I initially had trouble deciding about whom to write given the week 9 52 ancestors theme, Close to Home. I live in the same area where my ancestors on all sides have lived for as many as 200 years … so everyone is close to home.
Then it hit me.
I was moving some books around (I have a lot of those!) and picked up “Grandma’s Recipes”, a comb-bound booklet with a faded pink cover that my mother put together in 1988 using Print Shop. Inside are recipes that had been passed down to her Grandma, Ida Schuster. Mom made a recipe booklet for every family attending the Schuster Family Reunion that year. I was 14 … a Freshman in high school … and hadn’t quite fallen in love with genealogy, let alone cooking.
Stories about Grandma Schuster’s recipes and cooking surrounded my childhood. The little recipe booklet includes mostly sweets, a few dumpling recipes, relishes, and “Mayonnaise Butterbusch” that has a list of ingredients and no instructions … which was common with handwritten family recipes! At least I’ve figured out who Mrs. Butterbucsh was!
When I can pull out a recipe called “Great-Grandma Schuster’s Doughnuts”, I have something that hits pretty darn close to home … cooking. Grandma Schuster loved to cook.
Some of the recipes call for using a walnut to measure butter, or make enough filling for three pies … which is fine by me! A good chunk of the recipes have no instructions … it would seem cooking should be in my DNA in this case! All of the recipes, however, were originally handwritten by my Grandma and, later, Grandma Schuster in a now tattered and well used composition notebook from the 1930s.
Ida Dora Mueller, my great grandma, was born on January 10, 1898 in Murphysboro, Illinois to Jake and Anna Mueller.
On June 22, 1919, at age 21, she married George Edward Schuster in DeSoto, Illinois. Dora Dietz and Edward Schuster stood up with them as Reverend Dr. G.W. Dunlap performed the ceremony.
Together, they would have seven children, including my grandma, Doris Louise.
There are so many stories that I’ve heard over the years … and my Grandma’s versions were sometimes different than my Grandpa’s. I think Grandma Schuster was the stereotypical mother-in-law. Grandpa Schuster died in 1967 … by all accounts, Grandma Schuster was completely lost without him. She suffered from dementia in her later years, something that has afflicted most of the women in the Schuster family.
Grandma Schuster died on March 10, 1977 at age 79. At her funeral, my Grandma placed a small heart-shaped pillow in her casket. The pillow signified love from all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When my own Grandma died in 2006, also having suffered from Alzheimer’s, Mom placed a small heart-shaped pillow in her casket. The pillow also signified love from all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I was just a toddler when Grandma Schuster died, but every time I make applesauce cake, I think of her. Sometimes, I even unearth one of her knock-off Fire King cake plates to serve her applesauce cake.