Wilberforce School — Educating Daviess County Blacks

Daviess County undertook the task of educating their black students. They established the Wilberforce School for the blacks at Gallatin in 1866-67. A report in the "Public Schools in Missouri" stated there weren’t enough colored students to justify having more than one school.

Daviess County undertook the task of educating their black students. They established the Wilberforce School for the blacks at Gallatin in 1866-67. A report in the "Public Schools in Missouri" stated there weren’t enough colored students to justify having more than one school.

The first school session was taught for four months; two of these months were taught in a nearby rented room while their school house was being constructed. The report also stated the students appeared to be very enthusiastic about their work and made much progress.

In 1870, there were 96 colored children attending Daviess county schools. Fifty of these children had school privileges equal to the white children. Also, 50 of the 96 students lived in the Gallatin district and attended school there. The remaining 46 children were scattered over 13 townships, but less in any one township to warrant an organization.

In 1871, the colored people kept their school open three years by subscription. However, three years later there were 66 children attending their school.

By the time of the Great Depression in 1933, the school was still in operation. Three students graduated from their eighth grade class. At their commencement, there was a capacity crowd. One of the outstanding features of the night were the portrayal of birds and insects by the undergraduate classes. One could tell much time and energy had gone into the work

Researched by Wilbur Bush (2003)

Public Schools 1879-1880

The number of students attending schools in Daviess County increased by 1879-1880, prompting the need for larger facilities. There were over 6,540 students of school age, and the number attending these schools was 5,300.

The number of students attending schools in Daviess County increased by 1879-1880, prompting the need for larger facilities. There were over 6,540 students of school age, and the number attending these schools was 5,300.

There were 103 school houses in the county, and three school houses were rented, making 104 white and two colored schools in operation for the winter of 1879-80. Sixty-two of the number given above as attending school were colored, and there were 133 children in the county less than half attending school. Expenses were:

Paid teachers — $18,119

Paid for fuel — $916

Paid for rent and repairs — $843

Paid for incidental expenses — $905

Paid for new school houses — $1,941

Paid for indebtedness — $6,029

Cash on hand as of April 1, 1880, totaled $9,933.64.

There were 94 male and 57 female teachers employed and their wages were $38 and $28 per month, respectively, making an average of $31 per month. Daviess County for the same year furnished four scholars for the Normal School at Kirksville.

The expenditures for school purposes in 1879 amounted to $29,841.06 and those of 1880 to $34, 839.79. The fines and the penalties for the two years, and added to the permanent fund was $983.93.

The property of the county for school purposes was assesses and its value returned January 1, 1880, at the sum of $68,413.

Researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (2004)

A Chronology of Gallatin Schools

In a school election in June of 1909, a vote was passed in favor of building a new school house for the Gallatin students at a cost of $32,500. The proposition carried by a vote of 285 to 103. The north and west parts of town very generally voted for the measure, but the south didn�t seem to be in favor of it.

In a school election in June of 1909, a vote was passed in favor of building a new school house for the Gallatin students at a cost of $32,500. The proposition carried by a vote of 285 to 103. The north and west parts of town very generally voted for the measure, but the south didn’t seem to be in favor of it.

The main part of this school was erected in 1871 at a cost of $12,500 without furnishings. Contractor was A.F. Ely (for $11,000 excluding the heating and bell work). The addition in the early 1890s. In 1873 enrollment numbers were as follows: 281 white and 51 colored, for a 331 total although the colored were housed in a separate school building. Faculty in 1873 were as follows: A.C. Burbank, principal and teacher $850; Mrs. Mary E. Swisher, grammar school teacher, $450; Mrs. Nellie Weston, intermediate school teacher, $400; Mrs. Ella Wynn, primary school teacher, $400. Classes were dismissed on March 31, 1910, so that this building could be razed quickly to make way for a new school on the same grounds to be completed by the following October.

The old building was to be torn down immediately. The plans and the specifications were practically ready and the new structure would soon be underway.

It was said the plans would give the people a school building that was a model for simplicity of architecture, with every room splendidly ventilated and lighted. The building was to be constructed of the best vitrified red brick, with stone trimmings. The outside walls were to be 18 inches thick and the foundation of cement.

