There aren’t a lot of records or history about women years ago, but I did find some interesting information on one of my women ancestors, my maternal great-great-great-great grandmother, Jannetje (Nieuwenhuizen) Oudendijk. Jannetje, her husband Pieter and their only daughter, Neeltje, came from Holland with the original group of settlers that founded Roseland in 1849. Sadly, Pieter died during the voyage of cholera and was buried at sea.
In his book, “The History of Roseland and Vicinity”, Simon Dekker mentions Jannetje in his section about doctors:
When the pioneers of 1849 settled on the prairie what is now called Roseland, there was no doctor among them. The nearest town to them was Blue Island, a small place a few miles to the southwest, where there was a doctor. And his name, if I remember well, was Dr. Egan. It was not an easy matter to get him if he was needed in those pioneer days. The quickest way to get him was to go on foot as the only way of transportation was by oxen team, and that was a slow process. In confinement cases, they hardly ever got a doctor, only in case of emergency.
There was a widow among them, Mrs. Jantje Oudendyke (sp), who acted as midwife for a number of years, until a doctor settled here, and that was about twenty years after the first settlers came. All these years she acted as midwife. And she was successful in this work…this old lady was an all around lady. She had different homes where she would come certain days of the week to do the mending of the old clothes or of shoes and stockings. She had her home with her only daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Johannes Ambuul.
It is very rare to get a glimpse of a pioneer woman’s life, but with Mr. Dekker’s snapshot, we can see what this woman did, and the important contributions she made.
Too bad I don’t have a photo! But here is a painting of a pioneer midwife!
Thanks for reading!