The Landwehr family legacy.
Traditions carried on from generation to generation are the centerpiece of many family get-togethers, and homes passed down have become the setting for such occasions. Whether they’re special songs, games only your clan knows the rules to, or a family recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing, traditions are the glue that holds our families together. For the Landwehr family, keeping those traditions alive is a family affair.
The Landwehr name has long been associated with Jefferson City. When Fred and Theresa Landwehr came to Jefferson City from Germany, they purchased land on the east side of town from the Rost family. That acreage soon became a thriving Holstein dairy farming operation. While the farm is no longer active, the original home still stands on East McCarty Street and is home to Fred and Theresa’s great-grandson, Eric Landwehr, and his wife, Stacy, and their family.
Fred Landwehr passed the farm down to the next generation and Fred’s son, Frank, lived in the original home and ran the dairy operation with his wife, Mildred. They raised five children on the farm: Stephana, Carl, Tom, John, and Frank.
“My brother Tom is the keeper of the Mildred Landwehr recipes. He has been successful in recreating her recipes, including the unique dressing.”
— John Landwehr
As times changed and Jefferson City expanded, farming became less viable. In 1964, the Landwehrs began selling off lots for homes in what is now the Landwehr Hills subdivision. The original farm home lacked some modern conveniences, such as air conditioning and a dishwasher, so in 1988, Frank and Mildred built a new home on what was then Scenic Court. It is now called Schaefer Court after a family friend and builder, Jim Schaefer. Schaefer Brothers Construction built many of the homes in the area, including the Landwehrs’.
The new home soon became the location where the extended Landwehr family would get together for holidays and other celebrations, with Grandma Mildred at the helm. For many years, Mildred handled the majority of cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, which included turkey and all the trimmings, homemade bread, and her one and only dressing recipe.
“The dressing recipe was very special,” says Mildred’s son John Landwehr, an attorney with Cook Vetter Doerhoff & Landwehr P.C. and former Jefferson City mayor and city councilman. “My brother Tom is the keeper of the Mildred Landwehr recipes. He has been successful in recreating her recipes, including the unique dressing.”
John says making the stuffing is a process that is not for the faint of heart. He describes the activity as a “labor of love” that Mildred relished undertaking for her family.
Mildred was fortunate to be able to stay in her home until her passing in April 2018 at the age of 102. It was about that time that John and his wife, Peggy, were looking to downsize their nearby home given that their two children, David and Becca, had moved to other states to pursue their careers.
“We didn’t immediately think about buying the home,” John says. “We came to that decision after some months. The more we thought about it, the more we settled into the thought that it was a possibility. We talked to the family about it, and they were very happy to have a family member buy the home.”
One of the benefits to buying the house, John quips, is that, “We knew who the neighbors were.” John’s brother Tom and his wife, Diane, live on one side, and John’s niece, Theresa Heckman, and her husband, Bryan, live on the other.
Like most endeavors, remodeling the home involved the help and support of family. John and Peggy enlisted help from their son, Nicholas, as well as their daughter, Becca, an interior architect who lives in Virginia with her husband, Joey. The kids designed plans for the home’s two major renovations — the kitchen and the master bathroom.
Theresa Heckman, owner of Heckman Interiors, helped with the interior design, including painting, flooring, and other remodeling and decorating suggestions. John performed some of the demolition work himself, while Tom and his family tackled the renovation of the backyard. The Landwehrs also hired various local contractors to update the home.
One of the modifications that holds significant meaning for the Landwehrs is the screened-in porch on the back of the house, which they turned into a sunroom that overlooks the historic Landwehr farm along Boggs Creek. From this vantage point, John says, you can see where he and his siblings used to run cattle, ride tractors, and play as children.
“What’s fun about the house is the location and the view,” he says. “You can find more spectacular views — it’s not the ocean or a river — but this is a very special view. This is the area where the farm operated, so to speak.”
One added bonus is that the sunroom’s new, higher ceiling accommodates John and Peggy’s nine-foot Christmas tree perfectly. The home remodeling began in January 2020. Once renovations were complete in July and John and Peggy had settled into their new (to them) home, they threw a Labor Day barbecue so family members could see the transformation.
“It was fun to show the house to the family,” says Peggy, who retired in August as the chief counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is hoping Becca will be able to make a trip home soon to see her handiwork.
John and Peggy are grateful to be able to continue hosting holiday get-togethers and other celebrations in the home that holds so many happy memories for the entire Landwehr family.
“The house is important, but it’s obviously the people in the house who are more important,” John says. “At the end of the day, it’s who comes and goes in the house — are they comfortable being here? Is it an inviting space? Is it still a family place? That’s what you try for whenever you do a project like this.”
For Peggy, it’s about comfort and presence.
“To raise my kids around family was important, and Grandma was such an anchor and glue for the family. We feel Grandma’s presence,” she says.
“The house is important, but it’s obviously the people in the house who are more important.”
— John Landwehr
Landwehr Dressing Recipe
Members of the Landwehr family carry on matriarch Mildred Landwehr’s holiday traditions in the same home where she lived during the later years of her life. One of the most treasured of these traditions is making the family’s unique dressing recipe.
- 5-6 loaves white bread (100 ounces total)
- 12 cups celery
- 7 cups white or sweet onions
- 7 sticks margarine
- 12 eggs
- 3 cans (22.6 ounces) and one small can (10.5 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup Jamison’s beef soup base
- 1/2 cup milk (add more as needed)
- 3 cups turkey broth
- Make broth from boiling turkey parts and soup base. Buy extra necks (six to nine) or wings (two to three) instead of just using what comes with the turkey. Start cooking turkey parts early. It will take several hours to get the good flavor out of these parts.
- Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Chop onions and celery a little chunky. Simmer onions in butter until clear. Add 1/2 cup soup base after cooking. Do not drain, use all.
- Cook celery until soft in water with a little soup base. Drain. Beat eggs well. Mix together soup, milk, eggs, celery, onions, and 1 cup turkey broth. Add the above mixture to bread cubes, maybe using hands, but not squeezing. Should be moist, but not soupy.
- Add cooked broth, milk, or gravy if available for moisture and flavor if necessary. Can add pepper to desired taste. Should be plenty of salt from the soup base.
- Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until lightly brown on top. Stir contents gently every half-hour. Uncover for the last hour.
- If not eating immediately, while cooling, stir every half-hour so all contents are well cooled. Hardpack and freeze. When preparing for a meal, add more cooked broth or gravy for moisture if necessary.