The building was to be three stories high and would be provided with sanitary closets, lavatories, a large gymnasium for the girls, and the most modern apparatus for ventilation and heat. The hallways would be large, the stairways broad, and in every other way, every safe guard provided for the children’s safety and convenience.

Researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (2004) from Gallatin’s New School Building, June 10, 1909

The post card photo is stamped 1907, showing the Gallatin school. [Johnnie Black Collection]
This penny post card, dated 1914, shows Gallatin’s public high school with the main entrance facing West Grand Street (Bus. Hwy 6). The WPA gymnasium was later added to the east side, at right. The stone foundation on the west side of the building are from the foundation of the previous school building. [Johnnie Black Collection]
Post card showing Gallatin High School, facing West Grand Street (Business Hwy 6) in 1948, printed by Wright’s Studio, 100-1/2 Main Street, Trenton, MO, Phone 240. [Johnnie Black Collection]

Grand River College

Grand River College was organized and opened to the public in 1850. It was located at Edinburg, Missouri, in Grundy County. It was named Grand River College Association, and was under the direction of the Baptists of Grundy and adjoining counties. After it had operated a few years, the name was changed to Grand River College.

Grand River College was organized and opened to the public in 1850. It was located at Edinburg, Missouri, in Grundy County. It was named Grand River College Association, and was under the direction of the Baptists of Grundy and adjoining counties. After it had operated a few years, the name was changed to Grand River College.

Grand River College 1909

The college remained at Edinburg until 1892 when the trustees deemed it necessary to enlarge it and move it to Gallatin. A contract was made between the college and Gallatin. Some of the provisions were:

1. It was to belong to, and be under the control of six Baptist churches and their associations. The college would be open to students without reference to their religious belief.

2. A site consisting of a few acres adjoining the City of Gallatin on the south was agreed on as a suitable location for the college.

3. Before August 4, 1893, a college building had to be erected, to cost no less than $15,000 including building and furnishings.

4. The college building was not to be removed from Edinburg to Gallatin.

The Gallatin citizens kept their promise and secured a small plot of land for the campus. They soon had a building with 21 spacious rooms including a chapel with a seating capacity for 400 people. The whole building was heated by steam, perfectly lighted, and ventilated.

The college opened it’s first session at Gallatin, Oct. 3, 1893. During the first year, 106 students were enrolled, 60 others enrolled in the preparatory department, taught in the old college building at Edinburg.

The students were admitted into the various departments on a certificate of examination given by an examining committee. The college was to be a co-educational institution and it was said to have been the first college in the state to admit women on equal terms with men.

The school was divided into two semesters. The degrees offered were “Bachelor of Science,” “Bachelor of Arts,” and “Master of Arts.” Certificates of graduation were given in any department upon the completion of the studies in the area.

At first, the out of town students boarded with local families for $2.50 to $5 per week. Around 1900, an addition was added to the east end of the original building in which the president and his family lived and which housed the women students. A large central dining room occupied a part of the first floor, where a couple did the cooking, walking each day from their home in North Gallatin. Later, a men’s dormitory was built across the street west of the main building.

The tuition fee was $38 with added fees in the different departments. Unfortunately, sometime in the early 1900s the college was forced to close because of financial reason. A little later, William Jewel College assumed it, and it flourished for several years. About 1910, the college had the misfortune of having to close its doors. It was sold to an eastern educator who brought his family to Gallatin to live. The college was doing well until the building was destroyed by fire.

Researched by Wilbur Bush

Nationally Acclaimed McDonald Tea Room, Longtime Gallatin Landmark

Southern sympathies left their mark in the borderstate town of Gallatin, MO. History reveals Southern sympathies did much in the way of acquitting outlaw Frank James in the famous train robbery and murder trial held in Gallatin in 1883. About three-fourths of a century later, the legacy of Southern hospitality and fine food attracted national fame to McDonald Tea Room.

Southern sympathies left their mark in the borderstate town of Gallatin, MO. History reveals Southern sympathies did much in the way of acquitting outlaw Frank James in the famous train robbery and murder trial held in Gallatin in 1883. About three-fourths of a century later, the legacy of Southern hospitality and fine food attracted national fame to McDonald Tea Room.

