Author Archives: Del-Louise Moyer

About Del-Louise Moyer

Del-Louise Moyer holds a Masters in Music with special studies in German from Syracuse University. She is a German research consultant and historian of eighteenth and nineteenth century American and German Cultural History, in particular Pennsylvania German Culture and Decorative Arts. As a Curator and Cataloger for Special Collections that focus on German folk art objects, Del-Louise has provided comprehensive research, transcriptions and translations of documents written in Fraktur and German script, presentations, exhibitions, curatorial and photography services to clients since 2008.

Friendship, Fraktur, and Signature Quilts

Every experience deeply felt in life needs to be passed along. Whether it be through word or music, chiseled in stone, painted with a brush, or sewn with a needle, it is a way of reaching for immortality.  ~  Thomas Jefferson

One enters a sphere of timelessness when looking at a Pennsylvania Dutch quilt for there are many memories sewn into each one. Yet it was the hand-woven coverlets and not the quilts that were their first top bed coverings. By the mid-eighteen hundreds, however, both industrialization and acculturation brought about a transition from coverlets to quilts fashioned from inexpensive printed cotton left-over from making dresses, and other articles of clothing. Once quilting caught on, the Pennsylvania Germans never looked back, and used their ingenuity and resourcefulness to create stunning, yet practical quilts to stay warm; to demonstrate their sewing and designing skills; and to memorialize family and friends on fabric. This post will focus on the latter quilts known as friendship or signature quilts.

The popularity of friendship quilts coincides with the American Civil War, and as Lynn Zacek Bassett observes In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts 1850-1865:

Concerns over separation encouraged another genre of quilts in the period
prior to the war: friendship quilts, in which family members, friends, neighbors, and associates signed pieced calico blocks, often in order to present the finished quilt as a gift to someone who was leaving the community, whether to go west, to go to another parish, or to follow her husband to a new home…At home, women expressed their beliefs, fears, strengths, and struggles in their quilts before, during, and after the war (p.6).

In 1983, and again from 1990-1992, some of the quilts the Goschenhoppen Historians documented in their quilt surveys of the Goschenhoppen area—roughly the upper Perkiomen watershed—were friendship quilts with names inscribed in Fraktur that had been made in the mid- to late nineteenth century by young Pennsylvania Dutch women living in eastern Berks, southern Lehigh, southern Bucks and northern Montgomery County.

One example from the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, and three from the Goschenhoppen Historians’ Textile collection are representative of these quilts:

The Hannah Derolf Fraktur quilt (1868) from the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center Textile collection: SLHC Quilt 2012.23.01 features a pattern known as Rolling Stone. Dimenstons are 99″ L x 75″ W; colors: red, yellow, orange, blue, brown, black; place of origin: Bucks County; number of blocks: 30. One finds the following Fraktur script inscribed on the central ownership block:

Hannah Derolf | ihr Teppich | 1868 | W. Grosz
[Hannah Derolf | her quilt         | 1868 | W. Grosz]

 Hannah Derolf (1847-1923) was born December 6, 1847 in Pike Township, Berks County Pennsylvania to Jacob and Maria Derolf. Per the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, her relatives George Derolf  and his wife Elizabeth, née Fronheiser lived in the neighborhood with their five children, and the Jacob Fronheisers and Daniel Fronheisers also lived nearby. Jacob was a laborer. At age twelve she was living with the Joel Miller Family in Spinnersville, Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania as a domestic servant.

In 1868 at age 21 Hannah married Daniel L. Miller, and had two children by him: Amanda L Miller in 1870, and Hannah Miller in 1882. During her married years she lived in Milford Township, Bucks County, PA, and died there on May 28, 1923 at the age of seventy-five. The informant on the death certificate was her son-in-law Franklin W. Gerhart of East Greenville, PA, who listed her father as Jno Dierolf, and mother as Sarah Fronheiser. This conflicts with information on the 1850 U. S. Census for Hannah Derolf’s parents. She is buried at St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Red Hill, PA.

Hannah made her friendship quilt in 1868, the year she was married, and we can identify some of the names we find on her quilt: Jacob Derolf (father); Elizabeth Derolf–possibly Aunt Elizabeth, born ca. 1812 or Cousin Elizabeth, born 1849; Daniel Miller (husband); Joel Miller (employer); Rebecca Miller (Joel Miller’s wife); Sarah Miller (Joel Miller’s daughter) James Miller (Joel Miller’s father).

William Gross (Grosz, Groß), a very active scrivener who infilled—usually with a crimson-colored ink—an enormous number of Taufscheins in Berks, Bucks, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties from 1860-1886, inscribed the names on the quilt in Fraktur script. If we take a look below at a birth and baptismal certificate printed by Saeger and Leisenring in 1864, recording Harvey Jacob Wieand’s birth in 1860  (ILLs. 2a, 2b), we can see an excellent example of Gross’ talent as a Fraktur calligrapher, as well as that he was signing his name in German script, not Fraktur. However his signature “W. Grosz“ for John Franklin Kern’s Taufschein ca. 1867 (ILL. 3) is in Fraktur script, just as it is for Hannah’s Fraktur quilt. Groß never added baskets of flowers to the birth and baptismal certificates he infilled, but he did so for all the quilts he inscribed, an example of which is found on Hannah’s owner block. Light orange floral cotton print is used for the signature blocks, but it should be noted that usually they were made of white muslin, and the ink used for the inscriptions was black. There is no listing of the inscribed signatures available online.  However, the  Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center will be happy to supply a complete list upon request.

The Angelina Ritter Fraktur quilt (1852) from the Goschenhoppen Historians Textile collection : GH Quilt 2003.05.01 also features the Rolling Stone pattern. Dimensions are 94″ L x 98″ W; colors: red, yellow, blue, white; place of origin: Lehigh County; number of blocks: 25.  The Goschenhoppen Historians purchased the quilt from Victoria Hoffman in 2003.  Inscribed on the central ownership block in Fraktur script we find:

 Angelina | Ritter | ihr Teppich. | 1852
[Angelina |   Ritter | her quilt         | 1852]

Angelina (Engaline, Enschulina, Anjuline, Annjulina) Ritter (1834-1900) was born March 14, 1834 in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania to Michael Ritter and Elowissa (Allevesa, Eloisa, Ellen Louisa) née Miller. In 1852, when she made her quilt, Angelina was seventeen and single. Her father was a well-to-do farmer whose property (real and personal) was valued at $7000. She too married a farmer Addison S. Mohry (1836-1897) on December 12, 1856 in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County, PA. During her married years the family lived in Emmaus, PA. There were three children: John born 1859; Laura born 1865; and Jennie born 1872. Angelina Mory died July 19, 1900.

A full list will soon be available online of the names Angelina commemorated on her bedcover. However, a few of the names appearing on the quilt are: Dianna Diehl; Susanna Kemmerer (possibly a second cousin); Ellewisa Ritter (mother); Benjamin Franklin Ritter (brother). The signatures are in Fraktur script inscribed by an anonymous scrivener, who used two leafy boughs to encircle Angelina’s name, identification of ownership, and date on her owner block. It has been suggested by Russell and Corinne Earnest that it could be the “Footed Letter Scrivener,” a scrivener who used either scarlet or reddish brown ink when he infilled Taufscheins. He is known to have been active in Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Schuylkill Counties from ca. 1843-1860. The sobriquet “Footed Letter Scrivener” is used to describe this artist because of the way the serifs at the bottom of his capital letters ‘M,’ ‘N,’ and ‘K’ turn outwards like a foot. Nancy Roan finds Jonathan Kemmerer to be an excellent candidate as the scrivener of the names on this quilt, and others, referencing Jonathan’s block on his sister Susanna Kemmerer’s Fraktur friendship quilt of 1852, as well as several Taufschein examples at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center. Unlike William Groß, who includes his signature in the quilt owner’s block, Jonathan Kemmerer does not. He uses his signature block to advertise that he is a daguerrotypist. Hopefully, someday we will find a signed piece by this scrivener. The encircling leafy boughs decorative element has only been found on the Fraktur quilts, but not on any Taufscheins known to be inscribed by either the “Footed Letter Scrivener,” or those attributed to Jonathan Kemmerer.

The Anna Maria Desch Fraktur quilt (1853) from the Goschenhoppen Historians Textile collection : GH Quilt 1994.02.01 features the Flying Crow pattern, deviating from the usual Rolling Stone pattern that was used for almost all other known Fraktur quilts. Dimensions are 84″ L x 100″W; colors: red, yellow, pink, blue, green, white; place of origin: Lehigh County; number of blocks: 30.  The Goschenhoppen Historians purchased the quilt ca. 1994 from Judy Hurdle, an antiques dealer, who had bought it from Horst Auction in Ephrata, PA.   Inscribed on the central ownership block in Fraktur script is:

Anna Maria | Desch | ihr Teppich. | 1853
Anna Maria   | Desch | her quilt         | 1853

Anna Maria Desch (1834-19020) was born April 1, 1834 in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania to Daniel Desch and his wife Elizabeth, née Ruth, and was baptized at Zion Lehigh Lutheran Church on May 11, 1834. Her maternal grandparents Philip and Maria Ruth were her Godparents. In 1850 Anna Maria’s father’s property (personal and real) was valued at $3000. This was a large family with a total of eight children. Her father Daniel died in 1853, the year she made her quilt. Anna Maria never married, as was the case for two of her younger brothers William and Daniel. All three lived at home with their mother Elizabeth until her death in 1886, and per the United States Federal Census were still living together on a farm in 1900. In this same census record all are listed as being able to read and write, but unable to speak English. She died October 18, 1902 and is buried in Solomon’s U. C. C. Church Cemetery in Macungie, PA.

The Goschenhoppen Historians Online Finding Aid includes all the names appearing on the quilt. Some of those are: William Desch (brother); Anna Maria Ruth (grandmother?); Anna Carolina Desch (sister); Peter Desch (brother); Stephanus Reimeyer; Hannah Baer; Sarah Anna Desch (sister) ; Eliza Ruth (mother?); Elweina Butz. Their names are inscribed in Fraktur script by the same anonymous frakturist who inscribed Angelina Ritter’s.

