By: Jeannette Lasansky
The naming of comforts, those thick bed coverings generally filled with wool and knotted, as “haps” appears to be regional although their existence and importance in the home is widespread. Eve Granick, in her research with Amish estate inventories and sales, notes that comforts are found in great numbers in locales as far apart as Elkhart, Indiana and Somerset and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania but that only in Mifflin County are they called “haps.”
In the Union/Snyder County area of central Pennsylvania, calling comforts “haps” is the norm, not the exception, and one might suspect that if in-depth research were done in other areas of the state or nation this might be true elsewhere. The frequent and informal manner in which the tern “hap” is used locally, makes it apparent that the folk know what is being referred to. This was evidenced at quilt documentation days held throughout the region as well as by current estate sale listings where quilts, haps, and coverlets are listed as separate but related items. This is not meant to imply that everyone in our area calls these thick handsewn bed coverings in the vernacular, but that most do and that those who do not are aware of the word’s meaning.