Thursday, January 28, 2010


The name Cindereller has come up a few times. I suspect that it was a romantic name for a young mother to give her daughter - probably a mother that hadn't read the story, but had heard and loved it. These hard-working mothers probably related deeply to Cinderella, and loved the idea of someone whisking a girl off to a life of luxury.

Cindereller Madden 1807-1835, Harrison County, Indiana

This Cindereller was a puzzle, because she was born only 4 years after Grimm first published the German version of their stories, and the Perrault version, first published in 1679, doesn't seem to have had a generally printed North American version. We don't know Cindereller's maiden name, so we can't see how old her mother was, or whether she had immigrated from somewhere where the Cinderella story was being told.

But between 1800 and 1825, J. Wrigley published a tiny (11x7.5 cm)pamphlet version (shown here), that was 11 pages long. Perhaps this is where Cindereller Madden's mother learned the story.

Cindereller McDaniel 1841-?, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

This Cindereller appears in the Cherokee Nation census in 1890. McDaniel was her married name, her maiden name was Linden. She was born about 2 years after the Trail of Tears. There was a lot of cultural integration in the community, so although she is listed as Cherokee, her family may have heard this story from the European community members. But there is also a variation that has Algonquin origins, and this story may have travelled south to the Cherokee as well. In this story, the girl has to show her honest and spiritual nature, and is rewarded with marriage to the Invisible Warrior. Also, the 'cinders' have scarred her face, making her sound a lot like a smallpox survivor. But as part of her reward, she is washed and the scars disappear. So this story is about triumph over circumstances, which may have been exactly the right sentiment for the time. Perhaps naming her Cindereller was a reminder that both cultures valued and dreamed of rewarding good and hard-working people.

Cindereller Sumner 1859-1938, Columbia County, Arkansas

By the time Cindereller Sumner is born, the Cinderella story is more common, available in printed form, in opera, in plays. So her name could have come from any number of sources. In researching it, however, I found this book: The Table Book by William Hone. This was a book that was first published in 1826, but continued to be published as an almanac until the 1860s. It is a compendium of all things Mr. Hone wants to share (useful or not), and is 875 pages long. It includes the story of Cinderella and its origins in Egypt. It also has intriguing index items like:
  • Wealth, good and bad effects of
  • Sherbet, receipt for making
  • Diamonds, where and how found
  • Nunneries, girls formerly educated in
  • Mitcheson, Tommy, of Durham
  • Venison, hunted better than shot
  • Fractures, singular advice about
  • Earthquakes, opinions on
  • Powell, the fire-eater
Now if I were a hard-working farm family, without a lot of books, this amazingly diverse one would keep me busy. So here I imagine Cindereller's family reading a little bit of the tome by candlelight at the end of a long day, and going to bed with far-away stories in their heads.

These are my Cindereller imaginings. Have good dreams.

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