The Emma Schaffer Fraktur quilt (1871) from the Goschenhoppen Historians Textile collection : GH Quilt 2004.06.01 uses the representative Rolling Stone pattern. The dimensions are : 87″ L x 82″ W; colors: red, yellow, green, blue, white; place of origin: Bucks County; No. of Blocks: 36. The Goschenhoppen Historians purchased the quilt from Dennis Moyer  in 2004.  Inscribed on the central ownership block in Fraktur script we find:

Emma Schaffer | 1871 | William Gross

A full list will soon be available online for all of the men and women whose names are written on Emma’s quilt, and the picture, of course, may change as we gather  more definitive data.  Nonetheless,  some of the names such as Tilghman Kline, Rebecca Kline, Emma Schaffer (on 2 signature blocks and the owner block), Erwin Dietz, Mary Erney, and Elizabeth Schaffer, can presently be partially accounted for.  Mary Erney was born June 6,1852 to Jonas Erney and Hannah, née Marsteller in Coopersburg, Lower Milford Township, Lehigh County, PA. In the 1870 U. S. Federal Census Jonas listed his estate value (real and personal) as $4000, that of a prosperous farmer. Ca. 1873 Mary married Erwin S. Dietz, also a farmer from Coopersburg, Lower Milford Township, Lehigh County, PA. According to the United States Federal Census Tilghman P. Kline, a farmer, and his wife Rebecca Kline were living in Emmaus, Salisbury Township, Lehigh County, PA in 1870 with their family and Emma Schaffer, an eighteen-year-old domestic servant. This Emma [C.] Schaffer  was born November 1852 in the Bridgeton area of Bucks County, PA to William S. Schaffer, and Elizabeth, née Lambert . There were five children in her family, and her father was a farm laborer with a value of $50 for his personal estate. She married William Pursell, a canal boatman, in 1871, the same year she made her quilt. Emma had seven children between 1873 and 1893, and spent her entire adult life in Bridgeton, Bucks County, PA. She died March 27, 1931 in Milford, Hunterdon County, NJ in the home of her daughter Mrs. Samuel Shaffer, at the age of 78 and is buried at the Upper Tinicum Cemetery in Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, PA. Her obituary was published in the Hunterdon County Democrat on April 2, 1931.

William Gross is the professional scrivener of this quilt as well, and inscribes all the names in Fraktur script.   As in Hanna Derolf’s owner block, he identifies himself with a hand drawn basket of languid flowers, but in this case changes his signature on the base to his full name.   His Fraktur script style in Emma’s is far less ornamental than in Hannah’s.

Who paid for these Fraktur signatures, the maker, owner or the persons whose names appear on the quilt? During their 1983, 1990-1992 quilt surveys Nancy Roan, Ellen Gehret, and Alan G. Keyser gathered information on quilt traditions from knowledgeable Pennsylvania Dutch informants such as Wilson H. Green of Green Lane, PA who shared that these signature quilts of the mid-nineteenth century were known as Beddelmann Teppiche or Begger Quilts because “the maker ‘begged’ family members and close friends for a sum before putting their names on the quilt” (Lest I Shall Be Forgotten, p. 17). Lucinda Cawley in her article “Ihr Teppich: Quilts and Fraktur” in the American Quilt Study Group’s Coverings (p. 14) states that “there is no contemporary evidence that money was solicited in connection with putting names on the quilts. They are more accurately described as fraktur inscribed quilts.”

Webster’s Dictionary (webster.com/dictionary/tradition) defines tradition as “the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.” So, expert quilters such as Sadie Krauss Kriebel, whose mother Annie Hoffman Krauss was born in 1879, and grandmother Elizabeth Kriebel Krauss in 1859, could easily reach back to the time period in question, i.e. mid-nineteenth century, through living references capable of verbally relating Pennsylvania Dutch folk customs as experienced during their lifetimes.  It is interesting to note that written evidence often comes from outside the culture, not within, as in travel diaries kept by people who find a tradition peculiar to their own worth noting.  That no contemporary written evidence has yet been found does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Sadie, a living continuance of quilt traditions, could immediately identify a Beddelmann quilt shown to her by Nancy Roan during the quilt surveys: “This quilt [261-83] was made in 1862, probably by Mrs. Christina Kriebel who died in 1906…Everybody whose name is on [it] gave a dime” (Lest I Shall Be Forgotten, p. 17).

Friendship quilts were and are made by the Pennsylvania Dutch to also celebrate special occasions for important anniversaries, birthdays, or other special days, and the well-wishers’ names were and are not only hand written in Fraktur script, but also embroidered, and with the progression of time have been inscribed in Roman script, as well as printed, and/or stamped.

Also, churches and other non-profit organizations used and continue to use friendship quilts to raise money: Chances are often sold to win a signature on one of the blocks. Once all signature blocks are taken, a seamstress embroiders or a scrivener hand inscribes each name onto the block. The entire quilt can then be raffled off or sold at auction (Earl F. Robaker “Stitching for Pretty,” Pennsylvania Folklife, p. 9).

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, better known as the Blue Church, celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 1989. To commemorate this special occasion one of the parishioners designed a blue and white quilt that was quilted by the Blue Church quilters.  Each quilter’s name was embroidered onto the quilt.

The Nancy Hasson Roan friendship quilt (1995), now part of the Mennonite Heritage Center (MHEP) Textile collection: 1995.29.01 was made to benefit MHEP. It uses the representative Rolling Stone pattern. The dimensions are 97.5″L x 83″W; colors red, yellow, blue, black, white; place of origin: Montgomery County; Number of Blocks: 30. Each block is made up of four to six names handwritten in black ink in Roman script.

Nancy Roan designed and pieced the quilt. It was then quilted by members of the Variable Star Quilting group, as well as MHEP volunteers. Supporters of the Mennonite Heritage Center paid to have their names inscribed on the quilt. Auctioned at the yearly Apple Butter Frolic, it was then donated back to the MHEP museum.

Karen Dever and Didi Salvatierra of Moorestown, NJ are members of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG, Lincoln, Nebraska) and the Eastern Shore Quilt Study Group headed by Lucinda Cawley. In 2014 AQSG, to commemorate the Civil War Sesquicentennial, issued a “Civil War Quilts” challenge.

The Challenge required participants to identify an inspiration quilt dating from 1850 to 1865. The quilt could be reproduced in whole or in part, or it could be used as the basis for a new meaningful design (In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts 1850-1865, pp. 7, 77).

While attending the Penn Dry Goods Market at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA—a yearly springtime combination of lectures, and exhibits focused on fancy stitchery and the history of textiles, as well as on-site antique dealers specializing in antique textiles, and related objects—Karen Dever found the perfect inspiration. Attending a quilt lecture by Nancy Ronk on Fraktur quilts, Karen heard about the Aveline S. A. Stern Fraktur quilt that had inspired Lucinda Cawley to research and write her 2004 “Ihr Teppich: Quilts and Fraktur” article in the AQSG periodical Uncoverings, and discovered that the Stern quilt is now part of the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Noting that Aveline’s husband Joseph had served in the Union army, Karen and Didi were thrilled to be able to create a sixteen-signature-block quilt based on the Avelina S. A. Stern Fraktur quilt to honor all the presidents of the AQSG who have served since its inception in 1980, and especially to pay tribute to Mrs. Cawley.

All of the above friendship quilts were made more for sentimental than practical reasons. It is the women’s and men’s names on these very special show pieces that are important as most all of the design elements of the quilts are simple and similar to each other. Also, the quilting is utilitarian rather than ornamental; the piecing of the blocks uncomplicated. Using Fraktur script to pen the names was representative of and unique to the Pennsylvania Dutch culture and time period. As time progressed, the names continued to be handwritten, but the calligraphy changed to stay in step with acculturation, and some were also printed or stamped. The owner of the quilt, who more than likely also made it, was, as evidenced by the above examples, remembering family and friends. Whether 1852, 1853, 1868, 1871, or 1989, 1995, 2015, the names embody the stories of a time period and community of people, and frequently are or may become the only surviving evidence that these women and men ever lived.

Sources:

Allentown Art Museum. 1974. Pennsylvania Folk Art: [exhibition], October 20 through December 1, 1974, Allentown Art Museum. Allentown, Pa: The Museum.

Bassett, Lynne. In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts 1850 – 1865. Lincoln, Nebraska: American Quilt Study Group, 2015.

Cawley, Lucinda R. “Ihr Teppich: Quilts and Fraktur.” Uncoverings 2004 vol.25,
11- 40, Appendix II, Appendix III.

Certificate of Death. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons), Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Certificate Nr. 62068 for Hannah [Dierolf] Miller; Certificate Nr. 110628 for Mary [Erney] Dietz.

Earnest, Russell D. and Corinne P. Papers for Birth Dayes: Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners, East Berlin, Pa.: Russell D. Earnest Associates, 1997. 2nd ed., vol. 1, pp. 287-290; 335-338.

Eaton, Linda. Quilts in a Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection, exh. cat. New York: Abrams in association with the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2007, 68-69.

 Ewing, Gretchen. Quilts. Allentown: Call Chronicle, 1983.

Hollenbach, Raymond E. for Anna Maria Desch in Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church Records: Births and Baptisms, 1750-1896 Alburtis, Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, PA., Ms., p. 118, Entry Nr. 8.

Garvan, Beatrice B. and Charles F. Hummel. The Pennsylvania Germans: A Celebration of their Arts, 1683-1850, an exhibition October 17, 1982-January 9, 1983. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1982.

Holstein, Jonathan. Made To Remember. HF Johnson Museum, Cornell. Ithaca: H.F. Johnson Museum-Cornell, 1991, 36.

Nicoll, Jessica F. Quilted for Friends. Winterthur, DE: The Henry Francis dupont Winterthur Museum, 1986, 7.

Roan, Donald and Nancy. Lest I Shall Be Forgotten: Anecdotes and Traditions of Quilts Green Lane, PA: Goschenhoppen Historians, 1993.

Roan, Nancy and Ellen Gehret. ‘Just A Quilt’ or Juscht en Deppich. Green Lane, PA: Goschenhoppen Historians, n.d.

Robacker, Earl F. “Stitching for Pretty,” in Pennsylvania Folklife, Spring 1966, vol. 15, No. 3, 9.

Rogers, Susan. Crazy Like a Quilt. New York: New York Post, 1971, 46.

Shaw, Robert. American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2009, 44-45.

Stopp, Klaus. The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans, vol.1 of 6. Mainz, Germany and East Berlin, Pa: privately published, 1997-1999.

United States 1850 Federal Census for Hannah Derolf: Year: 1850; Census Place: Pike, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_754; Page: 457A; Image: 561; for Angelina Ritter: Year: 1850; Census Place: Salsburg, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: M433_792; Page: 12A; Image:29; for Anna Maria Desch: Year: 1850; Census Place: Lower Macungie, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_792; Page: 156A;

United States 1860 Federal Census for Joel Miller: Year: 1860; Census Place: Milford, Bucks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1082; Page: 308; Image: 313; for Emma Schaffer: Year: 1860; Census Place: Bridgeton, Bucks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1082; Page: 72; Image: 77.

United States 1870 Federal Census for Tilghman P. and Rebecca Kline, as well as Emma Schaeffer: Year: 1870; Census Place: Salisbury, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1363; Page: 477A; Image: 182.