The McDonald Tea Room (Postcard, Date unknown)

For over 50 years McDonald Tea Room brought thousands of people to Gallatin, all sharing a great dining experience. When radio was a media in its golden era, Duncan Hines ranked the Tea Room in Gallatin as “one of the 10 best places to eat in America.”

A southern lady from an affluent Texas family, Virginia married Charlie McDonald, a traveling salesman, in 1914. When Charlie’s mother passed away in Missouri, Virginia and Charlie moved to Gallatin to care for his father and to make Gallatin their home. But Charlie’s belle of Texas became ill with tuberculosis after their arrival here. Virginia was forced to take the “open air” cure, resting in a many-windowed room that was known as Maple Shade, due to the large tree just outside the window.

The exterior of Maple Shade at McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendall before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. Originally, Maple Shade was the McDonald residence immediately east of what developed as an award winning restaurant. (2000)

For seven years Virginia lay in that room. Charlie quit his traveling job. His father, Sam McDonald, had built a shop beside the house now housing the ailing Virginia. The shop evolved into a blacksmith, harness and carriage shop and, later, a grocery store. Charlie tried to enhance a meager grocery business by adding a line of hardware. But he still could not make ends meet.

Since the McDonald store was close to the school, Charlie decided to add a lunch counter and serve hot dogs and soups to school children. Soon, others were coming to eat at Charlie’s counter. All the while, Virginia lay in her bed thinking about Charlie’s lunch counter and his struggle to manage the family affairs alone. Charlie had borrowed money from the bank and was not yet able to pay it back.

From this adversity, Virginia rose from her sickbed to take over the lunch counter. McDonald Tea Room made its official debut in 1931. It began in the area that was commonly known as the Garden Room (the main entrance room).The north part of the Crystal Room was opened in 1939. Even this addition did not alleviate the waiting that people had to endure to eat at the Tea Room. People would wait o­n the patio in good weather, and Virginia would serve her famous iced tea.

 “My mother was an aristocrat in the South and never learned to cook, or even cared, until after the Civil War. She vowed then that all her daughters would know their way around a kitchen.” — Virginia McDonald (1887-1969)

Charlie and a helper built the final portion of the Crystal Room around the lean-to that had housed Sam McDonald’s original blacksmith, harness and carriage shop. It was a labor of love. The initials “V” and “Mc” were prominent in exterior masonry. Inside, the “V” pattern was repeated in the decor built by Charlie for his belle.

The Crystal Room, for banquets and larger gatherings, showcased the familiar “V” architectural accent

Charlie built the building by Virginia’s vision and oral blueprints, and he also built the tables and chairs. But he also helped Virginia build the business. Night after night he would go down to the railroad station to rub elbows with the men who plied his old trade, the traveling salesmen.His motive was advertising. He know that if you wanted to pass the word along o­n anything, you told a traveling salesman. And just as he figured, soon a sizable number of “drummers” were finding their way to Gallatin and Virginia’s cooking.

“When we walked in for lunch, the first thing we noticed was the smell: a yeasty, come hither aroma of rolls fresh out of the oven.”
— A Taste of America, pp. 163-64, by Jane & Michael Stern, Universal Press Syndicate 1987

Virginia, she insisted that everyone call her that, was the Tea Room in its prime. She “entertained” people as well as impressing their taste buds with delightful food. Wearing o­ne of her wide-brimmed hats, Virginia would sit in the Crystal Room, conversing with the dining public while she cajoled vegetables into works of art that would garnish her salads and relish trays. Locally viewed as eccentric, Virginia did things her own way.

No bills were ever placed on the tables in Virginia’s time. She was always in position behind a small kneehole desk, dispensing a gracious kind of hospitality, and a running commentary for as long as o­ne cared to linger and listen. She soon mentally catalogued the favorite dishes of her regular patrons. If she knew you were coming, your preferences would be served at your table whether they were o­n the menu for the day or not. It was o­ne of those special touches her friends loved. 

Virginia McDonald, a one-of-a-kind Southern Belle

In 1949 Virginia compiled a cookbook which revealed many of her culinary secrets. There were four printings, and in 1950 it was the o­nly cookbook ever to be honored as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. When Betty Crocker initiated a radio series o­n the most interesting restaurants in the United States, Virginia was the first person interviewed!

