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Caroline Magoffin Humphrey: Music and Pure Milk

“Mrs. Watts Humphrey also played a piano solo the “’Hungarian dances Nos. 1 and 2’ of Brahms. These require fine technique, as do nearly all of Brahms’ work, and Mrs. Humphrey’s execution of this number was very creditable.”

-The Saginaw News Courier, May 6, 1893

“One of the important features of the afternoon program of the Farmers’ Institute was a paper read by Mrs. Watts S. Humphrey on the ‘The City Milk Supply.’ Mrs. Humphrey’s paper was listened to with closest attention, and it was pronounced one of the best on the subject ever heard here.”

-The Saginaw Daily News, January 25, 1912

Above: Portrait of Caroline Magoffin Watts

Born in Portage City, Wisconsin in 1861, Caroline Magoffin graduated from Helmuth College in Canada and continued her studies at the University of Michigan. In 1888, she married Watts S. Humphrey in Chicago. Mr. Humphrey was an attorney and they moved to Saginaw shortly after their marriage.

“An accomplished pianist and woman of a cultural bent, Mrs. Humphrey also took keen interest in more practical matters of benefit to the community. It was largely through her efforts that Saginaw acquired its first city milk ordinance, requiring precautions in handling and processing of milk for human consumption.”

Above: Lower Right Image of Humphrey House. The Humphrey home was located at 945 E. Genesee Avenue. Below: Advertisement for Roofing. In 1925 Mrs. Humphrey had new roof installed on her home.

“Mrs. Humphrey did much to further the appreciation of good music here. When the city Auditorium opened to the public, She and Miss Elsie C. Mershon interested a group of leading Saginaw citizens in engaging the New York Symphony orchestra and several Metropolitan Opera stars to appear here for the Auditorium’s public opening.”

For years Saginaw papers warned of the dangers of the city’s milk supply. Often noting that Saginaw, then Michigan’s third largest city, lagged behind other Michigan communities in ensuring safety in milk supply. In 1911, the Saginaw Daily News called upon the City Federation of Women’s Clubs to promote pure milk regulations. Active in the community and various clubs, Caroline Humphrey was positioned to take a leadership position in the campaign to assure a pure milk supply for Saginaw.

A transcript of the lecture Mrs. Humphrey gave at the 1912 Farmers’ Institute was printed in The Saginaw Daily News. In it she stated:

There are three parties to a successful milk supply – the producer, the inspector and consumer. These three form a sort of commercial trinity, each equally important within his own jurisdiction, and still one unity of interest. Each member of this special partnership has rights, duties and privileges.

The consumer has the right to expect clean, pure milk from which nothing has been subtracted, and to which nothing has been added. This is one of the few times when, literally, one wants nothing thrown in. (The Saginaw Daily News, January 25, 1912, p.6)

Above: The Saginaw Auditorium. Mrs. Humphrey was involved in engaging performers for the Saginaw Auditorium’s opening. On January 11, 1912, she gave a lecture titled “The City Milk Supply” at the Auditorium.

Although the City Council passed regulations, it would take a long period of vigilant education and lobbying on the part of Mrs. Humphrey and her colleagues to ensure they were enforced and not altered.

Caroline Magoffin Humphrey passed away at her winter home Sarasota Florida in 1946.*

As you make this recipe, keep in mind some of the things Caroline Humphrey listed in her lecture as being important for a pure, safe milk supply:

“Cleanliness of the cows,

Cleanliness of the stable,

Cleanliness of the milk-room,

Cleanliness of the utensils,

Cleanliness of the milking,

Cleanliness of the attendants, . . .”

According to Mrs. Humphrey, this recipe was from the family of renowned soprano Adelina Patti. In case you need some inspiration while preparing it, this link will take you to a recording of Adelina Patti:


*”Death Claims Social Leader: Mrs. Humphrey Long was Active in Saginaw Musical Circles,” The Saginaw News, January 12, 1946, p. 1

The Recipe: Mrs. Watts Humphrey's Macaroni

½ lb. macaroni

1 T. mustard

Salt to taste

1 c. cream

Butter, size of lg. egg

Buttered bread crumbs

¼ to ½ lb. grated cheese

Cook macaroni until barely tender, drain. Add salt, butter and grated cheese. Mix mustard with cream and mix thoroughly with macaroni mixture. Put in baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake slowly until golden.

Note: Caroline Magoffin Humphrey was the mother of George M. Humphrey, Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense. She was responsible for Saginaw's first milk ordinance and worked to further interest in good music. Her husband was a partner in the law firm of Humphrey & Grant. Mrs. Humphrey noted that this was a recipe "as used in the family of Adeline Patti's father."


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