United States 1900 Federal Census for Daniel L. Miller: Year: 1900; Census Place: Reoder, Bucks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1385; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0026; FHL microfilm: 1241385; for Anna Maria Desch: Year: 1900; Census Place: Lower Macungie, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: T623_31077_4115120; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0038; FHL microfilm: 1241429.

Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tradition . accessed 3 January 2016.

My thanks to Lynne Zacek Bassett; Lucinda Cawley; Russell and Corinne Earnest; Linda Moyer; Sophia Bakis of the Allentown Art Museum; the Rev. James Hammond, and Kathy Exner of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran “Blue Church” of Coopersburg, Pa.; Bob Wood, Nancy Roan, Linda Szapacs, and Alan Keyser of the Goschenhoppen Historians;  Sarah Heffner, Forrest Moyer and Joel Alderfer of the Mennonite Heritage Center; Dave Luz, Hunt Schenkel and Candace Perry of the Schwenkfelder Heritage Center; Linda Eaton, Jeanne Solensky, Lauri Perkins of Winterthur.

Friendship, Fraktur, and Signature Quilts Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images © 2016 Del-Louise Moyer

The Elisabeth Köbler Embroidered Taufschein

The Elisabeth Köbler Embroidered Taufschein, part of the Goschenhoppen Historians Fraktur collection, is one-of-a-kind. Worked in 1830 by someone with the initials of J. K., it commemorates the birth and baptism of Elisabeth Köbler born fifty-four years earlier on October 9, 1776 at the “Blue Church” in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. It’s hard to imagine what the occasion was that prompted the creation of the Taufschein. Whatever it may have been, this special gift definitely was intended to be a public remembrance for it is framed to be hung on a wall—of itself unusual—with the embroiderer’s initials and date of creation prominently visible.

Original parish records for the “Blue Church” do exist, but are presently unavailable. Thus all following information is based on copies from several sources that were intended primarily as genealogical aids. It is hoped that some day soon the primary manuscripts will be available to confirm spellings, and to locate marginal notations that are so often not transcribed when extrapolating family history entries. Per these secondary sources of the birth and baptismal records of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, often called the “Blue Church” because of the blue cast to its plastered stone exterior walls, Elisabeth Köbler, the baby featured in the embroidered Taufschein, was born October 9, 1776, the fifth child of Jacob Köbler and his wife Christina, née Kerschner, and baptized December 8, 1776. (Johann) Philip Wint/Wind, then aged seventeen, and Elisabeth Knöple were the godparents.

Jacob Kepler and Maria Christina, née Kirschener were married May 18, 1762 at the “Blue Church“ by Rev. Johann Andreas Friderich (Clarence E. Beckel, ed., Records of St. Paul’s Lutheran and Reformed Church (Blue Church) 1748-1892, Bethlehem, Pa: Bethlehem Public Library, 1937, p. 186). Georg and Margaretha Kerschner were Maria Christina’s parents.   Jacob and Christina’s

  • first child was  Johan Georg  born   February 23, 1763.
  • second             Johann Jacob  born   April 4, 1765.
  • third                 Johannes         born   June 5, 1771.
  • fourth              Maria C.           born   February 20, 1774.
  • fifth                  Elisabeth         born   October 9, 1776.
  • sixth                 Andreas          born   March 16, 1779.
  • seventh           Susanna          born   April 7, 1781.

The Köbler surname has a variety of spellings in the secondary sources such as Kepler, Keppel, Koepler, Käbler, Kebler, Kepple. It is not known if this is how they actually appear, or if the letters were incorrectly transcribed.

Very little information has been found for Elisabeth Knöple (also Kneply, Kneeply, Kneple, Knepple, Kneppley), one of the sponsors. There is, however, an Elisabeth Kneply who took communion on October 31,1818 at St. Paul’s, and she may very well be the same person as Elisabeth’s sponsor. Records show that after Friedens Church was built at Friedensville, Pa in 1793, the Knepli family members began attending there. In fact, some of the Kneplis are buried in the old part of Friedens Church cemetery.

Johann Philip Wint/Wind  (1759-1841), the other sponsor, was born to Andreas and Anna Elisabetha Catharina Wind on September 9, 1759. He was baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran “Blue Church” on September 22, 1759, and per communion records maintained an active relationship with the church into the 1820s (C. Beckel, ed. Blue Church Records, p. 20). He also is known to have attended Friedens Lutheran Church on a regular basis after it was established in 1793. Per his last will and testament made July 19,1837 [Witnesses: Jacob Dillinger and Peter Newhard, and proved November 26, 1841], Wint/Wind was a very well-to-do tanner by trade, owning several tracts of land and tenements in both Upper Saucon, and Salisbury Townships, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. It has been suggested that he may have been an organ builder or musician. This does not seem to be the case for he mentions nothing about being a keyboard or organ builder in his last testament whereas he does mention that he has a tannery that he is bequeathing to his son Andrew, and makes other references to the tanning trade, which obviously was his principal occupation. According to a credit entry for Philip Wint, Sr in the original Friedens Church account records, he actively supported building and maintenance projects up to May 1841. He died November 8, 1841 and is buried in row five of the old part of Friedens Church cemetery next to his wife Elisabeth Mohry Wind/Wint.

The Goschenhoppen Historians bought the Elisabeth Köbler Taufschein from Elwood Hoot, an auctioneer at West Point near Lansdale, PA for $125 ca. 1964-1970 according to an accession note, and entered it officially into the collection in 1972. Both the separately embroidered initials and year J 1830 K, and the Elisabeth Köbler Taufschein are worked in cotton thread, two ply polychrome silk thread and wool yarn on a bleached cotton ground. Kinds of stitches include: cross, chain, and French knot.

The embroiderer replicated in her embroidery the main decorative elements Heinrich Ebner (1783-1850), printer in Allentown, Pennsylvania used in his printed Taufscheins of the early 1820s. These include the reclining putto atop a billowing cloud in the center at the top of the piece. He is facing to the left, and holding a hunting horn in his left hand, a sealed envelope in his right. Facing inwards and standing on clouds are two angels, who flank the central birth/baptismal text. Both are equipped with lyres: The one on the right is holding a wreath with her raised right arm, and the other on the left is looking at a bird perched on her elevated left hand. Below each angel is a bird sitting on upward-stretching boughs, grasping at berries above him. Branch and bird form a symmetrical unit and face inwards. The embroiderer added additional elements not present on the Ebner Taufschein such as floral vines of tulips and flowers reminiscent of the sun; a cherry tree in front of each angel, and a sleek bird at her feet. The ever present baptismal verses announcing the brevity of life and importance of baptism usually found on printed Taufscheins of the period are noticeably absent from this piece.

The birth and baptismal certificate is not only embroidered, but also originally watercolor or tempera was used to paint the putto’s hair and body, as well as the angels’ faces and arms. Its mahogany veneer-on-pine frame is original to the Taufschein, which was intended to be a display piece. Dorothy McCoach, a leading textile conservator, conserved the piece in 1996, at which time the embroidered Taufschein was removed from the frame and its tacked mounting. Upon completion of conservation procedures, the two embroidered pieces were hand-stitched to cotton polyester slipjacketed 4 ply museum board and reframed in the original frame. The two original wood backings were returned to the Goschenhoppen Historians. It was hoped that perhaps additional information about Elisabeth Köbler had been appended to the backings, but, per Mrs. McCoach in an email response of October 26, 2015, nothing was written on either one.

Fortunately, with digital magnification, it is possible to read the much faded embroidered Fraktur script:

Transcription

Geburt und Taufschein

Diese beyde Ehegatten als Jacob Köbler | und seiner ehelichen Hausfrau Christina | eine gebohrne Kerschnern ist ein Dochter zur | Welt gebohren den 9ten Tag October | im Jahr unsers Herrn 1776 Diese | Dochter ist getauft worden und ehielt | den Namen Elisabeth die Taufzeugen | waren Philip Wint und Elisabeth Knöple.

Translation

Birth and Baptismal Certificate

A daughter was born to these two married people Jacob Köbler and his legal wife Christina, maiden name Kerschner, on the 9th of October in the Year of Our Lord 1776. This daughter was baptized and received the name Elisabeth. The sponsors were Philip Wint and Elisabeth Knöple.

The embroiderer of Elisabeth Köbler’s Taufschein had to be someone, either a family member or a friend, who had access to Elisabeth’s birth and baptismal information possibly from St. Paul’s Lutheran “Blue Church” records or from a family member. Had there been an original birth and baptismal certificate from which to work, one suspects the motifs from Ebner’s printed Taufschein, contemporary to the time in which the needleworker was actually making the piece, would not have been substituted for original decorative elements. We don’t know if Elisabeth was still alive in 1830, but if so, as already mentioned, she would have been fifty-four years old. Johann Philip Wind is the only one for whom we have additional records attesting to some of his life activities. The needleworker who worked this embroidery could never have guessed that this token of her hands and heart would one day be one of the very few footprints left to show that Elisabeth Köbler, her family, and her baptismal sponsors ever walked this earth.

Sources

Brunner, Raymond J. That Ingenious Business: Pennsylvania German Organ Builders. Publications of the Pennsylvania German Society, vol. 24, Birdsboro, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1990, 177. [Re. Wint]

Church Records at St. Paul’s “Blue” Churc,h Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, PA., transcribed from a copy in Easton Public Library 1948. T.S. Housed at St. Paul’s Blue Church, 5900 Applebutter Hill Road, Coopersburg, PA 18036-9500.

Das ist Daß Trosties und Kirchen Buch Vor Die gemeine friedens kirch in ober Sackunna Taunschip Northampton Caunty Den 25ten februarius 1797 [Friedensville, Pa., 1797].

Gehret, Ellen. This is the Way I Pass My Time: A Book About Pennsylvania German Decorated Hand Towels (Birdsboro, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1985).

Glattfelter, Charles H. Pastors and People: German Lutheran and Reformed Churches in the Pennsylvania Field, 1717-1793, vol. 1 of 2. Publications of the Pennsylvania German Society, vols. 13, 15, Breinigsville, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1980-81, 346-347 (Friedens Church), 357-358 (St. Paul’s Blue Church).

Kirchen Buch| für die Gemeine in Sauccunen in sich haltend | Getaufte, Copulirte und Verstorbene Leute angefangen im Jahr Christ 1748, St. Paul’s Blue Church, 5900 Applebutter Hill Road, Coopersburg, PA 18036-9500 [Presently unavailable].

Stopp, Klaus. The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans, vol.1 of 6. Mainz, Germany and East Berlin, Pa: privately published, 1997-1999, 157-63.
[Re. Heinrich Ebner]

Wind, John Philip Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=80213507&ref=acom Accessed 28 October 2015.

­­­_______________. Last Will and Testament: Probate Records, 1812-1920 ; Index 1812-1965;
Author: Lehigh County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Lehigh, Pennsylvania.