In 1964 the editors of Better Homes and Gardens published a book of 90 of the country’s best restaurants. They called it “Famous Foods from Famous Places.” McDonald Tea Room was selected, along with places like Four Seasons in New York, Maxim’s in Houston, Palmer House in Chicago, Broadmoore in Colorado Springs, and Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho.

“The drive is worthy every hungry mile for hearty helpings of pan-fried chicken, sugar-glazed ham and pecan rolls.”
— Midwest Living, June 1988

Former President Herbert Hoover tasted her food as did Margaret and Mary Jane Truman, actress Martha Scott, baseball magnate Branch Rickey, and former Missouri governor Arthur M. Hyde. Virginia’s corn muffins were a weakness of J.C. Penney, the chain store founder whose boyhood home is just 13 miles south of Gallatin in Hamilton, MO.

Gallatin almost lost the Tea Room after Virginia’s death in 1969. Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards, often came up from Kansas City to dine with Virginia. At the time the great Crown Center development project was in planning, Mr. Hall considered a complete relocation of the Tea Room within the complex of stores and exclusive shops. The idea was dropped because of the negative impact o­n Gallatin’s economy. At the time, Hallmark did not have a subsidiary business, such as a greeting card facility or warehouse, that could be placed in Gallatin to supplant the Tea Room.

Cars with out-of-state license plates were commonly seen parked on West Grand Street in Gallatin at McDonald Tea Room. Local civic and social clubs frequently held luncheons and meetings at the Tea Room.

During ownership by Betty and Tom Cobb of Kansas City, the kitchen was modernized. Dottie and Jim Stotts of Liberty operated the establishment from 1979 until Dorva and Bob Jones of Kirksville assumed responsibilities. Eventually, some time after Bob’s death, Dorva auctioned off the contents of the Tea Room.

The Kirkendolls, after the renovating McDonald Tea Room (2001)

Bud and Jean Kirkendoll resurrected the business, completely remodeling the Tea Room in the style and grandeur of Virginia’s times, o­nly to see the building and entire contents go up in flames o­n July 4, 2001.

There really was no reason for the existence of McDonald Tea Room except that a great cook decided to go into business next door to her home. Virginia’s success is as American as any Horatio Alger story. With no business training and facing an $8,000 debt while recovering from several years of serious illness, she triumphed.

Revised. Written by Darryl Wilkinson for “Treasure the Times,” a tourism publication, 1988.

Entering McDonald Tea Room was a warm experience, with the fragrance of hot yeast rolls fresh out of the oven beckoning you to relax …as if you were back home
The room at the north end of Maple Shade of McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001.
The front room of Maple Shade, the original residence on the east side of McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. The bay windows were on the east side of the building; a front door was closed off facing Grand Street. (2000)
The main entrance to McDonald Tea Room was the Garden Room, shown as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. Originally, this room featured glass top ornate steel tables, tile flooring and painted walls. (photo circa 2000)
The large banquet room on the west side of McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001.
The serving room on the north side of the large banquet room on the west side of McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. (circa 2000)
The original bedroom of Maple Shade was converted into a dining area. This shows the room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. This view is from the north, looking south. The entrance door opening to West Grand Street was only for emergency exit. (2000)
The entrance between Maple Shade dining rooms and a north room at McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. (2000)
The kitchen of McDonald Tea Room as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. (2000)
The McDonald Tea Room kitchen as renovated by owners Jean and Bud Kirkendoll before the devastating fire on July 4, 2001. (circa 2000)

The Black Cemetery in Gallatin

For many years the black people of Gallatin were buried in an isolated cemetery a mile south of town. There were actually three cemeteries in close proximity there.

For many years the black people of Gallatin were buried in an isolated cemetery a mile south of town. There were actually three cemeteries in close proximity there.

The first one, on the north, was considered "Potter’s Field" for the destitute and abandoned; the second one on the south, Elmwood, was reserved mostly for blacks, and a third, to the west, was the "Herndon Family" burial plot. It is noteworthy that Joe Jump, who was hanged in Gallatin along with his partner in crime, John Smith, in one of the last public hangings in Missouri, is allegedly buried in the Potter’s Field cemetery area. All three burial grounds have been virtually inaccessible in recent years and the cemeteries have been badly neglected. The last burial in any of the cemeteries there occurred in the 1960s. Ironically, the main road into the cemeter aera was at one time an extension of Main Street, Gallatin, which entered it from the north. There are occasional movements to clean up these burial areas to open the cemeteries to visitors.

