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Benton County, Iowa ~ Biography and Family Information

Erma Lorena (Van Fossen) Cress

Erma Lorena (Van Fossen) Cress was short and olive complection. A hard worker 
Loved to work outside loved to sew and make quilts and things. Lived on a farm 
her married life. Raised chickens, loved to have her hair combed she would fall 
a sleep when I Sheryl Reynolds would come over as a little girl. Moved to town 
latter in life and joined groups and a quilting club that donated quilts to the 
needy.  Joined the Senior Citizen Club. Daughter of Jacob Steven A Douglas was 
born on a farm in the Lewis Bottom area and the family moved to Shellsburg when 
Erma was around three years old. Erma was the youngest of three children: Joseph 
LeRoy (born August 4 1888) and died (Sept 4 1916) when a cistern caved in on 
him. Iona Delda (born March 19,1893) and died (June 11 1916) of complications 
following head operation. Erma was born (November 3 1906). Both her brother and 
sister were very young when they passed away although each were married and had 
a child at the time of their deaths.

Erma tells that she was quite spoiled as a youngster having a very nice doll 
collection and when entering one of the local stores in Shellsburg was given 
anything in the line of candy that she wanted. This was given to her by the 
store owner.
 
The one thing that Erma tells most about as the type of dress that she was 
allowed to wear. As a young lady, one particular time she wanted to wear a dress 
that had no sleeves in and her father made her go upstairs and change before she 
could leave the house to go on her date. Another thing that Erma told about was 
that when she went out on a date her mother would always be waiting at the foot 
of the stairs for her when she arrived home.

Erma was born in the country east of Shellsburg but later her father bought a 
home in town where she spent the majority if her youth. Some of the farm land 
where the Van Fossen's lived is now under water where the Pleasant Creek Lake 
is.
 
The home in Shellsburg was a very large house and was used as a boarding for a 
time.  There were many people that stayed there but the one group that Erma 
recalls best is the Ingraham Show Troup stayed there for many years. This same 
home was later bought by one of  Everett and Erma's daughter's Decie. It was 
remodeled and the upstairs was made into apartments. The lower level became 
Clyde and Decie Masons' home. The dining room floor in this house was laid by 
hand, by a Frenchman who stayed at the home for room and board. There are only 
three other homes in town laid by the same person. The name of the flooring was 
Parquet.
 
I, Granddaughter Sheryl Reynolds, remember as a young girl making homemade 
butter and eating grandmas delious salad dressing cakes with creamy white 
frosting. I remember seeing grandma work hard in the gardens and sew and hustle 
my aunts around getting there chores done before grandpa would get home from 
work and town.
 
 
Recipe in the open line cookbook:

                          PUMPKIN CAKE
                          
                          2 cups flour, sifted
                           salt teaspoon
                          1 teaspoon baking powder
                          1 teaspoon soda
                          1 teaspoon cinnamon
                           teaspoon allspice
                           teaspoon nutmeg
                           teaspoon cloves
                           cup shortening
                          1 cup sugar
                          1 egg
                          1 cup thick strained pumpkin
                          1 cup raisins
                           cup nuts, chopped

       Sift together the first eight ingredients. Cream shortening, 
       add sugar and blend well. Add the egg and beat until fluffy. 
       Add the pumpkin, gradually add the sifted ingredients and stir 
       until smooth. Add nuts, raisins. Bake in a greased 8 inch 
       square cake pan in a moderate oven. 350 for 1 hour. 
       
       (Mrs. E. L. Cress, Shellsburg, Iowa)

Submitted by Sheryl Reynolds
© Sheryl Reynolds



See additional information on Compton and Hildebrand marriages here.



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