Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Quilts and Chive Dumpling Recipe of Aunt Carrie Ramer Bobb of Potlicker Flats

In 1961 my mom, brother and I went with my Grandparents Ramer  to visit Gramp's hometown of Milroy, PA. We visited his mother's sister Carrie Viola Ramer Bobb who had helped raise Gramps after the death of his mother and grandmother. She was a quiltmaker and my mother brought home this Dresden Plate quilt, which she gave to me in 1990.

Many of the fabrics date to the 1930s and 1940s. The quilt may have been made in the 1950s.


I love the stripes fabrics used in wonky ways.



Above: Aunt Carrie Bobb in her later years. Below: Aunt Carrie behind my Grandfather Ramer when Carrie was 52 years old and Gramps was 24.
Sidney Bobb, great-grandson of Aunt Carrie, has two of her quilts as well; a Drunkard's Path and Grandmother's Flower Garden.
Carrie was born June 14, 1875 in Milroy, PA, daughter of Joseph Sylvester Ramer and his second wife Barbara Rachel Reed Ramer. My great-grandmother Esther Mae Ramer was her younger sister. Carrie married John Edward Bobb. She lived next door to her daughter Pearl when I met Aunt Carrie and Pearl. Aunt Carrie still had an outhouse. And yes, there really is, or was, a Potlicker Flats in Mifflin County near Milroy! Its on Laurel Creek near U.S. 322. The 2010 census showed 172 residents.

Gramps wrote letters to Lewistown Sentinel columnist Ben Meyers. In 1960 he wrote, "We had our dinner at Cousin Pearl's (Mrs. Lobiah Gonsman) up at Potlicker--two roast chickens and all the fixins. Aunt Carrie was spry and talkative--at 85 years." In 1961 he wrote, "Overnight at 86-year-old Aunt Carrie Bobb's home and a typical Pennsylvania Dutch dinner at cousin Pearl's and Abe's home."

March 17, 1963 the We Notice That column was all about Carrie. She had asked Ben Meyer to share her letter:
Dear Ben:
Will you print this in your column? I am a guest at the County Home, and Mifflin Countians can be proud of their home.
Mr. and Mrs. Wagner run the farm and the home and they are wonderful people and I love them dearly.
And the nurses are all grand and I love them, also the women cooks and their helpers.
In this way I want to thank the fire companies and churches and all the other organizations for their lovely Christmas gifts and treats and services throughout the year.
Also the hairdressers for their gift. They are doing a wonderful job.
I am a little handicapped. I can’t see or hear very good. Too bad. I will be 90 years old June 14 and I am I fairly good health and I thank God for that. Love to all people.
Mrs. Carrie V. Bobb
c/o Mifflin County Home
P. S. Ben, I am going to send you a receipt for chive dumplings soon. Yum, yum! Wish I had three!

Ben replied in his column, 
Dear Carrie Bobb:
Thank you so much for your very sweet letter! It stirred us deeply. And we’re quite sure all the members of We Notice That family will enjoy it too. 
Just to read your letter, then reread it, maybe a couple of times, ought to act as a great morale booster for many who, though in a much different situation and environment from yours, have never learned to count their blessings, but gripe and complain about their lot. You set us all a good example by practicing the “contentment that is great gain,” as one inspired writer expressed it. Wealth, social prestige, power—none of these can be favorable compared to one’s being happy, content, and grateful just for the little things, the things that money can’t buy. 
And another, thing, Mrs. Bobb. You’ve learned how to overcome or rather how to combat loneliness which is one of the greatest problems among elderly folk. For those up in years, the most common cause for loneliness is neglect, even when living with relatives, but more often when living in an institution. Older people tend to feel outdated, deliberately cut-off by those from whom they expect love and friendship. Changed attitudes of families towards parents and grandparents in recent years has resulted in increased loneliness among the aged. But in your case, Mrs. Bobb, its evident you still enjoy the companionship and care of your loved ones. They come often to call and to take you out for a visit, yes, even for an overnight stay or longer.
We believe you had lived alone for years in your little home at Potlicker Flats till advancing years and frailties made it impractical to continue going it by yourself as winter approached again. And so it was last fall, with your own choosing and consent, you welcomed and accepted the transfer to your present quarters. The basic human desire to be with a loved one, to be understood, to be loved, to feel wanted, needed and cared for—these needs you now find are furnished in your present environment. There you have your own individual room, too. 
Thanks again, dear friend, for your mighty welcome letter. It’s quite remarkable. But then you are quite a remarkable woman. Not only are you active, having a keen mind, but most of all the appreciation you feel for others, your zeal to enjoy things so much! We hear too your room was so filled with presents at the holiday season, it prompted you to say, “I never before had such a wonderful time—it would take me a whole year to consume all these goodies!” So the thankfulness you expressed to all the different groups who do much to lighten and cheer the County Home Guests, it comes bubbling out of your appreciative and grateful and loving heart, Mrs. Bobb!
As for the chive-dumpling recipe, we’re looking for it. We’ll keep working up an appetite for the feast. Meanwhile, as the Psalmist said, Mrs. Bobb, “Be courageous and may your heart be strong.”