Segregation in Gallatin — The Wilberforce School

In 1866 a Missouri law passed which obligated towns to be responsible for public schools. In November, 1866, a school for the Black children of Gallatin was started, in a room rented from Capt. John Ballinger until a school house could be built. Wilberforce School was completed in 1867 at the northeast corner of Johnson and Chestnut Streets in the west side of Gallatin.

In 1866 a Missouri law passed which obligated towns to be responsible for public schools. In November, 1866, a school for the Black children of Gallatin was started, in a room rented from Capt. John Ballinger until a school house could be built. Wilberforce School was completed in 1867 at the northeast corner of Johnson and Chestnut Streets in the west side of Gallatin.

By 1870 over half of the Black children of school age in Daviess County were attending Wilberforce School in Gallatin. In 1874, the school had 66 students. There was no other school for Blacks anywhere else in the county. This school operated for 90 years until 1957. The 1870 County Superintendent, Dr. Samuel P. Howell, stated that "school privileges (in Gallatin) were equal to those of the whilte children." The school was named after M.P. William Wilberforce (1759-1833). He stated in 1787 "above all protested that a nation (Great Britain) officially Christian still tolerated the trade in African slaves." In 1790 British vessels took the lead in transporting slaves to the Americas; slaves numbered 74,000 that year. Historian Will Durant stated "that was probably the most criminal action in history." Wilberforce, with others, formed the Society for the Abolution of the Slave Trade in 1789, and offered a legislative bill in the British House of Commons to end the evil. He tried again in 1798, again in 1802, again in 1804, and again in 1805. In 1807, the bill finally passed. Wilberforce also sought abolution abroad, but retired from Parliament in 1825. After his death, all slaves on British soil were emancipated and slavery was abolished in all British territories. William Wilberforce was born at Hull, England, on Aug. 24, 1759, the son of a wealthy merchant. He was educated at St. John’s Cambridge by 1780. In 1784 he represented the Yorkshire district in Congress. He was a close friend of William Penn, and supported Clarkson and the Quakers for 19 years toward abolution.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin; March, 2000.

A View of the 1842 Daviess County Courthouse

No doubt Ed Ellis came to Gallatin to see the then new Daviess County courthouse in 1842. Ellis planted wheat and had built a cabin (in that order) north of Gallatin on the east side of Little Cypress Creek in 1941 (today south of Route H in Harrison County). Ellis, 28, and his wife, age 18, arrived here from Bourbon County, KY. The following is a view of the 1842 Daviess County Courthouse as Ed Ellis might have seen it.

No doubt Ed Ellis came to Gallatin to see the then new Daviess County courthouse in 1842. Ellis planted wheat and had built a cabin (in that order) north of Gallatin on the east side of Little Cypress Creek in 1941 (today south of Route H in Harrison County). Ellis, 28, and his wife, age 18, arrived here from Bourbon County, KY. The following is a view of the 1842 Daviess County Courthouse as Ed Ellis might have seen it.