My thanks to Bob Wood, Nancy Roan, and Linda Szapacs of the Goschenhoppen Historians; Dorothy McCoach, Textile Conservator Consultant; the Rev. James Hammond, and Kathy Exner of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran “Blue Church” of Coopersburg, Pa.; the Rev. Lisa Borrell, Don Trump, Harvey Kichline, and Jeanette Petersen of Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church, Center Valley, Pa.

Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images
© 2015 Del-Louise Moyer

Rebecca Langley and the Pulaski Banner

Although no evidence is to be found in any of the presently known extant Moravian records of the pertinent time period, namely 1776-1779, a myth has long prevailed that Rebecca Langley (1735-1787), the director and master embroiderer of the Moravian Single Sisters’ tambour and embroidery shop, created and directed the making of a beautiful crimson embroidered banner for Count Kazimierz Pulaski (1745-1779).  It is said the sisters made it as a token of esteem for his chivalrous protection of them in Bethlehem from rowdy Continental soldiers who were temporarily encamped there; British prisoners briefly gaoled in the former children’s house; and the sick and wounded housed in the Single Brethrens’ house and other family dwellings.

Pulaski landed in America June 1777; fought in Brandywine under Washington; and, as head of the colonial cavalry battled at Germantown and in the winter campaign of 1777-1778.  This guidon or standard, attributed to Langley and her fellow sisters, was carried by his light cavalry regiment during its unsuccessful charge at the Battle of Savannah on October 9, 1779 where Pulaski was fatally wounded. Thus, if we were to find supporting evidence in Moravian records at Bethlehem, it would have to be sometime after June 1777 and before October 1779.  The Bethlehem Single Sisters’ Diary, 1767-1783 is the only Moravian source that mentions Kasimierz Pulaski, citing his being in Bethlehem, Pa. on April 16, 1778, and again on May 17, 1778.   There is, as can be seen below, no mention whatsoever of a banner being designed, or being made by the singles sisters under Rebecca Langley’s direction during this time period.

Translation:  The Third Volume of the Single Sisters’ Diary in Bethlehem from the Beginning of the Year 1767.

Translation:  [22] 16th [April 1778, Maundy Thursday] at five o’clock in the evening the first lesson was held.  General Pulaski and Colonel Kobatsch were among the listeners.

Translation:  Sunday, the 17th [May 1778] Mr. Samuel Adams, a delegate to Congress from Massachusetts Bay, Dr. [Isaac] Foster and several other gentlemen enjoyed their day today in Bethlehem, and attended several services, as did also General Pulaski, who, along with a solemn escort from several of his corps, attended the English sermon held by Br. Fries.

However, there are entries in the Single Sisters’ Diary that do mention Rebecca Langley acting on behalf of her sisters as a translator, spokesperson, as well as presenting a gift to a high-ranking Continental Army officer for precisely the same reason as was attributed to Pulaski. There are passages that show the sisters’ concern not only for protection of their persons, but also great concern for their food, and fuel supply. Most of all, there are moments depicted where not only Rebecca Langley, or Susanna von Gersdorf—spiritual and temporal leader of the single sisters, but the entire sisterhood show themselves as loving and benevolent to the very soldiery they are so apprehensive about. Excerpts from the months of December, 1776, and September, 1777 speak for themselves:

Translation: December 1776. 1st…There was a lot of concern that we will probably be taken over for hospital space. They demanded at first that all of the largest buildings be emptied, even our laundry houses. After much discussion, they finally were satisfied with several family dwellings. Doctor [William] Shippen asked for a nurse to care for the sick, and also expected we would do the ill soldiers’ laundry in our laundry house. Fortunately, God intervened. Sister Mau and her daughters will take over doing the laundry. Even so the daily texts of the last several days were very strange.

 4th. The first of the unfortunate men arrived half frozen at the [makeshift] hospital space. On the same evening we sent over some warm soup, and continued to do so up to the 7th since they will also get their noon meals from our kitchen.

15th In the evening just as the sisters were about to go to the evening meal, we were frightened by a reckless neighbor whom we didn’t even know. He came into the house with his musket, and after much interrogating, we learned that he had just wanted to pay a visit. Susel [Susanna von Gersdorf] showed him the way out. During the worship service, amidst much racket, people came to fetch our flatboat to Easton in order to bring across 4000 of General [Charle’s] Lee’s men, who are headed for Bethlehem to make camp for a day of rest, and as we heard afterwards, get into all kinds of mischief. We put our trust in the watchful and protective Guardian of Israel, and entrusted our lives, souls and community to Him, Who is able to keep us from all harm and danger…

 17th General [Horatio] Gates arrived with 500 men. He visited, along with a number of other officers, in our house during the afternoon. An express courier from General Sullivan arrived with an order for Brother Ettwein to make place for the 4000 men who would be arriving in a few hours. Brother Ettwein approached General Gates who immediately sent his Adjutant away from the house with the order that if the men were still some distance from Bethlehem, they were to take a different route. He was, however, too late. Around 4:00 pm General Sullivan arrived with the 4000 soldiers, who in reality are under the command of General [Charles] Lee, a man whom God in His mercy gave into the hands of the British two days ago (from the lips of his own officers here in Bethlehem). We asked General Gates to give us two special guards to protect us from all harm in this noise and confusion, which he immediately granted. We immediately made provisions for our sisters and girls outside of town to be brought to our house to sleep. Brother Ettwein soon brought General Sullivan with several of his immediate officers into the house. Initially he appeared very haughty, but in the end became quite modest. Our sisters had to sing and play the zither for him. Our special guards changed every three hours. After they were relieved, they went for something to eat in Sister Liesel’s room. An English-speaking sister kept watch all night so that she could give them warm wine or coffee, along with a snack through the window. We can scarcely thank the Savior enough for their faithfulness and model behavior for the three days and two nights they kept watch.

 18th From morning ‘til late at night we received continual visits from officers. We counted at least three hundred of them, and thanked God that everything went so smoothly. The one hundred or more fires round about Bethlehem made a frighteningly beautiful sight, but also provoked much concern since they burned all the fences.

19th Early in the morning General Sullivan and his men took leave. Sister Susel [Susanna von Gersdorf] gave the twelve men who had been our special guards a tour of the house. Many, who had tears in their eyes, thanked and assured us they would never forget the kindnesses we had shown them. Rebecca Langley conveyed our compliments to General Gates and presented him with a very beautiful pocketbook as a gift, which he graciously accepted. In the afternoon Gates left with his people very well disposed towards the Brethren Our sisters outside of Bethlehem were thankful that everything had gone so well with no mishaps.

Translation: September [1777]
6th Rachel Edmonds from Bartows moved into the [single sisters’] house, and her three eldest children into the Children’s House since the 218 English captured soldiers, along with several wives and children, are scheduled to be kept in the former Children’s House. The latter arrived on the 7th [September] at noon under a guard of one hundred fifty men.

 9th A House Conference was held. The general dearth was great everywhere. There is a lack of wood, and no one to deliver it. Everything within the community is earmarked for the soldiers. Food increased again to 1/. per week.

10th Pre-communion talks began with Sisters Susel [Susanna von Gersdorf], Esther and Betsey.

 13th We celebrated the congregational communion without any disturbance. The Catholic Baumgertner was readmitted.

 16th We held the liturgy for the sisters.

 19th Totally unexpectedly a letter came from Doctor [William] Shippen, which was immediately read during the communion service since the largest houses are desired to use as a hospital for around 1000 sick and wounded.   Immediately afterwards it was decided in the elders’ conference, without additional counsel available, to empty the single brothers’ house, as well as several family houses with the hope that Our Savior will retain both the widows and us in our respective houses. There are no words to describe how our sisters sobbed, and begged our Savior, Who heard us in our need, and consoled us.

20th Sister Susel [Susanna v. Gersdorf] laid it upon each sister’s heart during the morning blessing to ask the Savior

20th [September 1777] [new leaf] that He might keep us within our temple/choir house away from the noise of the world, and most of all that He might protect us from the terrors and temptations, and keep our hearts focused solely on Him. This she faithfully prayed upon her knees amidst shedding of many thousands of tears, and thus our Hearts were consoled.

 21st Sunday, the wounded and sick soldiers moved into the single brothers’ house, and several members of Congress also arrived.

22nd In the morning Brother Ettwein and the members of Congress came into our house. We had a message that they wanted to spend their sojourn here. Sister Susel [Susanna v. Gersdorf] presented her concerns to them in German, and Sister A.[nna] R.[ebecca] Langley translated them into English, namely that she wanted an assurance that no one would expect the sisters to move out of their house, for in so doing their entire way of life would be ruined. This the gentlemen scarcely expected, and they hardly knew how to answer. Mr. Henry Laurens spoke with Brother Ettwein privately in a very cordial way, and pointed him to Mr. Richard Lee, to whom Brother Ettwein turned, and with commiserating tears in his eyes repeated our plea. The gentlemen found the house to their liking, and this afternoon via Br. Ettwein they sent over the following news.

 [This is the original English as penned by the single sisters’ diary scribe.]

Bethlehem 22 September 1777.

Having here observed a humane and diligent attention to the sick and wounded and a Benevolent disire to make the necessery provision for the relief of the distressed as far as the powers of the Brethren enables them we desire that all Continental Officers may refrain from disturbing the persons or property of the Moravians in Bethlehem, and perticularly that they do not desturb or molest the Houses where the Women are asambled. Given under our hands at the Time and Place above mentioned.

Richard Henry Lee   William Duer             Conrad Harnett     Henry Laurenz
Benj. Harrison,         Joseph Jonds,             John Adams,           Henry Marchant,
Nath. Folson,            Richard Law,              William Williams   Nathan Broundson
John Hancock,          Samuel Adams,         Elyeth Dyer              Jacob Duane.

Our hearts were full of praise and thanksgiving before the Lord, Who holds all men’s hearts in His hands, and takes special care of His single sisters choir. Hundreds of wagons arrived with baggage, all of which will go out to the family houses. We worried on account of our sisters, young girls and children. In the afternoon all of the sisters went to help with the putting up of the potatoes and white cabbage so they aren’t stolen. During the evening blessing, we commended ourselves to the Protector of Israel.

23rd Sister Susel [Susanna v. Gersdorf] read a talk by Brother Joseph [Spangenberg] from the congregational news. On the 24th 700 wagons with women, children, and many hundreds of soldiers arrived. They put up tents all around us, on the low land and in the orchard. The horrible fires, which consumed all the fences, were ghastly to behold.   Besides this, great want prevailed, along with no water except what one could bring from the spring. Thus our sisters for the most part fetched the water in the laundry house for the rooms. The water for the kitchen had to be brought by wagon. The flax house on the edge of our wash house was used as a depot for powder and lead, and guarded by sentries. This again caused embarrassment for our sisters, who every morning had to go into the wash house. Thus Sister Susel [Susanna v. Gersdorf] went over there, and asked someone who could speak German to ask the others to allow the sisters, who would come by with a lantern every morning at 4:00 am, to pass by safe and sound. This soldier promised whenever possible to keep the watch himself at this time, which he faithfully did, and he also promised not to burn the fences.

