Category Archives: Pennsylvania German

The Faithful Pastor’s Monument, by J.H.A. Bomberger (1852)

The Faithful Pastor’s Monument: A Sermon, Occasioned by the Death of the Rev. Thomas Pomp, for Fifty-Six Years Pastor of the German Reformed Church of Easton, Pa.
By J. H. A. Bomberger, Surviving Pastor of the Congregation.
Easton: Published by the Consistory, 1852.
Digitized by Richard Mammana, 2022.

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Meniolagomeka


The Morning Call, July 21, 1968

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Pennsylvania Dutch Dispute (New York Times, 1930)

To the Editor of The New York Times:

A letter from me concerning the dialect of the Pennsylvania Germans, or Pennsylvania “Dutch,” appeared in THE TIMES of July 7. This letter was rather extensively reprinted, particularly in the newspapers of Pennsylvania, the German-American newspapers, and a number of newspapers in Germany. But there are many additional facts that will appeal to these large circles of readers, especially those pertaining to the characteristics of this language and to several important works in the field which were not mentioned in my previous article.

Although, as stated in my other article, Horne’s Pennsylvania German Manual is, so far as I can learn, the only popular general manual that has gone out of print, there are a number of other important works on certain phases of the dialect that should receive serious attention. I refer especially to Lambert’s Dictionary of the Pennsylvania German Dialect and Fogel’s Proverbs of the Pennsylvania Germans. Both works were published in the annual volumes of the Pennsylvania German Society, whose present address is Norristown, Pa., and whose activities have recently been resumed more energetically under the executive and financial leadership of Ralph Beaver Strassburger of that city. Lambert’s Dictionary is in Volume XXX, published in 1924; Fogel’s work is in Volume XXXVI, which was issued only a few weeks ago.

Lambert’s work gives a very comprehensive, and, with one deplorable exception, correct system of spelling and pronunciation, and a list of about 16,000 dialect words with the definitions and derivations. There are some regrettable omissions, for instance “henn” for German “haben” (English “to have), one of the most distinctive words of the dialect. Nevertheless, the work is in the main a highly scholarly one and indispensable to every advanced student of the subject. Fogel’s work gives a very large number of the old and familiar sayings of these people, together with the English and standard German renditions and equivalents. It is of course delightful reading. This writer’s spelling and pronunciation, like Lambert’s, are correct in the main but are wrong in at least one extremely important respect.

The error committed by both writers is in the pronunciation of g in the middle of words. For all words they change it to j—the equivalent of the English y, instead of only in a few words—morje or marje; “morgen,” morning, and several other words, as was done by Horne, who was evidently a careful observer and spoke the dialect all his life.

The medial g sound varies somewhat in different localities, but in the main it has always been as follows: German g changes to dialect j, English y, in most words in which it follows a, especially in merje or marje, aerjets and naerjets; German morgen, irgend and nirgend; English morning, anywhere, and nowhere. It weakens and approaches but does not reach j after the front vocals, German e, i, ie, ei, ä, and ai. Examples: Rejer, leje (German Regen, legen, English rain, lay). The strong German ch sound remains after the back vowels, a, o, u, and au. Examples: Dialect Waage, Aage, froge; for German Wagen, Augen, fragen, and English wagon, eyes, to ask. The hard g sound, as in English, or almost the hard sound, occurs in words with double g, or words ending in el; Naeg’l, for nail, &c.

Professor Lambert says in his introduction, and correctly I contend, that the Pennsylvania dialect in the main is homogeneous, and not several distinct dialects, but he errs in saying it most closely resembles that of the Westrich section of the Pfalz, the portion west of the Haardt Mountains, which extend north and south, just west of Dürkheim and Neustadt.

Professor Fogel, in his introduction, reiterates a view he has held for years that there are two distinct dialects: the Palatine in Berks, Lehigh and adjoining Pennsylvania counties, and the Swiss Alemannic in Lancaster County and vicinity. If this were true, he should have presented two sets of proverbs in his work. But he says the quest for Alemannic proverbs gave unsatisfactory results, and he almost implies there are no Alemannic proverbs. May I suggest there was a very compelling reason for finding no such proverbs in Lancaster County? There are none; there is no Alemannic dialect there, save a very few surviving words. There is only one Pennsylvania German dialect, except for minor variations.

My own people lived in Lancaster County or sprang from there. The dialect we used differs only slightly from that further north. Moreover, a questionnaire I recently circulated in Lancaster County confirms the view that almost no Swiss dialect survivals remain. More than that, the Swiss vernacular was probably never used much in Pennsylvania. One reason was that the pioneers of Lancaster County, while natives of Switzerland, came by way of the Palatinate and sojourned there for several years; another reason is they were always outnumbered by the Palatines. Moreover, there was probably a recognition that the Pfalz dialect is inherently simpler, more euphonious, and in many other respects preferable to the Swiss.

CYRUS H. ESHLEMAN.
Ludington, Mich. Dec. 30, 1929.

The New York Times, January 5, 1930

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“The Upper Places:” Nazareth, Gnadenthal and Christian’s Spring (1929)

“The Upper Places:” Nazareth, Gnadenthal and Christian’s Spring
By Elizabeth L. Myers
Easton: Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1929.

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Pennsylvania German Dialect Pseudonyms

Beam, C. Richard15 Feb 192526 Jan 2018Es Bischli-Gnippli
Dieffenbach, Victor26 Oct 188226 Jun 1965Der Oldt Bauer
Druckenbrod, Richard29 May 192927 Oct 2003Pit Schweffelbrenner
Erb, William H.30 Apr 187031 Jan 1940Der Gus
Frey, John William23 Jul 191621 Aug 1989Der Glee Bill
Graeff, Arthur D.22 Sep 189928 Mar 1969Der Dichter vun de Dolpehock, Der ewich Yeeger
Grumbine, Ezra L.1 Feb 184516 Feb 1923Wendell Kitzmiller
Grumbine, Lee L.25 Jul 185818 Aug 1904Old Schulmashter
Harter, Thomas H.28 May 185431 May 1933Gottlieb Boonastiel
Landis, Henry K.186527 Dec 1955Der Gross Henner
Miller, Harvey M.27 Sep 187117 Jun 1939Solly Hulsbuck
Rauch, Edward H.18268 Sep 1902Pit Schweffelbrenner fum Scheifeltown
Reitnauer, Clarence12 Nov 19005 Apr 1989Der Shdivvel Knecht
Rittinger, John A.16 Feb 185529 Jul 1915Joe Klotzkopp
Snyder, G. Gilbert15 Jun 189717 Nov 1956Die Wunnernaus
Swope, Pierce E.15 Aug 18849 Dec 1968Kaspar Hufnagel
Troxell, William S.11 Jun 189310 Aug 1957Pumpernickel Bill
Schuler, Henry A.12 Jul 185014 Jan 1908Der Kalennermann

This is a dynamic list open to corrections and additions. Please write to rjm45@columbia.edu with either.

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Hutterite Colonists Move to Canada (1930)

We notice a report in several papers that the Mennonite colonies will soon move to South Dakota. There never was a Mennonite communistic community in South Dakota. For more than 50 years these people lived here but it was not long enough to learn that they are followers of Jacob Hutter not Menno Simon and are called Hutterite Colonies. What gave them the name Mennonites is because they are opposed to war. It may be of interest, at this time, when nearly all are gone, to know that in 1874 the first colonies were started at Wolf Creek and Bon Homme and the third one in 1879 at Elmspring. Bon Homme then branched out to Milltown, Rosedale, Maxwell and two colonies in Beadle. For a short time they had a colony at Tripp. Wolf Creek branched out to Jamesville, Tschetter Colony, Lake Byron in Beadle, one in Spink and the Richar Ranch at Forestburg. Elmspring branched out to Rockport, New Elmspring, Milford in Beadle. At the time the war broke out there were 16 communistic colonies in all. Today we have 11 at Winnipeg, 4 near Calgary, 12 near Lethbridge. Our visit to all these colonies in Canada with Mrs. about five years ago will always be a sweet remembrance. All branches of the Old Bon Homme colony settled don in Manitoba and those of Elmspring and Wolf Creek are all in Alberta.

