By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Virginia Weidner Mueller Raupp didn't have to look far for her family tree. One walk through the historic St. Mary Cemetery, adjacent to St. Mary Church in Buffalo Grove, provided her with all of her research.
Raupp passed away on Dec. 2, at the age of 89.
She was the granddaughter of one of the first families in Buffalo, Pancratz and Mary Weidner, who came to the U.S. from Germany in 1851.
As the youngest and last survivor of their 10 children -- her parents were Theodore and Anna Weidner -- Raupp grew up on a 150-acre dairy farm, whose land now stretches from Cooper Middle School to Weidner Park in Buffalo Grove.
Its chickens drew families from throughout the area to their farm for eggs, family members recall.
"She grew up doing farm chores, from cooking and cleaning to taking food out to the men in the fields," says her niece, Rosemary Weidner Lundemo of Lake Zurich. "She helped with the cows and collecting the eggs from the chickens.
"Grandpa always butchered the chickens in the garage," Lundemo adds, "so Aunt Ginny would have helped with the butchering and defeathering too."
Like the rest of the Weidners, Raupp attended St. Mary Church and walked to the school. She married Frank Mueller in 1946 after he returned from World War II and her father butchered a cow for the wedding reception, which was held in the church hall.
The couple raised their three children in Buffalo Grove, but in the 1960s Mueller was struck by a severe case of multiple sclerosis, which left him wheelchair bound.
Raupp went to work as a waitress at Hobson House in Long Grove, where she worked full time to help support the family. Over her 30 years there, she became a familiar face to many of its loyal customers.
As a result of her difficult situation, family members say Raupp and a friend took the train into Chicago for a taping of the "Queen for a Day" show, which had come to the Uptown Theater for a visit and was featuring Chicago area women as contestants.
"At the end of the day, her name was announced," says her son-in-law, Lou Najfus. "She was Queen for a Day."
Among her prizes was enough cash to build a ramp to give her home access to her husband's wheelchair. She also won a freezer full of meat, one year's worth of cola and some costume jewelry, Najfus adds.
"At the time, it was like winning the lottery," he added.
Raupp's husband passed away in the early 1970s. Ten years later, she married another widower, whom she had known growing up in rural Buffalo Grove: Roman Raupp.
The couple was married for nearly 15 years, and during that time they enjoyed polka and ballroom dancing together, her daughter, Beverly Najfus says.
When Roman Raupp died in 1997, he was the last grandson of another original Buffalo Grove founding families, the Raupps.
"It's always sad when someone with a link to local history dies," says Debbie Fandrei, coordinator of the Raupp Museum in Buffalo Grove.
"These were people who witnessed Buffalo Grove's transition from a small farm town into a bustling suburb, and they are becoming more rare each day."
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