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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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Zieg uns die Berge nuf.

Die^ Berge nuf, des, miisse mir,

Un do maag's geh wie's will;
Mer fahre Heut juscht for Plesier,

Un neme unser Fiill.

Do drehe mir erscht links nort rechts-
Mer neme 's uf G'rothwohl;

'S maag krumm geh odder iiwerecks,
Doch finne mer's e'mol.

Am Schornschte-Pelse sin mer, nau—

Do. uf'm hochschte Berg;
O, was 'n G'heimnissfoller Bau —

En wunderbaares Werk!

Es G'maant em fiel an Zion's Berg,

An jenem schcine Ort,
Un an die Triumphirte Kerch

Uf selle Hiigel, dort.

TMe scho, die Werke Gottes Hand!

Wie wunderbaar un fiel!
En Felse im a drock'ne Land —

Sei Schatte, ach, wie kiihl !

Warum schteht, dann, der Felse do,

Allee, im schtille Wald!
Bedeckt mit Lichen, rauh un groh,

Un Gott wees schun wie alt!

Warum schteht der do in d'r Hoh! —

Geheimnissf oiler Gschtallt!
Warum schteht der do all allee,

Un in der Mit ferschpalt?

Er hot en Pelsig Fundament —

Der Felse, der, do schteht,
Un bleibt, a'h, bis am groosse End —

Wan Himmel un Erd fergeht.

Do waar er schun — wie lang. wees Gott —

Schun seit der alt SUnd-Fluth;
Do waar er eh' das Chrischtus hot

Am Kreuz for uns gebluut.

Do schtehn die Lohrbeer, um 'n rumm —

Die Keschte un die Schpanne;
Do schtehn die Eeche, alt un krumm.

Die Fichte un die Tanne.

Die Lohrbeer, bltihe friih un scho

Un wachse uf de Felse;
Die Kornelkersch-Blum, weiss wie Schnee,

Die, do im Priihjohr schmelze.

Die Haase un die Fiichs, die, sin

Wie Nochbare, do, daheem;
Un so, schun, dausedjohrig, sin

Die Fogel un die Biim.

Ach ! alter Felse. saag mer, doch,

Was isch dann dei Geschichf?
Ach ! saag 's, un dann f erzeich ich 's noch

Un schreib's in mei Gedicht,

Ach ! wunterbaarer Felse, kumm,

Weescht du net was ich will?
Du alter Felse, ach! warum

Bischt du so schtumm un schtill?

Die Biim, die, kleede sich mit Laab,

Die Fogel singe scho;
Doch du, wie 'n Denkmal-schtee am Kraab,

Schteescht schtimmloos in der Hoh.

Un docji hoscht du en schone Lehr,

Im schriftliche Ferglich;
Der uralt Felse, hiir! "O, hor!

Geschpalte waar for mich!

Mer schteige uf die Felse nuf,

Un schaue gans dort anne,
Bis wu die Schtrahle glanze uf

Der scho alt Susquehanna.

Mer schteige alsnoch hocher nuf,

Un schaue, breet un weit,
Als dorch des Kreuzkrik-dhaal hinuf —

Foil aller Herrlichkeit.

Mer schaue uf den schone Wald —

Fiel-farbich, — geel un roth;
Bald isch der Winter do, un bald

Sin Laab un Blume doot.

Der scho alt Weiwer-summer, seenscht,

Wie die Auszehring, ferbt
Er alles was 'r a'reegt 's schfinscht,

Im Schpootjohr, wan 's bal' schterbt.

Doch schaue mir als widder uf
Des herrlich Kreuzkrik-Diaal —

Dorch schone, helle, Luft un Duft
Un goldne Sonneschtrahl.

Die Sun, die, geht schun unnerschig —

Bal'isch sie hinner 'm Berg;
Zum End geht alle weltlich G'schicht.

Un unser Lewes-werk.


Die Piiclis. die, lien ilir Lijcher bier —

Der Fogel hot sei Nesclit,
Un ich liaab mei Zuflucbt in Dir —

Mei Felse un mei Fescht !