The 40-foot square brick building has two floors. There is an 8-foot wooden bell tower in the center of the "hip" type roof, the center of the roof being flat in what is called a mansard roof style. There are four chimneys, two on the east and two on the west. The pressed brick walls and shingled roof are painted Venitian red. There is a large, beech yellow pannel door on the south. Six large windows are on the east with five of the same size on the south. There is a shortened half-circle window over the door. Each big window has 16 light panes each; the windows measure about 4 feet wide and over 4-1/2 feet tall. Each wnidow has 3 jams painted with white lead. The top of the bell tower, which can be seen for several miles, has a 12-foot pole on top with a lightning rod atop that. The pole has two gilted balls on it; between the balls is a set of cross rods with brass letters indicating the north, south, east, west directions. The hip roof has over a foot of eave, about 23 feet above ground level. The south door is about 4 feet wide and 7-1/2 feet tall with a white-pointed 3-1/2 inch door jam facing. Foundation stone shows about a foot above ground level. Opening the door, you see a brick floor. This floor is about 15 inches above ground level. The room smells of lime and wet plaster. The large square lobby/courtroom is over 36 feet wide. Walls and ceiling are plastered and white-washed. The room has an 11-foot ceiling with two exposed wooden beams, 12 inches wide, running north and south supported by two large wooden columns about 12 feet apart, marking the east-west center of the room. When court is in session, Sheriff John Pinkerton sets in the southwest corner on an elevated platform about 3 steps above the floor. Four fireplaces and a Franklin stove line the east and west walls. There is a exit door to the west like the one on the south. At the columns on the north side is an east-west balustrade. It has a low handrail with baluster posts supporting it. It is elliptical, just dividing the room at the columns. You can walk up to the handrail to stand and listen to what Judge King says to the jury. The judge sits on a platform (bench) about 6 feet wide along the north wall and elevated 4 feet off the brick floor. This platform has a low handrail and a panneled front. There are six short steps on both the east and west walls, with handrails, leading to the bench. This allows the judge to look down at the jury, which is seated on a single board at floor level facing south. The circuit clerk, Tom Frame, sits on his own platform 2 feet high, located east of the jury. The clerk’s platform has 2 steps with handrail, leading off the east side of the platform. The accused sets in a box on the east wall, at floor level. Access to this box is by a small door, which also gives access to the steps to the judge’s platform. The lawyers’ box is long and elliptical with a single long seat at floor level just inside the bar where observing citizens may stand. This lawyers’ box is nearly 30 feet wide, with an opening in front of the criminal’s box and also near the west door of the courtroom. The space between the jury and the lawyers’ box is from 6 to 8 feet. The judge has 3 large windows along his platform on the north side of the building. Each window had green wooden shutters to close off excess light. The closed shutters were flush with the plaster walls.

Written by David Stark, grandson of Ed Ellis, in September, 1993.

Nationally Renowned McDonald Tea Room Put Gallatin, MO, on the Map

The famous McDonald Tea Room brought thousands of people to Gallatin, MO, over many years before fire consumed its contents …and its future. But for several decades, on a typical weekend, one could find cars bearing license plates from many states parked in front of a unique, white, one-of-a-kind building on Highway 6, a block west of the Gallatin square.

The famous McDonald Tea Room brought thousands of people to Gallatin, MO, over many years before fire consumed its contents …and its future. But for several decades, on a typical weekend, one could find cars bearing license plates from many states parked in front of a unique, white, one-of-a-kind building on Highway 6, a block west of the Gallatin square.

Virginia McDonald (date unknown)

Virginia McDonald, a native of Texas, faced with mounting bills due to illness, opened a small lunch counter in 1931 in what had been a blacksmith shop. What followed made history.

The late Duncan Hines ranked Virginia’s tea room as “one of the ten best places to eat in America,” and her cookbook, now out of print, was the first and only cookbook to be featured as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. This was in 1950. That book is now a collector’s item.

Virginia was the tea room in its prime. She was a colorful personality who wanted to get acquainted with everyone who came in her door. Her recipe for success was that “everything I serve will be delicious to the taste and beautiful to look at.” From a simple beginning she rose to the heights in her field — quite an achievement in a town of 2,000 souls.

During this period, Virginia was much in demand. She flew all over the nation making public appearances. Better Homes and Gardens spent over $3,000 to prepare a story about her. She received her “Oscar” in 1962 when she was honored by the Duncan Hines Institute for 25 years of food preparation achievement.

During her lifetime Virginia hosted many notable and nationally prominent figures. Former Governor Arthur M. Hyde was one of her staunchest supporters. In talking about her black raspberry ice he said, “it should be held reverently in the hands and inhaled as you would a fragrant rose.”

Virginia was always ready to personally entertain her guests, whether they were traveling salesmen or such notables as Missouri Gov. Arthur M. Hyde. The late J.C. Penney, the chain store founder, was another steady patron. His weakness was Virginia’s corn muffins. She always said Mr. Penney never requested that she bake corn muffins especially for him, “but he would always call to tell me he was coming and I would have muffins on his table.”

Many people savored the flavor of a McDonald’s — Gallatin style! Luncheon menus featured Virginia’s favorites. People dined in the Crystal Room or in Maple Shade, the original family home.