25th Members of Congress, including Mr. Hancock and Samuel Adams visited our house and were shown around. They were also asked to protect us, and since they were shown the signed assurance from 22 September, likewise added their names.

26th The 218 English prisoners, who were very staid, and to whom Mr. Wab [Captain Thomas Webb] preached several times in the house grounds, left under heavy guard. Sister Susel [Susanna v. Gersdorf] conducted the communion quarter-hour, and the Savior’s pronounced presence as we unburdened our hearts at His feet was indescribable.

 27th At the house conference today there were all kinds of opportunities to thank the Savior for His preserving us. Each was asked, according to her capabilities, to keep watch, and to report everything immediately to the right place.

In 1825, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized Pulaski’s Banner with a poem entitled “Hymn of the Moravian Nuns of Bethlehem,” and it has been suggested that this fueled the imaginations of those who created a charming, and romantic, but fictional account of the banner. In 1845, Edmund R. Peale donated the actual relic to the Maryland Historical Society, then in its second year of existence. It is still there in storage, and can seen by special appointment. Rufus Grider, a Moravian teacher and artist, drew the front and back from the original in 1871, downscaling it to ¼ of its actual size, and included a synopsis of the popular Moravian single sisters tale. Whether true or not, the story is so engrained in American traditions, it will always be told.

Translation: Non Alius Regit = No other governs.

Translation: Unitas Virtus Forcior [sic] = Union makes valor stronger [Letter “C” should be a “T.”]

Perhaps somewhere on an attic or in an archival storage space there is yet a manuscript or two that will support the suggestion that Pulaski during his brief appearances in Bethlehem was so taken with the Moravian sisters’ gorgeous embroidery that he ordered the famed banner, and that Rebecca Langley designed and directed her fellow embroiderers in its creation. Master tambour embroiderers could stitch more quickly than by other traditional embroidery methods for they were using only one stitch. This was accomplished by stretching fabric between two round fitted hoops much like the head of a small drum or tambour; and using a special hook to punch through the material, catching the thread from beneath and drawing it up to create a linked, chainlike stitch. By working rows of chained stitches closely together they could produce shaded color work with great depth and variety. An actual example featuring a pin cushion with tambour work done in silk, linen, cotton, and wool ca. 1790-1810 in Bethlehem, Pa. is preserved in the Winterthur textile collection.

Unlike Pulaski’s banner, we don’t know the whereabouts of the beautiful pocketbook Rebecca Langley presented to the Continental Army General Horatio Gates on December 19, 1776, but it might have been similar to this ca. 1770 pouch with tambour work on silk and leather. What we do know is that the documented story of Rebecca Langley, Susanna von Gersdorf, and the

Moravian single sisters’ experiences in Bethlehem from 1776-1779 is not only full of surprises, great and small deeds, valor, chivalry, kindness, caring, and Christian love, but also is totally true!

BIOGRAPHICAL THUMBNAILS
John Ettwein
(1721-1802) and his wife came to America in 1754, and served as Moravian missionaries to the Delaware Indians, first at Friedenshütten near Wyalusing, and then at Friedensstadt on the Beaver River in southwestern Pennsylvania. During the Revolutionary War, he was the chief spokesperson for the Moravians in Pennsylvania with members of the Continental Congress and other dignitaries. After being consecrated a bishop in 1784, he became the head of the Moravian Church in America.

Dr. Isaac Foster (ca. 1740-1781) was a physician, and a delegate to the first provincial congress of Massachusetts in 1774. He was appointed a surgeon in 1775, and for several months was the head of the military medical department. At Washington’s request Foster was elected by Congress in April 1777 as Deputy Director-General of the Hospitals for the Eastern District. He retired from public life in 1780 due to poor health, but did not resign his commission. He died in 1781.

Horatio Gates (1727-1806), a retired British soldier, served as an American major general during the Revolutionary War. When it was clear that the English would not be attacking Ticonderoga in 1776, Gates marched some of the army to join Washington in Pennsylvania, to where they had withdrawn after the fall of New York City to the British.

Susanna (‘Susel’) von Gersdorf (1731-1805) was the spiritual and temporal head of the Single Sisters in Bethlehem from 1764-1784, having replaced Anna Rosina Anders in 1764. She later filled the same position in Neuwied (1789-1795) and Ebersdorf (1795-1805).

Rebecca Langley (1735-1787) was born in Northampton, England on September 6, 1734. Her father was James Langley, a successful merchant involved in many ventures, and her mother Rebecca, née Waston. Both were Presbyterians, and followers of Rev. Philip Doddridge, an independent religious thinker and writer. They came to know the Moravians, especially Brother Jacob Rogers, and when Rebecca was eleven moved to London to be closer to the Unitas Fratum’s members. Upon her mother’s death in 1747, Mr. Langley brought his daughter to a very famous boarding school where she spent three years receiving an upper class education. Rebecca probably had begun to learn practical and decorative sewing at home, but it was more than likely she acquired the requisite skills in tambour work and other fine stitchery at this private finishing school. Upon completion of her studies, the headmistress retained her as an assistant in the school. During this time her father emigrated to the American colonies to try his luck, and settled in Boundbrook, New Jersey. On June 14, 1753 Rebecca and her youngest sister Erdmuth went on board the Moravian-owned ship “the Irene,” and were specially attended to by its Captain Nicholas Garrison (1701-1781) and his wife. Both girls also got to know Peter Boehler, and other Moravians during their three month sea voyage. They landed in New York in the beginning of September1753. Rebecca briefly stayed with a famous New York merchant, and then, along with Erdmuth, was brought to Boundbrook by her father. The eighteen-year-old was so unhappy in the rural environment that she found an excuse to return to the merchant family in New York where she stayed for three months, enjoying all the worldly delights the city had to offer. Upon her return to New Jersey, George Whitefield, the preacher famous for the “Great Awakening” movement both in Europe and America, came from Philadelphia and visited in the Brunswick area where Rebecca heard him preach quite often. The Garrisons also came through the area about the same time inviting her to visit them in Bethlehem. The influence of both prompted the young woman to reconsider her spiritual state. Her father left once more to try his fortune, this time in the West Indies, and placed his daughters in the home of one of his merchant friends in Brunswick, NJ. This man was quite taken with Rebecca. He almost immediately found a work opportunity for Erdmuth, but to Rebecca he offered his house. It isn’t clear if this means as housekeeper or wife. However, Becky Langley does say that the combination of all of these experiences jolted her into the reality that she had to choose a definite direction for her life that would take care of her temporal, as well as spiritual needs. She chose a life with the Moravians, arriving in Bethlehem on June 19, 1755. She must have been very elegant in appearance and ways for most of the Moravians didn’t think she would fit into their simple lifestyle. Rebecca convinced them to take her, and was baptized by Peter Boehler August 24, 1755; became a candidate for communion on June 10, 1756. On January 1, 1757 she received permission to take communion, and on January 21st partook of the Lord’s Supper for the first time. Her confirmation on September 3, 1758 forever sealed her commitment to the life of a single sister. The scrivener who completed Rebecca’s memoriam mentions that she was consecrated as an acolyte on the same day as her confirmation, serving her fellow Moravians lovingly and with great joy. When the communal economy was dissolved in 1762, and the sisters had to found businesses that would support their economic needs, Rebecca’s creative talents as a master embroiderer proved especially beneficial. She also was convivial, dealt well with strangers, and was adept in business matters, all making this energetic woman the perfect person to direct the tambour and embroidery shop in the sisters’ house. Her younger sister Erdmuth also came to Bethlehem, and became a single sister, but always stood in the shadow of Rebecca. In 1778 James Langley came to Bethlehem in his seventieth year as a broken and ill man. His daughters lovingly cared for him for fourteen weeks, and saw him die as a redeemed sinner of the Lamb. Rebecca Langley first showed signs of illness in 1785, periodically spending time in the sisters’ sick room where she was lovingly cared for. In the summer of 1787 she went to Philadelphia for several weeks where she hoped to regain her health among friends and acquaintances. However, on her trip back to Bethlehem she caught a cold, and never quite recovered. Rebecca occupied the sick room from July until her death on October 2, 1787. Buried on 5 October, she was survived by Erdmuth, and a brother James, who lived in London.

Henry Laurens (1724-1792) was an American merchant and rice plantation entrepreneur from South Carolina. A delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Laurens succeeded John Hancock as President of the Congress. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and was president of the Continental Congress when the Articles were passed on November 15, 1777.

 Charles Lee ( 1731-1782 ) British-born Major Gen. Charles Lee joined the forces of Geroge Washington’s Continental Army in 1775. A competitive and rash man, he openly challenged Washington’s authority and capabilities and his arbitrary decision-making often put the Continental Army in precarious positions. In September 1776, after the British had withdrawn from the southern colonies, Washington ordered him to rejoin the main U. S. Army under his command in Pennsylvania. Lee intentionally moved his troops as slowly as possible so as not to be accused of not following orders. During this leisurely march, he was captured December 13, 1776 by the English at Basking Ridge, near Morristown, N. J., and taken to New York City where he remained prisoner until late December, 1777, finally being exchanged in Philadelphia for British Maj. Gen. Richard Prescott on April 21, 1778.   After his capture, General Sullivan took command of Lee’s forces and marched them to join Washington in time for the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1777. Charles Lee’s December 1776 capture by British troops, as well as his retreat during the Battle of Monmouth, led to a court-martial and removal from the army.

John Sullivan (1740-1795) served in the Revolutionary War as a major general; proved his bravery and loyalty at the Battle of Trenton, NJ on December 26, 1776; was a delegate from New Hampshire to the Continental Congress; Governor of New Hampshire; and a U. S. Federal judge.

Thomas Webb (1724-1796) was born in the west of England, and fought under the British in North America during the French and Indian War. He was converted by a Moravian minister, but found his spiritual home among the Methodists. Having sold his commission in 1766, Webb crisscrossed between America and England. However, in April 1773 he returned to America, newly married and as a civilian. Acting on a report from an American agent, Webb was arrested as a British spy and brought to Bethlehem where he ministered to other English military internees.

