The Dixie Classic Fair, 2014 edition, is well under way. I get to see the fireworks every night from my window in the Arts District.

Yesterday, Ellen, one of my sisters’ high school classmates, sent me a message asking if I would be interested in a 1925 newspaper article about her grandmother’s accomplishments at the fair that year. I said yes and I’m glad I did. What a story…

In the early 20th century, Charles and Fannie Holder lived on a farm on Old Richmond Road in Seward, just a stone’s throw from my former wife’s grandfather, J. Worth Davis, a country doctor. According to the 1920 US Census, they had three children, Buford (15), Louise (11) and Lillian (7).


C.M. Miller’s 1927 map of Forsyth County shows the location of Seward, with Dr. Davis’s and Charles and Fannie Holder’s properties highlighted in yellow. Click for full sized image.

Charles was a successful farmer and Fannie took care of the children and the household and was known as a superior seamstress and cook and a prodigious canner. Her entries every year in the county fair were well known for both their quantity and their quality. As Ellen put it:

‘My mother always said that her family survived during the depression because her mother would sell all these goods to people in “town” including dressed chickens, cakes, etc.’

But in 1925, she broke all records for quantity and quality, entering over 600 items and winning 26 premiums, over $100 in prize money and a silver loving cup. She was a one woman home economics army, proclaimed the “queen of canning and cooks of Forsyth County”.

This item appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal on November 21, 1925:


Ellen provides a transcription of the story, including Fannie’s recipe for her famous pound cake:

Mrs. Charles Holder, Queen of the Canners and Cooks of Forsyth County Is Busy Woman

She was Awarded Twenty-Six Premiums at the County Fair

Wins Silver Cup

Has Highest Type Farm Exhibits

Exhibits 600 Quarts of Canned Stuff

With approximately $150 in cash prizes awarded her as her share of the county fair premiums and a silver loving cup for winning the largest number of premiums, Mrs. Charles Holder, of Paramount farm, Tobaccoville, may well be acclaimed as one of the most versatile cooks and housekeepers in the county.

Mrs. Holder’s record of twenty six premium winning exhibits including ten blue ribbons winners, ranging from hand-made tea towels to pound cake and kraut. Is she a busy woman?

It would seem that she is rather occupied. Her canned food exhibit which won the grand prize of $60 was made of approximately 640 quarts of fruits and vegetables in tin and in glass jars, and her other exhibits represented practically every phase of home making.

Mrs. Holder, who is a member of the home demonstration club of Old Richmond is a modest little woman. She mentions her canning activity as if it were a side issue.

A Busy Woman

“Some one asked me”, she said, ” if it did not take all my time to can that much food”. She laughed as if the suggestion were very amusing. “Of course it does keep me rather busy”, she added, “but I do all my own housework, besides looking after two children”.

Mrs. Holder was awarded blue ribbons for her butter, pound cake, tea towels, guest towels, house dress and pickles, preserves, jams, canned squash, baby beets and field peas. She exhibited 20 jars of jelly, 40 quarts of preserves, 140 quarts of corn, 50 quarts beans, 50 quarts of tomatoes, 100 quarts peaches, 40 quarts apples, miscellaneous 40 quarts, 10 quarts meats, 75 of pickles, 15 of kraut. In the sewing department she exhibited a luncheon set and a three piece suit of underwear, the latter a prize winner.

Mrs. Holder gave the Food Editor her recipe for the blue ribbon pound cake as follows:

Pound Cake

One lb. sugar, one pound butter, one pound flour, 10 eggs, one teaspoonful baking powder, nutmeg or lemon flavoring and a pinch of salt.

Cream butter and sugar together, add yolks of eggs well beaten. Then add the flour slowly, mixing well. Into this mixture pour the whites of the eggs which have been whipped stiff. Add flavoring. The baking power should be sifted with the flour.

Caption under the photo:

Mrs. Charles Holder of Tobaccoville wins loving cup on her farm and home exhibits at the Forsyth county fair.

The handsome cup bears the following inscription:

“Awarded Mrs. Chas. E. Holder, owner Paramount Farm, Forsyth county, N.C. for the highest type farm exhibit, season 1925, by the Winston-Salem and Forsyth county fair.”

Before there were female comic book super heroes, there were simply super women. Fannie Holder was obviously one of them.