Pietje Durks Offringa


A remarkable woman at the beginning of the 20th century was Pietje Offringa, born on July 20, 1905 in Marrum. She was the youngest of the six children of Durk Durks Offringa and Durkje Minnes Zijlstra. Pietje was characterized as a resolute, independent woman who could wag her tongue very well if necessary. A forerunner of the Women's Lib?!

At the age of 18 year she wandered through the U.S.A. where, amongst others, she visited three of her brothers who had emigrated to Iowa.

In 1927 she was called to the Court of Justice in Dokkum(*) as a witness. In September of that year there was a case against the, at that time, 58 year old stock farmer Jan Oeges Monsma (1869-1939) from Rinsumageest. He was widely known by the nickname "the farmer from Rinsumageest" and many hundreds of patients were said to had relief by his curative methods. But this practising of medicine was not allowed and he was fined twice costing him fl. 300,-- each time. Apparently the profits met up to the fines because again he was prosecuted and had to appear in court. He was charged with a number of cases, one of them being that he had given Pietje Offringa medical treatment on or abt. April 28, 1927. She had problems with a knee. Monsma had "examined her water" and gave her medicines for internal and external use. Against payment, of course. First witness to the court was Pietje Offringa herself, 22 years young and shopkeeper in Marrum. What happened next was an amusing question and answer game between the judge (in Dutch) and Pietje (in Frisian).

To the question if she was married Pietje responded "Happily not"!. And are you related to the accused? "No, but I wish I was". Have you been at the accused his home? "Yes". Why? "Because I didn't feel well". What was wrong with you? "A lot". When? "I don't recall". About when? "Maybe half a year ago". Can you speak Dutch? "Yes. Should I ? Well, I got ill, had a doctor but it was getting worse without any change for the better and then to Monsma. Apart from God, I owe him my improvement". Did you bring water with you? "Yes". And did the accused take a look at it? "Yes". What did he say? "It will come right". And did he give you advice? "Yes, draw a spoon linseed, half a spoon camomileseed and a spoon of (another) seed and drink that". And did he give you anything to take home with you? "Yes, later on a medicine drink. With this result that I thank God that there is Monsma who is a blessing for the Netherlands". But didn't you have problems with your knee also? "Yes" How did he know that? "He noticed that from the water, just like that". Did he ask for money? "No, but I did give him some". How much did you give? "A guilder each time". Were you stopped by constable Klazema, from Ferwerd, after you left the accused? "Yes".
And that was the end of the examination. A second witness didn't show up. The Prosecution demanded fl. 300 from Monsma or 50 days detention.

Despite the plea of the defending counsellor (mr. R. Polloma from Leeuwarden) and the testimony of Pietje, Monsma was convicted to a fine of fl. 75 or 25 days imprisonment. The sentence was based on the following considerations: "that the accused has exercised medicine without legal qualification by recommending polkawater and salt to Pietje Offringa, checking the urine and has accepted payment ; considering that the accused has confessed, thus accepting money for treatment for which he was not lawfully qualified ; considering that Pietje Offringa has stated as a witness that she visited the accused at several occasions ; considering that the accused was fined in the past for fl. 600 as a ransom ; considering that the objections have not been invalidated by witnesses to the defence ; considering that the accused is punishable ; however, considering that the verdict should be much lower than demanded by the Prosecution and that the accused for the greater part has acknowledged the facts.

Many will remember Pytsje Offringa best as the wellknown, cigar smoking female taxidriver. In 1953 the Leeuwarder Courant paid attention to her jubilee by means of an article(**) and headlined "Female driver from Marrum thirty years behind the wheel". It was 30 years ago that Pytsje Offringa, daughter of shopkeeper and town councillor Durk Offringa started her own taxicompany. At first she started with a car, a rather biscuit tin type of vehicle which her father used to deliver groceries. Later, such as in 1953, with a comfortable, shiny and streamlined dark-red Pontiac.

Business went well. Each day Pytsje crossed the province or even crossed the border for a taxi trip to Brussels.
Customers were, amongst others, passengers visiting friends and family on a Sunday, brides and bridegrooms and people who attended funerals. Numerous baby Marrumers were driven by her to church for their baptism but also merchants were taken to the market in Leeuwarden early in the morning. In other words: everyone could depend on Pytsje, no matter what.
During all those years, with slippery roads or pitch dark and stormy nights, the steering wheel was in trusted hands of this firm woman. Her device was "Better five minutes late than ending up in the hospital".

After her health was going downhill she stayed at the senior-citizen resort / nursery home "Foswert" in Ferwerd where she passed away on April 5, 1976. Pytsje was burried at the graveyard of Westernijkerk.

  Archives Leeuwarder Courant, September 13, 14 and 27, 1927
** Archives Leeuwarder Courant, September 17, 1953