Mennonite Weekly Review (Newton, Kansas), June 4, 1930, page 1.

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Hutterites Reestablish Homes in South Dakota (1936)

Having farmed in Manitoba and Alberta, Canada, for more than 15 years, a group of Hutterites, a socialistically inclined religious sect of Germans, are now returning to the plains of South Dakota because they believe that it is here that opportunity still knocks the loudest.

The recent migration of Hutterites has led to the establishment of a colony about 20 miles south of Alexander, near a companion group of Hutterites at Rockport. The newcomers believe that the best farm land is in South Dakota.

In the word of the Rev. Daniel Wipf, minister of the Rockport colony, “the new settlers think the land along the James river to be of the best in the country and highly suitable for their needs.”

Despite the fact that grasshoppers and dry weather have played havoc with farming, these hardy people have set themselves up in a colony of 12 or 15 families. Huge, modern barns house the livestock and there are man acres for grain and pasture.

At the close of the World War these Hutterites lived near Yankton, but immediately following the armistice they transferred to Manitoba, where they have farmed until the new movement began in the spring of 1936. Now they are firmly entrenched near Rockport and are putting the finishing touches to a number of new buildings and improvements.

It is expensive work to move a large colony from Canada to the United States, but the Hutterites now believe they have found the “promised land.”

The Hutterites were not known by their present name until 1774, when Jake Hutter, a religious leader, led a band of his followers to Russia in order to escape persecution in Germany. There the Hutterites lived, speaking their own dialect of German, for 100 years.

At the end of a century in Russia, the Hutterites came to the United States to settle near Yankton. Others sought different locations and today there are communities near Alexandria and Tyndall in South Dakota, and in Iowa and Mexico.

The Hutterites are similar to the Mennonites in race and religious creed. But the Mennonites are not as socialistic as their brothers. A man may own private property, earn his own living and put money in the bank if his efforts are successful. But the Hutterites differ.

In their colonies everyone works for the benefit of the community. No one owns personal property. It is perhaps the one example of pure, unadulterated socialism in its Utopian conception.

The elders of the community elect by vote a business manager, a chief thresher and a head farmer. These offices, like those of the United States supreme court, are for life, governed of course by good behavior. The leaders govern the colony and see that harmony is maintained.

Each community has two ministers who are selected from the seven members best qualified for that position. They are chosen by the men and hold their title for life.

The colony of Rockport, perhaps one of the best known in the state, is an excellent example of prosperity under the Hutterite code. Situated in the beautiful country along teh James river, it boasts a flour mill which draws trade from many of the farms nearby. Its livestock would gladden any farmer’s heart.

One building is utilized as a laundry and another as a baker. There is a community shoe shop and a church which is also the school. Children receive a fair education, both in English and in German. German school is taught in the summer and a teacher is hired for the usual school term.

Very religious are the Hutterites. Sundays are devoted to their teachings, with services in the morning and in the afternoon. In their every day life these Germans live up to their ideals. Physical punishment is unknown. If a member commits a minor offense he may put himself in the good graces of the community again by asking for universal forgiveness from all of the members.

A Hutterite may leave the colony if he sees fit, and he may return if he doesn’t find his lot outside the group enjoyable.

The Hutterites are almost self-supporting. Except for a few minor articles, everything for their use is made at the colony. Their garments, quaint in design, are home made.

The women are clothed in dark dresses that reach to their ankles. All wear an apron and perhaps the most striking part of their costume is the small, tight-fitting hood on every head. Invariably it is dark blue with white polka dots. It fits on the head like a boy’s skating cap. The small girls dress exactly like their mothers and go barefooted.

A cluster of these small children with their bashful eyes and quiet manners is especially pleasing to the tourist.

The men and boys dress alike in blue broadcloth shirts, dark trousers and suspenders. Most of the boys wear shoes. The babies and small tots just learning to walk parade about in bright colored dresses of some cheap material.

One thing that strikes the visitor agreeably is the politeness of these settlers and the willingness in which they will explain their community. Cameras are almost taboo, the tourist being allowed to take pictures of the buildings and grounds but not of the people. They explain the reason for this is that pictures or images of any sort are contrary to religious beliefs.

Altho the Hutterites live in a fashion strange to the majority of persons and hold customs which seem peculiar, much can be said in favor of their industrious nature and farming ability.

They are shrewd and hard workers. They are proud of the fact that not once during the depression and drought have they asked for aid from the relief agencies. The well kept livestock and the expertly-tilled fields that greet the visitor to their communities prove that their efforts have not been in vain.

The Weekly Pioneer-Times (Deadwood, South Dakota), September 24, 1936, p. 4.

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H.M.S. Pinafore in Pennsylvania German

William H. Crane, promotional poster (gouache and graphite on paper, c. 1885).

H.M.S. Pinafore
oder Das Maedle and Ihr Sailor Kerl:
‘N translation fun dem bekannte Opera

Scene.—Deck of H.M.S. Pinafore. View of Portsmouth in the distance. Sailors led by Boatswain discovered cleaning brasswork, splicing rope, etc.

Opening Chorus

Mir fahren auf der meer,
Unser schiff iss shay und shteady;
M’r drinken nix oss beer,
Und m’r sinn aw immer ready
Wo’s fechterei iss sinn mir sphry,
Und mach’t der feind es fiehle;
Und wan’s ferbei iss, tzimlich glei
Gebt’s zeit genunk f’r shpiela.

Enter Little Buttercup with basket.

Recit

Buttercup—Hello! ihr shiffleit—kennen ‘r nimmie hara?
Sailors—Rushing towards her. Hello! glaene Buttercup.
Buttercup—waving them back. Nun, sagen mir: hen ihr betzawlsdawg kerzlich kotta?
Sailors—Airsht geshta.
Buttercup advancing Sell suit mich gude.
So kummen g’schwind dohaer,
Do kennen ‘r hendlich all euer geld fetzahra.

GESANG (Little Buttercup)

Sie haysen mich Buttercup—shay glaene Buttercup—
Und ich waiss gaw net warrum;
Doch bin ich die Buttercup—orum glay Buttercup,
Zu euer Buttercup kum.
Had duwok und shpella, und shayna korrella,
Und messer und watcha und sheer;
Und hingle und brilla, und zucker und pilla,
Das kennet ihr oll koffa fun mir.
Hab matches und taffy, bolognies und koffe,
Un naegel und frische pork chops,
Hab shnitz und kaduffla, und cigar und ruffla,
Und nummer ains peppermint drops.
Dann kofft fun euer Buttercup—shay glaene Buttercup,
Zu euer Buttercup kum.

Bos’n
Vell, little Buttercup, bisht du ols noch leddich? Du gukst yust so yung shmart und shay os wie olfort.

Buttercup
Yaw, aber kannst du mir sawga wass ess iss dos es hertz im kopf drawgt?

Bos’n
Well, nay, ich muss sawga ich hob noch net an so ebbes gedenkt.

Dick
Well—ich kann.

Sailors recoiling
Du?

Dick
Yaw—’N graut-kup.

Sailors
Um-m-m-m-m.