My thanks to Linda Eaton and Roberta Weisberg of Winterthur; Charlene Donchez Mowers, Lindsey Jancay, and Mary Brown of Historic Bethlehem Inc.; Paul Peucker, and Tom McCullough of the Moravian Archives at Bethlehem, Pa; and Allison Tolman of the Maryland Historical Society

Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images excepting Winterthur © 2015 Del-Louise Moyer

Human Heritage and Divine Lineage

The best known of Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur are the Taufscheins. It is the Lutherans, Reformed, and Moravians who believed in infant baptism, and who popularized the use of birth and baptismal certificates in America. These documents not only trace human heritage, but divine lineage as well for they almost always contain spiritual inscriptions such as verses from the Bible, hymnal, or religious poetry to focus one on God. The origins of the quoted passages can be as valuable as the genealogical data, and help us trace geographical, historical, and literary footprints. If we study them carefully, we can sense the mindset of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and admire their rare combination of commonsense and celestial awe.

The following three manuscripts belong to the Goschenhoppen Historians. The first two are Taufscheins and are representative of the pragmatic recordkeeping of life’s events, as well as its spiritual aspirations. The third is a Scherenschnitt or cut-out. Although it lacks physical genealogical information, it abounds in artistic revery, heavenly imagination, and childlike wisdom.

MANUSCRIPT I
Isaac Rommig
(1809 – 1895) Taufschein
Materials: Wove Paper; watercolor; ink
Dimensions 13 1/8” H x 15 7/8” W

This Taufschein was made sometime after 2 August1809 when Isaac Romig (1809-1895) was born to Johannes and Margretha Rommig in Beaver Dam Township, then in Union County, PA.   The anonymous artist-scrivener not only included birth and baptismal details, but also a German translation by W. H. Seel for Psalm 118:19-20, found in a psalter printed by permission of the House of Orange-Nassau in1786. Seel’s Psalm translations were a more modern alternative to those of the sixteenth century translator Ambrosius Lobwasser, whose versions had long been sung by German-speaking pietiests, especially by Reformed believers.

Isaac Romig is listed in the 1860 U. S. census as  living in Beaver Springs, PA with his wife Lydia, age 50; John Romig, age 25; Elizabeth Romig, age 18; Elizabeth Romig, age 14; Isaac Romig, age 2; Jane Dry, age 50; and Frederick Raught, age 15. He died October 12, 1895, and is buried in Beaver Springs, Snyder County, PA at the Adamsburg Cemetery.

TRANSCRIPTIONS/TRANSLATIONS
Diese beÿden Ehgatten als Johannes Rommig und seine Ehelichen hausfrau | Margretha ist Ein Sohn zur Welt gebohren wie weitters folget: | Isaac Rommig ist zur Welt gebohren Im Jahr 18 um [___] tag | [___] Jahr unsers Herrn Jesu 1809 den 2 ten tag | Augustus im [___] zwischen [___] de [____]   ist nach der leiblichen | geistlichen Wiedergeburt der heiligen Tauf befördert | und Von Conrath Walter Parre geTauft und genennet | worden Wie aber gemeldt Tauf zeugen Matheis Freÿ | und sein frau Wilhelmina aber gemeldter Isaac ist | gebohren und getauft worden in America in der | proVintz Pennsÿlvania in union Caunty in | büber Däm Taunschip.

Die thore der gerechtigkeit th[[u] auf. Ich geh hinein | den man seÿ lob und Danck ge weitt thu auf | thu auf Ich geh hinein – – – -die thore der gerechtig keit wer wer geth da |
hin ein Der man Von Reiner frömmigkeit | Der ists der geth hin ein

Translation
A son was born into the world to this married couple Johannes Rommig and his espoused wife Margretha as follows: Isaac Rommig was born into the world in the year 18 at [___] day [___] in the year of our Lord Jesus 1809 on the second day of August in [____] between [_____] [and] was christened and named according to the physical and spiritual rebirth of baptism by Pastor Conrath Walter. Sponsors were Matheis Frey and his wife Wilhelmina. Isaac was born and baptized in America, in the Province of Pennsylvania, Union County, Beaver Dam Township.

Open the gates of righteousness. I wish to enter. To Him be given praise and thanks. Open up! Open up! I wish to enter the gates of righteousness. Who? Who shall go within? The man of spotless piety shall enter in.

Sources:
W. H. Seel, trans., Neues Gesangbuch, zum Gebrauch bey dem öffentlichen Gottesdienst und der häuslichen Erbauung. Mit fürstl. Oran. Nassauischem gnädigsten Privilegio (Herborn: Johann Ewald Brückner, 1786), Psalm 118: 12-13, Mel. 7, 99. https://books.google.com/books?id=ZXZWAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=der+Gerechtigkeit++Ich+geh+hinein&source=bl&ots=QuUgLNzxKf&sig=C5lnLipzl_B_bN2i6XCVH60Nm18&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMI4YKroPv2yAIVxfAmCh1GNASp#v=onepage&q=der%20Gerechtigkeit%20%20Ich%20geh%20hinein&f=false (accessed 4 November 2015).

1860 U.S. Census, Population Schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

MANUSCRIPT 2
Johannes Heinrich Eichert (1777-1859)
Taufschein & Church Credentials
Materials:   Laid Paper; ink
Dimensions:   [Folded leaf] 13 ½” H x 8 ½ ” W; [Whole leaf] 13 ½” H x 17″ W

Johannes Heinrich Eichert (1777-1859) immigrated to America in 1805 on the Ship Verney (Capt. Elisha King). He grew up in Haigerseelbach, a rural village on the western edge of the Westerwald belonging to the Princely Counts of the House of Orange-Nassau. His Pastor H. F. Schmidt furnished him with this Taufschein and church credentials as proof of his origins and reliability. Little is known about him. However, this document continued to be his curriculum vitae for another hand noted on it that Johannes Heinrich Eichert “died in the year 1859 on January 8th around 11:00 o’clock.” He was married to Elizabeth Heckler and is buried in Hetzels Cemetery at the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, PA.

TRANSCRIPTIONS/TRANSLATIONS

Transcription
[Aussenseite des Mss]

Taufschein und Kirchenzeug= \niß für Johannes Hen= \ rich Eichert zu Haigerseel=bach.

[Mss]
L.B.S.

Nach dem hiesigen Taufprotokoll wurde Jo= \ hannes Henrich Eichert, Sohn des Jost Hen= \rich Eichert und dessen Ehefrau Maria Chri= \ stina zu Haigerseelbach in dem Jahr 1777. \ den 6ten Julius gebohren und und den 13ten = \ getauft. Gevattern waren Johann Henrich Hel= \ genhöfer und Elisabeth Margretha, Christian \ Müllen Ehefrau daselbst.

Da der genannte Johannes Henrich Eichert zu Hai= \ gerseelbach eine Reise nach America zu unterneh= \ men entschlossen ist, so wird ihm auf sein Verlan= \ gen nicht allein dieser Taufschein mitgetheilt, son= \ dern ihm auch das Zeugniß gegeben, daß er we= \ gen seines bisherigen ehrbaren Betragens, als \ ein Glied der reformirten Gemeine, auch an an= \ dern Orten aufgenommen und zum heiligen Abend= \ mal gegelassen werden kann. Haiger, in dem Oranien-Nassau-Dillenburgischen, d. 15ten \ Mai, 1805.

[Siegel]

H.G. Schmidt
Pfarrrionrius [?]

[in einer anderen Hand]

Gestorben im jahr  — 1859 – 1 – 8 Jan so um 11 Uhr
Geboren   im jahr  —  1777 – 7 – 6 July
Alt                                     81 – 6 – 2

Translation
[
Outside of Mss]

Baptismal Certificate and Church Credentials for Johannes Henrich Eichert of Haigerseelbach.

[Mss]
As per the local baptismal procedure, please be informed that Johannes Henrich Eichert, son of Jost Henrich Eichert and his spouse Maria Christina, was born at Haigerseelbach on July 6, 1777, and baptized on the 13th [July]. His sponsors were Johann Henrich Helgenhöfer and Elisabeth Margretha, wife of Christian Müllen.

Since the aforementioned Johannes Henrich Eichert of Haigerseelbach is determined to undertake a trip to America, he requests that not only this baptismal certificate, but also church credentials be included with this document. This is to certify that he has comported himself honestly, and as a member of the local reformed church, should be received elsewhere and also be admitted to Holy Communion.

Haiger, in the Principality of Orange—Nassau—Dillenburg, May 15, 1805.

[Insignia]

H.G. Schmidt
Pastor

[In another hand]

Died in the year 1859 on January 8th around 11:00 o’clock.
Born in the year 1777 on July 6th.
Age 81 years, 6 months, 2 weeks.

SOURCES:

William H. Egle, M.D., Editor: Names of Foreigners who took the Oath of Allegiance to the Province and State of Pennsylvania 1727-1775, With the Foreign Arrivals, 1786—1808 (Harrisburg, Pa: E.K. Meyers State Printer, Pennsylvania Archives Second Series, 1892), vol. XVII, pp. 637, 639.

Find A Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=107349243&ref=acom (accessed 4 November 2015)

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church Records. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 507.

MANUSCRIPT 3
Elisa Beth Hachman . Scherenschnitt, 182
Materials: Wove Paper; watercolor; ink
Dimensions 12 ¾ ″ H x 16 ″ W

A Scherenschnitt or cut-out created in 1824 most likely by Elisa Beth Hachman yields very little earthly genealogical information. We know that if it gets lost, we’ll see her name and know where to return it! However, it is an amazing creative design of flower-faces, floral hearts, birds, and cartouches that must be turned every which way to read not only Elisa Beth’s name, but also the spiritually-oriented inscriptions meant to keep her focused on God and her divine lineage.

Transcription: Dieses Bild Gehöret Mir | Elisa Beth Hachman sein Bild | soll Er verlohren Gehren kan Mann | so den name sehen
Translation: This picture belongs to me. Elisa Beth Hachman owns this picture. If it gets lost, one can see my name.

[Right Heart – Blue]
Transcription: Das Herze | Lein soll | werde | n
Translation:   My little heart will become

[Left Heart – Red]
Transcription: Dir Allein | Geschrieben | Jahr | 1824
Translation:     yours alone. Written in the Year 1824

[N. B. Cartouche Horizontal]
[Upper cartouche]
Transcription: Der name des Herrn Unsers | Gottes Sey Gelobet Und Gebendeyet | von nun An Bis in Ewigkeit Amen
Translation: The name of the Lord Our God be blessed and praised from now until all eternity. Amen.

[Right Heart – Green]
Transcription: Gedenke an | deinen | Schöpff | er
Translation:     Stay focused on Your Creator

[Left Heart   – Blue]
Transcription: In deiner | JuGend
Translation:     during your youth

Many thanks to the Goschenhoppen HIstorians and Bob Wood.

