JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Typical shtetl house #general
Here is an unedited description that my grandfather wrote of the
home he left in Jurbarkas, Lithuania, in 1893:
"Our house was big and was made of logs, there were three rooms,
one large and two small ones. In one of the small rooms, my father,
mother, oldest sister, and I lived. In the other small room my aunt and
"To enter the house we had to walk through a long hallway then
down three steps to the doorway.
"In the large room was a table and benches where we ate. Nearby
was Grandfather's and Grandmother's canopy bed. The bed had a shelf
that pulled out and could be used as an extra bed for three or four
people. It was similar to the modern sofa-couch bed of today (or
trundle bed). On the other side of the room was a single bed.
"The floors were half flooring, the rest was plain sand. On
Friday a man came selling white sand, which was spread on the flooring
and uncovered floor to brighten up the room. In the center of the house
was a wood-burning oven made out of bricks, that heated the house. The
oven extended into the back room and formed a shelf where in the winter
it was used for sleeping.
"Next to the oven was an open fireplace. On a shelf in it the
cooking was done on a round iron three-legged plate. The pots were put
on top and a wood fire burned below.
"Every Monday the women would go down to the Nieman River to do
their washing. The soapy clothes were put on a flat stone, a wooden
paddle was used to beat out the dirt.
"In order to get water we had to go to a big well, which had a
scaffold to pull up the rope and bucket of water. Other people had to
buy their water by the bucket. A man and a woman carried buckets of
water (Dutch style) on their shoulders."