Category Archives: Illuminated Manuscripts

A Gallows Sermon and the Johannes E. Berkenstock Taufschein

According to his Taufschein, and corroborated by the birth and baptismal Reformed Church Records, 1802-1965 of the Blue Church, Coopersburg, Pa.:

Johannes E[rdman] Berkenstock was born the 30th of July in the
Year of Christ 1830, and was baptized by Mr. [Samuel] Hess
on the 23rd of September in the Year 1830.  His sponsors were
Johannes Berkenstock and wife Fronica.  His father the honorable
Henrich Berkenstock and wife Catharina, née Erdman. [1]

Enclosed in the top central heart is the wise counsel “Bleibe Fromm und Halte dich recht und Huete dich recht das du in keine Sünde willigest und Thust wi= der Gottes gebot [,]” or in English “Remain pious and conduct yourself properly, being cautious that you do not willingly take part in any sin and act against God’s commandment.”  Similar words appear in a sermon the Chaplain of Cadolzburg, [2]  namely Christian Friederich Pacius, [3]  preached on August 30, 1770 at the town gallows following the executions of Conrad Süß, Johann Georg Süß, and Jacob Grund.  Pacius custom designed his admonishment, taking all of Psalm 37:37 “Bleibe fromm und halte dich recht, so wird dir zuletzt wohlgehen. ” and the close of Tobias 4:6.:  [Dein Lebenlang habe Gott vor Augen und im Herzen;] “Hüte dich! daß du in keine Sünde willigest, noch wissentlich wider Gottes Gebot thust” [4]  to formulate an effective warning to the people of Cadolzburg.

Tobias or Tobit, a book from the Apocrypha, and included by Martin Luther in his 1545 translation of the Bible, was very popular among Lutherans both in Europe and  among the Pennsylvania Dutch as words of advice to youth.  It can be found on Vorschriften such as the Reading Public Museum’s “Dein Leben Lang habe Gott vor Augen,” [5]  which includes not only verse 4:6 in its entirety, but also the additional verses 4:7-15.

Whereas the chaplain had a specific goal in mind when he combined the Psalm and Tobit verses, it is clear that the creator of the Berkenstock birth and baptismal certificate edited Psalm 37:37, deleting the second half of it, and, as Pacius, utilized only the second half of Tobit 4:6.  Whether he had access to the gallows homily cannot be established, but if not, this scrivener may have consulted another presently unknown source.  What is certain is that he utilized the message in a very different context.

Chaplain Pacius’ sermon comes down to us in a copy printed in 1770, [6 the same year as the executions, by the official Court printing shop in Onolzbach for the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach where the municipality of Cadolzburg was located, and in a collection of gallows sermons [7 with a forward by Heinrich Christian Friedrich Schenk, Pastor at Mendhausen. [8] The latter was printed in Frankfurt and Leipzig in 1773, and besides the sermon also includes excerpts from the thieves’ final confessions; biographical information;  and an historical account of the robberies.  A short synopsis follows of the events that led up to what took place on August 30, 1770 at the Cadolzburg Gallows in Bavaria.

In 1770 Conrad Süß was age 60, and one would have thought that he could have retired comfortably.   For the past twenty-eight years he had sold mandrake roots, [9] an herb that, because it grew in the shape of a man, could be sold for high prices to gullible people who believed in its supposed magical powers.  However, beginning in November 1762 he took the bad advice

of both his sons Johann, and Johann Georg, and the latter’s brother-in-law Jacob Grund, and joined them in a series of major postal coach robberies in and around Cadolzburg, and for the next several years stole not only valuables and money, but also did bodily harm to drivers and passengers.  The postal coaches were under the protection of Karl Alexander (1736-1806), the last Margrave of the two Franconian principalities, Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and it certainly was his intention, as well as of those charged with keeping travelers and their belongings  safe from harm in his margraviates, to not only apprehend such criminals, but also to exact an eventual punishment of the utmost severity, one that would leave a lasting visual memory upon all of Karl Alexander’s subjects.  That is exactly what happened.  In 1769, finding booty from their last robbery at the home of the elder Süß in Habersdorf, authorities arrested three of the band, and took them into immediate custody.  Their fate was quickly decided: On August 30, 1770 Conrad Süß was executed by the sword.  A breaking wheel was then used to break his bones and mutilate his body.  Finally, his head was severed and put on a pike to be displayed at the place of execution.  His younger son Johann Georg was executed, and dismembered in like manner.  Jacob Grund was condemned to death by the breaking wheel:  With his body intertwined on the wheel, his bones were broken and he was bludgeoned to death.  Such a death did not always come immediately.  The condemned could linger for as long as nine days after having been clubbed with a truncheon.