© 2015 by Del-Louise Moyer

John Daniel Eisenbrown: Fraktur Artist and Grave Monument Engraver

Monroe Fabian in his 1974 Pennsylvania Folklife article “John Daniel Eisenbrown, Frakturist,” introduced a totally unknown artist-scrivener. Fabian enthusiastically hoped that more Fraktur examples would one day come to light, but the years have passed, and, if there is a cache of his illuminated manuscripts, they have remained well hidden among family members. Fortunately, one more can now be added. In May of this year an anonymous donor gifted a New Testament containing a bookplate and birth record to the Goschenhoppen Historians Fraktur collection. Eisenbrown made it in 1824 for his student Joseph Weber of Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Fig. 1a Weber New Testament Title Page Germantaun: Michael Billmeyer, 1822. Courtesy of (1) Goschenhoppen HIstorians

Fig. 1a Weber New Testament Title Page Germantaun: Michael Billmeyer, 1822. Courtesy of Goschenhoppen Historians

Fig. 1b Book Plate and Birth Record, Weber New Testament. By John D. Eisenbrown, 4/10/1824. Courtesy of Goschenhoppen Historians

Fig. 1b Book Plate and Birth Record, Weber New Testament. By John D. Eisenbrown, 4/10/1824. Courtesy of Goschenhoppen Historians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is signed and dated in the lower corners of the bookplate: [LL corner] “Upper Saucon Township April 10, 1824,” [LR corner] “made by John D. Eisenbrown as a memento for his student.” The main body in the center reads: “This New Testament belongs to Joseph Weber who was born June 27, 1815.”

Joseph Weber has left no footprint, and although John D. Eisenbrown remains obscure as a Frakturist, represented by only four Fraktur pieces done during his early career as a school teacher, he is remembered for his calligraphic skills as a carver of tombstone memorials.

Even today the reputation built by John Daniel, and later his son Penrose Frederick lives on in the P. F. Eisenbrown Memorials Co. in Reading Pennsylvania. Although no longer owned by the Eisenbrown family, the present owner of this marble and granite business continues to retain the P. F. Eisenbrown brand name for the trustworthiness, honesty, and prestige the Eisenbrown family achieved in its principled business transactions. That is a legacy well worth remembering!

Johan Daniel Eisenbraun was born on December 2, 1795 in Adelberg near Stuttgart in the Duchy of Baden-Württemberg. There is no documentation to support Morton L. Montgomery’s statement in his Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania that Eisenbrown landed in Philadelphia from Germany at age sixteen. However, we know from a birthday Fraktur he made for his future wife Charlotta Wolf (1798-1832) of Egypt, PA—the only Pennsylvania Dutch birthday Fraktur example presently known—that he was in America by the spring of 1817 for Eisenbrown dated and signed his greetings “April 16, 1817, Johan Daniel Eisenbraun.”

Sometime after November 4, 1818, the date Johan Heinrich Wind purchased a family Bible in Philadelphia, Eisenbrown was engaged to create a double-leaf bookplate for the Bible.

Fig. 4a Leaf 1 of 2. Wind Bible bookplate by John Danial Eisenbraun sometime after 11/04/1818. Courtesy of (3) The Library Company of Philadelphia

Fig. 4a Leaf 1 of 2. Wind Bible bookplate by John Danial Eisenbraun sometime after 11/04/1818. Courtesy of  The Library Company of Philadelphia

Fig. 4b Leaf 2 of 2 Wind Bible bookplate by John Danial Eisenbraun sometime after 11/04/1818. Courtesy of (3) The Library Company of Philadelphia

Fig. 4b Leaf 2 of 2 Wind Bible bookplate by John Danial Eisenbraun sometime after 11/04/1818. Courtesy of  The Library Company of Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first leaf reads: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.  [St. Luke 11:28]; purchased on November 4, 1818 in Philadelphia; made (written) by the former schoolmaster in Upper Saucon, John Daniel Eisenbrown.” The second leaf reads: “Bible for John Henry Wind.”  Johann Heinrich Wind (1779-1842) was active in the Friedens Lutheran Church, and is buried in the old churchyard cemetery at Friedensville, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. From this Fraktur we know that Eisenbrown was a teacher in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, PA. by 1818. His association with Wind, as suggested by Monroe Fabian, could indicate that Eisenbrown was the schoolmaster for the congregation at Friedensville.

A family Bible register, kept by John Daniel Eisenbrown to note the births and baptisms of his children, records Charlotta’s and his life from 1821-1832.

The following nine children were born to John Daniel and Charlotta Barbara:

  1. Maria Franziska: born 10/15/1821; Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: grandparents J. George and Anna Maria Wolf; baptized by Rev. Conrad Yeager
  2. + Constantin Edward: born 9/8/1822; Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: parents; baptized by Rev. Conrad Yeager.
  3. Charlotte Mathilda: born 8/6/1824; North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: parents; baptized by Rev. [Frederick William] Mendsen.
  4. Anna Maria: born 11/12/1825; North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: grandparents J. George and Anna Maria Wolf; baptized by Rev. [Frederick William] Mendsen.
  5. Carolina Lowina: born 1/25/1827; North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: Daniel Rösler and his wife; died in the year 1828.
  6. Charlotta: born 3/24/1828; North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; sponsors: parents; baptized by Rev. [Frederick William] Mendsen.
  7. Wilhelmina: born 6/11/1829; Kutztown, Berks County; sponsors: parents [and] Johann Knoske, Lutheran minister, and his wife; baptized by Rev. [H.] Knoske.
  8. Friderich Penrose: 4/3/1831; Kutztown, Berks County; sponsors: Friderich Wolf and Elisabeth Knoske, unmarried; baptized by Rev. H. Knoske.
  9. William Jonas: 10/12/1832; North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; the mother died from this childbirth; sponsors: Jonas and Sara Troxel took the baby and adopted it.

Charlotta died from complications in childbirth on October 18, 1832, six days after giving birth to William Jonas, who was adopted and raised by his godparents Jonas and Sara Troxel.

John Daniel’s second wife was Mary Troxel with whom he produced an additional eight children, two of whom died in infancy. During this time period, he successfully transferred the tombstone-cutting business he had begun in Minersville, PA in 1844 to Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1855, and located it on the northwest corner of 9th and Hamilton Streets—the later site of the famous Hess’s Department Store!  Penrose took up the same business as his father establishing himself first in Minersville, and then Pottsville, and finally in 1874 in Reading. Father and son built up the mutual respect of their customers, were known for prompt service and reasonable prices, and, as already noted, were very successful businessmen. Per St. Pauls Lutheran Church Records in Allentown Pennsylvania John Daniel Eisenbraun died March 16, 1874, aged 73 years, 3 months, and 14 days.

When Monroe Fabian wrote his 1974 article, Paul Eisenbrown, John Daniel’s great grandson, enthusiastically collaborated with the author, and located the birthday Fraktur, a cabinet photo by Hafer Studio, Reading, Pennsylvania reproducing a now lost daguerreotype of John Daniel Eisenbrown ca. 1850, as well as the J. D. Eisenbrown Family Bible Register among his relatives. If anyone knows the present whereabouts of any of these items, I would be very grateful for an email reply to this blog post.


Illustration Links

(1)      Find a Grave Photos

(2)       Find a Grave


Sources

“Charlotta Eisenbrown, Where Buried,” in Find a Grave. Accessed 4 September 2015. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=62209197&ref=acom

John Daniel Eisenbraun. Death Entry by Rev. Minnig in St. Pauls Lutheran Church Records, Allentown Pennsylvania,” in Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Record collections, Philadelphia, PA, Reel: 545, 373 of 558.

“John Daniel Eisenbrown,” in Russell D. and Corinne P. Earnest’s Papers for Birth Dayes, Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners. York, PA: 2nd ed., 1997, vol. 1, 229.

“John Daniel Eisenbrown, Where Buried,” in Find a Grave. Accessed 4 September 2015.
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=76230372&ref=acom

P. F. Eisenbrown Memorials of Reading, PA. Accessed 3 September 2015 http://eisenbrownmemorials.com/about-us/3647772

“Penrose F. Eisenbrown” in Morton L. Montgomery’s Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1909), vol. 1, part 1, p. 82 of 227. Accessed 3 September 2015. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/morton-l-morton-luther-montgomery/historical-and-biographical-annals-of-berks-county-pennsylvania-embracing-a-co-003/page-82-historical-and-biographical-annals-of-berks-county-pennsylvania-embracing-a-co-003.shtml

Monroe Fabian’s “John Daniel Eisenbrown, Frakturist,” in Pennsylvania Folklife,
Winter 1974-1975 vol. XXIV, No. 2, pp. 31-35.

“Johann Heinrich Wind, Where Buried,” in Find a Grave. Accessed 3 September 2015
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Wind&GSfn=Johann&GSmn=Heinrich&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=79963152&df=all&

© Del-Louise Moyer 2015

When is a Huswif a Huswif?

When is a huswif a huswif?  A house wife living between A. D. 1100 and 1500, when middle English was spoken, was known as a huswif. In the same time period a huswif or more commonly a hussy referred to a mischievous, impudent, or ill-behaved girl.  However, house wives were a frugal lot, and as time progressed, the use of huswif for a penny-wise housekeeper supplanted the less savory meaning of hussy. By the eighteenth century as an extension of feminine thrifty management, sewing rolls containing scissors, thread, needles, and other sewing notions were aptly known as huswifs, a term generally recognized and used by all.

Girls, in anticipation of their duties as wives and mothers, were taught to do plain, as well as sometimes fancy sewing. Once married, they would be expected to make all the clothing, the pillow cases, bed sheets, tablecloths, fancy show towels, butter cloths by hand. By taking odds and ends of different fabric and using basic stitches such as the back stitch, basting stitch, hemming stitch, and blanket stitch, young women created a practical, yet lovely and colorful storage place for their sewing tools.

Pennsylvania Dutch girls and their mothers carried their huswifs in the large tie-on pockets or Taschen they wore under their skirts. During the Civil War women sent their men into battle with huswifs so that they could sew on buttons and mend their uniforms. The sewing roll also reminded the lonely soldier of his sweetheart or wife. It was not unusual for a man to reciprocate, and make a special huswif for his loved one, which he had sent to her as a token of his steadfastness and regard.

We also find literary references to a huswif in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (Chapter 38, 1811): “And for my part, I was all in a fright for fear your sister should ask for the huswifes she had gave us a day or two before….” Women continue to create similar rolls today not only in order to store their sewing/embroidery tools, but also to keep their jewelry or toiletries.

Two examples from the Winterthur Needlework Collection will show the variety and usefulness of the Huswif.  The provenance of the first example (1960.0196) is unknown but was probably created in England; is made of cotton and linen sometime between 1780-1800; and is 19 (H) x 5 (W) inches.

Three of the pockets are block printed, and one plate printed. The latter is a fragment depicting a rider on horseback shooting a gun, and is taken from the “Storming of Quebec” fabric of 1775.

