Friday, April 17, 2009

friday's frontier fact

There was a quaint custom in the 18th-century that made its way to the frontier and seems a bit risque even today. Back then a man often had to travel a long way to court a woman. Once there, he spent the night with her family. If he was both besotted and clever, he would do this in the dead of winter when bundling was practiced. Candles and firewood were never wasted so this came about as a means of keeping the couple warm and saving on light and heat.

Simply put, the parents wrapped the fully-clothed courting couple in separate quilts and put them to bed with a bundling board between them so they could talk to one another through the night. If a man truly loved a woman he'd make sure her reputation wasn't compromised. Besides, in those one room cabins, Ma and Pa were likely within spitting distance. And Pa's rifle was loaded, no doubt. Public penalties for the bundling board giving way included fines and whippings.

It looks like young women were given greater freedom in the frontier settlements than their Colonial sisters in the east. An itinerant preacher traveling through Kentucky in the late 18th-century said that nine out of ten couples he married were already expecting.

The original bundlers were Biblical. Ruth and Boaz seem to have done this in Ruth 3:6 and 3:13.

In the movie "Witness" there is a scene in which the protagonist, Harrison Ford, spends the night with an Amish woman with a bundling board between them.

Would you have been a bundler in that day? Sounds pretty cozy to me!


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