Buttercup
Wass fehlt sella kerl? Iss er net g’sunt?

Bos’n
Du musht ‘n net minda, er is olfort so—Er iss bissel drei-eckich.

Buttercup
Well, ich set sheer denka. Aber wer kumt do?

Bos’n
Sell iss der Relf Reckstraw, der besht kerl uff ‘m shiff.

Buttercup
Relf!—that name!—remorse—remorse.

Enter Ralph.

MADRIGAL

The Nightingales’ Song (Ralph)

Ez tsipchia peift
Und der boppagoi greisht zurick
Der hawhna graeht
Und der blo-fogle fresst der mick—
Doch lieb ich sie.

Chorus
Doch lieb ich sie.

Ralph
Es maedchen weint,
Ihr lieben schatz kumt nicht mehr,
Der shonshtay shmokt,
Und der brunne iss sheer gaw lehr—

Chorus
Doch lieb ich sie.

Recit. Ralph

Ich glaub wohl buwa os ihr’s recht,
Doch my undankbarkeit ‘r misst net ferdenka
Wann lieb und leida bol des herz verbrecht!
Ich lieb, yaw wohl, ich lieb der Cap sei tochd’r.

Buttercup
Er liebt—yaw wohl, er liebt der Cap sei tochd’r.

Sailors
Er liebt—yaw wohl, etc.

BALLAD
A Maiden Fair to See (Ralph)

Sie iss’n maedle shay,
Demuethig, gude und glay,
Der shensht zu mei’m gewissa;
Und ich ‘n or’mer drup,
Mit net fiel in der kup,
Und gar ken gelt im kossa.

Sailors
Er hut ken gelt im kossa

Ralph
Doch habe ich’s uff mich genomma, kreftiglich
Die Liebe in mei herz zu plantza:
Weiss wohl es bot mich nix,
My lieb iss in ‘ra fix—
Ich kann ken horn pipe danza.

Sailors
Er kann ken horn pipe danza.
Icnh bin net awrig g’scheit.
Mei larnung geht net weit.—
(Die Liebe war schumayshter)
Sie herschet mir in’s herz.
Mit sorga und mit schmerz,
Der Cap sei shayne tochd’r.

Bos’n
Ah! du or’mer drup, du groddelsht zu hoch; si hiaert dich net

Dick
Nay, des dut sie net.

Sailors
Shem dich doch!

Ralph
Deadeye, du bisht’n bopplemoul.

Dick
Relf, wos felt dew naws.

Enter Captain.

Captain
My gallant crew—good morning.

Sailors
Guda morryea.

Captain
I hope you are all quite well.

Sailors
All g’sunt—und du Cap?

Captain
I am in reasonable health and happy
To meet you all once more.

Sailors
Unser ganze achtung.

SONG (Captain)

Captain
I am the captain of the Pinafore!

All
Und ‘n nummer ains Cap bisht du.

Captain
You’re very, very good,
And be it understood,
I command a right good crew.

All
Danke shoen, dabei.
Muss es gude fershtana sei
Oss er hut’n first rate crew.

Captain
Though related to a peer,
I can hand, reef and steer,
And ship a salvagee;
I am never known to quail
At the fury of a gale,
And I’m never, never sick at sea.

All
Was; gar net!

Captain
Nay; gar net.

All
Was; gar NET?

Captain
Well, sheer gar net.

All
He’s hardly ever sick at sea!
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more
For the hardy captain of the Pinafore!

Captain
I do my best to please you all—

All
Und mir sin mit dir content.

Captain
You’re exceedingly polite,
And I think it only right
To return the compliment.

All
Mir sin ivveraus polite
Und er meent es wer yust right,
Wen er uns aw compliment.

Captain
Bad language or abuse,
I never, never use,
Whatever the emergency;
Though “bother it,” I may
Occasionally say,
I never use a big, big D—

All
Was, gar net?

Captain
Nay.

All
Was, gar net?

Captain
Well, sheer gar net.

All
Hardly ever swears a big big D—
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more
For the well bred captain of the Pinafore!

Exit all but Captain.

Captain (solus)
Es blogt mich der ganza dawg ‘n nagel im shoo. ‘Mol sehna ep ich ‘n net rous griega kann.

BALLAD (Josephine)

Thraenen und leid sin so der Liebe,
Schwer iss es herz oss hoft ohn hoffnung,
Krisslich die seiftzer shteigen auf,
Tief fum dem Herz der Lieb betruebef,
Tieff iss das elend und heftig die noth
Won Liebe erwecket und hoffnung iss tod.

Kald iss der tag won’s scheint ken sun,
Dunkel die nacht wo’s blickt ken mond;
Feicht iss die erd wen die wolke weinen,
Und shay die shtund die sterna scheinen.
Tief iss das elend, etc.

Captain
Tochd’r, wass iss letz? Du husht mir so awrig fun der Liebe g’sunga, es iss mir bang du denksht shun an die buwa.

Josephine
Oh, wass sul ich sawga!

Captain
Now, ‘s iss net d’wart oss du in a hurry bisht dot d’wega. Ich will dir shun ‘n mon rous picka won’s tzeit kummt.

Josephine
Dawdy, ich hab shun aner rous gepicked.

Captain
Der Dauzig!

Josephine
Nay aber’n kommona sailor uf deim egena shiff.

Captain
Und mensht du wetsht ihn hiara?

Josephine
Net bis er mich frawgt.

Captain
My gehorsames kind.

Josephine
My guda dawdy.

They embrace.

BARCAROLE (invisible)

Ueber das grosse wasser
Kummt der Josef Borter, K.C.B.
Doch mawg er geh wohie er will,
Krachen die grosse flinte shtill.
Greish ueber das grosse wasser
For der Josef Borter, K.C.B.

During this the crew have entered on tiptoe, listening attentively to the song.

Do kumt der old Sir Jo,
Mit ‘n boat-load harlich weibsleid.
Nun laszt uns danzen so,
Und singen wie net recht g’scheit.
Mir fahren auf der say,
Unser shiff iss shay und shteady,
Mir trinken nix oss TAY
Und mir sin aw immer ready.

Captain
My child, I grieve to see that you are a prey to melancholy. You should look your best today, for Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. will be here this afternoon to claim your promised hand.

Enter Sir Joseph’s Female Relatives. They dance.

Relatives
Gayly tripping, lightly skipping, flock the maidens to the shipping

Sailors
Flieg der lumpa fum der fenshter
Laszt uns froehlich sei im ernster.

Relatives
Sailors sprightly, always rightly, welcome ladies so politely.

Sailors
Weibsleid oss so haerlich singen,
Werden lusht und freude bringen.

Enter Sir Joseph.

Captain
Do kumt der Jo; now geb drei cheers.

Hurray! hurray! hurray!

SONG (Sir Joseph)

(spoken) Ich hab so’n holve notion—das
Ich bin der kaynich fum der meer,
Das grosse shiff ich steer,
Die ganze welt iss mich bekannt.

Hebe
Und mir sin sei shwester und sei cousins und sei aunts

Relatives
Und mir sin, etc.

Sir Joseph
Ven at enker here I ride
My bozzum swells mit bpride;
Und I snep my fingers on der foeman’s taunts.

Hebe
Und so could sel schweshter und sei cousins
Oss er tzahla kann bei dutzens, und sei aunts.


Sir Joseph
Die buwa guken tzimlich sowa d’moyra.

Salors (saluting)
Danke shoen.

Sir Joseph
Sie sin feina kerls.

Sailors (salute)
Unser ganze achtung.

Sir Joseph
Dusht sie gude treat?