In 1965 Lynne wrote about a family reunion with folks bringing Aunt Carrie scraps. He waxed philosophically about life being like a patchwork quilt.
Well, we have stitched on another vacation patch to the crazy quilt of life. At the Richfield Ramer Clutch several widely scattered cuzzins brought bags of patches for Aunt Carrie Bobb of the Mifflin County Home, who has another Postage Stamp Quilt underway. 
Aunt Carrie sews on this quilt between times devoted to folding sheets and towels for the guests and writing 10 letters each week. This year the patches came from Bethesda, Camden, Annapolis, Indianapolis, Sinking Valley, Allen Park and Berkley, etc., etc.-and a crazy assortment they were to be sure! 
Yet when a quilt is complete there is some manner of symmetry and form to the total, be it a Dresden Circles, a Field of Diamonds, a Double Wedding Ring or just a plain Postage Stamp. 
Such is life! Patches added willy-nilly, seemingly with no central purpose, yet the total displays an amazing degree of purpose. A quilt is hard to see because we look at the patches, just like it's said we can't see the forest due to the single trees. 
The way the patches are being added, daily and yearly, in the USA makes it very nigh impossible to see the 'quilt', which though never finished, may have some form and sense ultimately. We should not be too critical of ourselves or of our children since our grand-pappy's grandpappy sewed in some patches as 'crazy' as they came! The patterns never change, generation after generation.  

I am not sure if only Milroy Countians called the quilt I own Dresden Circles. I did find that Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter has a post on Dresden Circles here. Field of Diamonds is made of hexagons like Grandmother's Flower Garden, but the flowers are a diamond shape.

In 1966 Ben Meyer wrote,
One evening there came a knock on the door. And who was there but a lady bringing some samples of her famous chive dumplings which we’d mentioned before in this column. She was Mrs. Pauline Saddler of Milroy. It seems that once a year she and Mrs. Carrie Bobb get together for a cooking spree. They spend a large part of a day to produce their favorite dish—fried dumplings seasoned heavily with chopped chives. The reason they turn out so many dumplings is because they’re not selfish. They like to share their good things with others. And the gift delivered to us was just one of many they distributed to their friends. If we’re not mistaken, Mrs. Saddler and Mrs. Bobb produces 90-odd dumplings in one batch which was enough to full their own needs and to share some with other folks. The 90-year-old, spry Aunt Carrie Bobb as all her friends call her) has given us the recipe for this intriguing dish. Here it is:
Aunt Carrie's Chive Dumplings Recipe
  • Take two parts chives and one part parsley. A big colander full. Wash and cut up into small pieces. Fry a few minutes to soften with small amount of shortening and salt.
  • Then break three eggs over it. Cook till eggs set. Take off stove. Put in a pan to cool. Then make dough as for pie crust only not as short.
  • Roll out dough in squares about six inches long and three or four inches wide. Put the chive mixture in between two squares. Then turn and pinch the sides together so no water gets in. Make them kind of flat till they look like an oversize ravioli.
  • Drop them slowly, one by one, into pot of boiling water, but not on top of one another. Like you do in dropping squares of home-made pot pie into the pot.
  • Boil four or five minutes. Then remove from pot and fry them in a pan with shortening till both sides are nice and brown. When they are browning, you can refill the pot with another round of dumplings and be ready to repeat the process. After they are browned, the chive dumplings are ready to eat.
They may be eaten hot or cold. Some like ‘em hot, some vice versa. If you like ‘em hot and there are some left over, warm them in a pan over slow heat and a little shortening and a small sprinkling of water. Makes them as good as new! 