The provenance of the second example (1969.3107) is Henry Francis du Pont/United States; is made of cotton, wool, and silk between 1795-1829; and is 17 (H) x 3.75 (W) inches. There appear to be four pockets done in assorted materials on a common background, along with four semi-round pieces of wool placed at the top of the huswif to store needles.

It is more usual to find  these “needle keepers” at the bottom of the roll than at the top. A tie at the top is used to hang the huswif on a wall when not in use.

Making a huswif is not difficult. Any person who can use a needle and thread can do the following four basic stitches, and cut out the pattern to create a huswif.

Calico, as well as a variety of other fabric and sewing tools can be found at Ladyfingers, a sewing studio owned by Gail Kessler in Oley, PA that caters to quilters.

Wool for the “needle keepers,” a wide choice of materials, including calico, and a large variety of sewing notions can be found at The Wooden Bridge, a dry goods store owned by Paul and Anna Mae Martin in Kutztown, PA that also offers quilting and sewing classes, not to mention a repairman for sewing machines, and a top-notch scissors sharpener!

Both shops maintain a friendly competition, and recommend each other to their customers when unable to supply an item. Their staffs are friendly, and mega-helpful. Should you have a quilting or sewing project—such as a huswif—in mind, it’s worth a trip through gorgeous Berks County to experience the shops’ beautiful settings, ample supply of practically every quilting or sewing need you may have, and a truly knowledgeable and helpful group of salespeople to serve you.

To get a preview of what that means, take a look at the following steps I used to make this huswif. 

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My thanks to Linda Eaton and Roberta Weisberg of Winterthur, Lynne Bassett, and Sandra Highouse of the Goschenhoppen Historians.

© Del-Louise Moyer 2015

Elisabet Mertz’s Birth Record: Freeing the Spirit in the Fraktur

Every time I hold a Pennsylvania Dutch illuminated manuscript in my hands, the text begins to pulsate with life. A bit of history has long been waiting to escape the confines of the paper, and it’s so much fun to bring the words to life.  First I have to transcribe the Fraktur and/or German script; assess the information; and finally research names, dates, places, and possibly quotes with the hope that I’ll find enough material to free the spirit in the Fraktur and resurrect a person, or a cultural moment in time that would otherwise not see the light of day.

Ill. 1 Elisabet Mertz Fraktur B

Ill. 1 Elisabet Mertz Fraktur, Courtesy of Goschenhoppen Historians

Such is the case with one very exciting birth record recently gifted to the Goschenhoppen Historians Fraktur, Manuscript and Rare Books collection by an anonymous donor. The Fraktur was made for Elisabet Mertz (1777-1848), born to Johan Jacob Mertz (1741-1811) and his wife Catarina (1747-1826), née Schelkopf, on July 11, 1777. The manuscript measures 8 x 13 inches; is hand-drawn, hand-colored, hand-lettered with ink and watercolor on laid paper. Water damage, and traces of scotch tape used to repair a major central horizontal tear are evident. Subsequently someone attempted to rectify this tear by mounting the piece on pressed board. The work is a candidate for conservation, and it is hoped that this can be undertaken in the near future.

Prominent decorative elements include tulip vines with red, green, and yellow blooms.  On each side a vine rises vertically out of a double-handled brown and yellow pot to frame a quintet of birds. Three are perched on an undulating banderole that runs horizontally across the upper middle portion of the work and is supported at either end by two vertical green stems: The central bird is red and green, faces left, and is flanked by two much larger inward facing brown and orange singing birds. There is a Fraktur text that has been penned in red ink within the banderole. At the bottom two more singing birds face inwards, flanking a heart from which yellow and red blooming tulip vines flow symmetrically to the left and right. Centered between the upper text banderole and the lower bird scene is the birth record in black Fraktur script:

[Original]
Elisabet wurd geboren den 11 July 1777 seine | Eltern waren der ehrbare Johan Jacob Mertz und Seine Hauß frau | Catarina p Tauf zeigen war die Ehrbare Friedricke Schelkobin

[Translation]
Elisabet was born on July 11, 1777. Her parents were the honorable Johan Jacob Mertz and his housewife Catarina, etc. Baptismal sponsor was the honorable Friedricke Schelkob [Schellkopf].

A sawtooth border in yellow, green and brown (damaged around outer edges) encloses this imaginative and picturesque work. Unusually vibrant and fresh colors indicate that care has been taken to keep it out of sunlight. The last owner purchased the illuminated manuscript at the Pennypacker Auction Center, Reading PA in May 1971. Oh, that more were known about its provenance!

Elisabet’s birth record is unusual in a number of ways.  Firstly, most all texts found on illuminated manuscripts are taken either from the Bible or religious poetry.  The text that appears in this Fraktur, however, was chosen intentionally from a morally-oriented secular text [1] to inspire others to live righteously on earth.  The banderole phrase is taken from a very popular book of manners for young people written by Johann Leonhard Rost (1688-1727), an astronomer and poet who spent most of his life in Nuremberg, Germany.  When not writing treatises on astronomy, Rost amused himself by writing romance novels about the nobility and improving the manners of gentile off-spring under the

[Original]
Wer sich läst Welt und wolust freuen den wirts dort ewig reuen Peter Scheurer

[Translation]
He who delights in temporal pleasures here, will eternally regret them there. Peter Scheurer

pseudonym Meletaon.  One would not expect a quote from his Well Considered and Newly Conceived Book of Manners [… ] for the Pleasure and Instruction of Young People, [2] published in Nuremberg in 1739, to appear on a Fraktur birth record produced in or around rural Ruscombmanor Township in Berks County Pennsylvania in 1777.  Please note that original church records situate the church in Ruscombmanor Township.[3]  Elsewhere one finds references to its location in Rockland Township.  The Book of Manners was illustrated with copper engravings, and it is on the second engraving that we find the referred to passage warning children of impending doom if they enjoy too much of the world’s pleasures.

Engraving from J L Rost’s Book of Manners: In Hell; In Paradise

Ill. 2 Engraving from J L Rost’s Book of Manners: In Hell; In Paradise

The same hand that wrote Rost’s quote on the banderole also signed Peter Scheurer at its end.  Although he is not known to have been a Fraktur  artist/scrivener, Peter Scheurer and Johann Jacob Mertz, along with their families worshiped together at the Mertz Church.  The many Scheurers who were members of this church were most likely friends of the Mertz family.  Peter also appears in the church records as a sponsor for baptisms during the same time period as the Fraktur was created. It is quite possible, therefore, that Peter Scheurer was signing the document as its artist/scrivener.

Elisabet Mertz was an important addition to a very special family. Her grandparents were Johann Heinrich Merz (1708-1788) and Anna Maria, née Rosmann, who are known to have emigrated from Württemberg to Pennsylvania in 1733, and to have donated the land on which Christ Church was built. The church itself was organized in 1747 by Rev. Tobias Wagner, who began the Evangelical Lutheran Church Records with the first five births and baptisms of this couple’s children. The initial three children were Johann Philipp, Johann Wilhelm, and Johann Jacob, the latter of whom was born 18 August and baptized on 30 August 1741. It is interesting to note that one of the sponsors at his baptism was Anna Magdalena Scheur. Johann Jacob married Catarina Schelkopf, and is known to have served in the American Revolution in Captain Crouse’s Company from 1777-1778 (Second Battalion). Unlike his siblings he never strayed from his place of birth. Both his wife and he are buried in the Mertz Church Cemetery
(Row 1, graves 35, 36).

Tombstone of Catarina (née Schelkopf) Mertz

Ill. 3a Tombstone of Catarina (née Schelkopf) Mertz

Catarina’s maiden name, as is clearly discernable on the tombstone that appears online at the Find a Grave website,[4] was Schelkopfin,[5] not Schaller. It is not known when this image was posted on Find a Grave, but in the interim acid rain has erased the gravestone lettering. The face of the stone as of June 2015 is almost completely blank.

Ill. 3b Christina Mertz's tombstone with acid rain damage and Johann Jacob Mertz's replaced gravemarker d

Ill. 3b Christina Mertz’s tombstone with acid rain damage and Johann Jacob Mertz’s replaced grave marker

Knowing Catarina’s surname before marriage helps to solve another curious peculiarity of Elisabet’s Fraktur. The name of her baptismal sponsor appearing on the illuminated manuscript is Friedricke Schelkobin, but in the church records Friederica Emertin.  An entry in the church birth and

Ill. 4 Birth & Baptismal Entry in Mertz Evangelical Lutheran Church Records

Ill. 4 Elisabetha Mertz Birth & Baptismal Entry in Mertz Evangelical Lutheran Church Records

baptismal records confirms that Friederica Emert must have been very pregnant when she stood for Elisabet on 10 August 1777, for she gave birth to a baby girl Maria three days later on 13 August 1777. The father and mother are listed as the deceased Emert; wife Friederica. Catarina Mertz’s and Friederica Emert’s surname before marriage was Schelkopf (Schelkob; Schellkopp), and were more than likely sisters.

Ill. 5 Maria Ebert Birth & Baptismal Entry in Mertz Evangelical Lutheran Church Records

Ill. 5 Maria Ebert Birth & Baptismal Entry in Mertz Evangelical Lutheran Church Records

At present very little is known about Elisabet except that she grew up attending Mertz Church, stayed in the same vicinity, and married perhaps a cousin whose name was also, like her father’s, Jacob Mertz (1774-1845). Both are buried in the New Jerusalem Union Cemetery in Fleetwood, Berks County, Pennsylvania.


Endnotes
[1] For another example see Del-Louise Moyer, “Amyntas, The Story of Christina Schneider’s 1777 Vorschrift,” Der Reggeboge: The Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society (Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 2012), Vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 53-67.
[2] Johann Leonhard Rost, Die wohlangerichtete, neuerfundene Tugendschule, in welcher 24 anmuthige Historien zu erlaubter Gemüths-Ergöztung der Jugend auf eine erbaulich Art vorgetragen und mit nützlichen Anmerkungen und Lehren begleitet werden (Nürnberg 1739/ Nürnberg: Bieling, 1800 ), second copper engraving.
[3] See:  Evangelisch Lutherische kirchen buch von die Gemeinde in Ruscombmanner und die umligende nachbarschaft, Ms. at Christ Mertz Church, Dryville, Pennsylvania.
[4] Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=53657558&PIpi=29550788 (accessed 1 June 2015).
[5] An –in at the end of the surname in German signifies female gender, but is not included in the English translation.

Many thanks to Sandra Highouse and Bob Wood of the Goschenhoppen Historians, as well as Eleanor Dreibelbis, Pastor Cheryl Meinschein, and Stef Boyer of Mertz Evangelical Lutheran Church at Dryville, PA.

© Del-Louise Moyer  2015