Gertrude de Jongʼs parents were Dutch immigrants who settled in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Her father earned a living as a furniture maker, while her mother contributed to the family by selling her delicious jams and jellies.
Young Gertrude was a bright, sweet girl who graciously helped both her father and mother with their trades. Although she seemed to have a strong affinity to her family, Gertrude could not resist the big city lure of Chicago. She eventually moved there to pursue a career in theatre.
Although she experienced some modicum of success and local fame on stage, her real rise to the status of socialite came through the financial success and power of her banker husband. Gertrude became known for her “Garden Tea” parties, at which she offered her homemade Gomme elixir to sweeten the tea. She hosted elaborate dinner parties where the men often retired to the study for conversation, a cigar and a cocktail called an “Old-Fashioned,” crafted from whiskey and Gertrudeʼs Gomme elixir.
It is rumored that this “Old-Fashioned” often showed up in the socialiteʼs teacup during the Garden Teas as well.