Wednesday, September 23, 2009

While at my class reunion, I had a request to blog another Ogg Family Farm story! I decided it had to be one about LouEmma Ogg, better known as Granny.

She was a little over 4 feet tall, and chuckled about being a smidgen over 4 feet wide; she was what her friends and neighbors called a “pistol”. She could hitch a mule to the buckboard, ring the necks of two chickens at one time and bake a biscuit as light as a feather. She had "backbone" many men would gladly trade their wives for. She didn’t know a stranger, she never feared another human being. To the folks in Ray County, she was known as Granny, the wealthy widow of Napoleon Boneparte Ogg. The wealthy part was a stretch, the widow part was true.
There are many Granny stories around the town of Richmond, Missouri. The one she chuckled about the most was her Jesse James encounter. After hitching Old Nell to the wagon, Granny headed into town for supplies, including some canning jars. The garden was still spitting out bushels of big, red, juicy tomatoes! She and her 4 sons would be happy having those tomatoes during the coming winter. On her way into town she had to cross over the little one lane bridge, spanning the tiny creek that also wandered through the Ogg farm. As she approached the bridge, the sound of horses on the run interrupted the quite countryside. She, at the north end, stopped before starting across. The men on the south side, reigned in their horses and came to a complete halt. The leader of the men, removed his hat, and with a sweeping gesture,invited Granny to proceed across the bridge. Once across, she realized she was thanking the infamous Jesse James and his gang. She had laughed often of her first impression of the outlaw. In her mind he was “such a polite young man”. Jesse wished Granny a good day and once again he and his men took off at a fast gallop. Granny adjusted her little bonnet and promptly backed her horse and wagon back onto the bridge. There she sat as the sheriff and his posse came lickety-split around the bend .
Pulling up short, horses breathing heavily, the sheriff made a very costly mistake.
“Move that damned old nag off the bridge!”
Granny had known the sheriff since he was a boy, and she didn't like him refering to Nell as a nag, but she decided this was one fight she didn't want, considering she had just helped Jesse James escape! Without saying another word, Granny gently and ever so slowly, coaxed old Nell on across the bridge. Thankfully, the sheriff never asked her if she had seen the James Gang.
Once in town, Granny discovered the Jesse and the boys had just robbed the Richmond Bank of the townspeople’s money, including Granny’s.

Granny became a widow at the age of 35. She was the mother of 4 boys, the oldest being my Grandfather, William Clyde Ogg. She struggled to raise her boys and keep the farm profitable. She made sure there were fish in the pond, chickens in the hen house and pigs in the pen. Her garden was a thing of beauty, exploding with vegetables of bright reds, greens and yellows. She kept the cows happy, who in turn kept Granny happy with milk so creamy it would make you swoon. The smoke house was bulging with hams and sausage, bacon and chops. Old Nell, of the Jesse James incident, pulled the plow through the fields and gave the boys rides into town. The barn was alive with cats of every size, there to keep the mice away from the grain. The yard was home to 2 old dogs, both black as night, both ready to run through the tall grassy fields with the boys. Granny was in control of it all. She was definitely the boss, all 4 feet of her!

When the boys were grown, Granny returned to the place of her birth, Pennsylvania. Upon her return, Granny married Agnew Sampson, a gentleman from the East. The marriage ended with the death of Agnew ; once again, Granny was alone, once again a widow. The only difference, now she was known as Granny Sampson.

Together, my grandfather and great grandmother ran the farm. Clyde, as he was called, was a livestock man, buying and selling throughout Ray County. When he discovered he had fallen in love with Minnie Florence Joiner, he told his mother he was getting married.
Clyde brought Florence home to the farm, where Granny started teaching Florence how to be a farmer’s wife and a farmhand. In no time at all, my Grandmother could hitch a horse to the wagon, wring the necks of two chickens simultaneously, and bake biscuits that were fit for the angels. Granny was a fine teacher.
There is a little chair in my Mom’s apartment. It is a tiny little thing, almost looks like it was made for a child. Its hand carved wood frame, its beautifully upholstered seat and back, were made especially for Granny. I love to sit in the chair, rocking gently, imagining Granny “sitting for a spell”, resting for just a few moments before it was time to return to the kitchen to fry chicken for her boys.

One of the family heirlooms that I own now, is the cast iron chicken fryer. It is a 5” deep, 12” diameter lidded skillet that I adore. Can you imagine the how many chickens died at the hands of those two Ogg women and ended up in that skillet!

Granny’s Buttermilk Chicken
3 1/2 pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
oil for frying (in reality, it was pure lard, rendered right there on the farm, during the hog killing process)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour buttermilk over; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Drain chicken pieces; add to flour mixture, one at a time, and shake to coat. Shake off excess; let stand on waxed paper for 15 minutes before frying.
Heat 1/8 to 1/4 in. of oil in a large skillet ( in my cast iron chicken fryer, I use approximately 2” of oil.) fry chicken until browned on all sides. Cover and simmer, turning occasionally, for 40-45 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is tender. Uncover and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove chicken; drain on paper towels and keep warm.
Drain all but 1/4 cup drippings from skillet; stir in flour until blended. Gradually add milk, then 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add remaining water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with chicken.
Thank You, Granny!

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