Jelz fahre mir, dann, wieder z'riick,

DorcU 's Dliaal, so a' geneem;
Dann, zur fergniigenlieil un Gliick —

Ke' Blatz, ke' Blatz wie Heeml


The distinguishing characteristics of the
Pennsylvania Germans (as a rule), are indus-
try, economy, honesty and morality. Their
industry manifests itself chiefly in the pros-
ecution of some sort of manual labor — agri-
cultural or mechanical — and in the rural
districts, mostly in the former. Time was,
when farming was the employment, almost
exclusively, of old and young, rich and poor.
In those days, however, none were rich in the
present sense of that term; but by contrast
with the ordinary mechanic or day-laborer,
a man who owned a well-stocked farm of a
hundred to two hundred acres, and was out of
debt, was, in rural parlance, called rich — en
leicher Maun, en reicher Bauer. As the chil-
dren gi-ew up, the sons were anxious and
accustomed to do as their fathers before them
— each in his turn, to become the owner of a
farm, though of moderate size, and the hus-
band of a handsome and, above all, a virtuous
country girl — en schii, braaf Miklel; so wie
die Mamme waar; and every daughter equally
so to become the wife of a well- to do. nice and
respectable young farmer — en neiser, fleisiger,
schtandhafter junger Bauere kerl, so wie der
Fater waar. Mere personal beauty was not,
nor is even now, so much regarded as sound
health and unblemished character.

Although it was formerly the practice of a
majority of farmers' sons to incline to and
choose the vocation of their fathers, yet
almost as a rule, in families where the num-
ber of sons was disproportionate to the father's
means, one or more, but seldom the older
ones, went to learn trades, that is, became
apprenticed to some mechanical business;
mostly either the "art trade and mystery"
(as the indentures had it,) of wagon-making,
blacksmithing, milling, stone-masoning,
house or rough carpentering; or if, perchance
not deemed sufficiently robust for either of
these (" delicate" or sickly ones were almost
unknown then) he was apprenticed to a tailor,
a weaver, or a shoemaker. Xor were the
tastes and inclinations of the young folk
much, if at all, consulted as to these matters
in the olden times, the choice of a trade, as
well as of a wife or a husband, being often
largely made by the parents themselves. It
was but seldom indeed that a farmer's son

chose or indeed, was allowed to
profession. One reason, of course, being thei
lack, real or imaginary, of the necessary pe-
cuniary means. Another was, at least so far'
as concerned law and medicine, the great and
dangerous temptations to which a rustic
would be exposed while pursuing his studi
away from home and in a town or city. An-
other was the natm-al diffidence and lack of
confidence on the part of the youth himself,
to go from the plain and simple haunts of a
rural life and its society, or, perhaps more
jDi-operly, associations, and mingle with the
learned and the fashionable, — die schtolzeun
die hoochgelernte; where he would be almost
certain to become incurably homesick unless
allowed to return, and, in that case, sulijected
to the taunts and ridicule of his former com-
panions. Besides, there was in those days,
especially among our Pennsylvania Germans,
more steadiness and singleness of purpose —
to be either one thing or the other, farmer i
or mechanic; and if a farmer's son went to 1
learn a profession, it was considered so much I
out of the usual order of things as to pro-'
voke the inquiry " Ei! was isch letz? gleichfc
er's Baure (odder's Handwerk) net? — "Why!
what is wrong? don't he like farming or a
trade? And still another reason was the
pious prejudice and conscientious scruples
(as already intimated) against the lawyer,
and the aversion to the fearfitl responsibili-
ties and the painful duties of the j^hysician
and the surgeon. As for teaching an old-
time country school, that was a business
rather beneath the dignity of the average
Pennsylvaaia "Dutchman," and considered
fit only for a moderately refined Irishman,
whose "delightful (winter's) task" it was

"To rear each tender thought
And teach the young idea how to shoot,"

rather by raising welts on the pupil's back
with a "hickory," splitting wooden "rulers"
on bis hands, and other barbarous tortures too
numerous and too disgusting to name, than
by any attempts at moral suasion or appeals
to reason. A sense of this disgust, as well as
a want of space (but no painful recollections
of personal experience) forbids enlargement
on this subject and these truths, which have
ever been a reproach to our old system of
common school education: and it shall be
dismissed with the somewhat mortifying
admission, that the disposition of our Penn-
sylvania German ancestors themselves, to in-
sist upon strict filial respect and obedience,
enforced by a rigid, though much milder dis-
cipline, and their almost religious aversion to
encouragement of insubordination in any


form, often carried them to the opposite ex-
treme — a sorely mistaken and unfortunate in-
difi'erence to the cruel and inhuman punish-
ments inflicted by some of the old Irish
school "masters" (not teachers), upon their
children ar, school. And the poor, outraged
children, conscious of this, seldom com-
plained, and so parents and guardians often
remained in equally blissful ignorance of
crimes against their children and their wards,
as well as society at large, which should
have been followed by prompt and severe
punishment in the courts of law. But then,
such a proceeding was almost unheard of, for
the reasons just stated, and such a proceed-
ingj is seldom or never heard of now, because

of the unchristian beast, the inquiry might
have become pertinent, whether they had
reference to the Bucks or "Chester County
breed." Nevertheless, and irrespective of
that question, William Penn and his com-
patriots thought "these people" good col-
onists nearly two centuries ago; but what
fools they were in comparison with these
more modern savants of Bucks and Chester
and the itinerant prophet of the Buffalo
Courier who seems to have received his in-
spiration "while passing a country school-
house only a few days ago."

