Apple Butter Cookies


Country CookingI can tell you “first-hand” stories about ancestors I never met. You’ll feel like you were back in the 1700s or 1800s, when it happened. But I have one close relative I know little about — and each new discovery is a gem.

She’s my mom’s oldest sister, aunt Alberta. She was like a “second mom” to her family, helping with a household of little kids close in age. Her mother — my grandmother — had six children by the time she was 26.

Alberta was named after her rather, Bert, and her uncle, Albert. She was nicknamed “Apple Butter” because the youngest in the family, Garnett, pronounced it that way when he was a toddler. Apple butter would have been an easier name from him to know from a young age because every fall my grandmother got out the cast-iron kettle, set it up in the yard over a wood fire, and made a big kettle of apple butter. The kids, who were supposed to be helping, spent more time jumping around the yard, whooping and playing. After being canned, the jars of apple butter would last for months.


When I enjoy apple butter, sometimes I think of Alberta. She spent a quiet young life helping with the household and the younger kids, devoted to her church and family. When she was issued a marriage license in 1936, she was 19. Her husband-to-be, J.C. Tolbirt, was 31 and it was his second marriage. She left no children when she died of a kidney infection in 1940 — a few days after her 23rd birthday.

Part of the intrigue about Alberta is that after she was gone, her husband was, too. The Hamiltons never heard from him again. Grandma didn’t talk much about J.C. Too many problems: he’d been married before, was too much older, and from a “foreign country,” Texas. We discovered this year that he married only two months later. We are still searching for Helen Tolbirt, a daughter from his first marriage, who was my mom’s friend in childhood.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters