Category Archives: Bucks County

Fraktur Quilts from the Schleifer-Kichlein Family


Prior to the year 1897 Fraktur was clearly understood by everyone as an angular broken-lettered calligraphy or typeface. Thereafter an additional meaning was introduced that has redefined the way we think of Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravian material culture. In September of that year Henry Chapman Mercer gave a talk The Survival of the Mediaeval Art of Illuminative Writing Among Pennsylvania Germans to American Philosophical Society members in Philadelphia. Most likely thinking of all the illuminated manuscripts containing both visual decorative elements, and Fraktur script, he suggested that all Pennsylvania German illuminated manuscripts be called Fraktur. However, people came to understand this as nomenclature for objects with or without Fraktur script. Since then, birds, flowers, geometric designs, etc. on paper, textiles, clay, wood, glass, metal, or stone with or without any text can be referred to as Fraktur. The material culture of both groups, therefore, is represented through visual, as well as written Fraktur.

There are then two kinds of Fraktur quilts: one made up exclusively of blocks signed in Fraktur script; [1] and Fraktur quilts whose central owner/maker block is the only block to be embroidered with initials or name and date in Fraktur script, the remainder being pieced, embroidered or appliquéd with decorative motifs used by the Pennsylvania Dutch in all their media, and commonly called Fraktur. Most frequently seen on illuminated manuscripts, textiles and tombstones, they include geometric designs, doves, pelicans, peacocks, tulips, carnations, pomegranates, trees, stars, and so forth.

Members of the Schleifer-Kichlein family, (Küchlein, Kickline) created four such quilts using Fraktur script, and decorative elements associated with the material culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as, amazingly enough, embroidering in the center of two of these quilts a tambour worked [2] scene of the latest in fashion design for men, women, and children among both the American English-speaking society, and the well-dressed European family of the 1820s and 1830s.

John Joseph Stoudt in his 1966 Pennsylvania German Folk Art (p. 334) cites possibly the oldest among the quilts, which at that time belonged to Mr. Oliver Lewis Christman, an antiques dealer and florist living in Pottstown, Pa. One of its blocks is initialed in Fraktur script “E K 1829”.   A pieced reel design, along with tambour embroidered Fraktur motifs such as two birds flanking a tulip tree, and French-knotted cherry trees are similar to those found in three other known quilts: an undated/unsigned quilt and two shams reportedly made by Christina Kichline ca. 1830 (Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, Pa, M849.01 & M849.02-01-02), and two other quilts, one initialed in Fraktur script “E S 1830” (Winterthur Museum collection, 2000.0071) in the center owner/maker’s block, and the other, also embroidered in the center owner/maker’s block, in Fraktur script as “Euphemia Kichlein 1832” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016.432).

According to the Church Register of Christ Lutheran Church in Trumbauersville, Pa., Christina Schleifer (1795-1884) was born on 11/30/1795 to Heinrich and Dorothea Schleifer.[3] Per the same records her brother John and she were confirmed in 1811. She was married to Jacob Kichlein (1795-1854), and was the mother of seven children, [4] three of whose death certificates—Charles, [5] John Abraham, [6] and Mary Ann Kichlein Applegate Christine, [7] confirm parentage as Jacob Kichlein and Christina Schleifer. That Christina was Euphemia Kichlein Scholl’s (1819-1884) mother is attested to by the 1880 United States Federal Census for Rock Hill, Bucks County, Pa. in which John Scholl, his wife Euphemia, and mother-in-law Christina Kechline are listed. [8] The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania death certificate for William H. Scholl cites John Scholl and Euphemia Kichline (maiden name) as parents.[9] Jacob Kichlein (1795-1854) was born in Rock Hill, Bucks County, Pa. on 4/9/1795 to Elisabeth Kepler (Köbler), and Johannes Kichlein (1768-1852). The U. S. 1850 Federal Census lists fifty-five year old Jacob Kichline as a tavern keeper in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pa., and head of a very large household including thirty-two year old Euphemia Kichline. [10] He died in Lower Saucon, Northampton County, Pa. 9/28/1854.[11]

The beautifully embroidered and pieced Fraktur motif quilt and pair of pillow shams, now housed at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, Pa., was a gift of Mrs. Vernon Melhado, and was accessioned in May 1939. It is described as a

Quilt of red LeMoyne stars of wool on white cotton. Tambour embroidery in wool yarn of birds, tulips, trees, in blue, red and gold colors. Centerpiece tambour work depicts [a] man, woman [,] and child. Braid on 3 sides finished with fringe edges in red and grey is 4.5 inches long. Backed with white cotton.

The accession report dates the quilt to ca. 1830, noting that Christina Schafer [sic] [Schleifer] Kichline made this as her wedding quilt, having married Jacob Kichlein in 1817 at age 16. N. B. In 1817 she was twenty-two. The aforementioned information, along with a note that she carded the wool that was produced on land owned by the Unangst family near Quaker Hill in Northeast Bethlehem in 1815 comes from the original catalogue card. It is not unusual for facts to become blurred by time and memory. Neither are church records always right, but, as already noted, the official birth and baptismal entry for Christina indicates that she was born in 1795 and baptized in 1796. She would have been sixteen in 1811, the date she was confirmed at Christ Lutheran Church, not 1817, and 35 by 1830 when it is estimated the quilt was made.

This is the work of a skilled needleworker. Christina may, indeed, have made it as a wedding quilt, but not for herself. It was traditional for Pennsylvania Dutch grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters to make quilts for young boys and girls in the immediate family as early as age eight or nine  for their Aussteuer, i.e. future wedding trousseau. Finished quilts were stored away in dower chests waiting to be given several years hence to the now young man or woman when he/she “went housekeeping.”   Christina could have made this quilt for any one of her then living children as a future wedding gift.

A similar quilt, in the Winterthur Museum Textile collection, replaces the LeMoyne stars with a reel pattern.   French knotted cherry trees with pomegranates placed on either side alternate with the reel block to form an attractive border that, like the second example, is embellished on three sides with a braided edging finished in red fringe.

Tambour work beautifully renders two birds flanking a tulip tree with trailing pomegranates, a design that is common to all quilts in varied forms.

“E S 1830” is embroidered in Fraktur script on the center owner/maker block, and surrounded by flowering tambour worked tulip vines. At the moment we do not know the maker of this quilt, but can definitely say that it was someone within the Schleifer-Kichlein family.

Although not a quilt, a one-of-a-kind embroidered Taufschein owned by the Goschenhoppen Historians (1971.01.55) [12] is also linked to the embroidery achievements of members of the Schleifer-Kichlein family. It was embroidered by J K in 1830 to commemorate a special moment in the past, the October 9, 1776 birth of Elisabeth Köbler Kichlein, grandmother to Jacob and Christina’s seven children. Atypical for the Pennsylvania Dutch, this is a Taufschein intended to be hung on the wall and shown. Its frame, original to the work, encloses two embroidered pieces: The upper one shows the initials of the maker and date J K 1830 in Fraktur script, and the lower one the birth and baptismal certificate. The needleworker’s choice of decorative elements is an interesting combination of motifs contemporary to her time period such as the putto, angels, and birds from Heinrich Ebner’s printed Taufscheins of the 1820s, along with more traditional Pennsylvania Dutch sampler-like objects such as French-knotted cherry trees, embroidered sleek birds, and creeping tulip and other floral vines to form the border framing the text. The tambour work is not as finely done as in the quilts. 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. Although it is still unknown who embroidered it, and for what occasion, perhaps it was a fifty-fourth birthday present for a very special grandmother.

Elisabeth’s parents Jacob and Christina Kerschner Köbler (Kepler, Keppel, Koepler, Käbler, Kebler, Kepple) were married 5/18/1762 [13] in St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Coopersburg, Pa., a church still better known as the Blue Church for the bluish-hued plaster that once covered the outer masonry as insulation and protection.

All of their children’s birth and baptismal records are in the Blue Church Register: Elisabeth was the fifth child of seven children. Her siblings included Johan Georg (2/23/1763); Johann Jacob (4/4/1765); Johannes (6/5/1771); Maria C. (2/20/1774); Elisabeth (10/9/1776); Andreas (3/16/1779); and Susanna (4/7/1781). According to a will registered in Bucks County on 4/10/1824 under File No. 5388, Volume 10 (1821-1831 wills), pp. 357-359, and probated 3/22/1825, her father Jacob is identified as a yeoman, late of Richland Township, Bucks County, Pa. He sets forth in his last testament how moneys and other assets are to be divided among his beloved wife Christina, children and grandchildren, and appoints Elisabeth’s husband Johannes Kichlein (1768-1852) and Jacob Smith as executors. Johannes and Elisabeth had two children John K. Kichline (8/24/1793-5/7/1865) and Jacob S. Kichline (1795-1854), husband to Christina Schleifer (1795-1884), and father of Euphemia (1819-1884), Jacob (1821-1911), Thomas (1823-1857), Mary Ann (1826-1908), Elizabeth (1832-1890), John Abraham (1835-1907), and Charles (1837-1916). Both Johannes and Elisabeth Kepler Kichline are buried, side by side, at Christ Church, old section in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pa., Plot: Row F1, F2.

“Euphemia Kichlein 1832” is embroidered in Fraktur script in the central owner/maker block of the quilt now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Textile collection. Euphemia was thirteen when this quilt was made. Perhaps an experienced family seamstress and she completed it together, or perhaps, as previously suggested, her grandmother, mother, or aunt created it for her Aussteuer or future wedding trousseau.

The skillfully executed tambour worked variations of Pennsylvania Dutch bird and tulip tree designs alternate with the pieced reel pattern.

The reel pattern is used again in the border, alternating with an angel familiar to those of us who spend time with printed Taufscheins. She balances a bird on her uplifted right hand, and holds a lyre in her left, but shorn of her wings, is now mortal and forever fated to remain on earth.

Unlike the winged angel on the Elisabeth Köbler embroidered Taufschein, who still can access celestial realms, the wingless quilt angel, probably copied from a Heinrich Ebner Taufschein of the early 1830s, is destined to walk forever among the tambour worked flowers of this quilt border. Such was the imagination and will of its designer and maker.

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem and Metropolitan Museum of Art quilts feature in their center a strolling couple with a young boy. The man, woman, and child are worked in tambour stitch and boast the fashionable styles worn in the 1820s and 1830s by both discerning English-speaking Americans, as well as trendsetting Europeans. Tulip vines and flowers create an arbor-like frame around the scene. Such an addition to quilts principally embellished with Pennsylvania Dutch inspired stars, birds, wingless angels, tulip trees, and pomegranates is unique and quite unexpected. However, if we turn to three fashion plates of the period taken from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Fashion Plates: 1800-1866, [14] we can see the similarity in dress and perhaps the inspiration for the figures on the quilts. Also, Henry Young’s 1829 Fraktur drawing of “Miss Catherine McKnight her Picter in the year 1829” shows us an example of the fashion and style of the time in which the quilts were made. Local sources would have included newspapers, and the extremely popular Godey’s Lady’s Book, a magazine founded by Louis Godey in Philadelphia in 1830 with monthly detailed descriptions of the latest in modish clothing and hand-colored fashion plates.

Although the Schleifer-Kichlein family’s roots were firmly anchored in Pennsylvania Dutch customs, they were also tavern keepers; served  the general public; and participated in the contemporary life of the 1820s and 1830s. It was a time of vast change in America. Young people were crossing cultural boundaries, and even as today, merging and blending different cultural milieus.  So, perhaps embroidering clothing advertisements directed at English-speaking Americans onto the center of two quilts family needleworkers had otherwise embellished with traditional decorative Fraktur motifs, was an artistic and creative way to express the acculturation of the time period, featuring what was precious from the past while introducing the lifestyle of the present.

[1] For more detailed information on this type of Fraktur quilt, see Pennsylvania German Blog Post Nr. 8: Friendship-Fraktur-Signature Quilts.

[2] Tambour work is a needlework form that derived its name from the drum-shaped frame used to stretch the fabric. Instead of a needle, a tiny hook draws a loop of thread from below the fabric to the surface. Reinserting the hook and repeating this operation produces a chain stitch much faster than using a needle.

[3] Christina Schleifer (1795-1884) Christ Lutheran Church Register, Trumbauersville, Pa.: Births/Baptisms, p. 20, accessed 24 August 2016 & Namen der Confirmanten vom Jahr 1811. accessed 24 August 2016

[4] Jacob Kichline’s and Christina Schleifer’s children include: Euphemia (1819-1884) , Jacob (1821-1911), Thomas (1823-1857), Mary Ann (1826-1908), Elizabeth (1832-1890), John Abraham (1835-1907), Charles (1837-1916).

[5] Charles R. Kichline Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Death Certificate, File N. 17671; Registered No. 9 (born 6/30/1837; died 2/13/1916) Accessed 25 August 2016

[6] J.[ohn] A.[braham] Kichline Commonwealth of Pa Certificate of Death, File No. 115188; Registered No. 227 (born 1/30/1835; died 12/17/1907). Accessed 24 August 2016

[7] Mary Ann Kichline Applegate Christine Commonwealth of Pa Certificate of Death, File No. 86431; Registered No. 45 (born 4/24/1826; died 9/10/1908) Accessed 24 August 2016

[8] Christina Schleifer Kichlein (1795-1884 U. S. Federal Census 1880 for Rock Hill, Bucks County, Pa., 22 June 1880 by Joseph a Fluck, p. 41, lines 42-44. Accessed 24 August 2016

[9] William H. Scholl (1841-1907) Pennsylvania Death Certificate, File No. 109911, Reg. No. 147. Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Accessed 24 August 2016.

[10] Euphemia Kichlein (1819-1884) U. S. Federal Census 1850 for Saucon Township in Northampton county, Pa., 13 August 1850 by Wm J Brownle, p. 43, lines 40-42. N. B. Jacob Kichlein is listed as a tavern keeper, and Euphemia Kichlein as thirty-two years of age. Accessed 24 August, 2016.

[11] Jacob Kichlein (1795-1854) Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016.

[12] For more detailed information on the Elsabeth Köbler Embroidered Taufschein, see Pennsylvania German Blog Post Nr. 7: The Elisabeth Köbler Embroidered Taufschein.

[13]Jacob Kepler & Maria Christina Kerschner Marriage Entry 5/18/1762,” in Records of St. Paul’s Lutheran and Reformed Church (Blue Church) in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 1748-1892, edited by Clarence E. Beckel. vol. II, p. 186. Bethlehem, Pa., 1939.

[14] Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections. Costume Institute Fashion Plates: 1800-1866:

Plate 034, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

Plate 046, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

Plate 062, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

Sharon P. Angelo et. alia.
Quilts: the Fabric of Friendship. Atlgen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. for the York County Heritage Trust, Pa., 2000.

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

Mary Ann Kichline Applegate Christine Commonwealth of Pa Certificate of Death, File No. 86431; Registered No. 45 (born 4/24/1826; died 9/10/1908) Accessed 24 August 2016

Russell D. and Corinne P. Earnest. 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.

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

Patricia Herr. Quilting Traditions. Atlglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. for The Heritage Center of Lancaster County, 2000.

Andreas Kachline (1728-1781) Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016

Susanna Benner Kachline (1734-1777) Find a Grave Accessed 24 August 2016

Jacob Kepler Will probated April 10, 1824 and proved in Bucks County on March 22, 1825 under File No. 5388, Vol. 10, 1821-1841 pp. 357-359, Executors John Kachlein and Jacob Smith; Registrar Samuel Smith. Bucks County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Bucks, Pennsylvania. Accessed 25 August 2016,59982 as well as

Christina Schleifer Kichlein (1795-1884)
U. S. Federal Census 1880 for Rock Hill, Bucks County, Pa., 22 June 1880 by Joseph a Fluck, p. 41, lines 42-44. Accessed 24 August 2016

 _______________ . Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016.

Elizabeth Kepler [Köbler] Kichlein (1776-1861) Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016 bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=51926818

Euphemia Kichlein 1832 Fraktur Quilt. Metropolitan Museum of Art Quilt Collection 2016. Accessed 23 August 2016

 Johannes Kichlein (1768-1852) Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016.

 Charles R. Kichline Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Death Certificate, File N. 17671; Registered No. 9 (born 6/30/1837; died 2/13/1916) Accessed 25 August 2016

 J.[ohn] A.[braham] Kichline Commonwealth of Pa Certificate of Death, File No. 115188; Registered No. 227 (born 1/30/1835; died 12/17/1907). Accessed 24 August 2016

 Jacob S. Kichline (1795-1854) Find a Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016

 Thomas J. Kichline. The Kichlines in America. Manuscript presented at the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society of Easton, Pa., January 15, 1926. Accessed 25 August 2016

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections. Costume Institute Fashion Plates: 1800-1866, Plate 034, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

_______________. Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections. Costume Institute Fashion Plates: Women 1827-1829, Plate 046, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

_______________. Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections. Costume Institute Fashion Plates: Women 1827-1829, Plate 062, public domain. Accessed 7 August 2016

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

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

Christina Schleifer (1795-1884) Christ Lutheran Church Register, Births/Baptisms, p. 20, accessed 24 August 2016

_______________. Christ Lutheran Church Register. Namen der Confirmanten vom Jahr 1811. accessed 24 August 2016

Euphemia Kichlein Scholl (1/16/1819-9/6/1884) Find A Grave. Accessed 24 August 2016.

William H. Scholl (1841-1907) Pennsylvania Death Certificate, File No. 109911, Reg. No. 147. Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Accessed 24 August 2016.

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

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

John Joseph Stoudt. Pennsylvania German Folk Art. Publications of the Pennsylvnia German Folklore Society, vol. 28, Allentown, Pa: Schlechters, 1966, 334.


Winterthur Research Fellow, Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch Material Culture, 2016

Every year Winterthur provides fellowships to a select group of scholars for research 
in their chosen areas of study in social and cultural history, including material culture, architecture, decorative arts, design, consumer culture, garden and landscape studies, Shaker studies, travel and tourism, the Atlantic World, and objects in literature. ~
Winterthur Research Program

Thanks to a short-term research fellowship this summer at Winterthur,   I have been able to study rare books in the Winterthur Museum Library Collection of Printed Books and Periodicals; objects in the Winterthur Museum Collection; and manuscripts in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.  All has contributed to my research for a book in progress Heavenly Fraktur: How Fraktur Influenced Pennsylvania German and Moravian Material Culture. This blog post is based on that research. My sincere thank you to all at Winterthur who have made this fellowship possible.

My thanks also to Patricia Herr, Author and Collector; the Rev. James Hammond, and Kathy Exner of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran “Blue Church” of Coopersburg, Pa.; Janine Pollock and Joseph Shemtov of the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia; Joanne Kintner, Pat Gottschalk, Nancy Roan, Linda Szapacs, and Robert Wood of the Goschenhoppen Historians, Inc.; Charlene Donchez, Lindsey Jancay, and Keith Sten of Historic Bethlehem, Inc.; Dorothy McCoach, Independent Textile Conservator; Dave Luz, Candace Perry, and Hunt Schenkel of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center; Linda Eaton, Tom Guiler, Julia Hofer, Susan Newton, Catharine Roeber, and Roberta Weisberg of Winterthur Museum.

Fraktur Quilts from the Schleifer-Kichlein Family Blog Post 13 including transcriptions; translations; and photo images, except for images of E. S. 1830 Quilt Winterthur Collection 2000.0071; E. K. 1829 ILL. in John Joseph Stoudt Pennsylvania German Folk Art (1966, p. 334); Photo © Patricia Herr Euphemia Kichlein 1832 Quilt; MMA Fashion Plates 064, 034, 046,
© 2016 Del-Louise Moyer.

Geburtsbriefe and Taufwünsche: European Phenomena

An Alpbrief [1] from the fourteenth century is the earliest extant record in a German-speaking area of Europe that requires a Geburtsbrief as proof of identity: Any nonnative who wished to join one of the three communities in and around Klosters in the Canton of Graubünden Switzerland had to “…present a Geburtsbrief, that is, a written proof of birth; land of origin; and that he [was] of legal lineage…” [2] Geburtsbrief is the earlier form for Geburtsschein, a term recognized today for eighteenth and nineteenth century Pennsylvania Dutch birth records/certificates containing principally the names of the parents, baby, date and place of birth.

Such documents have become collectors’ items, serving no functional purpose. It is important to remember, however, that there was a time when they were an integral part of people’s lives, and could be used in both Europe and America as proof of one’s origins when needed.

Translation [3]
A son was born into this world to this wedded pair, that is to Johannes Landes, and his legal spouse Elisabeth, m.n. Schott. His name is Samuel Landes, and he was born on the 17 January in the Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 1801 in America, in the State of Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, in Rockhill Township; Written on the 13 March in the Year 1816.

The Taufbrief or baptismal letter, also known as a Taufwunsch or baptismal wish, Taufzedel, Taufzettel, Taufzeddul or baptismal note, and Göttelbrief or godparent letter was used differently than a Geburtsschein, or Taufschein, and bears witness to the relationship and responsibilities between godparents and the consecrated infant. This was to be a lasting memory to the child of its dedication to God on that day, and the desire of its sponsor(s) that it might continue to thrive in its relationship with its Creator as it grew to adulthood. It always contains the names of the sponsors, and often the child’s first name, and the date of baptism. It may or may not contain the church affiliation and place, child’s last name, and date of birth. It almost never contains the parents’ names. The earliest known Taufbrief dates back to 1593 in Saverne, Alsace for a Catholic baptismal service.[4]

That the Taufzettel was well established and flourishing at the beginning of the eighteenth century is attested to in an all important source describing the practical details of a woman’s life: Gottlieb Siegmund Corvinus’ (Pseudonym: Amaranthes) Nutzbares, galantes und curiöses Frauenzimmer-Lexicon of 1715 (A Useful, Noble, and Curious Lexicon for Women): [5]

Pathen-Zettul are those printed papers with copper etchings
or engravings intended for a baby boy or girl, and are decorated
with all kinds of rhyming congratulatory verses. The godparents
sign their names on the sheets; tuck their gifts or sponsor money
into them; and usually wind something around to make them secure. [6]

These then were the Patenbriefe that publishers offered and marketed through local bookstores, as well as itinerant book sellers who canvassed the countryside with their wares. Some of the better known were Reinholden Printers in Leipzig; J. Balzer and E. W. Buchheister in Breslau; J. H. Hierthes in Weissenburg; Johann Andreas Endter in Nürnberg; F. J. Oberthür in Straßburg; and Gottfried Hoffmann in Waldenburg, who printed baptismal greetings from 1756 on, and whose heirs continued to do so into the beginning of the nineteenth century. Among the older printed Taufzettel are some fine examples depicting symbols related to baptism and virtue; scenes from the life of Jesus; the four Evangelists; and often the entire baptismal sacrament itself.

Translation [7]
Baptismal Note
Most precious child, may you so live on earth that you attain bliss.
I also want to ask of God that after this sojourn here, he might
take you into Salem’s dwelling,[8] into joyful eternity. Amen
I, your most faithful godmother, wish this for you. Elisabeth Käster
at Kästers house on the 22nd Day of December
in the year 1811 you
were baptized in holy consecration at [Blank]

[Upper Left Corner]
May God give this child faith; cleanse it of all its sins; and give it an
upright spirit –

[Upper Right Corner]
to do as God the Father commands, according to His will while
living here on earth, and afterwards in eternal life.

[Lower Left Corner]
Take this penny from me. May God replace it with a better one.
Obey your father and mother—

[Lower Right Corner]
Be happy among pious people, and avoid the evil ones.
Then you’ll be able to enter heaven with God.

The hand-done Taufwunsch was represented first and foremost in the Alsace, and to a lesser extent in Silesia and Bohemia. Especially charming and artistically creative, their makers, whether teachers, ministers, or simple farmers, showed originality in their calligraphy and accompanying decorative elements, replicating on their baptismal greetings the tulips, forget-me-nots, roses, and carnations found in their gardens. The real world that surrounded them supplied the roosters, doves, swans, peacocks, and eagles. Architectural elements dating back to the Renaissance, and adorning town buildings, stone grave monuments, and the homes of the elite perhaps inspired the imaginative figures of unicorns, mermaids, mermen, and angels. The artist, who was more in tune with tradition than symbolism, added these to his design as well, and his love and joy in the artistic process more than made up for any drawing talent he may have lacked.

The following illuminated manuscript, attributed to the Tall-Soldiers Artist, is labeled Taufschein, but follows neither the European Taufbrief template nor the usual and customary formula of American Taufscheins as we understand them today. Rather, it is a baptismal or Tauf adaptation by the artist/scrivener in the form of a Schein or certificate, thus without a place to insert coin(s). More than likely the token gift of money accompanied the Taufschein.

Translation [9]
Michael Bossert was born into this world on 26 February in the year 1766 of Christian Lutheran parents. His Godfather Johann Michael Ritter has had this baptismal certificate made for him in celebration thereof. His Godmother was Margaretha Beck.

The Sussel-Washington Artist, active from 1760-1779, expressly created Taufwünsche that followed the European formula and so labeled them. He used a standard template of baptismal wishes in the center, flanked usually by the charmingly attired God or godmother on one side and the Peter, Pfeter, Pfetter or godfather on the other.

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Fig. 6a Christlicher Tauff Wunsch for Samuel Staud, Pennsylvania, 2/28/1785, 39.164.1 (Courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pa.; Photo Image © Del-Louise Moyer)

Translation: [10]
Christian Baptismal Wish: O dear child in Christ, you have been bought through Christ’s death, who, purchased you from Hell with His blood. After your baptism I wanted to send this to you as a remembrance and ever-present reminder. Grow up to honor God, to give joy to your parents, for the benefit of your neighbor, and for your salvation. Samuehl Staud was born Feburary 28, 1785, and baptized by Pastor Henrich Dehkert [Deckert]. Baptismal sponsors were Samuehl Marburger and his wife Maria, in Braunschweig Township, Berks County, in America.

Fig. 6b Christlicher Tauff Wunsch for Johan Heinrich, Pennsylvania, 3/1/1771.
1961.1118 A (Courtesy of Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, De)

Translation  [11]
Johannes Siberi Godfather Susanna Siberi Godmother
Christian Greetings spring forth from the heart’s bower in seven hours. Along with that I wish you luck, health, blessings and prosperity in your life here, and in time may you enter into the kingdom of eternal joy that no man’s tongue can describe; that no eye has seen; and no ear yet heard. Grow up to honor God, for the benefit of your neighbor, and for your salvation. Johan Heinrich was born March 1, 1771 in Warwick Township [Lancaster County].

Fig. 6c Christlicher Tauff Wunsch for Maria Gertraud, Pennsylvania, 9/25/1776, Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian, Lot 617 (Courtesy of Sothebys, New York, NY)

Translation [12]
Godmother Maria Hemperling  Godfather Ludwig Hemperling
Christian Baptismal Wish: O dear child in Christ, you have been bought through Christ’s death, who, purchased you from Hell with His blood. After your baptism I wanted to send this to you as a remembrance and ever-present reminder. Grow up to honor God, to give joy to your parents, for the benefit of your neighbor, and for your salvation. Maria Gertraud was born September 24, 1776, in the sign of Aquarius in Paxton [Township] in Lancaster County [now Dauphin County] in Pennsylvania in America. May God grant His blessing.

Fig. 6d Christlicher Tauff Wunsch for Stovel Ehmrich, Pennsylvania, 1958.0120.015A (Courtesy of Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, De)

Translation [13]
Christian Baptismal Wish: O dear child in Christ, you have been bought through Christ’s death, Who purchased you from Hell with His blood. After your baptism I wanted to send this to you as a remembrance and ever-present reminder. Grow up to honor God, to give joy to your parents, for the benefit of your neighbor, and for your salvation. Stovel Ehmrich was born January 23, 1771, and baptized by Pastor Schultz. Godparents were Stovel Herrold and his wife Catharina in Bethel Township in Berks County in America in Pennsylvania. [Different hand not original to text as created ] The parents were Johannes Emrich and his wife Gertraut.

Superstitious beliefs also influenced what one might add to the Taufzettel as a gift, and different areas had their own peculiarities. This is especially true as to whether the baptismal letter was to be sealed or left open:

  • In some places, at the end of the consecration the godparents would put a certain sum of money into their Patenbrief, and place it into the godchild’s cradle.   The baptismal letter was left unsealed. This was true, especially if it was for a baby girl, in which case one would wind one strand of thread, and one strand of silk around it. The thread was to be used to sew the child’s first shirt. The silk, which was usually red in color, was to be used some time later to wrap around the baby’s hands. [The reason for the latter custom is unknown].
  • For a baby boy, one added nine kinds of seed to the baptismal letter so that when he grew up, the grains he planted would grow well.
  • Similarly for a baby girl, one added several grains of flax seeds and a threaded sewing needle so that one day her flax crops would flourish, and she would learn to sew well.
  • Including bread, cheese, wool, or flax meant the child would never want when it grew up.
  • In some regions it was believed that the Taufwunsch was to be left open so that the child’s mind would be open to understanding. Otherwise the child’s ability to learn would be impeded.
  • In the Canton of Bern, Switzerland there were to be three Godparents, each one presenting the baby with a separate Taufzedel. If, when the child grew up, it kept the letters on its person, neither witches nor ghosts could ever have power over it. [14]

In 1856 Pastor J. Baumgart described the then current ceremony in middle Silesia:

Before the godparents leave the church, they place a coin into a special fold in so-called Patentbriefe, which are decorated with printed vignettes and appropriate verses. Colorful ribbons are wound around the baptismal letter. The least the sponsors can give a baby girl is one Reichstaler three Pfennig, and the three copper pennies better not be missing. [15]

 It is a curious thing that in the early twentieth century it was sensed and lamented both in German-speaking areas of Europe as well as in America that an era was coming to an end, and the demise of once flourishing folk customs such as the Geburtsschein and Taufzettel were at hand. Prior to World War II feeble attempts were made to reawaken the desire to return to such traditions, but ultimately people were too far removed from the lifestyle that gave birth to these customs. Today Geburtsscheine and Taufwünsche similar in design and content can be found in both museums and libraries in Germany, Holland, Poland, Austria, parts of the former USSR and America leaving little doubt that both forms of identity, one for the temporal needs of this world, and the other for the spiritual were European phenomena that German-speaking immigrants brought with them as they settled southeastern Pennsylvania and other areas in the Americas in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Strong cultural ties to regional customs ensured that there would be no cookie cutter formula, neither in Europe nor in America, and that their usage would be adapted to the temporal and spiritual demands of the geographic areas where they would take root and flourish.


[1] Alpbrief was an agreement designating how residents of adjacent alpine areas were to distribute and care for the surrounding pastureland.

[2] Chur, Graubünden, Alpbrief des Hochgerichts Klosters Innern Schnitzes: Statutarrechte   von Graubünden im Brätigäu [14th century], VII, 3, 102ff.

[3] Transcription Fig. 1
Diese Beÿde Ehegaten | Als Johannes Landes Und | Seine eheliche
haus frau Elisabeth; eine | geborne Schottin Ist einen Sohn zur Welt
geboren | Namens; Samuel Landes | Ist geboren d[en] 17ten Jenner
im Jahr | Unsers Herren und Heilandes Jesu Christi | 1801 In america
Im Stat Pensÿlvanie[n] | Im bucks Cauntÿ Im Rockhill | Taunschp;
Ge=schrieben d[en] 13te[n] | Merz Im iahr 1816.

[4] Frederick W. Weiser. “Piety and Protocol in Folk Art: Pennsylvania German Fraktur Birth and Baptismal Certificates,” Winterthur Portfolio. 8: 1973, column 1, 22.

[5] Gottlieb Siegmund Covinus (Pseudonym: Amaranthes). Nutzbares, galantes und
curiöses Frauenzimmer-Lexicon.
Leipzig: Johann Friedrich Gleditsch und Sohn, 1715.

[6] Ibid, 1447. Pathen=Zettul = heissen diejenigen in Kupffer | gestochenen oder radirten abge= | druckten Blätter | auf Knäblein oder Mägdlein eingerichtet, und | mit allerhand glückwünschenden | Reimlein gezieret, worein die Ge= |vattern das Geschenke oder Pa= | the= | Geld mit Unterschreibung | ihres Nahmens, einzuwickeln und | zu versiegeln pflegen.

[7] Transcription Fig. 4

Tauf= Zedel
Werthes Kind, leb so auf Erden, | Daß Du mögest selig werden. |
Ich will Gott auch für dich bitten; | daß er dich nach dieser Zeit
Nehme auf in Salems Hütten, | In die frohe Ewigkeit. Amen. |
Des wünsche ich, dein allergetreuste Tauf= | Goten Elisabeth Käster |
zu Kästers Haus | Den 22 Tag Christmonat im Jahr 1811 |
bist du getauft worden bey der heiligen Tauf zu [Blank]
[Upper Left Corner]
Gott geb den Glauben diesem | Kind, Und wasch ihm ab all seine |
Sünd; und geb ihm seinen guten Geist –
[Upper Right Corner]
Zu thun was Gott der Vater | heißt. Nach seinem Willen hier |
zu leben; Nach dieser Zeit das ew’ge Leben.
[Lower Left Corner]
Den Pfenning nimm und hab von | mir, Einen bessern woll’ Gott
ge= | ben dir. Thu Vater und Mutter gehorsam seyn—
[Lower Right Corner]
Thu gern bey frommen Leuten | seyn. Der schlimmen Leuten nimm |
dich nicht an, So kannst mit Gott | in Himmel gan.

[8] Salems Hütte or Salems Dwelling refers to the new Jerusalem in Revelations 21, and God’s tent in Salem in Psalm 76: 2.

[9] Transcription Fig. 5
[Original hand] Michael Bossert | ist von christlichen Lu= | therischen Eltern auf dieße Wett [sic] 
ge = | bohren den [different hand] 26 Febrar ann[o]1766|[Original hand] Dießen Tauffschein hat ihme sein | Peter Johann Michael Ritter zu | einem Andencken machen lassen | seine God ist geweßen, Marga | retha Beckin.

[10] Transcription Fig. 6a
Christlicher Tauff wunsch | du bist O: liebes kind in Christ[i] | Tod gekaufft, der dich mitt seinem Blutt, hatt von der Hell erkaufft | deß zur erinnerung, und stettem | angedenck, hab ich nach deiner Tauff, dir dieses wollen sen | den, wachs auff zu gottes | ehr, und deiner eltern Freud | zu deinem nechsten nutz und | deiner seeligkeit. Samuehl Staud \ gebohren den 28ten February 1785 | getaufft von Pfahrer Henrich deh= | kert Tauffzeige Samuehl mar | burger und sein ehe frau maria | in Braunsweig Daunsip in Bergs \ Caunty in amerika

[11] Transcription Fig. 6b
Johannes Siberi
Tauff Zeige |Susanna Siberi Tauff Zeige
Christlicher Wunsch kommt auß | dem herzen grund, in Sieben | Stund, winsch ich darbei, Glück | Heill, Seege und gedeien, in die = | sem leben allhier, Zu wandeln | und gehen ein, in die ewige | freud, die kein menschen Zung[e] | ausprechen kan, da kein auge | gesehen, und kein Ohr nie ge= | hoeret hat, wachs auff zu gottes | ehr; zum menschlichem nutz und | deiner Seeligkeit. Johan | Heinrich gebohren 1771. d| 1ten mertz warwick | Daunsip

[12] Transcription Fig. 6c
Tauf zeigin maria Hemperlinge Tauff Zeige Ludwig Hemperling
Christlicher Tauff Wunsch | du bist o liebes Kind in Christi | Tod getaufft der dich mit seinem blutt | hat von der Hell erkaufft, daß zur er = | rinnerung und stettem angedenck hab ich nach deiner Tauff, dir dießes wollen |senden, wachs auff zu gottes ehr | und deiner eltern Freud \ zu deinem nech = | sten nutz und deiner seeligkeit. Maria Gertraud gebohren | den 24ten September 1776 | im Zeichen Waßerman in | Becksten Caunty, Lenkester Caunty in Penselvani in | amerika Gott gebe seinen | seegen

[13] Transcription Fig. 6d
Christlicher Tauff wunsch, | du bist O: liebe kind, in Christi | Tod getaufft, der dich mit seinen |blutt, hat von der hell erkaufft | deß zur errinnerung, und stet = | tem angedenk, hab ich nach | deiner Tauff, dir dieses wol= | len sencken, wachs auff zu gottes | ehr, und deiner Eltern Freud zu | deinem nechsten nutz, und deiner | seeligkeit stovel ehmrich gebohren | den 23ten January 1771 getaufft | vom Phahrer Schultz Tauffzeige | stovel Herrold und sein ehe frau | Catarina in Bettel daunsip | Bergs Caunty in amerika in | Pensylvani [Different hand not original to text as created →] Die Eltern waren Johannes | Emrich und frau gertraut.

[14] Adolf Jacoby. “Taufbriefe,” in Monatsschrift für Gottesdienst und kirchliche Kunst. 13. Jahrgang, Heft I, Januar 1908. Göttingen Germany: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, herausgegeben [für] Dr. Friedrich Spitta and Dr. Julius Smend, 1908, 202-211.

15 Ibid, 204. Ehe die Paten die Kirche verlassen, werden dem Kinde noch die Patengeschenke eingebunden d. h. ins Bettchen gelegt und zwar Geld in besonders dazu gefertigten Couverts (sogenannte Patenbriefe mit Vignetten und bezüglichen Versen geziert) gewickelt und mit buntseidenen Bändern umschlungen. Die niedrigste Taxe für das Eingebind einer Magd beträgt 1 Rtlr. 3 Pf., der Kupferdreier darf nicht fehlen.

I’d like to thank Corinne & Russell Earnest of the Earnest Archives and Library; Bill Daley and Bod Wood of Goschenhoppen Historians, Inc.; Edwin Hild and Patrick Bell of Olde Hope Antiques; Jeanine Pollock and Joe Shemtov of the Free Library of Philadelphia; Scott Schweigert, and Ashley Hamilton Houston of the Reading Public Museum; Jean Solensky, Librarian for the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera; Susan Ishler Newton, Photographic Services Coordinator; Julia R. Hofer, Registration Database Specialist; and Lea Lane, Elizabeth and Robert Owens Curatorial Fellow, all of Winterthur.

Geburtsbriefe and Taufwünsche: European Phenomena Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo image for Christlicher Tauff Wunsch for Samuel Staud © 2016 Del-Louise Moyer.






Johann Adam Eyer Roster Booklet 1779-1787

Ever wonder what kind of schools your progenitors attended in the eighteenth century in Pennsylvania? The Goschenhoppen Historians are the keepers of one-of-a-kind manuscript: Johann Adam Eyer’s (1755-1837) Roster Book from 1779-1787 for Birkenseh, Hilltown, and Deep Run Mennonite parochial schools in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that tells it all…or almost all. This booklet dates from when Eyer was just beginning his career as a schoolmaster and was keeping very detailed records of his students’ attendance. The school belonging to Birkenseh Meeting House was part of today’s Blooming Glen congregation in Hilltown Township; a still unidentified school was located in the southern end of Hilltown, possibly near Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church of Hilltown, Hilltown Township; the school for Deep Run meeting house was part of today’s Deep Run East and West Mennonite Churches in Bedminster Township.

The roll book is badly stained; the title page in fragments; and parts or whole pages are missing as can be seen from the illustration. Yet its contents are especially valuable to the genealogist, as well as to researchers investigating the inner-workings of schools organized during the eighteenth century, and associated with Mennonite, Schwenkfelder, Lutheran, and/or Reformed congregations.. Although he sometimes taught two successive terms at the same school, Eyer divided the year into quarters, usually rotating his teaching among the schools. He planned his teaching time with the children according to the agrarian calendar. Children enrolled could take time off whenever they needed to help with farm work or because of illness. Although prices could fluctuate, it usually cost 7 shillings 6 pence for three months of instruction, and most students stayed the whole quarter, returning for the next. If a child was absent, Eyer recorded it next to its name, and made monetary adjustments accordingly. By keeping a list of what each child paid, he was also keeping a record of his income, which could be as high as seventy pounds in a good year.

To supplement the lack of printed textbooks, Johann Adam Eyer created illustrated Vorschriften or writing samples, and rewarded children with Belohnungen, often a drawing with an inspirational saying on it to encourage and thank the student for his or her good work. He was raised Lutheran, and knew its music and liturgy well. As a musician well schooled in theory and practice, Eyer shared his love of hymns, and singing with his children, creating the very first Notenbüchlen or tune booklets to teach Pennsylvania Dutch children the rudiments of music so that they might learn the hymn melodies sung in church and home services. The hymnals used by their parents contained no music, but only the hymn verses with the title of the hymn tune to which the congregation would sing the text. The metrics, and topic of the poetry usually determined which melodies were chosen, and the congregation knew the tunes by heart. Harkening back to Lutheran musical tradition, Eyer knew that the music would inscribe the words on the children’s hearts forever.

Henrich Honsperger attended the late winter quarter of 1780 at Birkenseh (Blooming Glen, Bucks County, PA), starting on the 7 February and ending on the 15 April 1780. The cost to his parents was a bit higher than usual at 11 shillings. On April 12, 1780, just before the close of the school quarter, he became the proud owner of the earliest known tune booklet ever made.

The title of the tune booklet informs us that the best known hymns from the Marburg Hymnal are included in the booklet: There are 73.  

Proverbs, poetry, and Biblical excerpts often decorated title pages, and educated children in spiritual and practical matters. Along the left side of the center sphere we find the Latin proverb Artem quaevis, terra alit which translates into German as Wer Etwas kan den hält man werth or in English as He who is skilled is sought after by everyone. Along the right side the phrase concludes with Den Ungeschickten Niemand begehrt or He who is unskilled is sought by no one. At the bottom of the sphere is the saying Lerne Wie du kanst allein, singer buch und Tempel seÿn or Learn how you yourself can be singer, book and temple. This is the first verse of a poem taken from page 1 of the Marburg Hymnal.

Another child whose name appears on the roll book is Elisabetha Lädtermann.  According to the entry in the roster book for the winter quarter from 15 December 1783 to 15 March 1784, she attended the Deep Run school for the entire quarter and paid 7 shillings 6 pence. Elisabetha is not listed as a student before this. However, some of the prior pages are missing.  Since Eyer made this tune booklet for her April 29, 1783, it is more than likely that she is listed on those pages no longer extant.

Most booklets were bound in a paper wrapper. Elisabetha’s is a marbelized binding. The size is typical, i.e ca. 4 x 6.5 inches. The title page is written in Fraktur, German script, and Roman script and includes basic music instruction. The notes in red against the black staves perpendicular to and flanking the central sphere are ornamental as well as instructive.

  1. On the left are Semitones along with their names. By learning the note sequences, the singing scholar learned to hear the pitch, and to sight sing the music.
  2. 2.On the right Thirds encompassed within an octave are given, and Intervals are identified by note name.

There are 79 hymn titles with musical incipits in this Notenbüchlein, most of which come from the Marburg Hymnal.

Maria Fretz is listed in Johann Adam Eyer’s roll book for Deep Run, Bedminster Township late Winter term of scholars from 30 January to the last day of April 1786, along with Christian Fretz. There is a note that 15 shillings were paid, and that the children completed the quarter on the 4th of May. 7 shillings 6 pence was normally the payment per child per quarter, so the 15 shillings fee was for both children.

This particular manuscript appears to be the first tune booklet where Eyer used birds as decorative elements. This is an early example of pressed paper board cover with a leather spine. The title page is glued onto the inside cover.   There are 115 tunes to hymns, some of which come from the Marburg Hymnal. Of the 182 pages in the tune booklet, only 31 are devoted to the hymn titles and tune incipits. The rest are blank.

On page 35 of the tune booklet we find two hymns:

  1. Transcription
    In dir ist Freude, In allem Leiden (Der Du wahrer Heiland bist ) Durch dich wir | haben, Himmlische gaben, (O du süsser Jesu Christ, Hilfest von Schanden Redest | von banden, der dir vertrauet, Hat wohl gebauet, Wird ewig bleiben, Halleluia | Zu deiner Güte, Steth unser Gmüthe, An dir wir kleben, Im Tod und Leben | Wird ewig bleiben, Halleluja
  1. Translation
    In the midst of suffering you are great joy, Oh true Savior. Through you we have a foretaste of heavenly delights. O sweet Jesus Christ, you keep those who trust in You free of evil, and bondage. He who trusts You has chosen wisely, and will live forever. Halleluia! Our beings depend upon Your goodness. We cling to You in life and death, [and] will live forever. Halleluia !

The hymn In dir ist Freude is found first in Johann Lindemann’s Amorum Filii Dei decades duae, published, perhaps at Erfurt in 1598 in a collection of twenty hymns entitled Weyhenachten Gesenglein or Little Christmas Songs. The text, which appears without any indication of its authorship, has been attributed to Lindemann. The tune originates in one of many balletti (dance-like songs) written by Giovanni G. Gastoldi (ca. 1554-1609), a priest and composer employed by the Gonzaga Family in Mantua, Italy.  Johann Sebastian Bach based one of his well-known organ preludes on Gastoldi’s melody.

  1. Transcription
    Fliegel fliegel fliegel Her fliegel gleich den winden O wie wirds der seelen schwer | in dem Leib der Sünden die sie schaut mit furcht und grauß, daß sie drum auß diesem | Hauß, Heut noch wünscht zu gehen aus
  1. Translation
    Take wing, take wing, take wing just like the wind. O how difficult it becomes for the soul to be trapped in a mortal sinner, whom it views with fear and horror, and longs this very day to depart its human dwelling.

 Fliegel, Fliegel, Fliegel Her Gleich den Winden is the first verse of a hymn entitled Sehnliches Verlangen der Seele nach dem Himmel und seeliger Erlösung or The Soul’s Desire for Heaven and Blissful Redemption. It is sung to its own melody, and was published as Nr. 569 on page 532 in a Protestant song collection entitled Evangelisch Lieder=Schatz, Oder Glossirtes grosses Würtembergisches Gesang=Buch…published in the second of six volumes by Carl Gottlieb Ebertus in Tübingen in1731.

Johann Adam Eyer recorded in his Roster Book, 1779-1787 not only the names of the children who attended the Birkenseh, Hilltown, and Deep Run Mennonite schools in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, but also inadvertently those for whom he had begun to create tune booklets so that they could learn to sing the melodies used in the hymns at church service, and at private house get-togethers. The document is a witness to his enormous talents as a teacher, frakturist, administrator, and visionary. His concept was a practical and useful one, and inspired many other teachers to create tune booklets for their students in which only the melody line of frequently used hymn tunes was written out. Each scholar had a booklet, usually 4 x 6.5 inches in size. The teacher created a title page describing the purpose of the booklet, and containing the name of the student, the school attended, and the date of the title’s creation. The empty spaces on the title page were filled in with flowers, birds, and other elements common to Pennsylvania Dutch decorated manuscripts. These titles are absolutely beautiful, and probably inspired the singing scholar to greater endeavors as he or she learned how to read music and sing the tunes that either the instructor or student would copy into the booklet.

The “singing schools” or singing classes that resulted from this one brilliant idea of Johann Adam Eyer flourished in Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania from about 1787 to 1845. Singing became a part of the school curriculum, and “singing schools” became popular.

Cory M. Amsler, ed. Bucks County Fraktur. Kutztown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1999.

“Johann Adam Eyer” in Russell D. and Corinne P. Earnest’s Papers for Birth Dayes: Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners, 2nd ed., vol.1, East Berlin, Pa.: Russell D. Earnest Associates, 1997.

Giovanni Gastoldi. In dir ist Freude Retrieved 2 March 2016 from ChoralWiki

Marburger Gesang=Buch zur Uebung der Gottseligkeit in 649 Christlichen und Trostreichen Psalmen und Gesängen Hrn. D. Martin Luthers. und anderer Gottseliger Lehrer, Ordentlich in XII. Theile verfasset, Und mit nöthigen Registern auch einer Verzeichniß versehen, unter welche Titul die im Anhang befindlichen Lieder gehörig: Auch zur Beförderung des so Kirchen= als Privat= Gottesdienstes, Mit erbaulichen Morgen= Abend = Buß= Beicht= und Communion=Gebätlein vermehret. Germanton, Gedruckt und zu finden bey Christoph Saur, 1762.

Mary Jane Lederach Hershey. “The Notenbüchlein Tradition in Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Community Schools,” in Cory M. Amsler, ed., Bucks County Fraktur. Kutztown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1999.

Johann Lindemann. In dir ist Freude Accessed 2 March 2016 from The Online Library of Liberty, a project of Online Liberty Fund, Inc. at

Sehnliches Verlangen der Seele nach dem Himmel und seeliger Erlösung in Evangelisch Lieder=Schatz, Oder Glossirtes grosses Würtembergisches Gesang=Buch . . . vol. 2, Tübingen: Carl Gottlieb Ebertus Verlag,1731, 532, Nr. 569. Accessed 22 March 2016 from Google Booksß&source=bl&ots=Tf6fjByxZb&sig=Wky6O2_KacljdyLYTrTwcENnXHg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi64p7N79XLAhUKKB4KHUj7B2IQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=die%20sie%20schaut%20mit%20furcht%20und%20Grauß&f=false

John Joseph Stoudt. Early Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts. New York: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1964

Frederick Weiser. “I A E S D the Story of Johann Adam Eyer (1755-1837) Schoolmaster and Fraktur Artist with a Translation of his Roster Book 1779-1787,” in Ebbes fer Alle-Ebber Ebbes fer Dich.Breinigsville, Pa.: 1980, 435-506.

My thanks to Janine Pollock and Joe Shemtov at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; Bob Wood and Aron Heckler of the Goschenhoppen Historians at Green Lane, PA; Forrest Moyer of the Mennonite Heritage Center at Harleysville, PA;  Jeanne Solensky, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera Librarian at Winterthur Library, Wilmington, DE; and Roberta Weisberg Chief Cataloger at Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, DE.

Johann Adam Eyer Roster Booklet, 1779-1787 Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images © 2016 Del-Louise Moyer