Teen motherhood, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Despite historic occurrence among Pennsylvania Dutch, rate is falling

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Dr. Philip A. Hoover’s 1994 book is full of insight about 20th-century life in York County. Background: Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past and High school graduation, YorkCounts indicator: Rising after a low start and York County group preserving Pennsylvania Dutch language, heritage.

Teen pregnancy is a problem in York County, although the rate is falling, according to a recent YorkCounts report.
But it’s long been a problem in York County. And the rate was fueled from the three corners of York County.
Here’s the quick skinny, as found in my recent York Sunday News column (3/29/09):

Teen motherhood
YorkCounts: In 2001, teen motherhood was more common in York County than in Pennsylvania as a whole. Since then, the rate has leveled off statewide but is falling in York County.
Background: Longtime, respected Dallastown physician Philip A. Hoover has written about a revealing, but little-publicized Pennsylvania Dutch folkway.
The worst possible outcome for a farmer of that heritage was to have a sterile wife, he wrote in his book, “Echoes of the Health Century.”
“Therefore it was quite common, and not frowned upon socially or religiously, for a young woman to become pregnant out of wedlock and then in due time be married,” he wrote.
That proved her fertility, he wrote, and the marriage could take place.
And York County had many Pennsylvania Dutch farmers.
So we have decades of this misdirected folkway to overcome.

Dr. Hoover’s observations are surprising, and it would be interesting to see the teen birth statistics from those years. But he produced several anecdotes to back up his point about this brand of Pennsylvania Dutch pragmatism. We’ll add one of the stories here from Hoover’s wonderful book on country doctoring:

About an hour after such a pregnant woman was married, Hoover was summoned to examine the bride who was having lower abdominal pain. Now an “infare” was under way, a wedding meal held at the home of the groom.
As he treated the bride, he wondered about the situation.The bride was giving birth, but the undaunted and unembarrassed wedding party was having a good time eating the meal.
“On returning upstairs, I attempted in an oblique way to offer some words of consolation to the bride. Whereupon she said, ‘Oh Doctor, that’s all right, thinking nothing of it. But it does make me so darned mad to miss that good country ham dinner; I was looking
forward to it all morning.’ “

Hoover’s book is available via the York County Library System.
Other posts in this series:
Farmland preservation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Ag use outpacing population growth
Further education plans, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Post-high-school prospects rising
Teen motherhood, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Despite historic occurrence among Pennsylvania Dutch, rate is falling
High school graduation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rising after a low start.
Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past.
Bias-related incidents, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: ‘A concern in York County’ .

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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