Note: In the Saginaw Cookbook published by First Congregational Church this recipe is attributed to William J. Ring. Although we failed to identify a William J. Ring, our research strongly suggests that the “J” is an error and should have been an “L” and the author of the recipe was William Lee Ring.
If you are from Saginaw, you probably recognize the name Ring. The Clark and Elizabeth Ring family home is now the Saginaw Art Museum. There is a street named after the family and a little southwest of St. Charles there is park named Ringwood Forest. A plaque at the entrance outlines its history:
"This land, originally part of the great pine forest of Michigan , was lumbered in 1862 by Eleazer J. Ring. Here one of the earliest forest plantations in the state was established in 1883, by his son, William Lee Ring, in whose memory his brother, Clark L. Ring, presented the tract to the University of Michigan in 1930 to be used henceforth for Instruction, demonstration and research in forestry."
The Saginaw County Parks and Recreation website provides further background:
“After receiving the land in 1930, the University of Michigan began managing the forest resources of the site. Ringwood served the University as an experimental forest management area. The entire site is divided into 24 separate lots, each with different tree species or planting date. University records include separate histories for each of the plots detailing planting dates, thinning, and past cutting dates. Some portions of the original plantings of 1883 still remain. Because of the historical significance of being among the nation's first plantations, it was decided that these areas should be preserved and displayed to the public. In 1983, a 30 year lease was executed between the University of Michigan and the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and the park officially opened to the public June 1987. Facilities at the 160-acre park include 3.5 miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, educational displays, a canoe launch which accesses the Bad River, and a children's play area. The park includes a picnic pavilion donated by Brant Township in honor of a board member, Ed Federspiel.”
William L. Ring’s life is not as well documented as that of his brother. However, the few references we have been able to locate, consistently stress his kindness and consideration for others. Rather then trying to piece together a biography from a few facts, we will copy his obituary from the May 7, 1919, issue of The Saginaw News Courier:
“The body of William Lee Ring, brother of Anna Ring Conroy and Clark L. Ring of this city, the news of whose death at Claremont, Cal., May 2, came as a distinct shock to his many friends, is expected to arrive here Thursday morning. The funeral will take place from the residence of Clark L. Ring Friday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock. Rev. Emil Montanus, rector of St. John’s church, will officiate and burial will be in the family lot in Oakwood.”
“Mr. Ring was born in Hamilton, Ont. August 25, 1856, almost 63 years ago, and had been a resident of Saginaw for about 50 years.”
“For number of years he was in the furniture manufacturing firm of Ring, Merrill & Tillotson, but owning to poor health was obliged to give up the business, and much of the time since had been spent traveling abroad and at Ringwood, his farm near St. Charles. The last few winters had been spent in California.”
“He served as vestryman of St. John’s church for a generation, and was junior warden of the parish for 25 years. Ill-health alone compelling his finally to relinquish the duties of office he had discharged so faithfully and for so long a time in the church he dearly loved.”
“Said one of his friends, referring to Mr. Ring, ‘His was a sweet spirt whose gentleness charmed all with whom he came in contact. Kind, thoughtful and considerate of others, he impressed one as a gentleman of the type that is becoming rare.’ Despite his bodily infirmity, he was always cheerful, patient in his suffering; uncomplaining of his lot, and brave withal in the knowledge of the ultimate issue of his ailment he had to face.”
“Mr. Ring recently suffered an attack of the grip and was not strong enough to overcome the efforts of the disease. His sister, Mrs. Conroy was with him at the time of his death, and is coming with the body.”
William Ring’s Welsh Rarebit
“One cup of cheese-a rich New York State cheese is best--lump of butter size of hickory-nut, 1 saltspoonful of mustard, a pinch of salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir butter and seasoning with ¼ cup of beer and mix with the cheese. When it begins to melt, stir continually until it is smooth and soft.” William J. [sic.] Ring.
Test Kitchen interpretation
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ½ tablespoons of butter* ¼ cup beer 1/8 teaspoon mustard*
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Heat together in chafing dish or double boiler, butter, beer, mustard, salt and cayenne pepper. When butter has melted, add shredded cheese and stir constantly until cheese has melted and ingredients have combined to form a sauce. Serve over toast.
*Note: Modern measurements were arrived upon by consulting online sources and guessing.
And yet another note – this time about Chafing Dishes:
In the Saginaw Cookbook, William Ring’s Welsh Rarebit recipe is found in a chapter devoted to recipes prepared in chafing dishes. Today, most of us think of the primary use of a chafing dish as a means of keeping food warm; however, in the late nineteenth century it was considered stylish to prepare dishes tableside in a chafing dish.
In The Gilded Age Craze for the Chafing Dish, the author notes:
“By the 1890s, the chafing dish became indispensable to hostesses, and it became synonymous with elegant entertaining at luncheon, tea, and supper.”
“The chafing dish also found favor with bachelors and bachelor girls. The latter of limited time, and the former of limited experience, the chafing dish made fixing meals economical, quick, and simple. In tandem with this use was the midnight supper, where a bachelor or bachelor girl played host or hostess in their apartment, and entertained their co-ed group of friends with a meal cooked in the device.”