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Excerpt from 1905 Cookbook—
Food for Body and Soul
Published by Judy Steiger Howard
George Chalmer (G.C.) Forster was born in 1858, the son of a Presbyterian minister. George ran commercial boats on Lake St. Claire in Michigan and later opened a mercantile store. He farmed in the Dakotos before opening a drug store in Hope, Kansas where he met the love of his life, Jennie, at a Presbyterian Church social. They married in July, 1888.
Enamored with the news of the April 22, 1889, opening of Unassigned Indian Territory and the rumors of good water in Edmond, George ordered groceries to be shipped to Edmond to stock a store. He saddled his fastest steed, taking only an umbrella and a bag of food his tearful bride packed to make the run, along with 50,000 other hopeful settlers.
Here’s Jennie recipe for George’s favorite Graham Bread she packed for him:
½ cup melted butter
1 cup molasses
1 cup sweet milk or cream
2 beaten eggs
spices to suit taste
1 teaspoon soda dissolved in little hot water
1 cup raisins
3 cups sifted graham
Steam 2 ½ hours
When the gun resounded at noon on April 22nd, 1889, George kicked his horse and hung on for the ride of his life, determined to claim two of the free lots on Second and Broadway. With only an umbrella for shelter, G. C. and partner George Angerman opened Pioneer Grocery the next day. Dan Lights let the men sleep under his duck sheet several nights until they erected a tent for the new store.
Jennie arrived a month later in a covered wagon overflowing with pots, pans, flour, lard, sugar, sewing machine, portable cook stove and a few pieces of furniture. The newlyweds set up housekeeping in the tiny Edmond railroad station, sharing space with the bachelor stationmaster. Two months after arriving, Jennie and G. C. moved their home to the second floor of their newly erected Forster’s Pioneer Grocery and Dry Goods Store. Jenny immediately opened a millenary shop and woman’s furnishing department.
The newlyweds envisioned Edmond becoming the cultural mecca of the Territories and immediately took action to make their dream a reality. Within months, Jennie set up a library in their store and became the first librarian. In 1889, she raised the money almost single-
Spunky 89ers that they were, Jennie and G.C influenced the destiny of Oklahoma, giving
rise to civilization in the barbarian wilderness frontier. Within two months after
the Land Run, they organized the first Sunday school for the community with seventy
members joining. G.C. instructed the City Clerk to issue certificates for three lots
each for the Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian Churches. Spearheading the organization
and construction of the First Presbyterian Church, which opened its doors for services
Easter morning of 1890, G.C. served on the church’s first board of trustees. He also
served on the City Council in 1889-
Jennie organized the first annual Game Supper and Ball to pay the $30 monthly salary
of the first teacher Ollie McCormick. Emma and Frank Dawson hosted that first community
Thanksgiving dinner in their unfinished livery stable. The men’s hunt provided seven
wild turkeys, 132 quail, eleven prairie chickens, two squirrels, twenty-
Jennie was so aggressive in her fund-
Jennie also made available through her millinery and furnishings department at the
Forster Dry Goods Store the latest children’s, ladies’ and gents’ fashions from Kansas
City. Often described as “just stepping out of the bandbox,” Jennie set the trends
in clothing and home furnishing style. She dressed her two children, Chalmers and
Dorothy, in the latest couture.
Judy Howard -
Judy Howard was interviewed by Big Blend Radio about her cookbook and Oklahoma settlers. To listen, please click here.