Sailors (singing)
“M’r drinken nix oss tay.”

Sir Joseph
Was; gar net?

Sailors (emphatically)
Nay—

Sir Joseph
You’ve a remarkably fine crew, Captain Corcoran.

Captain (suppressing them)
Sh-sh-h…! (leads Sir Joseph to front and whispers)—
Ols a’ mol.

Sir Joseph
So-o-o-o. Sawg seller kal sol mohl do raus kumma (pointing a general way to the sailors)

Captain (puzzled, imitates his motion and says)
Sawg, du, kum mol do rous; der Jo will mit dir schwetza.

Sailors (not knowing which one is meant, they all file up and surrounding Sir Joseph, salute)
Ich bin do.

Sir Joseph (furiously)
Zurick.

Sailors (retreat)
Ich bin zurick.

Sir Joseph
Ich hab sella kerl DAT gemehnt (pointing to Ralph)

Captain
Du grumnasicher; feesel die foula karper do funna.

Ralph
Was husht g’sawt?

Captain
Wie mensht? Ich glaub ich fershtay dich net.

Ralph
Wann ich so gude sei will.

Captain (angrily)
Was, du—

Sir Joseph (rebuking)
Tut-tut-tut. Er hut recht. Wann er so gude sei will.

Captain
Hum-m-m! Wann du so gude sei wit (Ralph comes forward)

Sir Joseph
For I hold dot on dem seas
Dot expression “off you blease”
A particularly gentlemanly tone implants.

Cousin Hebe
Und so thun sei schwester und sei cousins und sei aunts.

All
Sei schwester und sei cousins
Oss er tzahla kann bei dutzend,
Und sei aunts.


Sir Joseph
Captain, es war mir geshta g’sawt du hetsht so’n shaene tochd’r. Iss es waar?

Captain
Oh, hibsch, hibsch, sehr hibsch.

Sir Joseph
Gukt sie wie ihre Papaw?

Captain
Nay, gar net.

Sir Joseph (relieved)
Ah! dann kannsht du sie officially informa das ich sie sehne will im kabin und won sie mich suit du ich sie hiara naksht Sontag.

Exit Sir Joseph and Captain.

GLEE

A British tar is a soaring soul
As free as a mountain bird;
His energetic fist
Should be ready to resist
A dictatorial word. (Etc.)

Exit all excepting Ralph.

Ralph
Mei mind iss uff g’macht. Ich frag die Josephine der naksht mohl oss ich sie sehn. Ich bin yusht so gude oss anicha mann except der Jo—der Jo secht yo selvet im des shtick oss er uff g’macht hut, und s’iss aw die wahrheit. Ah! sie kumt!—Herz, mei herz, laszt no die ew’ge unruh (retires backstage as Josephine enters).

Josephine
‘S iss gar net d’wart, ich kan der Joe net gleicha. Der Pap het’s of course awrig gern oss mir hiara det’n, und ich det sheer ainich ebbes f’r der Dawdy zu obliga aber DASS kann ich net; mei herz iss net mehr mein eigenes. ‘S iss yusht a nawme oss mich tsitter macht, und dass is—Ralph. (Ralph approaches tenderly and deferentially, and overcome at her confession, takes her hand and says:)

Ralph
Josephine, ich liebe dich! (Josephine looks startled a moment, but recovers herself and sternly repulses him)

Duett (Josephine and Ralph)

Josephine
Geh wek, du wieshta ding,
Du husht ken recht do;
Fergess net wer ich bin,
Und wem du schwetsht zu
(aside)
Doch lieb ich ihn fum herz und darf es gar net sawga,
Mei leida und mei schmerz muss ich alanich drawga—
Es iss mir bang das alend macht mich mawga,
Sei gruma naws dut mich so awrig plawga.

Ralph
Stolz lady, wie du’s husht—hard-herzig beauty.
Du sawgst, also ich muss—es iss mei duty;
Und du mei maedle bisht der Cap. sei tochd’r.
(aside)
Doch, kennt sie mich yusht gleicha waer ich ganz zufrida.
Sie shput und lacht, doch muss ich sie mei lieb owbida—
Fum noth und elend det ich sie b’heeta,
Und wie en airlich mensch ich det sie treata.

Josephine
Die naws, die naws iss grum.

Ralph
Mei herz, mei herz iss grawt.

Ralph (recit.)
Can I survive this overbearing
Or live a life of mad despairing,
My proffered love despised, rejected?
No, no; it’s not to be expected!
(calling of)
Messmates, ahoy!
Come here! Come here!
(Enter sailors, Hebe and relatives)

Chorus
Ya, mir sinn do,
Sinn do, sinn do.
Now sawg uns g’schwind
Was hut sie g’sawt?

Ralph (to cousin Hebe)
Es maedel secht sie wot mich net,
Sie kann mich gar net leida, lady;
Mei gruma naws gukt sie deruff,
Und shickt mich der Sals Rever nuff.

All
Oh, cruel one!

Dick
Sie will dich net, Oho! Oho!
Ich hab dir g’sawt es genkt dir so.

Chorus
Mir shtanden’s net. ‘S iss yo’n shond.
Lieb kumt zugleich zu niedrig und stolz/
Mir sinn all sowa, sober sailor leid,
Und missen mir es shtanda? Nay!

Dick
Ihr missen’s shtanda, eb ihr wollen
Oder net, Oho! Oho!
‘N lady sie—ich hab yo g’sawt
Es genkt euch so.

Ralph (drawing a pistol)
Mein freund der Tod sei Hand mir rechet,
Fur oh! mei herz—mei herz verbrechet;
Won ich kabud bin, oh! sawgen sie
Wie ich g’liebet hat—nur sie
Wich ich g’liebet hat—nur sie

During chorus he has loaded pistol.

Nem warnung, kumraade all,
Und bleiben immer leddich,
Fur Josephine ich fall!

Puts pistol to his head. Chorus stop their ears. Josephine enters.

Josephine
Sheese net—sheese net—ich lieb dich.

Chorus
Sheese net—sheese net—sie liebt dich.

Ralph (incredulously)
Liebt mich?

Josephine
Liebt dich.

Chorus
Ya, ya, ya, ya, sie liebt dich.

Dick Deadeye
Er meent er het sei Josephine,
Doch sinn sie all erbarmlich green.
Es kummt ‘n donnerschlag
Und reist die Liebe all zu nix.
Der Captain hut ‘n wort zu sawga—
Sie missen airsht der Dawdy fraga
Und wann sie dun—ich sawg’s gewiss
Das ganz unewa liebe kumt ins ew’ge Finsternis.

Josephine, Hebe, Ralph (alternating)
This very night with bated breath and muffled oar
Without a light as still as death we steal ashore.
A clergyman shall make us one at half past ten,
And then we can return, for none can part us then!

Dick
Forbear, nor carry out the scheme you’ve planned.
She is a lady—you a foremast hand!
Remember, she’s your gallant captain’s daughter,
And you the meanest slave that crawls the water!

All
Back, vermin, back, nor mock us!
Back, vermin, back, you shock us!
Let’s give three cheers for the sailor’s bride
Who casts all thought of rank aside—
Who gives up home and fortune too
For the honest love of a sailor true!
For a British tar is a soaring soul
As free as a mountain bird;
His energetic fist should be ready to resist
A dictatorial word!
His foot should stamp and his throat should growl,
His hair should twirl and his face should scowl,
His eyes should flash and his breast protrude,
And this should be his customary attitude.

CURTAIN


ACT II

Scene. Deck of H.M.S. Pinafore. Night. Captain discovered singing and accompanying himself on a mandolin. Little Buttercup seated on quarter deck, gazing sentimentally at him.