In speaking thus of the old Irish school-
masters, it is not meant that there were no
exceptions, but they were rare. And it is

German civilization "Pennsylvania Dutch
ignorance and barbarism," have driven Irish
cruelty, "intelligence and refinement," out
of the schools. What wonder if children,
the dull little Pennsylvania German disciples
of such enlightened and refined Irish
"masters," had grown up, ignorant and un-
couth boors? And, considering the natural
and inevitable influence of such training and
association, it must be further conceded that
the highly respectable, polite and intelligent
journalists referred to in the quotations below,
put it quite mildly when they say these people
"live like pigs more than like human beings."
Had they used the, stronger term descriptive

hardly necessary to add that, by nothing con-
tained in this chapter is any, the slightest,
reflection intended upon the people of other
nationalties; all that is intended is to state
such facts, with brief incidental comments,
as are apparently called for to set our Penn-
sylvania German people, as a people, in their
true light in this history, and at least in
some sort defend them against the false
aspirations of ignorance and prejudice from
whatever source.

Whatever else may be said of the German
school teachers of former times, their mode
of teaching (whether English or German, —
and both were frequently taught by the same


teacher in the same school), their manners
toward and treatment of their pupils was
entirely different. While intoxication, pro-
fanity and undue severity were not uncom-
mon among the Irish, the teachers of German
descent were, almost without exception,
sober, temperate, moral and even religious;
for not unfrequently, as was the custom in
the Vaterland, the schoolhouse was virtually
a part, and a most important part, of the
church (a sort of "annex"), and the offices
of Prediger and Schul-lehrer (pastor and
teacher) were united in the same man. Then
it was when the old-time school was the
nursery of the church — practically an every-
day Sunday-school, at least during the three
winter months. Then it was. when the
school was opened with singing and prayer,
and the rustic schoolhouse of logs and chinks
and daubs of mortar, and the adjacent woods,
resounded with the simple and almost unlet-
tered voices of the rustics, with prayer and
praise, and when and where were formed and
matured some of the most genuine Christian
characters that have ever gone to enjoy the
rewards of the just around the Throne of
God. Then it was that der Schul-lehrer, if
without a home and family, like the tailor
and the shoe-maker "whipped the cat," board-
ing and lodging from house to house among
his patrons, was the ever- welcome guest.
And whether of the better class of Irishmen
or a Pennsylvania German,

He was the folk recording scribe,

And Solon of the hearth ;
And O! what nervous pains he took
To enter in the Sacred Book,

A marriage, death, or birth ;
And how all stood, with bated breath
While he recorded Mother's death.

lie wrote the annual interest notes.
And kept the book accounts ;

He framed the solemn covenants,

Presided at the settlements
And verified accounts ;

He sat as umpire in disputes.

And saved the fees and costs of suit

I often see him as I sit

And muse upon the past ;
Or dream I see him there again,
With ink-horn, knife and quill, as plain

As when I saw him last —
That very same old snow-white quill,
AVith which he wrote my father's will.

If, in addition to delicacy of health, or a
disinclination to labor (the latter being some-
times easily mistaken for the former) a farmer's
son was habitually sedate, thoughtful, mel-
ancholy or morose ; or if. even without these

