Sunday, October 16, 2011

Making Plans

If you haven’t already read the previous blog post, “Starched Caps and Aprons,” you might want to read it before continuing here.

Elisabeth 1905
As Elisabeth stood staring into the empty money jar  --  a decade’s worth of savings gone in an instant  --  she heard the front door of the house slam shut. She would later learn that as she was coming in the back door on her way home from work at the Pastor’s house, her sister Louisa was going out the front door with Lijsje’s money in her pocket.  Louisa was on her way to proudly present the Pastor with a gift  --  Elisabeth’s secret cache, knowing all the while that she was actually giving his own money back to him. Ah  --  but how impressed he would be by Louisa’s wealth and generosity!

And what could Elisabeth say to her sister when she discovered the truth? At that time, their father was no longer living, and with their mother weakened by illness, Louisa, as the eldest daughter, pretty much ran the household  --  with an iron hand.

This incident may have strengthened Lijsje’s determination to start anew in another country.  In time, Elisabeth began to work in a different household. Her new employer, known only in family lore as “Juffrouw”  --  “Miss” or “Madame,” may have been either the mayor’s wife or a schoolteacher.  She apparently looked upon Elisabeth as a faithful and competent servant.

Upon Juffrouw’s death, she left a small inheritance to each of her household staff.  Her generosity enabled Lijsje to replace her lost savings  -- and then some.

Barend's family 1910
By this time, Elisabeth and Barend were apparently “courting” and making big plans. We don’t know as much about Barend’s early life, except that he also came from a large family. After completing elementary school, Barend was apprenticed to a carpenter to learn the skills involved in working with wood. Learning this trade served him well, since he worked for a wagonmaker once he and Elisabeth arrived in Albany. 

Barend and Elisabeth’s wedding took place in Loosdrecht on May 18, 1911. After the ceremony, the families had a small reception for the young couple. It was at this party that Barend  --  transformed from youth to head of household by his uttered vow and the swipe of a pen  --  stood up and announced: “Elisabeth and I are leaving for America  --  tomorrow!”

Record of marriage in Family Booklet

To be continued . . .

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