South Dakota

Frances Klapperich Labrie, A Great Cook

This is the 1st in a series of writings authored by Darrel Rainford of Minnesota (1928 - 2005).
Frances Klapperich
Frances Klapperich
Frances Klapperich Labrie, 1877-1960, learned to cook as a young woman when she had a cookcar to feed the threshing teams. She could feed dozens of hungy men without running water in a small kitchen on wheels set in the middle of the field. She made pies and bread, meat and potatoes and lots of it.

In the 1930s and 40s all of us Rainford kids used to go to Grandma Frances' house on Sundays, along with our cousins the Mannies, Blooms and Fraziers. All the kids went outside to play on the farm. Grandma could drag a dinner out of nowhere and feed 10 to 12 kids just like that. She never had a fridge until 1940. She knew all the recipies and she made the best beet pickles. She had her own smokehouse, about 8 feet square wood building where they would hang the hams for preservation and to add taste. They built a fire in the smokehouse of hardwood or cobs.

Frances Klapperich Labrie cooker car, Turton South Dakota

South Dakota had almost no trees, so when the wagon wheel went bad, that was hardwood. Nobody but Grandma Francis had a smokehouse. In later years my dad Clyde had smoke salt that he rubbed in the meat when it was butchered. The Klapperichs made their own sausage by washing out the intestines. Germans used to catch blood to make blood sausage. We kids used to be real careful right after butchering when she offered us food. She made soap, too. She mixed the ingredients cooked all day in a big vat: 11 cups of grease or rancid lard, 1 can lye and 5 cups water, 1 cup borax. The mixture was poured into a box 18 to 24 inches long by two bars wide, about 12 inches, and 3 inches high. There were slots on the side to cut the bars evenly. She said to be sure to slice off the jellied part on the bottom of the bars and throw it away. Bars could be used for washing clothes or hands.

The Ben LaBrie and Frances Klapperich house was located 2 miles south and 1.5 miles west of Turton, South Dakota. The farm house was built in 1910 by Ferdinand LaBrie, who was a master carpenter, and was really advanced for its time. It had all hardwood floors and 32 volt electrical from big glass batteries in the room by the side of the house. They had a gas engine put-put they used to generate 32 volts and charge the batteries. They charged them up every few days. The batteries were 2 feet tall by 12 feet wide and made of glass; they had 12 to 20 of them. Between the living room and dining room they had wooden colonades with a grid in the floor below for the gravity fed furnace. The stairs ended in the kitchen where they had a big tank behind the cookstove that gave them instant heated water, winter and summer. That was rare. The house burned down and has been gone for years; only the foundation remains.
Frances passed along her recipe for meat brine to Irene Labrie Wolfgram, who gave it to me. Here it is: 100 pounds pork meat (shoulders ham or side pork) Brine 7 lbs coarse salt, 2 oz soda, 1 oz red pepper, 2 oz saltpeter, 6 to 8 gallons of water to cover meat. Boil brine, rest (skim off scum), let cool and add red pepper last thing before adding to meat.

About the author:

Also see:
How things worked
Clyde Rainford Farming in the 30's

Darrel Rainford was born on a South Dakota farm on April 10, 1928, one of 11 children born to Clyde Rainford and Florence “Dolly” LaBrie Rainford. Darrel Rainford
He attended the school in Doland,SD and farmed with his father. In 1949 he married Bonnie LaChance of Turton, South Dakota and after serving 4 years in the Air Force finally settled in Minnesota. Late in life Darrel wrote this series of articles for his grandchildren explaining farming in the 1930's. A father of seven, his hobbies focused on their needs-fixing toys, then fixing cars, then auto-body repair. He was also a history buff and interested in how things worked.

Author: Rainford on 03/13 2008
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Posted by: Anonymous on March 14 2008
What a wonderful article by my beloved cousin. Plan to be a part of web site.

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