served as the first mayor of East Saginaw.

bottom of page