SONG (Captain)

Zu du, du gude mond
Will ich en solo singa.—
Ich glaub ich geh nous Vest,
Zu de Incha and onra sotta dinga.

Captain
Ah! Little Buttercup, still on board? That is not quite right, little one. It would have been more respectable to have gone on shore at dusk.

Buttercup
True, dear Captain—but the recollection of your sad, pale face seemed to chain me to the ship. I would fain see you smile before I go.

DUET (Little Buttercup and Captain)

Buttercup
Mein freund,
Sache sinn net alfort grawt wie sie guken,
Dick millich gukt wie rohm aber es iss net;
Und shay g’blackda shtuywel gucken wie patent-leather, aber sie sinn aw net:
Und ‘n micke-ware kann pohawna federa drawga.

Captain (puzzled)
Very true, so they do.

Buttercup
All trup shoaf huts schwatza dabei,
Alles was glaenzed iss net brass,
Der shoensht kerl im class kann shmaert oss’n bluck sei,
Und ‘s iss net alford de grest grut oss es weidsht jumpa kann.

Captain
Ich glaub es wohl alle mohl.
Ich denk dahinter steht was shrecklich,
Ueberaus, und ganz unglicklich
—’S iss nich waar.

Buttercup
Es iss waar.

Captain
Well,
Ich hais mich net so ueberaus g’scheit,
Aber so kennt ich shwetza fum now bis naksht Grischdawg;
Es war mohl ‘n katz hut die gichdera kotta.
Wo’s feier hut, hut’s aw shmoke.

Buttercup
Frequentlee I agree.

Captain
M’r kann oft guka was m’r net gern sawga det.
Es liderlich kind set’s briggle shpeera,
‘N tayleffle molossich iss besser oss gar ken zuker im koffe.
Der geitzich hund shloaft ols noch im geilsdroag.

Buttercup
Ich glaub es wohl alle mohl.

Captain
Paw of cat the chestnut snatches,
Worn out garments show new patches,
Only count the chick that hatches;
Men are grown up catchy catches.

Buttercup
Yes, I know that is so
Aside Though to catch my drift he’s striving,
I’ll dissemble—I’ll dissemble;
When he sees at what I’m driving
Let him tremble—let him tremble.

Captain
Ich denk dahinter shteht was schrecklich,
Ueberaus und ganz unglicklich;
Doch ich glaub sie schnitzled hesslich,
Es iss waar, ganz und gar.
Doch ich glaub sie schnitzled hesslich,
Was sie sawgt iss ungewisslich;
Ihr gedanken sinn unmesslich,
Ess iss waar.

Buttercup
‘S iss nicht waar.

Exit Little Buttercup melodramatically.

Captain
Incomprehensible as her utterances are, I nevertheless feel that they are dictated by sincere regard for me. But to what new misery is she referring? Time alone can tell!

Enter Sir Joseph

Sir Joseph
Captain Korkoran, I was very much disappointed mit your daughter. I don’t dink she vil do.

Captain
She won’t do, Sir Joseph?

Sir Joseph
Dot vos it. Der fact vos, dot although I have urge my suit mit as much eloquence as vos inconsistent for an official utterance, I don’t vos successful. How you make dot oud?

Captain
Really, Sir Joseph, I hardly know. Josephine is of course sensible of your condescension.

Sir Joseph
Yaw, dot vos drue.

Captain
But perhaps your exalted rank dazzles her.

Sir Joseph
You dink it vould?

Captain
I can hardly say; but she is a modest girl; and her social position is far below your own. It may be that she feels she is not worthy of you.

Sir Joseph
Dot vos really a very sensible suggestion of human nature as I had given you credit fo.

Captain
See, she comes. If your lordship would kindly reason with her, and assure her officially that it is a standing rule at the Admiralty that love levels all ranks, her respect for an official utterance might influence her to look upon your offer in its proper light.

Sir Joseph
Dot vos not unlikely. I vill took your suggestion. But hush! I hear feetsteps!


Josephine
The hours creep on apace,
My guilty heart is quaking!
Oh, that I might retrace
The step that I am taking.
It’s folly it were easy to be showing,
What I am giving up and whither going.
A simple sailor, lowly born,
Unlettered and unknown,
Who toils for bread from early morn
Till half the night has flown!

Sir Joseph (coming down)
Josephine, it has been represented to me dot you vas oxcited by my exalted rank. I vould like to told you officially dot off your hesitation vos attributed to dat circumstance it vos uncalled for.

Josephine
Oh! then your lordship is of opinion that married happiness is NOT inconsistent with discrepancy in rank.

Sir Joseph
I vos offically mit dot opinion.

Josephine
That the high and lowly may be truly happy together, provided that they truly love one another?

Sir Joseph
Josephine, I vould like to told you OFFICIALLY—dot vos it.

Josephine
I thank you, Sir Joseph. I DID hesitate, but I will hesitate no longer. (Aside) He little thinks how eloquently he has pleaded his rival’s cause. (Captain has entered, during this speech he comes down.)

TRIO (First Lord, Captain and Josephine)

Josephine
Never mind the why and wherefore.
Love can level ranks and therefore
I admit its jurisdiction!
Ably have you played your part,
You have carried firm conviction
To my hesitating heart.

All
Laszt die glocken jubeltoenen, Reisst die luft mit lust gesang, etc.

Sir Joseph
Frag uns net f’r explanation,
Sei zufrida wann mir sawgen
Dass es kann ken dif’rence mache
Eb du gelt husht oder net,
Es kennt mich net besser pleasa
Wann der Dawdy millyona het.

Captain
Sir Joseph, I cannot express to you my delight at the happy result of your eloquence. Your argument was unanswerable.

Sir Joseph
Captain Korkoran, dot vos one of ther habbiest karackteristics of dis happy guntry, dot official utterances could invariably be regarded as unanswerable.

Captain
At last my fond hopes are to be crowned. My only daughter is to be the bride of a cabinet minister. (During this speech Dick Deadeye has entered.)

Dick (Mysteriously)
I’m come to give you warning.

Captain
Indeed Do you propose to leave the navy then?

Dick
No, no; you misunderstand me; listen!
Gude Cap, ich det dir gern mohl eppes sawga,
Singt hey tra la, gude Captain oss du bisht;
Doch ‘s iss mir bang es wird dir wenning plaga.
Singt hey tra la, gude Captain oss du bisht.
Tra la mei guda Captain.—

Captain
Tra la, du narrish sailor.

Dick
Gude Cap. dei glaene tochd’r hut ‘n plawn gesetzt,
Tra la, mei guda Captain oss du bisht.
Auf diese nacht mit Ralf zu heiarawden yetzt,
Tra la, mei guda Captain oss du bisht—
Tra la, mei guda Captain.—

Captain
Dick Deadeye, I thank you for your warning. I will at once take means to arrest their flight. This boat cloak will afford me ample disguise. So! (Envelopes himself in a mysterious cloak, holding it before his face.)

Dick
Aha! Sie sinn g’fixed! sie sinn g’fixed! (Enter crew on tiptoe, with Ralph and Boatswain, meeting Josephine, who enters from cabin on tiptoe with bundle of necessaries, and accompanied by Little Buttercup. The captain, shrouded in his boat cloak, takes the stage unnoticed.)

(Captain stamps.)

All (much alarmed)
Was der dausig war dann dass?

Dick
Sei’n doch shtill, es war die katz!
Pull ashore, in fashion steady,
Hymen will defray the fare,
For a clergyman is ready
To unite the happy pair.

(Stamps as before)

All
Was der dausig—war shon wider dass?