latter qiralities, he was talkative, witty, of
ready repartee; and above all, if he was
much inclined to read, not much difference
what, his parents and friends were evermily
too ready to conclude that he was providcu
tially designed for the ministry, in their dwu
rude parlance, " ausg'schnilte for en Parrc,"
(cut out for a preacher). Such, how-
ever, were exceptional eases, for the great
body of Pennsylvania German clergymen
was. and is composed of men of undoubted
ability and fair scholarship ; and many
of those already named not only so, but
men of great ability, scholarship and/
piety. Such were the Mtihlenbergs and
the celebrated Michael Schlatter, Zinzen-
dorf, Heckewelder, Bishops Nischmau, Cam-
merhoff, Spangenberg and others, bold and
fearless pioneers in the work of the Lord,
and who laid the foundations of the Luther-
an, German Reformed and Moravian Church-
es, deep and strong in America, yea, in Penn-
sylvania, when it was as yet almost a howling
wilderness ; nobly aided in their arduous
work by the intrepid German-Englishlndian
interpreter, Conrad Weiser, and the fearless
little band of Moravian missionaries, headed
by Ratich, Mack, Senseman and Ziesberg.
And such were the noble army of Christian
soldiers, the Kurtzes, Bagers, Schmuckers,
Krauths, Schaums, Hoshours, Hochheimers,
Rauses,HornellB,Goerings, Oswalds and Loch-
mans; Lischies, Wirtzes,Otterbeins,Wagners,
Stocks, Droldeniers, Geistweits, Mayers, Rei
ly, Cares and Harbaugh, Friaufs, Dobers,
and a host of others, through whose labors
the (originally), German churches so founded,
have been built up and extended until, as
from " a grain of mustard seed" plantiMl in
eastern Pennsylvania a century and a half
ago, a mighty tree has grown, spreading its
branches, not only into all the States of this
great Union, but, through a great foreign
missionary work, back to heathen lands, far
beyond tliose from which our fathers came.
Time and space will not admit of any
extended notice of other German branches of
the church and its Pennsylvania German
ministry ; such as the United Brethren in
Christ, the Evangelical, and the various sects
of Baptists. As for the Roman Catholic
and its numerous lay membership of the

i very best class of Pennsylvania Germans,
they are not omitted from any feeling of

I sectarian predjudice, but from the fact that
Pennsylvania Germans are not usually found
among the clergy.

Altogether, the Pennsylvania Germans,

I like their Palatinate and Swiss ancestors, are

I a decidedly religious people — sound in


faith and doctrine, however many of Ihem,
like their weak and erring brethren of other
nationalities, may come short in practice. In
all the counties named and some others, there
are numerous churches in which the Gospel
has been from their beginning, and still is,
preached, and indeed, all the accompanying
services conducted in the German language.
True it is that the Pennsylvania Germans do
not pay their preachers big salaries, and, as
is the case among other Christian people,
there are and ever have been individual in-
stances of niggardly meanness in the matter

own vernacular, "for was fallt"; that is, for
whatever should hcqypen to be contributed.
And, inasmuch as these contributions were
often made in the shape of provisions, so, as
tradition has it, an unsophisticated rustic
bridegroom once assumed that the preacher
might be willing to take his marriage fee "in
trade," also; and accordingly »went provided
with a bushel of schnitz, which, as soon as
the ceremony had been performed, he otfered
the worthy parson in payment as a modus, or
commutation for the cash, telling him how
much he would gain by the swelling of the


of contributions or stipends; yet generally
their'ministers are enabled to live comfortably
with 'their families (which nearly all have)
on their regular salaries and marriage fees,
together with the numerous gifts and dona-
tions of provisions they, according to a time-
honored German custom, are accustomed to
receive. As for marriage fees, no particular
amount or charge has ever been fixed; and
time was (and perhaps is) where even the
amount of salary, or what should be paid in
lieu thereof, was left equally uncertain; the
pastor, after a more primitive practice, trust-
ing to Providence or the generosity of his
parishioners, or to both, agreed to render his
services for what they chose to give him, or
could raise; or, as it was expressed in their

schnitz in boiling. But the minister, not be-
ing able to see it, declined the generous offer.
Whereupon, the verdant youth inquired how
much it was; "well, wie fiel isch's?" and, on
being told that he had no price — "ich hab ke'
Preiss," the thrice happy bridegroom thanked
him for his kindness and went on his way re-
joicing, with his bride, his money, and his
schnitz. His conduct admits of several con-
structions; and those who know least of the
true Pennsylvania German character will, of
course, make the worst qf it; but, "evil to
him who evil thinks." Similar conduct on
the part of Irishmen or the Scotch-Irish, so far
from being considered as an evidence of ig-
norance or meanness, has ever been regarded
I as the highest proof of wit and shrewdness.


Nor does the comi^aratively meager compen-
sation, given by the Pennsylvania Germans to
their pastors, necessarily prove them avarici-
ous, unjust or ungenerous. It must be remem-
bered that they are not, generally speaking,
rich people, and usually live in all respects,
strictly within their means. To pride and
show, Ostentation and extravagance, especially
in matters pertaining to the church and divine
worship, they are and ever have been relig-
iously opposed. Economy, neatness, plain-
ness, but solidity in all things, have always
been among their marked characteristics.
They are not insensible to the beautiful, but
as for the church and all her ceremonies they
believe that

Needs not the foreign aid of ornament.
But is, when unadorned, adorned the most."

The expression of their peculiar ideas in
these respects not unfrequently became the
occasion for jolly joke and jest, as well as
rasping repartee. In the olden time, when
Big John Herbach,* who was somewhat of a
wit, and fond of cracking his jokes at other
people's expense, had lately received a jus-
tice's commission, one of the old German
ministers, then resident in York, was riding
on horseback past the new squire's residence,
when Herbach thus accosted him, in the
vernacular: " Herr Parre, ich mocht ihndoch
emol was frooge — mer leest in der Schrift
das unser Heiland en Esel geritte hot, un in
alter Zeit hen die Parre ah Esel geritte, jetz
reite sie die schonschte Giiul; wie kummt
sel? To which the preacher promptly re
plied: "Das kan ich ihm gleich sagen. Zu
dieser Zeit sein die Esel ein wenig rahr, und
ist hie und da einer zu finden, so macht der
Gouvernor schon bald ein Juschtes von ihm,"
and immediately rode on. All of which, be-
ing interpreted, is this— Herbach said to the
preacher: " I would like to ask you a ques-
tion; we read in the Scripture that our
Saviour rode on an ass, and so did the
preachers in former times; now, I see. they
ride fine horses; why is it?" To which the
preacher instantly replied: "That I can tell
you at once; in these days asses are a little
scarce, and should here and there one be
found, the governor immediately commissions
him a justice of the peace."

The hit was a capital one, and well-
deserved, but unfortunately for the preacher
he tnld it to a friend, who informed him that
Herbach was a notorious wag, and could
make up a good story without a moment's

* Family tradition say he was at least six-feet^six, and well
proportioned, and lived at what is now Small's Mill in Spring-
garden Township.

reflection. So, on a subsequent occasion, the
preacher met him again, and after a short
conversation, just as the former was about to
pass on, he turned and asked the squire
whether he wouldn't be good enough to tell
him a good story quickly, and if it should be
a lie. The squire promptly replied, " No, in-
deed, I haven't time, my neighbor, ,

across here, fell off the iDarn and broke his
le^, and I must first do some work that can't
be postponed, and then I must go over and
see him. By the by, it would not be much out
of your way to call there yourself; he would
no doubt be glad to see you." The preacher
expressed surprise at the painful news, and
hurried on to call on the man with the broken
leg. When he arrived there, and in all seri-
ousness inquired of the man's wife how he-
was, she said he was out in the field plowing,
and if he was particttlar about seeing him she
would blow the horn for him. But the
preacher, finding that the squire had got
even with him, evasively turned about and
went his way. He never told that joke, but
Herbach did.

One more instance illustrative of this pecu-
liar (pecuniary) relation between pastor and
people may be excitsable. Some years ago,,
a minister in Brush Valley, who was preach-
ing "for was fa! It," became greatly dissatis-
fied with his compensation, and especially
with the very meager contributions of a num-
ber of the richer members of his congregation,
who, to avoid being personal, shall be
named Smith. After having made the usual
pungent appeals to his people to pay up bet-
ter, but without success, he concluded to dis-
solve the tender relation existing between
him and his flock, and seek richer pastures.
Accordingly he announced his abscheid Pre-
dig (farewell sermon), at which there was a
large attendance and an unusually big turn-
out of the Smiths. The text and the gen-
eral discourse were, of course, admirably
suited to the occasion; all apparently favor-
able scripture passages that could be found
and by any means tortured into denunciations
for not paying the preacher better, were
quoted, but apparently without effect. To
use the language of Bm-ke, "his enthusiasm
kindled as he advanced, and when he arrived
at his peroration, it was in full blaze." That
peroration was short, sharp and to the point:
" Geld regiert die Welt, un Dummheit die
Brush Valley; un de Schmidte kann mer's
im a'gsicht leese. Als Kelwer hawich sie
a'genomme, als Ochse muss ich sie ferlossel
in Gottes Namen, Amen!"

The English of which is: "Money rules
the world, and ignorance rules Brush Valley;


-^ - ^



as for the Smiths, you can read it id their
faces. As calves I received thero, and as
oxen I leave them; in God's name, Amen?"

On one occasion this same plain-spoken
old preacher,* whose eyesight was somewhat
impaired, presided during a meeting of
classis, at which one of his clerical brethren,
old Mr. Gerhart, as also his good wife, whom
he always took with him (as lay delegate prob-
ably), were in attendance. The president,
who supposed (and no doubt correctly), that
this was one among Gerhart's notoriously
economical habits, had determined to avail

himself of the first good opportunity of giv-
ing brother Gerhart a "dig in the rib" about
it. So, one morning when classis had met
and enjoyed the usual preliminary devotions,
and was apparently ready to proceed to busi-
ness, it was observed that the president ap-

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 56 of 218)