In 1967 Carrie again wrote to Ben Meyers, a long letter full of remembrances of people from Reedsville's past. She concluded,
I am almost 92 years old, but I have a good memory. As I said, you can print what you want. I am almost blind and awful hard of hearing. Otherwise I am good. I can go up and down stairs and I help a laundress fold sheets at the County Home. You reported those chive dumplings I made last year with relatives and friends in Milroy. Well, it’s the chive season again and we cooked up some more. With best wishes to all the readers, 
 Sincerely,
Mrs. Carrie Bobb, Mifflin County Home
P. S. I used to live at the foot of Seven Mountains, alongside the Lakes-to-Sea cabins. Excuse poor writing, Ben.
Aunt Carrie died in 1971, six months before my grandfather died.
*****
My Ramer Family Tree

Mathias Roemer, born September 1746 in Wesphalia, Germany and arrived in America in 1765. In 1756 the Greenwich Twsp, Berks Co. tax lists show Mathias Reamer. By 1790 he settled in Maxatany, Berks Co, PA and appears as Matthew Rehmer. He appears as Maths Reimer in Upper Mahontongo, Berks Co PA in 1810 and  in 1820 as Mathias Remer. He dies in 1828 and is buried in Pitman, Eldred Twsp, Schuylkill Co, PA,  listed in the Abstract of Graces of Revolutionary Patriots. Mathias married Maria and they had children Catherine, George, Issac and Nicholas.

Nicholas Roemer was born in 1791 in Greenwich, Berks CO., PA. In 1814 he married Maria Mattern, whose father was in the Revolutionary War. Maria's ancestor Peter Matthorn came from near the Matterhorn in Switzerland and arrived in America in 1751. Nicholas died in 1831 and is buried in Pitman, Eldred Twsp, Schuylkill Co. PA. He may be the Nicholas Roemer who was a Union soldier during the Civil War. They had children Salome, Caroline, George, Joshua, William, Issac, Madelena, Catherine and Joseph Sylvester. Nicholas died in 1867.

Joseph Sylvester Ramer was born in 1832 and died in 1900. His first wife was Anna Kramer and they had children Daniel, Anna Sarah, Robert, Joseph Karner, William E., Oscar William, Ida B, and John. Anna died in 1870. In 1871 he married Rachel Barbara Reed. They had children Anna Verona (married Charles Smithers), Clyde Oliver, Howard Jacob, Carrie Viola (married John Edward Bobb), Emma J, Esther Mae, Charles Perry, and Marcia Etta.
Joseph and Rachel Reed Ramer
Believed to be Rachel Reed
Esther Mae Ramer
Esther Mae Ramer was born in 1880. She had child Lynne Oliver Ramer in 1903; Harry Shirk was the father.

'Essie' and son Lynne
In 1908 she married Lawrence Zeke Harmon. By 1910 the census showed they were divorced. My mother told me that her father was not allowed to call Esther "Mother." Since the above photo shows a proud mother, she may have hidden that she was Lynn's father from Lawrence and when he discovered the truth their marriage failed. But that is just conjecture.
Lawrence Zeke Harmon
Esther Mae died in 1912. Her mother Rachel Barbara Reed Ramer also died in 1912. Lynne Oliver Ramer was raised by his aunts Anna Verona Ramer Smithers and Carrie Ramer Bobb. Lawrence went on to marry two more women, both recently widowed.

Lynne married Evelyn Adair Greenwood (see My Lancaster Greenwood Family) and their children were Joyce Adair, Nancy Jean, and twins Frederick Donald and Lynn David.

Joyce, Nancy, Don and Dave, 1945 in Milroy, PA
Joyce Adair married Eugene Vernon Gochenour and their children are Nancy Adair (me) and Thomas Eugene.

Lynne met the man who was to become my husband at a Fourth of July picnic at my family's home. Six days later we lost my grandfather.
He is