Archiver > GERMAN-BOHEMIAN > 2006-08 > 1155564790

From: "Aida Kraus" <>
Subject: dowry
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 07:13:10 -0700
References: <>

To answer Jean:
The "standard dowry" for a farm girl was:
one or two hope chests that the girl started to collect which contained
bedding, tablewear, towels, collectively called "linen" which she
monogrammed herself with her maiden name initials. Those girls who learned
to make lace, either appliqu├ęd or inserted lace into what you call now
shams. She would also make lace curtains of various sizes and doilies. The
second chest usually contained all her clothes and she had made new ones and
new underwear changes for that very day It contained some uncut material as
well and was usually the gift of her sponsor at birth or from aunts.
For every nameday (birthdays were rarely celebrated) and holidays she
received from her family and friends a gift for her hope chest starting from
first communion. If the family lived in an area where there were porcelain
factories, she was given pieces of china until she had a basic set. Same
with flatware. If the father was a craftsman, especially when he was a
carpenter, he would provide some furniture. Some bedsteads in the older
times were built like free standing closets with wooden sides, a top which
could be opened and doors to keep the cubicle warm in the unheated bedrooms.
In summer the wooden panels were replaced by curtains. This was put in
sections onto the brides "Kammerwagen" to set up in the quarters of the
newly wedded couple.
The girl herself started to raise geese for feathers during her
childhood as soon as she could care for them. These white goose feathers
were separated in Winter at "Federschleissen" parties when she was older
with lots of singing and story telling. The down was separated from the
feathers. Of them quilts were made, sometimes pillows, the coarser
feathers were used as feather thicks, feather mattress and sometimes in
upholstery. Since large families were expected, the amount of feather
thicks on the bride's wagon were displayed and was a sign of the "wealth"
and diligence of the bride. Usually a milch cow was given to the bride by
her parents and tied at the back of the wagon, The bride and groom walked
behind this "treasure" in their native dress finery and everything was
blessed by the priest. This one set of good and very valuable clothing would
be their "formals" so to speak and their only "good" change for all the time
to come. It was worn on Sunday to church for just a few yours. It was
expensive and very tenderly cared for. Most of them fit into their tracht
for decades because of the physical work they were doing. Alterations were
made when necessary but a new set was rarely bought during someone's
lifetime. There was also all the collected coin and money gifts, sometimes
a "legacy" hidden in the hope chest with her jewelry. Borrowing money was
shunned, and if they borrowed from family or one another it was interest
free. Legacies of hard cash, gold or silver coin were never spent, they
were "assets" to be added on to. In some cases, when they would acquire
more land, it would be given as collateral to the bank and they got the same
coin back they gave to the bank, when the loan was repaid. But it was never
"expended". Spending money came from selling small farm products (eggs,
butter, bread, sausage, bacon, chicken, rabbits and pickled garden
vegetables or fruit preserves) and that was the housewife's own to do with
as she pleased.
The jewelry usually was made of garnets in Bohemia, but sometimes
the bride's jewelry was a collection of gifts she had saved for this day.
Gold was cherished. Even the so called poorer farmers would provide the girl
with at least the barest necessities for a household, including a few fields
and farm animals. Nobody started "alone" or from "scratch," not even the
poorest farmer. Everything was spotless and extremely tidy on all of the
German Bohemian farms. You could tell the difference walking from one area
to the other and it was easy to recognize what was a German Bohemian farm.
The furniture may have been sparse by comparison to city dwellers, but the
windows always had flowers and fresh curtains, the wooden floors were
scrubbed weekly and whatever furniture they had was polished to a high gloss
over the years. Everything was swept and dusted daily by some family member,
usually the oldest daughter. Their only blight were house flies and the
hunt after them never ended!
Aida Kraus


----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 4:02 AM
Subject: Re: [GERMAN-BOHEMIAN] Amourer

> Jean in FL.
> You write in your last that you have a copy of your GGrandmother's dowry
> and that it is interesting. I would like that you share that with us
> here, in
> the forum group, since it would probably represent many of the dowries at
> that time. And... it would be interesting what bride and families valued
> and
> cherished enough and that what was traditional and de moda to place in a
> Bohemian bride's dowry.
> Jack Kramer of the Kramers of Kunas
> ==== GERMAN-BOHEMIAN Mailing List ====
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