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IV.— THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT.' 



Ethnographical Introduction. 

The object of the present chapter is to trace the history of the 
early German settlers of Pennsylvania from their old homes in 
the Fatherland to their settlements in the province of William 
Penn. By thus ascertaining their ethnic origin it will be. possible 
to determine the speech-elements brought by them to Pennsyl- 
vania soil and developed into the unique dialect termed " Penn- 
sylvania German" or " Pennsylvania Dutch" (called by those who 
speak it, " Pennsylvanisch Deitsch"). 

While the theme is of peculiar interest to the linguist, it has for 
the student of American institutions also an importance too often 
overlooked by our historians. Here two great branches of a 
powerful ethnic stem unite to develop under new conditions a new 
social and political organism. It is hence great historical injustice 
to include all the early settlements of Pennsylvania under the 
occupation and development of that province by Quakers (or 
Friends). It has been those of German blood, men like Rupp, 
Seidensticker, Egle, and others of local importance, who have 
called attention to the real significance of this German element in 
the colonization of America. 2 True, our liberty-loving poet has 
caught the plaintive note of the pioneer's song and woven it into the 
touching " Lay of the Pennsylvania Pilgrim," Franz Daniel Pas- 
torius leaving the scenes of literary activity and the " iiberdriissig 
gekosteten europ'aischen Eitelkeiten" to find religious freedom 
and political quiet beyond the sea, in a humble cottage, over 
whose portal he set the Latin motto : 

"Parva domus sed arnica Bonis: procul este Profani." 
Klein ist mein Haus, doch Gute sieht es gem ; 
Wer gottlos ist, der bleibe fern. 3 

1 This paper forms the first chapter of a more elaborate philological treatise 
on the Pennsylvania German dialect. 

2 Of America, because from Pennsylvania a constant stream of migration has 
pushed its way into all parts of the West. Cf. Rauch's Handbuch, Preface, p. 8. 

3 Cf. Seidensticker, Bilder aus der Deutsch-Pennsylvanischen Geschichte, 
S. 39. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 65 

There is perhaps no State in the Union affording so many- 
curious phenomena of social history as the Keystone State. Here 
are found living illustrations of nearly every step of our national 
development — the statesman, scholar, poet — worthy representa- 
tives of modern culture — and hard by, the crude, honest, industrious 
Palatine (Pfalzer) or Swiss, wearing the garb of the seventeenth 
century, observing the customs of his ancestors in their modest 
hamlets along the Rhine, contentedly indifferent to the march of 
literature, art or science. Here, too, is found the most varied 
commingling of nationalities — Dutch, Swedes, English, Scotch, 
Irish, Norwegians, Danes, 1 French, Germans, not to speak of the 
promiscuous influx of Hungarians, Italians and what not, in the 
last few decenniums of the present century. 

It is in the midst of such varied ethnic forces that we are to seek 
the causes which have contributed to the formation of this impor- 
tant speech-island in the domain of German dialects. The subject 
proper will be discussed under two periods — the first, that of 
colonization 2 (1682-1753); the second, that of migration and 
frontier settlement (1753-1848). To give completeness to the 
treatment, it will not be amiss to review briefly early German colo- 
nization in other provinces of America. In the year 1705 a number 
of German Reformed left their homes between Wolfenbuttel and 
Halberstadt, went first to Neuwied in Rhenish Prussia, and thence to 
Holland, whence (1707) they sailed for New York, intending to 
join the Dutch settlements in that province ; but, driven by storm 
into the Delaware Bay, they started for New York by a land route 
through Nova Caesaria (N. J.). On reaching the regions watered 
by the Musconetcong, the Passaic and their tributaries, they halted 
and settled what is now known as German Valley of Morrison 
County, N. J. Many of their descendants are still to be found in 
Somerset, Bergen, and Essex counties. There were German settle- 
ments at Elizabethtown before 1730, and about the same time at 
Hall Mill. 

Of the 33,000 who at the invitation of Queen Anne left the 
Rhine country for London in the years 1708-9, 12,000 to 13,000 

1 In 1853 Ole Bull attempted to settle a colony of Norwegians and Danes in 
Abbott Township, Potter County. Some of these colonists still remain in the 
county. 

2 The early settlements of the Dutch on the Delaware, of the Swedes in the 
southeastern corner of the province, of the French pioneers in the western 
portion of the State, do not directly concern us here. 



66 AMERICAN 1 JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

arrived in London 1708. In the fall of 1709 one hundred and 
fifty families, consisting of six hundred Palatines, were sent under 
the direction of Christian de Graffenried and Ludwig Michel, 
natives of Switzerland, to North Carolina. Tobler and Zuber- 
btihler of St. Gall, Switzerland, settled with a large number of 
their countrymen in Granvill County, N. C, in the first third of 
the 1 8th century. Many Germans went from Virginia and Penn- 
sylvania to the mountainous regions of North Carolina. Lincoln, 
Stoke, and Granvill counties were settled by Germans. Those in 
North Carolina from Pennsylvania alone numbered in 1785 over 
1500 souls. 1 

Another company of Palatine Lutherans left London in the 
year 1708 under the direction of Rev. Josua Kocherthal, arrived 
in New York probably in December of the same year and settled 
at Newberg. In June, 1710, ten vessels set sail from London with 
more than 4000 Germans and, after a voyage of six months, 
arrived in New York. It is stated that 1700 died during the 
passage or immediately on landing. In the autumn, about 1400 
of the survivors were sent to Livingston's Manor on the Hudson. 
Of these, one hundred and fifty families went to Schoharie Valley 
in 1712, and some found a home on the frontiers of the Mohawk 
Valley. 