Dick
Se’in doch shtill, es war die katz!

All
Shon wieder war’s die katz!

Captain
Sie hen recht—es war die katz.

(throwing off cloak)
Hullup!
Shoen tochd’r fun mei’m,
Sei so gude mir zu sawga,
Wohie oss du geh wit
Mit die salors vun mei’m.
Sinn first rate-a kerls und kennten
Anich ebba dresha.
Doch sinn sie net gude company
Mei lady, fur dich.

Ralph
Proud officer, that haughty lip uncurl!
Vain main, suppress that supercilious sneer.
For I have dared to love your matchless girl—
A fact well known to all my messmates here!

Captain
Oh, horror!

Ralph and Joseph
I (he) humble, poor and lowly born.
The meanest in the port division—
The butt of epauletted scorn—
The mark of quarter-deck derision—
Have (has) dared to raise my (his) wormy eyes
Above the dust to which you’d mould me (him),
In manhood’s glorious pride to rise.
I am (he is) an Englishman.

Chorus
Guk’n mohl aw!
Er iss ‘n Englisher.

Boatswain
Oss er iss ‘n Englisher,
Und er hut’s yo selvet g’sawt

Chorus
Oss er iss ‘n Englisher.

Captain (trying to repress his anger)
In uttering a reprobation
To any British tar,
I try to speak with moderation,
But you have gone too far.
I am sorry to disparage
A humble foremast lad,
But to seek your captain’s child in marriage,
Fadultzei, ‘s iss zu awrig.

All (shocked)
Oh!

Captain
Yaw, fadultzei, ‘s iss zu awrig. (During this Sir Joseph has appeared on deck. He is horrified at the bad language.)

Sir Joseph
My pain und my distress
I found it was not easy to express
May amazement, my surprise
You may found out by looking on my eyes.

Captain
My lord, one word: the facts are not yet before you:
The word was injudicious, I avow!
But hear my explanation, I implore you,
And you will be indignant, I avow!

Sir Joseph
I vill hear of no defence.
Attempt none, vos you sensible.
Dot vord of evil sense
Vos wholly indefensible.
Go, ribald, got you hence
To your kaeben mit celerity.
Dis vos der gaonsequence
Of ill-advised asperity!

(Exit Captain, disgraced, followed by Josephine.)

Sir Joseph
Now, you told me how it vos dot your Captain swear at you. It vasn’t your fault, vos it?

Ralph
Please, your honor, it was thus wise. You see I was only a topman—a mere foremast hand—

Sir Joseph
Don’t be ashamed of dot. Your position as topman vos a very oxalted one.

Ralph
Well, your honor, love burns as brightly in the foksle as it does on the quarter deck, and Josephine is the fairest bud that ever blossomed upon the tree of a poor fellow’s wildest hopes.

Enter Josephine; she rushes to Ralph’s arms. Sir Joseph is horrified.

All
Ah-h-h-h!

Sir Joseph
Insolent sailor, you shall repent dis outrage. Seize him!

The marine seizes him and handcuffs him.

Josephine
Oh, Sir Joseph, spare him, for I love him tenderly.

Sir Joseph
Got oud!—I teach dot presumptuous marine to discipline his affections. Haf you got such a ding as a penitentiary on board?

Amnes (lugubriously)
Um-m-m.—Yaw.

Sir Joseph
So-o-o! Vell, you tie a chain on him and take him righd avay pooty qwick oud.

At the end Ralph is led off in custody.

Sir Joseph
My pain and my distress I found itw as not easy to oxpress. My amazement, my surprise, you may found out by looking on my eyes. Josephine, I would like to told you officially dot I vos hurt. You! a daughter of a Captain in der Royal Navy—

Buttercup advancing
Hullup! Ich hab eppes zu sell zu sawga.

All
Du!

Buttercup
Yaw, ich! Ralph, kumm haer. (Ralph comes forward and kneels on her left.)
Captain, do rous mit dir. (Captain comes from Cabin and kneels at her right.)
J
o, mach die awga zu. (Joseph obediently shuts his eyes. Marine brings tray to Buttercup and transformation begins.)

SONG

Buttercup
Bout fertzich yahr zurick—
Un ‘s iss aw net geluga—
Wie ich noch yung und shay war,
Hab bavies uff getzuga.

Chorus
Now this is most alarming,
When she was young and charming,
She practiced baby farming
A many years ago.

Buttercup
Zwee war’n mir mohl gebracht,
Der ain’d war wiesht und orrum:
Der onner reich und shmart—
‘N rechter hoch geborner.

All (explaining to each other)
Now this is the position:
One was of low condition,
The other a patrician,
A many years ago.

Buttercup
O, schwer iss meiner kreuz,
Wie hab ich’s dann du kenner?
Ich hab sie uff gemixt—
Die orrum glaener kinner.

All
How could you do it?
Some day, no doubt, you’ll rue it.
Although no creature knew it
So many years ago.

Buttercup
Dann kumt amohl ‘n zeit,
Die bavies mich verlossen.
Der wieshter war der Cap,
Der onner Ralph ihr cousin.

All
They left their foster mother,
The one was Ralph our brother,
Our captain was the other
A many years ago.

Transformation takes place during this song, and at the end Ralph rises as Captain, and Captain as Ralph.

Sir Joseph
Hm-m-m! Now dot vos a very singular circumstance (pointing to Captain). Sawg sella Kerl set mohl do do’rous kum.

Ralph (as Captain)
Sawg, du grumnaisicher; feesel dei foula karper do funna.

Captain
Was husht g’sawt?

Ralph
Wie mensht? Ich glaub ich versteh dich net.

Captain
Wann ich so gude sei will.

Sir Joseph
Er hut recht! “Wann er so gude sei will.”

Ralph
Why certainly. Wann du so gude sei wid. (Captain steps forward.)

Sir Joseph to Captain
Du bisht ‘n first rate-a kerl, gella?

Captain
Falluss dich druf.

Sir Joseph
So it seems dot you vos Ralph and Ralph vos you.

Captain
So it seems, your honor.

Sir Joseph
Vell, I need not told you dot on top of dis I don’t marry Josephine.

Captain
Don’t say dot, your honor; love levels all ranks.

Sir Joseph
Yes, he do pooty much, but he don’t lefel ‘m gvite so much as all dot. (Hands Josephine over to Ralph and calls Hebe to himself.)

QUARTETTE

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen
The clouded sky is now serene!
The god of day, the orb of love,
Has hung his ensign high above,
The sky is all ablaze
With wooing words and loving song
We’ll chase the lagging hours along.
And if he finds the maiden coy,
We’ll murmur forth decorous joy
In dreamy roundelay.

Captain
I shall marry with a wife
In my humble rank of life!
(Turning to Buttercup)
And you, my own, are she—
I must wander to and fro,
But wherever I may go,
I shall never be untrue to thee!

Sailors
Was, gar net?

Captain
Nay, gar net.

Sailors
Was, GAR NET

Captain
Well, ols amohl.

All
Hardly ever be untrue to thee! Then give three cheers and one cheer more for the faithful seaman for the “Pinafore.”

Buttercup
Doch gleicht er sei Buttercup, orrum glay Buttercup,
Und ich waiss gar net warrum;
Doch gleicht er sei Buttercup, shay glaene Buttercup,
Zu dei glay Buttercup kim.

Chorus
Doch gleicht er sei Buttercup, orrum glay Buttercup,
Und mir wissen gar net warrum.
Doch gleicht er sei Buttercup, orrum glay Buttercup,
Iss er now net hesslich dum!

Sir Joseph
Ich bin der kaynich fun der meer,
Und ven ich hiar dir (to Hebe)
I vos true mit dot devoton vot my lofe implants.