Some of the large crowd that had gathered to witness the executions were there for the “entertainment,” but whatever their reasons for attending, most found themselves shaken and chastened by the grizzly scene.  Prior to their deaths, the chaplain at Cadolzburg Christian Friederich Pacius had been entrusted with obtaining confessions and words of repentance from the condemned as he sought to shepherd their souls to the next realm.  Pacius also prepared a sermon  to preach post-execution to this ready-made receptive audience:  Its theme was the merit of doing good, so as to one day inherit eternal life rather than leading the ignominious and deleterious life of a thief whose final reward is most often earthly and eternal death.  In closing he warned his listeners to “remain pious and conduct yourself properly, so that in the end all will be well with you. Be cautious that you do not willingly take part in any sin and act against God’s commandment.”  [10]

Sixty years later in 1830, the artist/scrivener of the Johannes E. Berkenstock Taufschein, valuing the spiritual message of these words, and far removed from time, place, or original motivation of the admonition, included them as a precept in Johannes’ birth and baptismal certificate in the traditional manner of the Pennsylvania Dutch.


[1Johannes E. Breckenstock Taufschein. July 30, 1830, Lehigh County, PA.

Dimensions:  7 3/4 H x 10 W inches

Transcription [in Heart]
Bleibe Fromm | und Halte dich recht und |Huete dich recht das du in | keine Sünde willigest | und Thust wi= |der Gottes gebot

Translation [in Heart]
Remain pious and conduct yourself properly, being cautious that you do not willingly take part in any sin and act against God’s commandment.

Transcription [in cartouche below the Heart]
Johannes E. Berkenstock | ist geboren den 30sten Tag Julius | Im Jahr Christi 1830 wurde | Getauft von Hrn. Heß den 23sten September | Im Jahr 1830 seine Taufzeugen waren | Johannes Berkenstock und dessen Ehefrau | Fronica —Sein Vater ist der Ehrwürdige | Henrich Berkenstock und dessen Ehefrau Catharina | eine geboren Erdmanin.

Translation [in cartouche below the Heart]
Johannes E. Birkenstock was born the 30th of July in the Year of Christ 1830, and was baptized by Mr. Hess on the 23rd of September in the Year 1830.  His sponsors were Johannes Berkenstock and wife Fronica.  His father is the honorable Henrich Berkenstock and wife Catharina, née Erdman.

[2] Cadolzburg is a municipality in the district of Fürth, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated about seven miles west of Fürth. In 2007 Cadolzburg celebrated its 850th anniversary.

[3] Hochfürstlicher Brandenburg-Onolzbach-und Culmbachischer genealogischer Kalender und Addresse-Buch auf das Jahr 1770. Ansbach bey Jacob Christoph Posch. Privil. Hof=Buch Händler, 117. Accessed 11 January 2017

[4]  “Und dein lebenslang hab Gott fur augen und im Herzen und hüte dicht das du in keine Sünde willigst und thust wider Gottes gebot,” in Die Bibel, Apokryphe Schriften des Alten Testaments. Tobit 4:6, 1545. Accessed 10 January 2017.

[5]  “Dein Lebenslang habe Gott vor Augen..” Vorschrift. Reading Public Museum Fraktur Collection, Reading, Pa. 39.117.1

[6] Christian Friederich Pacius. Den so schändlich als schädlichen Lohn des Raubend Betrachtete bey wohlverdienter Hinrichtung Dreier Post=Räuber…Onolzbach, gedruckt in der Hof=Buchdruckerey,1770, 4. Accessed 12 January 2017.

[7] Heinrich Christian Friedrich Schenk. Sammlung merkwürdiger Reden, welche auf dem Blutgerüste theils von Königen, Fürsten und Grafen, Gelehrten und Ungelehrten, gehalten worden. Frankfurt und Leipzig, 1773, 188-204. Accessed 15 January 2017. 

[8] Mendhausen is a village and a former municipality in the district of Hildburghausen, in Thuringia, Germany. Since 31 December 2012, it has been part of the town of Römhild.

[9] C. Schneider. “ Der allgemeine und der Krieger-Aberglaube im 16., 17. und 18. Jahrhundert,” in Österrieichische militärische Zeitschrift. Redakteur V. Streffleur. Wien, Druck und Commisions-Verlag von Carl Gerold’s Sohn, 1865, zweiter Band, 305-337. Accessed 15 January 2017.

[10] Pacius used Psalm 37:37, and the last half of the verse from Tobit 4:6 to create this precept.  In German his version reads “bleibe fromm und halte dich recht, so wird es dir zuletzt wohlgehen.  Hüte dich! daß du in keine Sünde willigest noch wissentlich wider Gottes Gebot thust.

