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Monday, October 12, 2015

The Youngest Among Us

The Pocahontas Public Library is hosting a new museum display of items related to babies. There is a birth announcement, a baptismal certificate written in German, several dresses, a beautiful hand-made christening gown, a baby bottle and dish, tiny embroidered shoes, blonde baby curls and photos.

The exhibit showcases several traditions we no longer have. All babies, including boys, wore dresses. At the time of the settlement of Pocahontas County, boys didn't get their first set of breeches until about the age of two. They also went without a haircut and their first haircut might provide curls for a keepsake. Check out Harry Wiegert's  box of curls Harry in the display.

Early settlers did not have an easy time raising their youngest. Infant and child mortality was high. The exhibit includes a story of a set of twins born in the 1890's. Their mother didn't have enough milk for both babies and so she fed cow's milk to the more robust twin. That twin died from "summer complaint" before he turned one year old. We know now that bacteria forming in milk in the warm summer months sometimes led to fatal diarrhea.