Dutch Town Homes,
page 6 of 8
With English modes of living came English furniture; among other innovations the great carved four-poster, which, richly hung with valances and tester, was, as Mrs. Grant said, “the state-bed, the family Teraphim, secretly worshipped and only exhibited on rare occasions.” The bedsteads of Captain Kidd with valances and curtains were doubtless four-posters.
A notable feature in the house-furnishing of early colonial days was the abundance and good quality of household linen. The infrequency of regular washing seasons and times (often domestic washing took place but once in three or four months) made a large amount of bed, table, and personal linen a matter of necessity in all thrifty, tidy households. One family, in 1704 (not a very wealthy one), had linen to the amount of five hundred dollars. Francis Rombout, one of the early mayors of New York, had, at the time of his death, in the year 1690, fifty-six diaper napkins, forty-two coarse napkins and towels, thirteen table-cloths of linen and diaper, fifty-one “pillow-bears,” thirty sheets, four bolster-covers, ten checked “pillow-bears,” two calico cupboard-cloths, six table-cloths, four check chimney-cloths, two of linen; worth in all, twenty-one pounds eleven shillings.
Mynheer Marius, who was worth about fifteen thousand dollars, — a rich man, had eight muslin sheets, twenty-three linen sheets, thirty-two pillow-cases, two linen table-cloths, seven diaper table-cloths, sixty-one diaper napkins, three “ozenbergs” napkins, sixteen small linen cupboard-cloths. Colonel William Smith of Long Island was not so rich as the last-named Dutch merchant, but he had six hundred dollars’worth of linen. John Bowne, the old Quaker of Flushing, Long Island, recorded in his diary, in 1691, an account of his household linen. He had four table-cloths, a dozen napkins, a dozen towels, six fine sheets, two cotton sheets, four coarse linen sheets, two fine tow sheets, two bolster cases, nine fine pillow-biers, four coarse pillow-biers.
In 1776, the house furnishings of a house in Westchester County in the “Neutral Ground,” were removed on account of the war.