Winterthur Research Fellow, 2016-2017
Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch Material Culture

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 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 David Tuttle of David Tuttle Antiques; Bob & Kathy Exner, and Rev. James Hammond of the Blue Church, Coopersburg, Pa.;  Sandy David & Rev. Dr. Bruce C. Stevenson of Faith UCC Church, Center Valley, Pa; John Graydon Smith and Scott Schweigert of the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pa.; and Bill Dayley, Aron Heckler, and Bob Wood of the Goschenhoppen Historians, Green Lane, Pa.

A Gallows Sermon and the Johannes E. Berkenstock Taufschein  Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images except for Figures 5,6,7,8 © 2017 Del-Louise Moyer.


A Little Flower Embodies the Wisdom that was Forever with God

David Kriebel (1787-1849), one of the best known of the Schwenkfelder frakturists, created the above flower-filled illuminated manuscript on or about June 1,1806, and chose to include an accompanying reference to flowers “Ein Blümlein ist die Weißheit” or “A little flower embodies the wisdom” from the first Schwenkfelder Hymnal ever printed in America (1762).[1] The words are from line one of verse eleven of Hymn 115 EIN Blum ist auf der Heyde...[2] and initially seem to have been almost an afterthought, squeezed in at the very bottom on either side of a woven basket that holds the floral centerpiece of the work. Yet, they are a major component of the entire concept of this Fraktur. Translated the text reads:

The first of June. A little flower embodies the wisdom
that was forever with God; came forth in Christ as man: Its
strength vanquishes death. In the Year 1806. [3]

Susanna Hübner (1750-1818), another renowned Schwenkfelder frakturist, lived with her brother Abraham (also a frakturist) and his family on the old homestead in Worcester Township, Montgomery County, Pa. after their father’s death, and made illuminated manuscripts on various occasions for all of his children. We know precisely when she made the following New Years Greeting for her nephew Jacob Hübner for she wrote in pencil on the verso of the manuscript: “Geschrieben Ein Tausend Acht Hundert Zehn vor Jacob Hübner. Zum Neuen Jahr. von Susanna Hübner” or “Written in 1810 for Jacob Hübner. [To be given] for New Years [1811].”

She, too, chose verses from Hymn 115 of the Schwenkfelder Neu=Eingerichtetes Gesang=Buch of 1762, namely seven, eight, nine, as well as all of verse eleven to enhance her floral New Year Greeting of 1811 to Jacob.   Translated they read:

[Hymn] 115 Mel. O Generous God upon the Throne (43)

“A little Flower blooms upon the Meadows…”

[7.] Thus spoke the bride in the Song of Songs: My beloved is handsome. The noble grains of green grass, the flavorful marjoram shall I conceal between my breasts and carry upon my bosom. They will sweeten all malodors and awaken a great strength within me, everlasting joy and desire.

[8.] The flower is planted within the Holy City of God wherein it dwells and spreads its delightful scent. Like the Palm-oil tree and cypresses it has grown tall, and sat upon the throne of God. Who can measure its greatness? He who believes builds securely thereon.

[Within the heart] Partake of your joys and desires remembering that you must one day die.

[9.] As it stood in Jericho, the most beautiful of all the rose shoots blossomed far more beautifully than all the rest. Its odor is delightfully sweet like flowing honey, the scent of which flows into the heart of the believer. The blossom is full of strength.

[11.] A little flower embodies the wisdom that was forever with God; came forth in Christ as man: Its strength vanquishes death. It is like the seasonal grapes that bring joy to my grieved heart. No one will ever rob from me that which I grasped for in faith believing, neither now nor in eternity.[4]

The Schwenkfelder hymnal printed in America in 1762 is organized into two main parts, one dealing with the Trinity, and the other with God’s creation, and man’s relationship to His Sovereign King. Its editor Rev. Christopher Schultz took great care and time to annotate the hymn verses with Biblical references so that those who sang these texts would know the sources on which they were based.

Hymn 115 is one of four hymns found in Part I, Section XVIII that features songs about Jesus’ childhood, and growing up; His humanity; and His experiences at age twelve in the temple. [5] Rev. Schultz includes two citations that clearly point us to the identity of the “The little flower that embodies wisdom,” namely Hebrews 8:1 which describes the high priest or Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Majesty of Creation, and Proverbs 8:22-30 where it is implied that it is Jesus who was not only with God before anything ever was but shall ever be the delight of His Father throughout eternity. It’s when we take a look at all of Hymn 115’s verses and annotations, however, that we acknowledge how intimately familiar David Kriebel and Susanna Hübner must have been with the symbolic associations between the floral references and the Jesus-God-Man, and that the images of the flowers in their illuminated manuscripts were intended as a personification thereof.

[Hymn] 115. Mel. O Generous God upon the Throne (43)

[1.] “A little flower blooms upon the meadows, Jesus my Savior, Jesus my Savior. I have my joy in Him, and would like to be with Him. I wish to secure Him in my heart, and always have Him abide there. My wish: to leave everything on Earth behind; wander the narrow paths. My whole being yearns for Him. *Ps. 45, 3.

*Ps. 45, 3. [Psalm 45:3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. KJV]

2. The flower for which I long has no equal upon the earth*. Jesus, My God and Savior up above in the Kingdom of Heaven: In Him the flower reigns. The living sap flows from Him, and is glorified in God. Solomon in all his glory was never so powerful. *Apoc 5,12.

*Apoc 5, 12. [Revelations 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. KJV]

3. He sings in the Song of Songs: I am a Rose in the field, entirely encircled by thorns. Since I am now risen,+ I am placed upon God’s* throne. My bridegroom came to me: Here all will be brought low, but as I adorn and array them, they shall triumph in my power.

*Phil. 2, 9 [Phillippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:…KJV]

+ Joh 12, 32 [John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.KJV]

4. Just like grass or a flower, all must perish: All flesh must die. Alone the glory will remain that arose in the Word* of God, and shall remain forever. It is my desire to attain this. He who wants to rejoice with Him there will carry the cross and sorrow here.

*1 Pet. 1, 24,25. [1 Peter 1:24-25 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. KJV]

Esa. 11, 1. [Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:…KJV]

5. If I now sacrifice my life through death with Him on the cross, He will give me His kingdom, and eternal life with God. For this I want to strive, O most beloved Savior mine. I want to bring my sacrifice, and through death attain life so that I might be with You.

6. I can’t reach heaven on my own: Therefore, I want to join You. To You I direct my plea: Have mercy on me, Jesus, my Savior and God! Be with the poor, and save me, poor one, from sin, hell, and death.

7.Thus spoke the bride in the Song of Songs: My beloved is handsome. The noble grains of green grass, the flavorful marjoram shall I conceal between my breasts and carry upon my bosom. They will sweeten all malodors and awaken a great strength within me, everlasting joy and desire.

8. The flower is planted within the Holy City of God wherein it dwells and spreads its delightful scent. Like the Palm-oil tree and cypresses it has grown tall, and sat upon the throne of God. Who can measure its greatness? He who believes builds securely thereon.

*Cant. 1,3. [Song of Solomon 1:3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. KJV]

[Within the heart] Partake of your joys and desires remembering that you must one day die.

9. As it stood in Jericho, the most beautiful of all the rose shoots blossomed far more beautifully than all the rest. Its odor is delightfully sweet like flowing honey, the scent of which flows into the heart of the believer. The blossom is full of strength.*1 Joh. 2, 27.

1 Joh. 2, 27. [1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. KJV].

10. The priest, exalted and wise, is like a beautiful rose, which in paradise has grown great within God; like a lily that has grown tall upon the water. His mercy is generous and plentiful. His power knows no end or direction. Strengthen us o Lord Jesus Christ!
*Hebr. 8,1

*Hebr. 8,1 [Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;…KJV]

11. A little flower embodies the wisdom that was forever with God; came forth in Christ as man: Its strength vanquishes death. It is like the seasonal grapes that bring joy to my grieved heart. No one will ever rob from me that which I grasped for in faith believing, neither now nor in eternity. * Prov. 8, 22=30

* Prov. 8, 22=30. [Proverbs 8:22-30 22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; KJV] [6]

[1] Neu-eingerichtetes Gesang-Buch….Germantown, Pa.: gedruckt bey Christoph Saur, auf Kosten vereinigter Freunden, Hymn 115, line 1, verse 11, p. 78.

[2] EIN Blum ist auf der Heyde or A Little Flower Blooms Upon the Meadows.

[3] D 1ten Junÿ | Ein Blümlein ist | die Weisheit, die E= | wig ware beÿ Gott, | Ging auf in Christi |Menschheit, ihr krafft | vertreibt den Tode… | Im Jahr 1806

[4] [Hymn] 115 Mel. O reicher GOtt im T.[hrone] (43)
EIn* Blum ist auf der Heyde…

[7.] Mein Geliebter ist schöne; die | Braut im Hoh’nlied sprach, der Edel | Spica grüne, Der Marjan wolgeschmack, | in Busen will ichs stecken, tragen auf | meiner Brust, all’n Gestanck soll’s + in mir ein Krafft erwecken, Ewige | Freud und Lust. + abschrecken,

[8.] Die Blum ist eingesetzet, in Heil’ger | Gottes Stadt: Da ihr Geruch ergetzet: Da=| rinnen Wohnung hat, wie Palm=oel=Baum, | Cypressen ist sie hoch g’wachsen auf in Thron | Gott’s eingesessen. Wer kan ihr Krafft er= | messen? Der Glaub sich baut fest drauf.

[Within the heart] Bey aller | deiner freud und Lust | Gedencke daß du | sterben must

[9.] Wie zu Jericho g’standen, Die | Schönsten Rosen=Stock=all Blumen macht’s | zu schanden, wenns ihre Blum ausstreckt, Der | Geruch ist gar süsse, lieblich wie Honig | Safft; ihr G’ruch thut sich ergiessen, ins | Gläubig Hertz einfliessen, die Blum | ist voller Krafft.

[11.] Ein Blümlein ist die Weißheit | Die Ewig war beÿ Gott, ging auf in Chri= |sti Menschheit: ihr Krafft vertreibt Den | Tod. Sie is wie zeitig Trauben, die mein | krankes Hertz erfreut, Ergriff ich Die im | Glauben es wirds mirs niemand Rauben, | jetzt noch in Ewigkeit.

[5] Part 1, Section VIII reads in German: Von der Jugend, und Gewächse Christi, An seiner H. Menschheit, und seiner Offenbahrung im zwölften Jahr

[6] [Hymn] 115. [Mel. O reicher GOtt im T[hrone] [Melody] (43)

[1] EIN Blum ist auf der Heyde, Jesus, der HErre mein :/: in Ihm hab’ ich mein Freude, wollte gern bey Ihm seyn. Will Ihn in mein Hertz fassen, und stets behalten drin: Auf Erd alles verlassen; wandeln die enge Strassen: Nach Ihm steht all mein Sinn. *Ps. 45, 3.

2. Die Blum so ich begehre, hat nicht auf Erd Ihr* gleich; Jesus, mein GOtt und HErre, droben im Himmelreich; darin die Blum regiret: Von Ihm geht aus der Safft: In GOtt glorificiret. Also war nicht gezieret, Salomo an der Krafft. *Apoc 5, 12.

3.Im hohen Lied Er singet: Ich bin ein Ros’ im Feld; mit Dornen gantz umringet: Nun in Gotts * Thron gestellt; da Ich bin aufgestiegen: + Mein Gespons zu mir fuhr. Hie wirds auch niederliegen: Doch in meiner Krafft siegen, wenn Ich sie schmück und zier.
*Phil. 2, 9
+ Joh 12, 32

4. Sonst mus alles verderben, wie Graß oder ein Blum: Alles Fleisch muß absterben; und bleibt allein der Ruhm, dem* Wort GOttes aufgangen; und bleibt in Ewigkeit. Nach dem thut mich verlangen: Wer dort mit Ihm will prangen, trag hie vor Creutz und Leid.
*1 Pet. 1, 24,25.
Esa. 11, 1

5. Opffer ich jetzt mein Leben, mit Ihm in Creutz und Tod, Sein Reich will Er mir geben, Ewig zu seyn bey GOtt. Darnach, so will ich ringen, O liebster HErre mein! Mein Opffer will ich bringen: Vom Tod ins Leben dringen, daß ich bey Dir mög seyn.

6. Den Himmel zu erlangen, vermag ich selber nicht: Drum will ich Dir anhangen; zu Dir noch thun mein Bitt: Du wollest dich erbarmen, JEsu, mein Herr und GOtt! umfahen mit den Armen, und erlösen mich Armen, von Sünd, auch Höll und Tod.

7. Mein Geliebter ist schöne, die Braut im Hoh’nlied sprach; der edel Spica grüne, der Marjan wolgeschmack. In Busen will ichs stecken, tragen auf meiner Brust; all’n Gestanck soll’s abschrecken: In mir ein Krafft erwecken; ewige Freud und Lust.

8. Die Blum ist eingesetzet, in heil’ger GOttes Stadt; da Ihr Geruch ergetzet: Darinnen Wohnung hat. Wie Palm=Oel=Baum, Cypresse, ist sie hoch g’wachsen auf; in Thron GOtts eingesessen. Wer kann Ihr Krafft ermessen? Der Glaub sich bau’t fest drauf. *Cant. 1,3.

9. Wie zu Jericho g’standen, die schönsten Rosen=Stöck: All Blumen macht’s zu schanden, wenn’s Ihre Blum austreckt. Der Geruch ist gar süsse, lieblich wie Honig=Safft. [78] Ihr G’ruch thut sich ergiessen, ins gläubig Hertz einfliessen. Die Blum ist voller Krafft. * 1 Joh. 2, 27.

10. Der Priester, hoch und Weise, ist wie ein schöne Ros’; der in dem Paradeise in GOtt ist worden groß; wie am Wasser ein Lilie, hoch aufgewachsen ist. Sein Gnad ist reich und viele, Sein Krafft ohn End und Ziele. Stärch uns, Herr JEsu Christ! *Hebr. 8, 1

11. Ein Blümlein ist die Weißheit, die ewig war bey GOtt; ging auf in Christi Menschheit: Ihr Krafft vertreibt den Tod. Sie ist wie zeitig Trauben, die mein kranck’s Hertz erfreut. Ergreiff ich die im Glauben, es wird mir’s niemand rauben, jetzt noch in Ewigkeit. * Prov. 8, 22=30.


Dennis Moyer. Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection. Kutztown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1997, 85; Fig. 4-83: 117.

Neu-eingerichtetes Gesang-Buch, in sich haltende eine Sammlung mehrenteils alter schöner lehr=reicher und erbaulicher Lieder…Germantown: gedruckt bey Christoph Saur, auf Kosten vereinigter Freunden. 1762, p. 78. Accessed 11/1/2016

Rev. Christopher Schultz. Historische Anmerkungen [1750-1789]. Manuscript housed at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, Pennsburg, Pa. [Schultz kept the historical commentary up to 1775].

Allen Anders Seipt. Schwenkfelder Hymnology and the Sources of the First Schwenkfelder Hymn-Book Printed in America. Philadelphia: Americana Germanica Press, 1909, 96-110.

John Joseph Stoudt. Early Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts. New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1964,
Fig. 306: 307-310; Fig. 341: 345.

Philipp Wackernagel. Das deutsche Kirchenlied…5ter Band. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1877.

Winterthur Research Fellow, Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch Material Culture, 2016-2017

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 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 Dave Luz, Candace Perry, Dr. Allen Viehmeyer, and Hunt Schenkel of the Schwenkfelder Library & Bob Wood and Bill Dayley of the Goschenhoppen Historians.

A Little Flower Embodies the Wisdom that was Forever with God Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images © 2016 Del-Louise Moyer.

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.

How God Spoke to the Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravians Through the Media

This blog post is dedicated to Corinne Earnest who left time on May 26, 2016. Without Corinne, Patricia, and Russell Earnest’s unflagging dedication to Fraktur, we would all still be trying to put together many of the pieces of the historical puzzle that they have researched, and solved. She was not zealous for her own purpose, but rather reached out and shared freely her great love and knowledge of Fraktur with everyone. We all shall miss Corinne.

The Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravians produced their everyday tools and utensils from seven media: stone, wood, glass, metal, clay, textiles, and paper. Both decorative Fractur script and motifs, as well as everyday cursive calligraphy adorned this material culture, capturing both the spiritual and secular principles then prevalent. In this post we take a look at the scripts and motifs; the practical aspects of time and materials; and how God spoke to the Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravians through the media.

Adam & God
When Adam, father of all mankind, realized his memory wasn’t going to be good enough to remember all the names he had given to earthly living things, he thought he’d better have a talk with God. Now God didn’t want Adam to remember everything, so He said: “Adam, a man can’t keep everything in his head. There should be another way to remember, don’t you think?” Adam, being very relieved, agreed, and so God gave Adam a set of symbols that could be used to keep a record of things. Adam’s children carried on the tradition, and their children’s children, and over time others called these symbols letters or alphabets, and this way of remembering writing.

Writing School in Session
Today, the world over we find varying alphabets, and mankind is still using them to remember. So it was, too, in the eighteenth century when around 1760 people began to ask Johann Michael Schirmer, a writing master, mathematician, and school teacher in the free imperial city of Frankfurt am Main to put together a practical self-instructional handwriting book for the use of young people and adults. Schirmer had very little free time and was reluctant, but finally realized he was the only one who had the broad knowledge and skill necessary to inspire youth to take up the pen and learn to write German in Fraktur, Current, and, chancery scripts, and to notate their Latin, Italian and French in round lettering known as Literae Rotundae and square lettering or Romanae Quadratae. Schirmer’s title page indicates that Current, Canzleÿ, and Fractur are to be understood as German calligraphy, and Cursiva, Rotunda, and Quadrata as Latin calligraphy.

Current Script
Current, also known as German script, was so named, according to Schirmer, because it was “currently” in common use among the general public. He emphasized that his exercises were so designed to teach one to write in this cursive script with ease and clarity as if one letter grew out of the other.

Chancery Script
Canzleÿ or chancery script was created from Fractur quite by accident in the chanceries and scriptoria. As shortcuts were found to speed up the making of initial capital letters, first lines, and other applications in Fractur script, rules were altered. Eventually a whole new set of criteria was recognized under the name of chancery script. Schirmer advises the reader that there was no uniform agreement among writing masters concerning this.

Fractur Script
Initially German-speaking calligraphers preferred writing in Fractur, but found it required a great deal of time and skill to do so. This made it unsuitable for everyday situations, and, as already mentioned, encouraged simplification in the rules. So it is not surprising that scribes naturally developed a handwriting for daily use, and eventually designated Fractur exclusively for the ornamentation of initial letters, opening text, and important words in documents. Schirmer notes that only after the introduction of the printing press, [1] did people begin referring to the script as Fractur. Although there is no proof of this, one thing is certain: Fractur deriving from the Latin word Fractus, and meaning fractured or broken, certainly was used by those printing or handwriting these angular broken letters, and is still used today to describe its fonts and calligraphy.

Cursiva, Round Letters, Square Capitals
Schirmer categorizes Cursiva, Rotunda, and Quadrata as Latin calligraphy. Quadrata or Square Capitals were tedious to form because of their straight lines and angular configuration, making them more suitable for carving inscriptions on stone with a chisel than for writing a text on parchment or paper with a pen. Calligraphers, therefore, as with Fractur, in the course of time modified the shape of this script to a rounder lettered form that could be written with a flowing connected hand and speed for everyday use, calling it Cursiva. They reserved the Square Capitals for special headings and text on paper, and used them on readily conducive media such as stone or metal.

Intended for cursive handwriting, Schirmer includes large and small Round Letter (Literae Rotundae) alphabets in lower case (Gemeine), as well as decorative upper case (Versalien) examples,. He also introduces Literae Romanae Quadratae (Square Capitals) to be used as ornamental lettering.

Ornamented Letters in Latin and French
For those writing in Latin and French, Schirmer recommends twelve (12) examples in round capital letters to decorate introductory lines.

Ornamented Letters in German
When writing in German, he suggests using any of the following thirty-eight designs in lowercase Fractur to ornament initial text.

“Youth’s Lifelong Obligations”  Vorschrift by Johann Michael Schirmer, ca. 1760
Schirmer’s European writing samples are not only exercises to master the various scripts, but are also reminiscent of what we find in similar Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravian Vorschriften in America: a combination of design examples, practice formulas, and moral tips, taken mostly from the Bible, hymns, and religious poems, to keep young and old on the path to heaven. The following text from his “Youth’s Lifelong Obligaions” parallels what we find in American writing samples of the time period:

Focus on your Creator when young, and have Him ever before your eyes and in your heart.
With unfeigned love, childlike diffidence, and total confidence, dedicate the first fruits
of your endeavors to Him. Accustom your lips not to curse or swear, and never be afraid
to use them in prayer, praise, and thanks. Be diligent in learning the Word of God, and live
your life accordingly. Be humble towards everyone, and respect the elderly. Always be willing to oblige your friends and enemies. Avoid hateful words and foolish actions. Shun the temptations of youth, and remain chaste and virtuous. Be steadfast in your work, and eat your bread with dignity. Bann all falsehoods and lies. Harbor no evil thoughts nor associate with bad company. [2]

“Connoisseurs’ Writing Sample for Reading and Writing” by Wilhelmus Faber, 1812
A comparable American Vorschrift created by Wilhelmus Antonius Faber (active ca. 1790-1820) in 1812 for Johannes Klinger, a school boy living in Exeter Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania, demonstrates not only text similarities, but also mirrors a number of precepts found in Schirmer’s Writing School in Session or German, Latin, and French Writing Samples:

  • Firstly, Faber uses Fractur script for the initial lines as suggested by Schirmer, and chooses a double band decorative element similar to Illustration 7 of How to Decorate Opening Lines Written in German, (Copperplate No. 46 ) to ornament the opening religious text “Wohl dem den der Herr in…” Just as Schirmer demonstrates the use of calligraphic flourishes in Youth’s lifelong Obligations, (Copperplate No. 40), so too we find Faber embellishing not only the initial letter “W” with flourishes, but also, in similar fashion, all along the top of the line.
  • The religious text in Fractur script paraphrases the Psalmist David, and then in German script quotes verses 9-11 from Psalm 91, demonstrating the every day cursive handwriting the student is more likely to use throughout his life. The upper and lower case alphabets in Current script are included for practice purposes.
  • The final line Johannes Klinger’s Writing Sample, 28th November 1812 is important text identifying the owner, and, accordingly is also done in Fractur.

