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Jersey City And Its Historic Sites

By Harriet Phillips Eaton
Published 1899

This Web version, edited by GET NJ


A great event to the children was the yearly candle making in many families; they were all allowed to make a few little candles for themselves when they were so fortunate as to be the happy possessors of toy candlesticks. Candle-making was quite a long and wearisome process. First the proper length of candle wicking was doubled over long slender rods, and the ends twisted together to form the wick of the prospective candle. The number of these u1 on a rod depended upon the size of the candle to be made, whether six or eight to the pound. These were prepared the day before the dipping was done. In the early morning long pieces of scantling were laid upon two saw-horses, and across these scantlings were laid the rods with the wicks hanging down. At one side was placed a large "cauldron kettle" filled with hot melted tallow into which the operator dipped the rods of wicks. The kettle of hot tallow was kept replenished and the dipping process was repeated again and again until the candles were of the required size. After being properly cooled they were slipped from the rods, the wicks cut off and they were carefully packed away in boxes. Later candle moulds were invented, which made it very much easier than the old method.

In dress the women did not wear the ornamental caps, such as were worn in Holland, but very plain ones; neither did they wear as many petticoats as their sisters across the sea, three or four usually being the limit. It was not the custom here in Bergen, to set apart a dower chest for each daughter, to which yearly additions were made of household and personal linen, and a silver spoon, as was practiced by some of the Holland families in Albany and in some parts of Pennsylvania. Upon marriage each daughter was given a little store of linen ; upon the death of her father, perhaps a little money ; but, as a delightful old lady told me, "the land and the property mostly went to the sons, the girls were expected to marry money." Under the old Dutch law both sons and daughters became of legal age at twenty-five. The girls were carefully trained in household arts and in the use of the needle. Little girls under nine years of age wrought elaborate samplers. It was a common practice to make the pillow cases with an insertion of drawn work in linen at the closed end of the case, under which showed the bit of red cloth sewed on the end of the pillow ; the open end of the pillow case was left untrimmed.

Children were taught to be very courteous to their elders; upon meeting any one in the street little girls curtesied and the boys `made a bow. The Bergen Dutch women and their daughters were very practical thrifty women, most excellent housewives and devoted mothers. Both men and women devoted themselves in the most matter of fact way to the duties of life, never allowing anything less serious than a funeral to disturb to any great extent the routine of daily life. I have heard of a bride brought home upon her wedding day to her father-in-law's house, who, upon the first evening started out to milk the cows, saying she "preferred to take up the duties of her new position at once." I have heard also of a bridegroom, a merchant who attended to his usual duties upon the morning of his wedding day, and after the ceremony returned again to his store.

Table of Contents

Jersey City History
Your Ancestors' Story
Asbury Park
Bruce Springsteen's Jersey Shore Rock Haven!

The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and The Central Railroad Terminal
Visit Liberty State Park!

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