Queen Anne sent some Germans to Virginia also, where they 
settled at Rappahannock in Spottsylvania County. They advanced 
later, however, up the river, and many of them crossed over into 
North Carolina. Shenandoah and Rockingham counties, Va., 
were settled before 1746 by Germans from Pennsylvania. Many 
of their descendants still speak the German language, or " Dutch," 
as Washington called it when referring to them in his surveys of 
their land." 

As early as 1710-1712 German emigrants came to Maryland 
and settled between Monocacy and the mountains, where Fred- 
ericktown was laid out in 1745. This settlement soon extended 
to the Glades, Middletown, and Hagerstown. In the years 
1748-54 about 2800 Germans were brought to Maryland, many 
of whom settled in Baltimore.' 

In the year 1716-17 several thousand Germans, under the 

1 Cf. Rupp, 30,000 German Names, p. 4, quoted from Loher, p. 69. 

2 Quoted by Rupp in 30,000 German Names, p. 7, from Sparks' Washington, 
II 418. 

8 Cf. Rupp, 30,000 German Names, p. 13, and Gayarre's Louisiana, pp. 360-1. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 67 

leadership of John Law, 1 embarked for Louisiana, but Law landed 
them on the pontines of Biloxi, near Mobile. After exposure and 
death had wrought their ravages, about three hundred finally 
settled along the Mississippi, in the present C6te d'Or, thirty or 
forty miles above New Orleans. Their descendants forgot their 
mother tongue and adopted the French language. 

In the spring of 1734, some Lutherans from Salzburg in Upper 
Austria arrived in Georgia and settled Ebenezer in Effingham 
County. This colony received accessions and numbered in 1745 
several hundred families. In addition to forty or fifty Moravians 
who had already settled in the State under the leadership of 
Nitchman, there were also a number of Germans in Savannah. 
In the year 1732 about one hundred and seventy persons were 
brought over by Pury of Neuchatel and began a Swiss settlement 
called Purysburg, on the north bank of the Savannah, about 
thirty-six miles from its mouth. 

In the years 1740- 1755 many Palatines were sent to South 
Carolina and settled Orangeburg, Congaree, and Wateree. In 
1765 more than six hundred Palatines and Suabians, sent over 
from London, settled a separate township in South Carolina. 

In 1739 a settlement was made by German Lutherans and 
German Reformed at Waldoborough in Lincoln County, Maine. 2 

In 1753 George II of England induced a company consisting 
largely of Hanoverians to go and settle in Nova Scotia. They 
landed at Marliguish June 7th of the same year and laid out the 
town of Lunenburg, where their descendants are still to be found. 

I. — Period of Colonization (1682-1753). 

At the beginning of this period we are met by two groups of 
facts which gave rise to the great influx of Germans into Penn- 
sylvania : (1) the unsettled political, religious and social condition 
of Germany ; (2) the influence of William Penn's travels in that 
country, which, at the beginning of the 17th century a pros- 
perous country, had been reduced by the Thirty Years War to 
the most wretched poverty. The peasant, whose condition before 
the war, though tolerable, was not without marks of the wars of 

1 The famous visionary banker, author of " A Discourse upon Money and 
Trade." 

2 Further survivals of their influence are Bremen in the same county, and 
Frankfort in Waldo County, Maine. 



68 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

the early 16th century, was brought to the last extremity. He 
had caught the spirit of misrule from the lawless life of the sol- 
dier. Villages and towns lay in ashes ; many a promising son of 
the soil fell a victim to the plague, and many districts were left 
desolate. Burgher and peasant alike groaned under the weight 
of religious persecution. 

" Where Catholicism still had foothold, the leaders of the Pro- 
testant party were swept away — especially the parochial clergy 
(Seelsorger) — most thoroughly in those provinces in which the 
Emperor himself was sovereign. Much had been done before the 
long war, but still, at the beginning of the struggle, the political 
majority, the keenest intelligence, the greater number of the con- 
gregations in Upper Austria, Moravia, Bohemia, and Silesia, were 
evangelical. At this point a thorough reformation was instituted. 
Burghers and peasants were driven to confession in crowds by the 
soldiers ; whoever, often after imprisonment and torture, refused 
to renounce his faith, was compelled to quit the country, which 
many thousands did. It was deemed a favor if the fugitives were 
granted an insufficient respite for the disposition of their movable 
property." * 

While southeastern Germany was suffering from the wounds of 
the Thirty Years War, the western provinces, especially the Upper 
Rhine country, were suffering under the ravages of Louis XIV. He 
had laid waste the cities of Alsace and taken possession of Freiburg 
in the Breisgau, Lorraine, Franche Comte, Vaudemont, Saarlouis, 
Saarbriicken, Mbmpelgard, Luxemburg, and Strassburg. In 1685 
he revoked the Edict of Nantes, by which Henry IV had granted 
Protestants equal rights with Catholics (1598), thus driving out. of 
France 500,000 Huguenots, many of whom sought refuge in Ger- 
many, Holland, and England. Inthe year 1689 the Rhine Palatinate 
(Rhein-Pfalz, Kur-Pfalz) was exposed to the most ruthless devas- 
tations. Terror reigned in hideous guise. If we add to these 
conditions the religious disturbances resulting from the pietistic 
movement throughout Germany, we shall find a ready explanation 
of the enthusiasm with which Germans hailed the hope of a 
peaceful home beyond the sea. 

It was just prior to this culmination of woes that William Penn 
made his visits to Germany — the first in 1671, the second in 1677. 

During his first visit Penn went to Emden, Crefeld, and various 

1 Freytag, Bilder III 199. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 69 

points in Westphalia. It is, however, the second of his visits which 
has the greatest significance. This time he went to Rotterdam, 
Leyden, Haarlem, and, most important of all, Amsterdam, where 
a general assembly of Quakers (Friends) from various parts of 
Europe was convened. Besides the above-named places, Penn 
revisited Crefeld, Emden, and Duisburg, extending his travels up 
the Rhineland to Krischheim, Worms, Frankfort-on-the-Maine 
and neighboring points. The acquaintances made during this 
visit led to the formation of two important land companies, the 
Crefeld Purchasers and the Frankfort Land Company. The 
Crefelders were, however, strictly speaking, private land-buyers 
and not an organization. 

