About the Project

Bethlehem 1741-1844


Community Records




Personal Papers

Teaching Materials

Visitors' Accounts

Additional Resources

Site Index

Contact BDHP



Copyright © 2000-2009
Bethlehem Digital
History Project.
All rights reserved.

In 1817 my father, who was then a member of congress, took me with him as far as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he left me in the Moravian Boarding school. We went down the Susquehanna River on a raft. On this was built a cabin to protect us from the rain. Our meals were cooked on the raft. At night the raft was tied up. We slept at taverns, which were located near the river for the convenience of the lumbermen, as the river was the great thoroughfare, all the surplus produce of the country being taken to market in arks and on rafts. Hundreds of raftsmen patronized the taverns along the river.

We left the rafts at Berwick, where a four horse covered wagon, called a stage, was waiting. We were three days going over the mountains from Berwick to Bethlehem in the stage.

The Moravian boarding school was the most fashionable school in the United States. Instruction was given in school hours as in colleges. Sunday morning we arose at six o'clock. Two girls of the same age occupied one room and a dressing room. This was our sitting room when not at recitations. Two teachers had the supervision of this room. The girls were never left alone, one teacher was always with them, whether studying, walking, or at play.

The school house was a large building with a hall and stairs at each end and one hall in the middle. All these halls opened from the front. The middle hall ran the length of the house. The dormitories were on the third and fourth floors. Each girl had a little wooden bedstead, with a frame of lattice work to tuck her bed in. This frame was separate from the bedstead. The beds stood two and two through the dormitory. After the girls retired, a teacher put these frames in their places and tucked the clothes so they would not get uncovered at night. Each girl said her prayers and the teacher walked in the hall until all were supposed to be asleep. No talking was allowed unless we wanted to speak to the teacher at night. When the house was closed at night, a stout German woman seated herself at the door of the dormitory and remained until morning.

At the ringing of the bell at 6 a.m., we hurried from bed, said our prayers, and rushed down to a room adjoining our sitting room, known by the name of the "next room". In this room we had left our dresses hanging the previous night. Water and conveniences for washing were in this room. We hurried through our ablutions, put on our dresses, then took our seats around two long tables in the sitting room where each girl had a seat assigned to her, and in the table in front of the seat a drawer. In this drawer we kept our ink, writing book, goose quill pens, and pencils. Also, wrapped in a napkin, were a coarse comb, a fine comb, a little brush to clean our combs, and a tooth brush. These drawers were carefully inspected by the room keepers. The scholars took turns as room keepers, two each week, to see that the shelves in the "next room" and our drawers were kept in order. Our school books were kept on a shelf in the "next room". In this room each girl had a bag for soiled clothing.

Recollections of
Mrs Harriet Gould Drake Tinkam: student, 1817

1   2   3   4   5   6

<< Previous    Next >>