Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

It's Saturday. Clean like a Dutch housekeeper.

One afternoon thirty-some years ago, when I first started work at the job that would ultimately become my career, I was summoned to a co-worker's desk. He thought it would be funny to show me some sketches of sexy lingerie in a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog. Why, I don't know. Maybe he was still thrown off-balance by having women in the same job he was doing, although I was by no means the first one to share his workplace. Maybe he was a pervert--he did seem overly amused when he rubbed his fingers on the sketched brassieres modeled by headless, legless torsos in the catalog. Or maybe he was just a moron.

In any case, thinking to call him out for his inappropriate behavior, I said, "Why would you call me over here for that? Aren't you married?" (Okay, so I was thinking on my feet and that's the best I could do, as I was taken quite by surprise.)

"Yes," he said, "my wife is Dutch... those Dutch women are good housekeepers!"

At that point, my Inner Feminist was ready to let loose and kick him a good one in the... shin, or whatever. I didn't want to get fired for assaulting a moron though, even one who was also a male chauvinist oinker, so I just went back to my desk and did my best to ignore him forever after.

Fast-forward to this morning, when I set out to learn a bit about the history of Schoharie County, New York, where my Efner ancestors lived during the first half of the 1800s. The population there was largely Dutch and German. I had to laugh when I read the following passage in History of Schoharie County, and Border Wars of New York--it was the last thing I expected to see in a history book:
I had occasion, in the fore part of this book, to speak of the cleanliness of the pioneer settlers, and now advert to that of their descendants—and in justice must observe, that few, if any districts can show a greater proportionate number of very tidy housekeepers, than may now be seen in the Schoharie valley.

Twice in a year, at least, Dr. Franklin's description of a house cleaning is realized, not only in the primitive Schoharie, but in the Mohawk river settlements. Every article of furniture, from the garret to the cellar, is then removed, that the place it occupied may be scrubbed. Lime is profusely used on such occasions, especially in the Spring, and it would be difficult to detect the track of a fly on a window, wall, or floor, after the operation. The description given by Brooks, in his travels in Europe, of the neatness of the people in some of the Dutch and German countries through which he traveled, is applicable, in many instances, to the people of Schoharie: for as he says—"It is scrub, scrub, scrub from morning till night—from pillar to postwhere there is dirt, and where there is none." The Schoharie women usually cleanse their floors daily, sometime semi-daily, by a process they call filing, which is done with a piece of sacking retained in the hands instead of being secured to a mop-stick.

I just know there's gotta be an ironic punchline around here somewhere.


Simms, Jeptha Root. History of Schoharie County, and Border Wars of New York: Containing Also a Sketch of the Causes Which Led to the American Revolution; and Interesting Memoranda of the Mohawk Valley... Illustrated with More Than Thirty Engravings. Albany: Munsell & Tanner, printers, 1845 (pp. 603-604).


Dorene from Ohio said...

Great story!

T.K. said...

Thanks, Dorene!

Betty said...

Really enjoyed that one! Thanks!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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