Old Bergen

Chapter LVIII.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

THF lack of facilities for manufacture of clothing or household goods impelled the frugal and self-respecting to habits of industry, and the whir of the spinning wheel was heard whenever a few minutes relief from housekeeping duties allowed. The girls were early taught the mysteries of spinning, weaving, and knitting, and the well stored chest of the youthful bride gave abundant evidence of her own industrious habits. Not only were the garments home spun; but the warp and woof were made from the flax grown in the home field and the wool shorn from the well kept sheep; and in some old families, are still found blan= kets and bedding, the handiwork of the great grandmothers in their early days.

Owing to the primitive condition of the times, many industries now unknown in household economy were then engaged in, and as a consequence actual labor necessary to be performed forbade idleness on the part of the enterprising householder. The spices for home use were often crushed by means of two stones, one being hollowed out to receive the whole berry, and the other, of suitable size and shape, being used for pounding. These were substituted in the homes of the well-to-do, by a mortar and pestle, made of metal, specimens of which are still shown with pride by the descendants of the early settlers. tilustard seed was crushed by placing a quantity of it in a round bottomed iron pot, and on it, a medium sized cannon ball. This pot was taken on the lap, and by imparting to it a rotary motion, the seed was crushed, and the operator bathed in copious tears from the effect of the pungent odor.

The churning was usually done by hand. In some cases large platform wheels were erected in the cellar at an incline, and by means of strips of wood nailed just within the rim, a circular wall; was formed. On this dogs were placed, and as they proceeded on their endless journey, the wheel was made to revolve. This was connected with the dasher by means of projecting arms, and the churning accomplished in a comparatively easy manner to all-except the dogs. Sometimes the old ram of the flock was utilized, but the futility of his efforts to reach the end of his journey, seemingly soured his disposition to such a degree of pugnacity, that in a short time, he was subjected to the butcher's knife, and in the shape.of nutritive mutton-the quality of which was strengthened by the unwonted exercise in which he was compelled to indulge-became the foundation for unexceptionable broth.

The Dutch language prevailed almost exclusively to within the last half century, especially in the intercourse of the inhabitants with each other; and even after the church services were regularly held in English, the occasional Sunday afternoon preaching in Dutch was hailed with great satisfaction and rejoicing by the older people of the congregation.

But the old days with their conservative progressiveness are gone never to return. We are facing a new era, and events crowd each other so rapidly that we scarce catch a glimpse of their departing shadows. New customs and associations environ us; and yet, like the traveller, who at eventide standing on some eminence, looks back over the surrounding landscape, and catches only the sun-tipped peaks of the mountain heights, the while forgetting the shadowy nooks and rugged cliffs, thle rills and dashing waterfalls, that lend completeness to the picture; so as we indulge in retrospect, we are apt to recall only the gilded experiences of the past, forgetting the humdrum; everyday life that went so far to make up the days and years that have long passed away.

It is to be hoped that the historic importance of "Old Bergen" may in the near future be recognized, and that a "New Bergen" may spring up, and under that name not only gain the whole of its old possessions, but also include under its government the, to be one day, densely populated territory reaching out to and beyond the green hills of the Oranges.

Already its future prominence is foreshadowed, and financial and commercial interests are clustering here that will ere long rival in magnitude and importance even the enterprises of the great city of which it has so long been a neighbor.