Sunshine in a Jar; Pear Pineapple Jam

Pear Pineapple Jam.

Pear Pineapple Jam.

A few weeks ago my wife made some Pear Pineapple Jam, which is a family favorite. It never fails when she makes this jam that memories of her Great Aunt Florence are evoked in a fond retelling of stories of her great aunt. It was her Great Aunt Florence who gave her the recipe and taught her how to make Pear Pineapple Jam. This Jam has been enjoyed by my family for years. In this holiday season that the months of November and December bring, many of us have family food recipes and traditions that recall past celebrations and family that has gone before us. For many people, the recipe collection in our kitchens is a who’s who of generations before us.

Great Aunt Florence was born Florence Dorothy Monty in the year 1895 in the town of Beekmantown, New York. She was the younger sister to Edward S. Monty born in 1883; their parents were Oreon and Emma Craft Monty. Florence and her brother Edward were to marry a brother and sister also, Carl and Ruby Gonya. Florence and Carl Gonya were married May 7, 1919. They were to have two children that would live into adulthood.

Florence Monty Gonya, working in the Hayfield in 1916. From the Carl Gonya Collection.

Florence Monty Gonya, working in the Hayfield in 1916. From the Carl Gonya Collection.


It was just 22 years into their marriage when Florence’s husband died a very sudden and unexpected death leaving her with two children aged eight and nine, and a large farm to run. If that were not to be a tough enough test in just seven months the Untied States would be drawn into the Second World War, with all the hardships that would come with it. She was 45 years old with two young children, a large farm, in a time when women had little access to credit and when men did not work for a woman, even if they could be found with a war going on. She could not have known it at this time but without a doubt, this terribly hard time would be her greatest triumph. She not only saved a farm but a family.

When I was first introduced to Florence, she was about 73 years old. They were 73 years of hard, honest work. Years spent building something, years that take their toll on a person’s body. I was about 17 when I met her, and her warmth and friendly manner put a very nervous young man at ease. She was easy to talk to and be around. However, she without asking for it demanded respect and even I could tell that she had a dynamism that still shone through the years. She was now doing embroidery and her son Willis now ran the farm. Florence never remarried.

Florence died in 1975. She left behind a farm, an example of a righteous life, warm memories, much love, and a large and growing family. She was just seven years old when the Wright Brothers had their first flight and at age 73 saw the Moon landing. She was 16 when the Titanic sank.Ā  She was alive for two assassinations of presidents. She lived through two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam War. She started her family during the Great Depression. She was a woman who rose above her circumstances and the times.

Pear Pineapple Jam Recipe

Prepare jelly jars as directed on Sure Jell Packing. Follow directions for Pear Jam on packing. However, substitute 1 cup of pears with 1 cup of well drained canned crushed Pineapple. Complete processing of jam as directed.


The Gonya Farm.

The Gonya Farm.

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35 Responses to Sunshine in a Jar; Pear Pineapple Jam

  1. GENlil says:

    What a great woman Florence was.

  2. dlpedit says:

    An interesting read, and quite a heritage in your family tree! Your description of her reminds me of my grandmothers–although neither worked a farm anywhere near that big.

  3. Jude Cowell says:

    evocative! and the jars of yum look scrumptious

  4. A beautiful story with a lovely photo. I can sense the impression Florence made on you. It shines through your telling.

  5. Amy says:

    She sounds like a remarkable woman. It must have been wonderful to hear her stories of the 20th century and all its changes and challenges.

  6. Jimmy M. Sisson says:

    Interesting story about a remarkable woman. The farm looks like a story book photo. What is the lake in the background? I love pineapple,and like pears, so I would probably love the jam.

  7. I love the way you have honored Aunt Florence and shared her story and recipe with us.

  8. Jon Casbon says:

    I really like the way you told this story and tied it to the recipe. The photo of Florence is a treasure.

  9. Peter Klopp says:

    A remarkable woman with an unbreakable spirit! I enjoyed reading the story of your great aunt. You may wish to correct a typo, when you wrote ‘She was the younger sister to Edward S. Monty born in 1983’. You meant 1883. A very enjoyable post!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for reading my blog and your comment. I had thought I had corrected that date as my wife pointed it out to me when she proof read my post. Oh well what is a hundred years in genealogy? šŸ™‚

  10. Elizabeth says:

    My great grandmother was a Florence; so is my neighbor(now 93). I wonder if that name will become popular again. I just heard of a baby named Winifred, so maybe 19th century names will recycle.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I have read that names recycle about every two generations. The younger generations tends not to give their children names of the elderly people that are living.

  11. KerryCan says:

    I drive by the Gonya farm every day, Charles–that’s a wonderful photo! Is Florence buried in the cemetery on Cemetery Road? The pineapple jam is gorgeous!

    • chmjr2 says:

      To be honest I do not know if it is Cemetery Road. I know how to get there but not the road names. It is the Pointe Au Roche Cemetery she is buried in.

  12. Bob McGinnis says:

    I always enjoy reading your well written stories. No exception here. Aunt Florence was quite a lady, like so many of her generation who helped build this great nation. Love the photo of her putting up hay. As a kid, I remember ladies in long dresses doing the same near my home in northwestern Pennsylvania. In fact, one was pitching hay on the same day she later gave birth to her son!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for your comments. Aunt Florence as we say in our family was a force of nature. I have no idea how she did everything and still no trace of self pity.

  13. Sheryl says:

    mmm. . . the pear pineapple jam looks yummy. I enjoyed reading about Florence. She sounds like a wonderful woman and a wonderful farmer. The farm is very picturesque.

  14. Jim McKeever says:

    What a courageous woman. Thank you for sharing her story, Charles.

  15. What a great story and history. I would like that jam on toast.

  16. chattykerry says:

    What a great photograph! Please Fedex me some jam… šŸ˜†

  17. R. F. says:

    Familiar places, I can imagine her. My recipe my wife liked was for Limoncello an Italian liquor. I have a miniature lemon tree myself.

  18. higginsmj says:

    Thanks for sharing the story of Aunt Florence and the Pear and Pineapple jam. What a wonderful woman and a great family legacy.

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