It was as plenipotentiary agent of the Frankfort Company that 
Franz Daniel Pastorius arrived in Philadelphia, August 20, 1683, 
accompanied by ten persons. Their object was to prospect for 
subsequent emigrants. The first actual German colonists, how- 
ever, arrived in Philadelphia October 16, 1683, by the ship "Con- 
cord" (the Pennsylvania-German "Mayflower"). This company 
of settlers consisted of thirteen families from Crefeld and the 
neighborhood. " Sie waren eine Sippe so zu sagen. So weit ihr 
Gewerbe hat ermitteln lassen, waren es grosstenthiels Leinweber, 
so dass Pastorius allerdings Veranlassung hatte, den Weberstuhl 
in das Stadtwappen von Germantown zu setzen " (Seidensticker). 

Siedensticker thinks the thirty-three souls mentioned are to be 
understood, from the correspondence of Claypoole and Furly, as 
thirty-three " freights." This being the case, the actual number 
must have been considerably more than thirty-three persons, as 
children under twelve years came as " half- freight " and those 
under one year of age came free. The names of these persons 
are interesting and significant. 1 It was this group of colonists 
who, under the direction of Pastorius, began the settlement of 
Germantown, 1683. Seidensticker suggests that there may have 
been Mennonites among them, though Crefeld and Krischheim 
near Worms were strong Quaker points, and that the early 
divisions of Germantown — Krisheim, Sommerhausen, Crefeld — 
doubtless represented the places dear to them as homes in the 
Fatherland. Of the Crefeld Purchasers, who had bought in all 
18,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania, Jacob Telner of Crefeld 
came to America in 1684, Van Bebber in 1687, Jan Strepers of 

1 Cf. Seidensticker, Bilder, S. 28, who cites Pastorius' " Grund- und Lager- 
buch." 



70 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

Kaldenkirchen in 1691. Although no statement is found that 
fresh colonists came at these different times, it is hardly probable 
that these land-purchasers came over to settle without consid- 
erable companies of their immediate acquaintances. Thus we 
have located the first German settlers in Penn's Province. 

The next company of Germans to settle in Pennsylvania was a 
group of enthusiasts, called "The Awakened" ("Erweckte"), 
about forty in number, under the guidance of Johann Kelpius. 
They arrived in Philadelphia June 22d, and in Germantown on 
"St. Johannistag" of the year 1694. Kelpius himself was from 
Siebenbiirgen. He, with Koster, Falckner, Biedermann and 
others, had rallied around Pfarrer Zimmermann, who had been 
removed from his pastorate in Bietigheim in Wurtemberg. After 
a short stay in Halberstadt and Magdeburg, the company decided 
to emigrate to Pennsylvania. Zimmermann, however, died in Rot- 
terdam, leaving Kelpius to direct the mystic wanderers into the 
new land. He accordingly settled the suspicious new-comers on 
the Wissahickon, a short distance from Germantown, probably 
near the present Hermit's Spring and Hermit's Lane. Kelpius 
himself was steeped in the teachings of Jacob Bbhme, Dr. Peter- 
sen, and the English prophetess Jane Leade. With his litde 
group of mystics he resolved to lead a hermit's life in the wilder- 
ness and await the second coming of Christ. Their settlement 
was called " Das Weib in der Wiiste " (the woman in the wilder- 
ness). Besides the men above mentioned there were a number 
of women, but with no thought of earthly love in their life. 1 
From the Chronicon Ephratense" we learn the further develop- 
ment of this society: "Ihre Anzahl war damals (1694) bey 
vierzig, hatte sich aber vermehrt, dann 1704 vereinigte sich Con- 
rad Matthai, ein Schweizer, damit." 

From 1704-1712 the first settlements in Berks County were 
made by English Friends, French Huguenots, and German emi- 
grants from the Palatinate. The Germans settled near Wahlink 
(Oley). 

Isaac Turk, or de Turck, having been compelled, like thousands 
of his countrymen, to quit France, fled to Frankenthal in the 
Palatinate, emigrated thence (1709J to America and settled near 
Esopus, N. Y., but removed in 1712 to Oley, Berks County, 

1 Cf. Seidensticker, Bilder, S. 98 : " Und so wollten denn auch die Mitglieder 
des ' Weibes in der Wiiste ' nicht freien und nicht gefreit werden." 
S A chronicle kept in the cloister at Ephrata, Lancaster County, Pa. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 7 1 

Pa. In the same year a company of Mennonites purchased land 
in Pequea (in the present Lancaster County), Pennsylvania. In 
order to escape persecution for their religious convictions, they 
left their homes in the cantons Ziirich, Bern, and Schaffhausen, 
Switzerland, in 1672, and settled in Alsace and along the Rhine 
above Strassburg. In 1708 they migrated to London to find 
protection in the realm of Queen Anne. From England they 
emigrated to America and settled first at Germantown. Soon a 
part of them removed to Pequea-Thal and formed the nucleus 
of the settlement at Eden. This colony received large accessions 
of both Swiss and Germans, especially in the years 17 11 and 17 17. 
Many distributed themselves among the various districts of the 
province without reporting to the provincial authorities either 
their names or origin. 1 The following from Rupp's edition of 
Benjamin Rush's Essay on the Manners and Customs of the Ger- 
mans of Pennsylvania will show the general character of the 
Germans who went at this period to England, Ireland, 2 and 
America, especially Pennsylvania : 

