Fremont County, Iowa

Stories of Riverton

by Emily Bengtson

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of February 16, 2009

History is best as seen through the eyes of those who lived it.

As I sat down to write this article I began to day dream about the past 80 years of my life. My parents lived one-half mile from my grandma and grandpa on a farm southeast of Riverton. My sister Mary Ann and I walked to their house and played in the creek and in the timber nearby. We always came back hungry so we ate cookies, angel food cake and cinnamon rolls or bread, hot and fresh out of the oven of the old range. (Not exactly diet food!)

One of the first foods my grandmother taught me to cook was an angel food cake. I was twelve years old. We used a stone crock and a wire whip to beat the egg whites, and those eggs had to be at least one day old to beat well. Then I sifted the flour and measured it and finally put everything together. I put the batter into an angel food pan and put it into the oven to bake. Grandmother taught me to add exactly 10 corn cobs to the fire every 15 minutes to keep the oven at 350 degrees for the hour it took to bake the cake. That first cake was a success and gave me courage to try my hand at more and more cooking.

We enjoyed many family picnics at the Riverton Park. We loved looking at the winding East Nishnabotna River and the rolling Loess hills. Iíve always enjoyed the great view from the park.

My mother and I both graduated from the Riverton school as did other members of our family. Riverton was once a thriving town with two cafes, two grocery stores, a hardware store (Itís still there) and a produce station where we took our cream and eggs to sell.

Farragut was also a busy town. I remember when it had a hardware, furniture store, two groceries, several cafes, a hotel, a lumber yard, and a newspaper.

Fremont County has so much to offer. Its history being preserved by the Fremont County Historical Society and museum includes stories of families from the entire territory, like that of my great-great grandfather who came to Iowa before it was a state. The Utterback Cemetery south of Riverton bears his name.

I heard stories of the times and experiences of my grandparents and marvel at the things they did without modern day conveniences. Most of all, I liked to hear their stories of the way they cooked. I just now looked back at my old cookbooks and find many recipes that I still use today at my house--Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, Fudge Frosting (both grandmaís recipes) and Oatmeal Cookies and Sugar Cookies--mostly made with butter and lard. Iíll write another article later and give some of the old remedies and recipes from the past.

Here is a recipe for Cough Syrup from a 1926 cookbook, ďGrind onions in a food chopper. Cover with sugar and let set until it forms a syrup. Drain the syrup off (discard the onions) and add equal part of honey to the syrup.Ē

(Note: Emmy is beginning to collect Fremont County cook books to use in our new genealogy and historic research center for the Fremont County Historical Museum. If you have any to donate, please contact her at Box 263 Farragut, IA , 51639, or telephone at 712-385-8229.)

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau