Mildred Horstman was born on a farm in Appanoose County, Iowa on May 17, 1912. She had only one sibling, a sister, who survived childhood. Horstman attended rural schools, working on the family farm until she married neighboring farmer Keith Phillips in 1930. Keith Phillips soon constructed a new home for their family of five and gradually increased the acreage of their farm. Their new farm house had a generator for electricity, but cooking was done on a wood stove until the 1940s when their township was electrified. Many of the over 5,000 blue ribbons that Mildred Phillips won were for baking and canning done on a wood stove. Phillips won awards from the Meredith Corporation, Pillsbury Company, Iowa Lard Association, Betty Crocker Company, Better Homes and Gardens, and the Iowa Honey Association. Mildred Phillips´ mother, Eva Will Horstman, also won numerous blue ribbons in county fairs. Phillips´ daughter, Olive Phillips Tarbell, and her granddaughter, Robin Tarbell-Thomas, have each won over 2,000 ribbons for their baked and canned goods. Robin´s daughter, Molly, age five, has already won three blue ribbons from the Iowa State Fair in the culinary department, making five generations of women noted for their prize-winning baked and canned goods.