" From the middle of April, 1709," says Rupp in a note, " till 
the middle of July of the same year there arrived at London 
11,294 German Protestants, males and females. Of the males 
there were: husbandmen and vine-dressers, 1838; bakers, 3 56; 
masons, 3 87; carpenters, 124; shoemakers, 68; tailors, 99 ; butch- 
ers, 29 ; millers, 45 ; tanners, 14 ; stocking-weavers, 7 ; saddlers, 
13; glass-blowers, 2; hatters, 3; lime-burners, 8 ; schoolmasters, 
18; engravers, 2; bakers, 3 22; brickmakers, 3; silversmiths, 2; 
smiths, 35 ; herdsmen, 3 ; blacksmiths, 48 ; potters, 3 ; turners, 6 ; 
statuaries, 1; surgeons, 2; masons, 3 39. Of these 11,294 there 
were 2556 who had families." 4 

We have given 17x2 as the date of the first settlement on 
Pequea Creek because the record of their land-purchase bears 
that date. It is possible that a few Germans had begun to take 
up land here earlier. 

The manner in which they radiated from Germantown can be 
seen in the following statement: "In 1716 Germans, French and 
a few Hollanders began to break ground twenty, thirty, forty, 

1 Cf. John Dickinson's Report of 1719. 

2 Many of the descendants of those who settled in Ireland may still be found 
in Ulster. 

'Enumerated twice because quoted verbatim. 

4 Cf. Frankfurter-Mess-Kalender von Ostern bis Herbst 1709, S. 90. 



72 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

sixty, seventy miles from the chief town " ' (Germantown). Large 
German settlements were made at the same time in the present 
Berks County. In 17 17 a German Reformed society was formed 
in Goschenhoppen ; some Low German Mennonites were settled 
on the Perkiomen and Schippack (Skippack) creeks; Germans 
and French in Wahlink, and some Huguenots in Oley. 2 

In the year 17 19 about twenty families of Schwarzenau Baptists 
(Taufer) came to Philadelphia, Germantown, Schippack (in Oley), 
Berks County, and to Conestoga, and Miihlbach (Mill Creek), Lan- 
caster County. From the Chronicon Ephratense is taken the fol- 
lowing account of this company of "Taufer," now generally known 
throughout the State as Dunkards (Dunker or Tunker) : " At the 
beginning of the 18th century arose a large sect called Pietists, 
representing all ranks and stations. Of these, many returned to the 
church and became Church-Pietists (Kirchen-Pietisten) ; the rest 
betook themselves to the districts of Marienborn, Schwarzenau, 
and Schlechtenboden. From this latter branch two different 
societies were formed, ' Die Inspirations-Verwandten ' and ' Die 
Schwarzenauer Taufer.' In the year 1708 the following eight 
persons broke the ice : Alexander Mack as teacher, a certain very 
rich miller of Schriesheim on the Bergstrasse, his ' Haussch wester,' 
a ' Witwe Nothigerin,' Andreas Bone, Johann Georg Honing, 
Lucas Vetter Keppinger, and a certain nameless armorer. From 
these eight persons originated all the ' Tauffgesinnten ' among the 
High Germans in North America. The society of ' Tauffer' (Bap- 
tists) in Schwarzenau became widely extended. One branch of 
it settled in Marienborn, and in the year 1715 are found in Crefeld. 
In 1719 a party of them under Peter Becker came to Pennsyl- 
vania." 

A few lines further on the Chronicle says of Konrad Beissel, 
the founder of the cloister at Ephrata, 3 that he was expelled from 
the Kur-Pfalz, "like many others from Frensheim, Lambsheim, 
Mutterstadt, Frankenthal, Schriesheim, and other places, the most 
of whom [i. e. of which persons] ended their days in Pennsyl- 
vania." Konrad Beissel arrived in Boston, Mass., in 1720, came 
to Conestoga, Lancaster County, Pa., and settled at Miihlbach the 
same year. 

1 Rupp, 30,000 German Names, p. 10. 

2 Ibid. p. 29, note. 

3 Cf. Siedensticker, Bilder, for a most interesting account of this cloister and 
the life in it. 



THE PENNSYL VAN! A GERMAN DIALECT. 73 

In the next company of Germans who settled in the province 
of Pennsylvania we find a remarkable instance of the toilsome 
migration of the time. In order to trace the steps of these weary 
wanderers who came to seek a peaceful retreat in the wild freedom 
of Tulpehocken, we must revert to the years 1708-9. These 
Germans were among the unfortunates who, driven by bitter per- 
secution from the Kur-Pfalz, had gone to England in 1708-9. At 
Christmas, 1709, four thousand were shipped in ten vessels to 
New York, where they arrived June io, 17 10. In the following 
fall they were taken to Livingston's Manor to work out their pas- 
sage from Holland to England and from the latter to America. 
In 1713 they were released from the debt and betook themselves, 
about one hundred and fifty families, to Schoharie, N. Y. Most of 
these migrated to Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania, in 1723. The 
leading spirit of this Tulpehocken settlement, however, was Kon- 
rad Weiser, who came with another accession of Palatines in 1729 
and located near the present Womelsdorf, which had been settled 
by the Schoharie Palatines. 

The following report (made 1764) of Keith's administration 
(about the year 1729) affords additional testimony as to the great 
numbers of Germans coming in at that time: " He [Keith] settled 
in Pennsylvania a number of Palatines, . . . and those emigrants 
poured in such numbers into Pennsylvania that the government 
of the province refused to receive any more unless they paid a 
pecuniary consideration for their reception. This obliged many 
ships full of them to go to other British settlements." In one 
year no less than 6200 Germans and others were imported into 
the colony. In this same year that company of the Taufer which 
had gone in 1720 to Westervam in West Friesland came to 
Pennsylvania. There is record of seventy-five Palatine families 
who arrived in Philadelphia in August of 1729 and settled in 
Quintaphilla, which seems to have been partly occupied, 1723-9, 
by the Schoharie settlers. In this same year (1729) emigrants 
from Germany settled also in the eastern part of the same county 
(Lebanon), and a company of German Jews made a settlement 
near Scheafferstown, the present inhabitants of which are largely 
of German descent. Here these Jews had a synagogue, and as 
early as 1732 a necropolis. In 1730 a few Dutch settled in Pike 
township, Berks County, where many of their descendants are 
still living. Kutztown in the same county was settled by Germans 
about 1733. 



74 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

In 1734 a considerable number of Schwenkfelders settled in 
Hereford township and on contiguous lands in Berks, Mont- 
gomery, and Lehigh counties, where many of their descendants 
are still to be found. Their number in 1876 was given as about 
three hundred families, constituting eight hundred members, with 
five churches and one school -house. 1 

The next settlement of importance was made by the Moravians 
at Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pa. In the spring of 1740 s 
Peter Bohler left Georgia with a few Moravians from Herrnhut, 
Saxony, who had attempted a settlement among the Creek Indians 
in 1734. In 1741 they began to build the town of Bethlehem (the 
present centre of the Moravian Church North). In 1745 most of 
those who had settled in Georgia, numbering several hundred 
families, migrated to Pennsylvania because they were religiously 
opposed to bearing arms in the war with Spain. They settled for 
the most part in the counties of Berks, Montgomery, Bucks, and 
Lehigh, and organized a church at Emaus as early as 1747.* 

In 1748 Reading, Berks County, was founded and continues to 
be one of the strongest German centres of the State. Dr. Egle's 
words are fitting here : " Reading, at the erection of Berks County 
(1752), contained three hundred and seventy-eight inhabitants. 
The original settlers were principally Germans from Wurtemberg 
and the Palatinate, with a few Friends under the patronage of 
Penn. Most of the inhabitants being Germans, they gave charac- 
ter to the language and customs. For many years the German 
tongue was almost exclusively spoken, and is still used in social 
intercourse and religious worship in a considerable portion of the 
present population. Till 1824, the date of the erection of the first 
Presbyterian church, the religious services of the churches were 
held in German." 4 What is here said of Reading is true in 

'Mr. J. Y. Heckler writes me under date of September 17, 1887, that the 
Schwenkfelders' settlement is divided into two districts, the Upper and the 
Lower. They have six churches, located as follows : In the Upper District, 
(1) the Upper Hanover township, near the county line of Montgomery, Lehigh, 
and Bucks counties ; (2) on the " Teufel's Loch," Washington township, Berks 
County ; (3) in Hosensack Valley, Upper Milford township, Lehigh County. 
In Lower District, (1) in the eastern corner of Lower Salford township ; (2) in 
southern corner of Towamencin township ; (3) in southern part of Worcester 
township ; last three all in Montgomery County. 

2 Cf. Henry's Lehigh Valley (in five numbers), No. 2, pp. 172 ff. 

s Cf. Reichel, Friedensthal and its Stockaded Mill, Northampton County 
(1 749-1 767). 

4 Cf. Chapter on Reading in Egle's History of Pennsylvania (ed. of 1876). 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 75 

general of many smaller towns in the German districts of the 
State. One needs only to pass along the streets of Hamburg, 
Allentown, Lancaster or York, to find himself environed by this 
peculiarly German atmosphere. 

Thus I have traced the history of the German settlements of 
Pennsylvania through the period of colonization, as it may fitly be 
termed, without implying, of course, that the stream of emigration 
from the above named districts of Germany ceased to flow in the 
middle of the 18th century. On the contrary, the influx of Ger- 
mans became so great as to be almost uncontrollable. This will 
be seen in the following : " Im Herbste 1747 kamen nicht weniger 
als 7049 Deutsche in Philadelphia an. Im Sommer jenes Jahres 
landeten 12,000 Deutsche."' 

In the preceding pages the directions have been indicated in 
which this great German migration moved for the most part till 
the year 1848. 

II. — Period of Migration and Frontier Settlement 
( 1 750-1 800). 

The second period of Pennsylvania German history from circa 
1750-4 to the beginning of the present century was one of great 
agitation and extensive migration within the limits of Pennsylvania 
as well as beyond its borders. The peaceful colony to which the 
beneficent Penn, the pioneer of religious tolerance in America, 
had invited the persecuted of every creed, began to be disturbed 
by the omens of war. The savage neighbors of copper hue, won 
at first by the manly negotiations of Penn, and christianized in 
great numbers by the pacific teachings of both Quakers and Mora- 
vians, were now incited by the fury of France and became hideous 
monsters, spreading terror and death with the relentless tomahawk. 
Hardly had the Indian war-whoop, mingling in weird accord with 
the battle-cries of France, died away in the forest gloom, when 
the alarm of revolution sent dismay throughout the fair province of 
Pennsylvania, heralding the event which was to solve the problem 
of American independence, and transform loosely settled colonies 
into compact States of the Union. 

After the close of the Revolution a new movement begins in 
Pennsylvania. Enterprising pioneers from New England, New 
York and eastern Pennsylvania push into the northern and western 

1 Cf. Dr. W. J. Mann, Die Gute Alte Zeit in Pennsylvania, S. 24, and Hall- 
ische Nachrichten, S. 125. 



76 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

portions of the State, opening to the commerce of the world rich 
products of the soil and treasures of the mine. But to under- 
stand the migrations of Germans already settled in the province, 
and the isolated cases of this movement prior to 1750, it will be 
necessary to glance at the feud between the Pennsylvania Germans 
and the Scotch-Irish. Throughout almost the entire extent of the 
Kittatinning Valley, from northeastern Pennsylvania to northern 
Maryland, the Scotch-Irish were either already settled or settling 
when the Germans came into the region. It is a remarkable fact 
that most of the important settlements first made by the former 
are now occupied by the latter. This is particularly the case in 
the present counties of Lancaster, York, Franklin, and Cumber- 
land. 1 Apart from the apparent natural antipathy in the character 
of these races, the most potent cause of the feud was the Cressap 
rebellion in 1736. This was a raid made on the incoming German 
settlers in the southern part of York County. Cressap had come 
up from Maryland with " about fifty kindred spirits " and offered 
the Scotch-Irish, as their share of the booty, the improvements 
made by the Germans, on condition that they should aid him in 
dislodging the latter. From their failure in the attempt to drive 
out these so-called German intruders the Scotch -Irish have to 
date the era of their retreat before the advancing Teutons. This 
advance was sustained, not by force of arms, but by more efficient 
instruments of conquest, untiring industry and thrift. Following 
the track of these events, we find the Germans gradually occupy- 
ing the greater portion of lower Lancaster, York, and much of 
Franklin and Cumberland counties, while the Scotch-Irish move 
on into the unsettled districts along the Susquehanna and Juniata, 
with the Germans in their wake. It is but fair to state that the 
Scotch -Irish preference for the stirring scenes of border life doubt- 
less played a considerable r61e in this general migratory move- 
ment. 

As early as 1728-9 we find Germans settling west of the Sus- 
quehanna in the rear of the advancing Scotch-Irish. In 1741 
Fred. Star and other Germans settled in Perry County, probably 
near Big Buffalo Creek. New Germantown was afterwards laid 
out and named after Germantown near Philadelphia. Pfautz 
Valley in the same county was settled about 1755 by Pfautz, a 

1 In Cumberland County the displacement is not so far-reaching as in the 
others mentioned. In the large towns especially the Scotch-Irish population 
has continued to predominate. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. TJ 

German. Most of the settlers seem to have come from the eastern 
part of the State. 

As early as 1747 a number of German families ventured to 
locate in Schuylkill County. Geo. Godfried Orwig and others 
from Germany settled at Sculp Hill, a mile south of Orwigsburg. 
A Yeager (Jaeger) family from near Philadelphia came to this 
valley about 1762. 

Soon after 1752 the Scotch-Irish of old Allen township in 
Northampton County were supplanted by Germans. Kreidersville 
was named for one of the German farmers who came in 1765. 
Gnadenhutten (the present Lehighton and Hanover townships) 
was occupied by Germans. 

In the year 1755 a colony of Dunkards (or Baptists) settled in 
Blair County in what is called the Cove, where many of their 
descendants are still to be found " retaining well-nigh the same 
simplicity which marked their fathers — non-resistants, producers, 
non-consumers." 1 

In the years 1757-60 many of the Scotch-Irish in Cumberland 
County were supplanted by Germans. Even as early as 1749 
the agents of the Proprietaries were instructed not to sell any 
more land to the Irish, but to induce them to go to the North 
Kittatinning Valley. 

In 1764 Hanover, York County, was laid out. The following 
year (1765) records a noble civilizing enterprise undertaken by 
the Moravians among the Indians. April 3d of this year eight 
Moravian adults and upwards of ninety children set out from 
Bethlehem and reached Wyalusing, in the present Bradford 
County, May the 5th. This mission, opened by Zeisberger, the 
Moravian apostle to the Indians, 1763, received the name Fried- 
enshutten. A school-house was built in which both adults and 
children learned to read the Delaware and German languages. 2 
The place became a Christian German-Indian town. In the 
year 1772 (June nth), however, they began their exodus from 
Friedenshiitten in two companies, one under Ettwein, the other 
under Rothe. 3 At the time of the exodus they numbered one 
hundred and fifty-one souls. For the Moravian work among the 

1 Dr. Egle, Centennial Hist, of Pennsylvania, cf. Cove, Blair County. 

2 The rich results of Zeisberger's lexicographical work are carefully pre- 
served, for the most part in manuscript form, in the Moravian library at Bethle- 
hem, Pa. 

3 Cf. Ettwein's Journal. 



78 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

Indians this was " the era of gradual decadence extending down 
to our own times, when there is but a feeble remnant of Christian 
Indians ministered to by the Moravians dwelling at New Fair- 
field, Canada, and New Westfield, Kansas." ' 

In 1769 Berlin, in Brathes Valley, Somerset County, was settled 
by Germans. Later some Mennonites came and joined this settle- 
ment. 

In 1773 Isaac Valkenburg, with his sons-in-law, Sebastian and 
Isaac Strape, from Claverack on the Hudson, settled at Fairbanks, 
Bradford County. Thither came also Germans from the neigh- 
borhood of Philadelphia. In this same year the Pennamites sent a 
German, Phillip Buck, to settle at the mouth of Bowman's Creek, 
and two others who settled at the mouth of Tunkhannock Creek 
in Wyoming County. There were possibly others with them. 

In the years 1787-9 John Nicholson gathered from Philadelphia 
and the lower Susquehanna about forty Irish and German fami- 
lies and settled them in Hopbottom, Susquehanna County. Dutch 
Hill, in the same county (just north of Wyalusing), was settled by 
persons of Dutch descent born in New York. In Cambria County 
the main source of the population was Pennsylvania German 
stock. Their pioneer was Joseph Yahns, and those who followed 
him were for the most part Dunkards and Mennonites or Amish. 
Yahns arrived in 1791 at Kickenapawling's old town. The others 
settled in the adjacent county, principally at Amish Hill. Their 
descendants are still to be found around Johnstown (Johns- or 
Yahnstown). A colony of German Catholics settled near Carroll- 
town. Columbia County was entered by Germans (among them 
Christian Brobst or Probst and Georg Knappenberger) in the 
year 1793. Germans are now found in great numbers around 
Catawissa, where formerly Quakers held sway. Zelienople and 
Harmony in Butler County are occupied mainly by Germans 
descended from a society of Harmonists who settled there in 
the years 1802-3. 

In 1807 Herman Blume, a native of Hesse-Kassel, with others, 
founded a German settlement at Dutch Hill, Forest County. 
Blume was followed by many of his fellow-countrymen (Hessians). 
In this (Forest) county was laid, too, the scene of many of Zeis- 
berger's labors. 

Greene County was filled up after the Revolution from the 
eastern counties of the State and foreign immigration. Where 

' Quoted from Rev. W. C. Reichel by Egle, Hist, of Pa., p. 414. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 79 

the mixture is so promiscuous it is difficult to discriminate after 
one or two generations. 

About 1830 Mennonites and Dunkards settled near McAllister - 
ville in Lost Creek Valley, Juniata County. 

Germans in Baltimore and Philadelphia effected a settlement 
on the " community' plan" at St. Mary's, Elk County. 

In 1842 and 1845 Garner brought from Europe an industrious 
company of settlers who located in Benzinger township in the 
same county. 

Thus we have traced in general outlines the history of German 
settlement in Pennsylvania down to that period of German emi- 
gration initiated by the revolutionary troubles of 1848. 

For our purposes these later arrivals have no special importance. 
In considering the dialect of the Pennsylvania Germans, it is the 
formative periods which are of the greatest significance, because 
during these the language not less than the people took firm 
possession of Pennsylvania soil. It will be noticed that in many 
cases only the bare mention of an isolated German settler has 
been made. We have given the few traces that history has pre- 
served for us, being thus thankful for now and then a silent land- 
mark to indicate the track of the settler. It remains for the local 
investigator to trace family genealogies and note local peculiar- 
ities of speech-mixture in these minor settlements. 

Having thus glanced at the successive German settlements of 
Penn's province in their chronological order, let us consider more 
particularly the speech elements transplanted to Pennsylvania soil 
by these in-coming settlers. At the very outset the question arises, 
Why should these German colonists have retained their language 
and, to no slight extent, their manners and customs, while the 
Dutch and Swedes along the Delaware, and the French 1 in the 
western part of the State, practically lost all traces of their original 
speech ? To answer this it will be necessary to consider the 
number and distribution, the religious, social, political and intel- 
lectual character and aims of these early German settlers. 

1 The application of Fourier's economic plan in the Teutonia community is 
an interesting experiment for political economists of the present day. 

3 The French settlement near Leconte's Mills and Frenchville, Clearfield 
County, and the Norwegian-Swedish settlement under the direction of Ole 
Bull in Potter County, are too recent to fall within the scope of our present 
investigation. Either of these settlements, however, would amply repay a 
summer tramp if any dialectician should feel disposed to try the invigorating 
air of northern Pennsylvania. 



80 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

It is not possible to ascertain the exact number of Germans who 
settled in Pennsylvania from 1682-1753, because in the years of 
the largest influx great numbers were allowed to enter the province 
and take up land near their fellow-countrymen without record or 
notice of either their origin or destination. We can, however, deter- 
mine the number approximately from the official reports of the 
time. For the ship-lists prior to 1727 no adequate documents are 
accessible or, so far as is known, extant; from 1727-1777 Rupp's 
"Collection of 30,000 German Names" serves our purpose. 
According to Rupp, only about two hundred families of Germans 
had come to Pennsylvania before the year 1700. These had 
settled in and around Germantown. Sypher states that nearly 
50,000 Germans had found homes in the province before 1727, 
the year Rupp's lists begin. In 1731 the Lutheran membership 
of Pennsylvania numbered about 17,000, and that of the German 
Reformed Church about 15,000 (chiefly from the districts of Nas- 
sau, Waldeck, Witgenstein, and Wetterau). In 1752, of the 
190,000 inhabitants of the province about 90,000 were Germans. 1 
In 1790, according to Ebeling, 2 the German population of Penn- 
sylvania was 144,660. Thus we may safely estimate the German 
population of the State in the year 1800 at 150,000. In 1870 the 
aggregate population of Pennsylvania numbered 3,521,975, of 
which number 1,200,000 were of German descent and 160,146 
directly from Germany, thus leaving 1,139,854 (more than six 
sevenths of the entire number of German blood) born for the 
most part on American (Pennsylvania) soil. 

When we come to the distribution of Pennsylvania Germans in 
those districts where they have preserved their dialect, it will be 
found impossible to give exact figures, because (1) no accurate 
record of births, deaths, removals and accessions is kept as is 
the case in Canada ; 3 (2) many, especially merchants not of Ger- 
man descent, speak the dialect fluently ; (3) many who are of 
German extraction no longer speak the vernacular of their ances- 
tors, but regard it with an air of contempt, and use every means 
to become Americanized and lose even the reminiscences of their 
German traditions. That greatest of levelling influences, the 
public school, makes it imperative to speak English, thus dividing 

1 Cf. Seidensticker, Gesch. d. d. Gesellschaft von Pennsylvanien, S. 18 ; Dr. 
Smith, Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania. 

2 Ebeling, Beschreibung der Erde, Abtheilung, Pennsylvanien. 
*Cf. Prof. Elliott, American Journal of Philology, 1885, pp. 135 ff. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 8 1 

families, so that often the parents speak their dialect among them- 
selves and to the children, while the latter speak English among 
themselves and to the parents. In many sections of the State, 
Lancaster and York counties for example, which one or two 
generations ago were distinctively German, the old vernacular is 
fast disappearing and the English is becoming the current speech, 
leaving only the name of speaker and locality as reminders of a 
once flourishing German community. It is possible, however, to 
indicate approximately the status of what may be termed dis- 
tinctively Pennsylvania German districts. For the most part the 
genuine Pennsylvania German is to be found in the agricultural 
districts and country towns and villages, although in cities like 
Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading and Harrisburg there are large 
numbers whose vernacular is Pennsylvania German. In such 
cities as those just named it is possible to hear almost every dia- 
lectic variation, from the language of the Swiss to that of the 
Hollander, from the patois of the peasant to the polished speech 
of the literatus. But if we pass beyond the sphere of these great 
levelling centres, we shall find the original dialect and, to no slight 
extent, the customs of the simple pioneers in full sway. It is only 
necessary to state here that as a rule the general historic outlines 
have remained intact, the old settlements gradually enlarging, 
and in many cases sending out from their midst more adventurous 
spirits who became the nuclei of new settlements in the western 
counties of the State. The Germans were for the most part agri- 
culturists or local artisans and possessed their land. There have 
usually been some younger representatives willing to cultivate the 
paternal acres and perpetuate the ancestral title to the soil. 

To recapitulate, the distribution of the dialectic elements may 
be stated as follows : 

In the first settlement at Germantown were Crefelders till 
1709-10, when the " Pfalzer" 1 began to pour in from the Palatinate. 
Here are represented (1) Low Frankish and Rhine Frankish, of 
the Lower Rhine province near Dusseldorf ; (2) South Frankish, 
near the North Alemannic (Suabian) border; South Frankish, 
specifically Rhine Palatinate (RheinfifalziscK); (3) South Frankish- 

1 The term " Pfalzer" as used in the ship-lists is not sharply defined, and 
may apply to representatives not only of the Pfalz (Kurpfalz) but to any 
Rhinelander, and sometimes, it would seem, to any German. As a matter of 
fact, however, the most of the so-called Pfalzer were from the Rhenish Palati- 
nate, as their dialect shows. This will be discussed in another chapter. 



82 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY. 

Alemannic of Alsace and Lorraine. In Berks County, where the 
inhabitants are stigmatized as " dumb Dutch," the speech-elements 
were (i) " Rheinpfalzisch" brought into Wahlink and Oley by 
French Huguenots temporarily living in the Palatinate and by 
native Palatines ; into Tulpehocken by the New York Palatines 
from Schoharie and others direct from the Palatinate; (2) Ale- 
mannic, brought into Bern by the Swiss ; (3) Welsh in Breck- 
nock, Caernarvon, Cumru, Robeson, and Union townships ; (4) 
Swedish in Union township ; (5) Silesian, probably with Saxon 
and other elements, brought by the Schwenkfelder into Hereford 
township and lands adjoining in Lehigh and Montgomery coun- 
ties; (6) English} in Union township; (7) Dutch? (8) Suabian 
at Reading. 5 

In the region of Eden (Pequea-Thal), Lancaster County, we 
find Alemannic elements from Zurich, Bern, Schaffhausen, and 
possibly a considerable mixture of" Rheinpfalzisch" which latter, 
with probably many other dialectic varieties, came also with the 
Dunkards (Tunker) to the regions along the Conestoga and 
Muhlbach, Lancaster County, and also to Skippack in Oley, Berks 
County. 

The few Dutch that settled near Pottsville, Schuylkill County, 
brought Low German elements, as did those also in Pike town- 
ship, Berks County. 4 

Into Northampton County came with the Moravians, Upper 
Saxon elements (Sachsen-Altenburg), and extended into Berks, 
Bucks, Montgomery, and Lehigh counties. 

Thus it is seen that the ethnic elements which developed the 
Pennsylvania German speech represent a wide and varied lin- 
guistic territory. Nor must it be supposed that, inasmuch as the 
Pennsylvania German is spoken of as a unit, such a complete 

1 English is mentioned here to show the variety of speech-elements repre- 
sented in this one county. It will be understood that the English element is 
a constant quantity in every settlement of any importance in the whole 
province. 

2 To Hamburg, Berks County, came the speech of Hamburg, Germany, but 
it soon came into contact with the great Pfalzisch current and was merged in 
it and in the neighboring dialects. 

3 In and around Reading, Berks County, the dialect elements were chiefly 
Suabian and Rhine Frankish, many of the settlers having come from Wurtem- 

berg and settled with Pfalzer from the various sources mentioned above. 

4 In Pike township, Berks County, the Dutch element is quite small com- 
pared with the Alemannic and Rhine Frankish. 



THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN DIALECT. 83 

.levelling has taken place as to render it impossible to trace the 
original dialectical characteristics. This will receive fuller treat- 
ment in the chapter on Phonology. 

The causes leading to the perpetuation of these peculiarities 
were in general the same as those which preserved to our time 
this widely spoken dialect itself. Rupp remarks that the Ger- 
mans who came to Pennsylvania before 1717 were for the most 
part persons of means. This in many cases was true, but they 
were as a class from the humbler walks of life, seeking a quiet 
retreat from the storms of persecution. They were men of firm 
convictions, and in many cases deeply imbued with the spirit of 
pietism. They cherished the traditions of the Fatherland, cared 
little for political power or prominence, were content to till their 
fertile acres in this occidental Eden unmolested in their religious 
and social rights and liberty. 

Here is a state of political units quite different from the early 
settlers of New England, where the responsibility of government 
was keenly felt by the individual settlers when they met in that 
greatest of Teutonic institutions, the town meeting. Besides the 
unobtrusive character of the early Pennsylvania Germans, there 
were other potent forces favoring the perpetuation of their lan- 
guage, such as the organization of German schools in all important 
German centres, the establishment of printing presses in German- 
town and Ephrata, from both of which towns German- American 
publications were distributed in great numbers throughout the 
province, varying in importance from Sauer's American edition of 
the German Bible and the Chronicon Ephratense to the simplest 
tract and calendar. The pulpit has been and continues to be the 
great bulwark of conservative strength. 

M. D. Learned.