Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shopping Saturday/My Ancestors Loved Salad Dressing


     My great, great grandma, Mary Gunn Power was born in Ballygologue, County Kerry in the spring of 1860; she never saw Ireland again after leaving it in 1879.  Mary died from a severe attack of bronchitis two weeks before Christmas of 1927 at her home in Manchester, NY surrounded by her family.  She lived a remarkable life here in America, becoming the owner of a large farm at no cost to herself, see details here

     The will Mary left was as remarkable as herself.  She had very strong ideas about what should happen to her farm after her passing, and she spelled it out clearly.  Her husband Philip would have lifetime use of the property, but he could not sell it, he was even forbidden to sell the furniture.  After his death, the farm was to be passed on to their two sons Philip Jr. and George, neither of them were allowed to sell it either.  Only after their demise did Mary's daughters come into the picture, according to her wishes, they were to divide the farm equally. It never came to that however, Philip Jr. outlived everyone, and since he couldn't sell the place it remained in the family until 1978.

     Mary's probate file contained in addition to the will, invoices from various creditors including the local grocery store.  Apparently the Power family was in the habit of buying their groceries on credit and paying it off at the end of each month.  The invoices were itemized, listing the usual products, but one thing stood out, the enormous amount of salad dressing this family consumed.  Three or four bottles every week, sometimes five made their way into the Power shopping basket.  They must have been putting dressing on everything, only four or five people lived at the farm at that time. 

     At first I thought the condiment they held in such high esteem might have been Miracle Whip, we've always been a Miracle Whip family, no mayo here thank you.  Perhaps this is where it all began?  But no, Miracle Whip made it's debut at the Word's Fair in 1933, six years after Mary's death.  After looking into the matter further, I discovered the Kraft Cheese Company began bottling salad dressing in 1925.  Their first variety was French.  Oddly enough, my Irish ancestors were addicted to French dressing!

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