Hebe
Then good-bye to his sisters and his cousins and his aunts!
Especially his cousins,
Who he reckons up by dozens,
His sisters and his cousins and his aunts!

Chorus
Ols er iss ‘n Englisher,
Und er hut’s yo selvet g’sawt.
Yaw, er hut’s yo selvet g’sawt,
Ols er iss ‘n Englisher.

CURTAIN


This Pennsylvania German version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor was serialized in The Morning Call (Allentown) newspaper on May 16, May 23, and May 1959.

The Pennsylvania German translation of Pinafore was first published in Allentown in 1882 as H.M.S. Pinafore, oder Das Mædle und ihr Sailor Kerl: ‘n Translation fun dem bekannte Opera. That text was presented in parallel Pennsylvania German and the original English libretto, and translated by Alfred C. Moss and Ellwood Newhard. It was revived in 1901 in Allentown, Altoona, Bethlehem, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, Scranton, and other Pennsylvania towns to great regional acclaim. A second revival focused in eastern Pennsylvania took place in 1910 and was still recalled by scholars and residents of Northampton County and Lehigh County in the 1960s.

The Pennsylvania German text digitized here was edited and corrected by Preston Albert Barba (1883-1971) in 1959 and published in his ‘S Pennsyvaanisch Deitsch Eck (The Pennsylvania German Corner) column with notes and commentary. A third text was prepared in the 1970s or 1980s in typescript for an unknown purpose by the Rev. Dr. Richard Druckenbrod, a German Reformed United Church of Christ pastor and president of the Pennsylvania German Society.

Dr. Barba notes: “The Pennsylvania German version is not in the best Lehigh Countian Pennsylvania German and contains many errors, but it was meant to be burlesque. Joined with the light music of Sullivan and Woody Newhard’s dialect ad libs it proved a roaring success.”

This text was transcribed by Richard Mammana in 2022 for purposes of free use non-commercial language study with no further assertion of copyright.

November 1977 article from The Morning Call.

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Filed under Bibliography, Pennsylvania German, Personal

Pennsylvania Amish Communities That Failed (Maurice A. Mook, 1954)

In an earlier essay in which the ten present Old Order Amish communities in Pennsylvania were identified and located, it was stated that “No one knows how many times the Amish have unsuccessfully attempted to establish new communities … in the history of the Commonwealth.” Recent research at the Mennonite Publishing House Library at Scottdale has revealed evidence of more than a dozen now-extinct Amish communities in the state. These unsuccessful attempts of the Amish to establish colonies in Pennsylvania range from the early eighteenth century to the present year.

There are records of five Amish attempts to establish sectarian community life in southeastern Pennsylvania during he earliest years of their settlement in America. Only one of these communities survives to the present day. One of their first colonies was the “Northkill” settlement, established in the late 1730s near the present town of Hamburg, in northern Berks County. This frontier community, located some distance north of other settlements in southeastern Pennsylvania, was near a gap in the Blue Mountain range. The geographical isolation of its location and its proximity to the break in the mountain barrier exposed it to the Indian raids of the frontier fringe during the French and Indian War. Also the non-resistant faith of its Amish inhabitants made it an easy victim of such attacks. Had it not been for the Indian raids it might be quite confidently assumed that the colony would have been a successful venture. It was the largest southeastern Pennsylvania Amish settlement at the time of the Indian Massacre of 1757, which is usually regarded as having softened its success and prepared it for ultimate failure as a living community. Some of the Northkill families surviving these depredations are known to have receded southward to locations nearer the older, less isolated, and less exposed English and German settlements in the southeastern corner of the state.

There were several other small Amish local geographical groups south of Northkill during the middle years of the eighteenth century. I call them “geographical groups,” for there seems to be little evidence, other than tradition (unacceptable as historical evidence without corroborating proof) that two or three of these were ever organized as congregations, and it is uncertain as to whether these were sufficiently large or long-lasting to deserve the name “community.” There were, however, during these early years, small groups of Amish families in the Oley area, in Tulpehocken Valley, and on Maiden Creek in Berks County. There was also a larger group, formally organized as a congregation, near present Malvern, in eastern Chester County. The members of this community have the distinction of being the first Amish in America to build a “meeting house” for worship services, and its members also in other respects accepted “English” (non-Amish) ways. Today the group would be known as “Church” Amish, or “New Order,” to distinguish it from the more conservative congregations now commonly referred to as “House” or “Old Order” Amish. Characteristic Amish surnames are still decipherable on old tombstones in a cemetery near Malvern, and the foundations of the meeting house were still discernible in the late 1930s.

In addition to these unsuccessful community ventures, in the middle years of the eighteenth century the Conestoga congregation was established on the edge of the area the Amish still occupy in this portion of the state. This group grew in size and strength and developed into the thriving present Lancaster County Amish community. From the time of its origin and throughout the history of the Commonwealth, it has been the largest, strongest, and most vital of all Pennsylvania Amish settlements. It is, indirectly at least, the “mother colony” of all other historic and present-day Amish communities in the state, and it has been, moreover, the source of settlement of many Amish communities in other states of the United States. It is no longer the largest Amish settlement in the United States, as many articles still claim, but it remains one of the three largest local groups, the other two being the community in Holmes County and vicinity in east-central Ohio, and the settlement centering in Elkhart County, in northern Indiana.

Subsequent to the earliest southeastern settlements, the next congregations to be founded were three in present Somerset County, two of which are now extinct. The Amish joined the trans-Alleghenian westward movement, which resulted in a settlement in Somerset County which was started in 1767, and within approximately a decade three geographically distinct Amish communities were in existence in this area. These were the Conemaugh congregation in the northernmost section of the county, the “Glades” congregation farther south, and the Casselman River community still farther south, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland line. Of these three the latter group, now known as the “Meyersdale church,” is the only one to survive. It is currently a single congregation of some 200 members, which would indicate a community of from 500 to 600 inhabitants. It is the second oldest and third largest Old Order community in the state at the present time.

All three of these early Somerset settlements generously contributed members to newly established Amish communities in Ohio and the Middle West. The northern Somerset community included an individual who is perhaps the only Amishman to have his name embodied in the cultural geography of Pennsylvania. The city of Johnstown was in a sense founded by Joseph Schantz (later Yahns, Jahns and Johns), an Amishman who owned land where a part of Johnstown now stands, and who deposited a charter with county officers in which a town was laid out with land donated by him for streets and public buildings. Thus a man belonging to a religious sect strictly committed to a rural way of life chose the site of and provided for and stimulated the early development of one of our state’s larger cities.

Amish settlement in Mifflin County began in the early 1790s. This group grew steadily in size and also contributed heavily by emigration to Amish communities elsewhere. The pressure of population in this beautiful but limited valley led to the settlement of some Amish families on the Juniata River near present McVeytown, across Jacks Mountain marking the southern boundary of “Big Valley” (Kishacoquillas). The Amish congregation here was known as the “River Church.” Though only a few miles distant from the main body of Amish people in Kishacoquillas Valley, the trip over the mountain with team and buggy or wagon was difficult and time-consuming. This impediment to inter-community communication and visitation must have contributed to the failure of the river group as a separate community. Its church had an estimated membership of 29 in 1850; it had 79 members in 1900, according to a local resident; but it is now extinct as an Old Order community. Meanwhile the Big Valley group has increased from one church to eight church districts, which have a total reported membership of 606 for the current year. It is now and for some years has been the second largest Amish settlement in the Commonwealth.

