Thursday, May 12, 2011

Minnie Florence Ogg
shortly after marrying
William Clyde Ogg
 It has been quite a while since I wrote about my Grandmother Ogg and the Ogg Family Farm in Ray County, Missouri. I suppose my thoughts of her today are because it will soon be Memorial Day and it has been such a long time since I’ve been to the Richmond Cemetery where she is buried along with my Grandfather, 2 of their children and their spouses, an great uncle and many ancestors in another section of the cemetery.

Maybe it is because I spent so many holidays on the farm, but that house, the fields, the barn all mean so much to me. My calling it “The Ogg Family Farm” may make it sound like a huge farm with many acres when in reality, I haven't a clue.. But you must remember, my impressions of the farm were formed when I was a child. It looked huge to me. The barn looked enormous! And the stories of the “old house” were such that it sounded like a palace to me. Mom spoke of the winding staircase with such affection, I am sure she loved it, and her description left me with an impression of Southern elegance.

When my Great Grandfather, Napoleon Boneparte Ogg, left Kentucky and his family, to follow his two older brothers to Ray County, he was young and healthy. The three brothers started a mill in Raymore, Missouri. Napoleon, called “Nappy”, searched for land to buy until he found what we now call the Ogg Family Farm, between Raymore and Richmond. Soon, Nappy met and fell in love with Lou Emma Burns, they were married and they eventually found themselves the parents of 5 sons.

Lou Emma Burns Ogg and her 5 sons
shortly after the death of her husband,
Napoleon Ogg
 Tragedy struck the family when Nappy died in his early 40s. Naturally, due to the lack of medical knowledge in the 1800s, we really don’t know why he died….but with the history of diabetes in the next several generations, it is generally considered a strong possibility. Lou Emma, or “Granny” as she was affectionately called, was left to raise 5 little boys and run a farm, a task that could beat down many men. But Granny was one smart, tough woman. Standing all of 4’ 9” tall and just about as wide, she ran the farm and raised her sons to be fine young men. The oldest was William Clyde Ogg, my grandfather. Clyde was the son who stayed on the farm, eventually marrying my grandmother, Minnie Florence Joiner (don’t you just love the names?!) and caring for his mother as she grew older.

Minnie Florence Joiner Ogg
 Have you ever wished you could go back in time and visit with your ancestors? I feel like I do just that when I work with the family’s history and genealogy. Each little tidbit of information that I find gives me yet another piece to the puzzle. With each piece, the picture becomes clearer, leaving me with a profound affection and much admiration for my ancestors. The women that came before me, those that left their footprints on my path, are particularly fascinating to me. I am sure that is due to the amazing and lovely woman who I call Mom, Virginia Florence Ogg Johnston, the youngest child of the beautiful and resilient Minnie Florence.

I am never satisfied with the genealogy research….I always want more! My biggest challenge with the Ogg side of the family is Minnie Florence’s family, the Joiners. I remember when my great grandfather, John Stone Joiner, died. I was just a child and didn’t have a clue who he was, other than my great grandfather. I never had a conversation with him, didn’t get to ask him about his life. I would like to have heard his voice, heard him laugh. I love to hear a man laugh. A man’s laugh can tell you a great deal… if you are listening!

My Arch had a wonderful laugh!

I am determined to return to Richmond this Memorial Day. My Mom needs to return also. At 92, she has visited the cemetery on many Memorial Days, but she hasn’t for the last 7or 8 years. It will take some convincing, but I think it is time.

Memorial Day on the Ogg Family Farm meant lots of relatives, some cousins I would only see on this holiday each year; dark red and pale pink peonies in coffee cans covered with aluminum foil all lined up waiting for their delivery to the cemetery; tables sagging under the weight of all the food. My favorites were my Aunt Zelma’s (are you ready for this one?....Zelma Boggs Ogg!) fried chicken, deviled eggs, and one of her many beautiful cakes. Before the Bundt pan became available, she always had one cake baked in an aluminum 9”x12” pan and another baked as a layer cake, usually chocolate. She used that delicious old chocolate cake recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa can. In the 40s and 50s, you couldn’t find fine baking chocolate in Richmond, Missouri! The cake and the icing were made from Hershey’s Cocoa. In preparation for this particular blog, I contacted Hershey by email, asking for the link to their chocolate cake recipe from the 1940s. So far, I haven’t heard back from them. Unfortunately the majority of recipes call for vegetable oil, which was not available in the 40s. However, on the Hershey website, I did find this recipe which sure sounds like the one Aunt Zelma used. I have not tried it yet, I am waiting for a special occasion. I just can’t bring myself to make an entire chocolate layer cake for just me! Besides, I would eat it….all of it….sad, isn’t it?

Hershey’s Heritage Chocolate Cake

 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
 1-3/4 cups sugar
 3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1-1/2 cups buttermilk or sour milk*

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture, beating just until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost with CHOCOLATE FUDGE FROSTING. 8 to 10 servings.
* To sour milk: Use 4-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar plus milk to equal 1-1/2 cups.


1/3 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat; add cocoa, stirring constantly until smooth.(Mixture will be very thick.) Remove from heat; pour into medium bowl. Cool slightly.
Add powdered sugar alternately with milk and vanilla, beating to spreading consistency. About 2 cups frosting.
Aunt Zelma had an aluminum cake cover with a green handle on top….I loved that cake cover….it meant there was chocolate cake!

As for her fried chicken….I’ve mentioned before how she would go out to the en house, grab a chicken with each hand, walk out of the pin, shut the gate, turn and as she walked towards the back porch, she , with one single swivel movement of her wrists, would simultaneously wring the necks of the chickens! I love farm fresh chicken, free range and all that, but I prefer to buy mine already dead, de-feathered, de-headed- and de-footed! I may have loved the Ogg Family Farm, but I suppose when all is said and done…..I’m a city girl after all.

Big doins' this weekend! Grandchild #2 graduates from Rockhurst High School! Congratulations, Blake!
He will be off to the University of Arkansas in the fall....Cross Country is his thing, and this Mimi is very proud of him!

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