Why Election Day? And where was the cake?

    Some versions of the Runaway Pond story include the fact that June 6, 1810 was Election Day in New Hampshire and that many of the settlers in Keene Corner, the area of Glover closest to Aaron Willson's mill, were from New Hampshire and were in the habit of celebrating NH Election Day. Rev. Dwight's account (1823) refers to the men planning " 'a regular election scrape' " and adds in a footnote "scrape in this sense is a colloquial Americanism, and denotes a frolic."
    Whiskey is mentioned as a festive aid to the work and Judge Parker (1875) feels it necessary to remind his readers "yet it need not be believed that everybody was drunk every day or that my old friends at Glover celebrated election day with drunken revelry."
    Alice Ross, writing in the Journal of Antiques, traces the election day festivities of the post-independence years to the colonial practice of socializing and carousing that had grown up around Muster Days, when men traveled in the spring to participate in several days of militia training.  She quotes Edward Kendall (1808) who opined that the election day celebrations may have been a substitute for some of the traditional religious holidays (Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide) which were not celebrated under the then dominant New England religion.
    Judge Parker writes that "celebrations were conducted in those times with as much decorum as now, and consisted in having a good social time and furnishing the table with some extra dainties, among which was a most excellent election cake, the art of making which I fear is becoming extinct." Alice Ross informs us that these cakes were direct descendants of the Muster Cakes of colonial days and gives a recipe from American Cookery (1796) which includes 30 qts flour, 10 lbs butter, 14 lbs sugar, 12 lbs raisins, 3 dozen eggs, 1 pint wine, 1 qt brandy, 4 oz cinnamon, 4 oz fine coriander seed, 3 oz ground allspice, milk, yeast, and plums, baked in a large ring pan in a low to moderate oven.
    If that fateful June 6 party had taken a few of these cakes along would it have slowed them down enough to have more carefully considered the ground on which they stood?
    Quotations from old accounts of the events of 1810 are from Runaway Pond: The Complete Story, a Compilation of Resources by Wayne H. Alexander, published by the Glover Historical Society, Inc. Thanks to Darlene Y. for the article by Alice Ross.