The date of origin of the nineteenth century Amish community in Juniata County is unknown to the writer, but it may have been as early as the first decade of the century. In 1850 there were two organized churches, one in Lost Creek Valley, and one in Tuscarora (Creek) Valley, respectively north and south of the Juniata River in the vicinity of Mifflintown. In an Amish census for 1850, taken in 1900 and based upon the memory of Amish old-timers who claimed ability to remember back to 1850, it was estimated that there were 85 members in these two churches at mid-century. In 1900 one member of the church was listed for Tuscarora Valley and none for Lost Creek Valley. In 1950 the writer found several former farmer-neighbors of the Amish who could vaguely remember this Amish colony which apparently was abandoned in the late 1880s or early 1890s. It became extinct by deaths and by the removal of Amish families to adjoining Mifflin County and elsewhere. Several small old cemeteries north and east of Mifflintown have many weathered tombstones on which characteristic Amish first names and surnames can be distinguished. Joseph W. Yoder has given us an interesting picture of Amish life in Lost Creek Valley during the later years of the community’s existence (Rosanna of the Amish, chs. 3-6). It was the Lost Creek Valley community to which Rosanna and her mother moved from Halfmoon Valley in Centre County, and from which she and her parents later removed to Big Valley in Mifflin County.

Another Amish community that also failed in the late nineteenth century was the Buffalo Valley congregation, located in Union County a few miles northeast of Mifflinburg and northwest of Lewisburg. This congregation-community began in the 1830s and survived for some five decades, becoming extinct in the 1880s. Of all former but now extinct Amish communities in the history of Amish settlement in the United States, this is the best documented one in the literature of Mennonitism. Its church history, as well as the life and customs of its inhabitants, have been discussed in detail by Prof. John Umble of Goshen College, Indiana (Mennonite Quarterly Review, Vol. VII, 1933, pp. 71-96 and 162-190). Professor Umble’s forbears were members of this community.

Some sixty miles west of the Union County group and several decades earlier in time there existed during approximately the first forty years of the last century a small Amish community in Halfmoon Valley, twelve miles northwest of State College in Centre County. The Amish farms were near the present village of Stormstown. A small Amish cemetery (on the farm of Mr. Clarence Beck, R.D., Warriors Mark, Pa.) survives as one of the two material marks of the former community’s existence. On Mr. Beck’s farm there is also an old house with removable partitions between the rooms. It is reasonable to assume that it was occupied, and possibly built, by an Amish family, for this was an Amish practice by which the downstairs rooms of a house were connected with each other to facilitate worship services in the home. Dr. John A. Hostetler, himself of Amish derivation, has found well-known Amish surnames in the Centre County Court House records at Bellefonte which pertain to this group and which extend fro 1804 to 1840. These dates of deeds, sales of property, etc., probably approximately limit the period of Amish occupancy of Halfmoon Valley. Readers of Rosanna of the Amish may recall that Rosanna was born in this valley and that she and her foster mother moved from it to Lost Creek Valley toward the middle years of the past century.

In this another area of the state memory of two other now-extinct Amish communities has been brought to light by recent field work among surviving non-Amish residents of the region. During the depression years of the 1930s an Old Order Amish community of from 20 to perhaps 30 or even 40 families was located near Spartansburg in northeastern Crawford County. The community began in the early 1930s by families migrating from Ohio, and it ended in the late 1930s by the families returning to their areas of origin. This community, according to present non-Amish residents of the area (visited by the writer in the summer of 1951), expired largely as a victim of the Depression. It is possible also that certain personality conflicts among its residents contributed to its failure as a functioning group (cf. Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, March, 1954, pp. 33-46).

There was also during the same decade a short-lived small Amish community of five families and one adult, consisting of 24 persons in all, only 12 of whom were adult members of the church, located at Bear Lake in northwestern Warren County. All but one of the members of this community were relatives, which illustrates the kinship principle that has been so important as a factor in the genesis and growth of new Amish communities in the United States. A bishop (interviewed by the writer in Mercer County in 1952) led this group, which was a worship congregation throughout the difficult months of its existence. The small group was troubled by physical illness, as well as lonesomeness and homesickness, and after two winters and an intervening summer they abandoned their farms and returned to Ohio form which they had come in the first place. It is probably one of the smallest and most temporary colonies in the 250 years of Amish settlement in America. In addition to the psychological factors, inability to market crops and to pay for their farms during and due to the Depression caused the failure of this venture. (I have reported on the Bear Lake colony as a case-study in Amish community failure in the July, 1953 issue of the Mennonite Historical Bulletin.)

The final instance of failure to successfully maintain Amish community life known to the writer is a small group that abandoned its attempt in April of the present year. In August, 1949, a group of three families, two of whose heads were Old Order Amish church officials in the Enon Valley congregation in Lawrence County, moved to Brush Valley in Centre County, several miles northeast of Centre Hall. The colony never thrived and to my knowledge was never joined by additional families. Three families are not enough, of course, to successfully maintain congregational life. In April, 1954, two of these families left the area, thus terminating to date the historic series of unsuccessful attempts at new community colonization by the Amish people in Pennsylvania.

All recent attempts of the Amish to start new communities have not failed, however. Contrary to the experience of the recent Centre County group, two other Amish communities, started in the state within the past five years, are growing and seem to be firmly established, at least prospectively, as functioning groups. These are the Amish community in Snyder County, four miles west of Selinsgrove, and a new group which recently located in Juniata County, north of Mifflintown—in the very area where the nineteenth-century Lost Creek Valley community met defeat some 60 or 70 years ago.

Three of the ten Amish communities now in existence in Pennsylvania (those in Lancaster, Somerset, and Mifflin counties) have had a continuous history from the eighteenth century. These three are the largest and most solidly established Amish communities in the Commonwealth at the present time. Two more were established in the nineteenth century (New Wilmington and Enon Valley, both in Lawrence County), one of which has been a steadily growing group. The remaining five have come into existence since 1924. Seven of the ten have been established since 1800, which would contradict the assertion found in a recent article that “Not many Amish communities have been established since 1800.” Seven may not be “many,” but it is more than half of the total surviving group.

It is thus seen that there are more extinct Amish communities in the history of the state than there are successfully surviving ones. The extinct ones were, with two exceptions, small groups which lasted less than half a century. We thus see that in Amish community life the larger the group and the longer it lasts, the stronger and less susceptible to failure it comes to be. Size and age of the community present themselves as a kind of insurance against community decline and death. In Pennsylvania, at least, if an Amish community can survive its first half-century, it seems to develop a degree of immunity to failure. However, insurance is not assurance, of course, that a community may not ultimately fail.

In spite of the fourteen failures of the Amish to successfully colonize in Pennsylvania, one should resist entertaining an impression that the Amish type of Pennsylvania German culture is marked by debility and carries the germs of its own decay and death. As has been previously pointed out, there are more Amish communities, more Amish churches, and more individual members of Amish churches and communities now than ever before in the history of the sect in this state. The same is true of all other states in which the Amish are represented in appreciable numbers. The Old Order Amish way of life may be changing, perhaps with increasing rapidity, but their numbers are also steadily increasing, and there are currently certainly no signs of decrease in the rate of increase of this group.

Transcribed in 2022 by Richard Mammana from a 1954 typescript. Another version of this article appeared in The Morning Call (Allentown), on August 21, 1954. American Quaker professor Maurice Allison Mook (1904-1973) was a scholar of the Walapai tribe in Arizona, and wrote widely on American Indian history, Amish history, Quaker society, and Pennsylvania folklore. He retired from Penn State in 1968.

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Wöppels in Baden and Easton

Compiled 1999-2022 by Richard Mammana. Please email with corrections and additions.

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