Connoisseurs’ Writing Sample for Reading and Writing, 1812
He whom the Savior blesses in his work and household shall prosper. For the Lord is your refuge, and the Most High your deliverance. No evil will befall you, and no plague come nigh unto your dwelling. For He has entrusted you to his angels that they may protect you wherever you may be [Psalm 91:9-11].
A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A a | b c d e f fs g h j i k l ll m n o p q r s ss s t u v w x y z tz ch ß sch sl si tz
Johannes Klinger his Writing Sample, Exeter the 28th of November 1812 [3]

Faber was most likely a school teacher, and is best known for his decorative Scherenschnitte or cutwork that frequently encircles the text. However, he also made writing samples such as the FLP example. It has been suggested that he was Moravian since he reputedly once lived in Lititz, Pennsylvania, a Moravian community in northern Lancaster County. He was also, however, active in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Lebanon, Montgomery and Northampton Counties. Knowledgeable in German, Latin, and English, his calligraphy is remarkably fine, and that of a trained scrivener.

A New Definition of Fractur, 1897
In 1897 another meaning of Fractur 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. He suggested that it would be much more convenient if all Pennsylvania German illuminated manuscripts be called Fractur. Since then objects with or without Fractur script can be called Fractur. For example, a bird or flower or geometric design on paper, textiles, clay, wood, glass, metal, or stone with or without any text can be referred to as Fractur. The material culture of both groups, therefore, is represented through visual, as well as written Fractur. Stone and textiles, per Ellen Gehret in This is the Way I Pass My Time, vie with works on paper for containing the most Fractur script, and hand towels are “more verbal than any other form of Pennsylvania German needlework with the exception of samplers.” [4]

“My God, Through the Blood of Christ” Sampler by Elisa Kulp, 1816
Elisa Kulp, a Mennonite living in the Franconia area of Montgomery County Pennsylvania, worked a most extraordinary sampler in 1816. An A B C sampler with square capital letters in the upper half, along with floral and geometric designs in the lower ensured that she would be able to number and mark her linens with her name or initials for inventory, as well as have a template of decorative motifs to embellish other textiles throughout her life. It is worthwhile pointing out that household textiles were highly valued, and an important part of one’s estate.

Elisa embroidered her name in full twice, and also added her initials so that there would be no doubt to whom this lovely piece belonged. She also embroidered two spiritual reminders, both in square capital letters:


The origin or inspiration of these phrases can be traced to Ämilie Juliane, Imperial Countess of Schwartzburg-Rudolstadt (1637-1706), who was born in 1637 in Barby, a place which in the eighteenth century was to become strongly associated with the Moravians. Like Luther, this noble lady considered prayer and diligence key necessities to one’s life, meditating three times daily. She died in Rudolstadt in 1706. Ämilie Juliane is known to have written over 500 hymns, one of which Die Eile des Lebens or The Hurriedness of Life contains the phrase Elisa cross-stitched “Mein Gott ich bitt durch Christi Blut Machs doch mit meinem Ende gut.” This refrain comes at the end of each of twelve verses, “My God, my God, I ask you through the blood of Christ to assure me a peaceful end.” The beginning of the third verse “Lord, teach me always to contemplate my end,” or “Herr, lehr mich stets mein End gedenken’ may have inspired Elisa to encircle a flowering heart motif in the center of the bottom half of her sampler with the entire command “O Edel Herz Bedenke Dein Ende” or “O Noble Heart, Contemplate your End.” This was a saying near and dear to the Pennsylvania Dutch and appeared frequently on samplers and towels in the abbreviated form OEHBDDE.

“That Which You Want Others to Do” Susanna Steltz Plate by Georg Hübner, 1789
There are two kinds of Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravian redware: the greater majority falls under utilitarian in glazed, unglazed, or partly glazed ware; and a much smaller group of “fancy” glazed and decorated ware. Georg Hübner, a potter in Limerick Township, Montgomery PA made a slip decorated, sgrafitto dish thirteen inches in diameter for Susanna Steltz in 1789 that falls into the latter category. Slipware refers to glazed pieces that have had an element of design added such as a drawing, date, name, or saying. For sgraffito, from the Italian for “scratched,” the slip is painted on the surface and the design is scratched through the slip revealing the contrasting red clay beneath. Although such a piece showed off the potter’s skills, and was less likely to be used daily, there is evidence from marks of wear and tear on some that not all were presentation pieces. The Steltz piece, however, appears to have been rarely used, and does, indeed, demonstrate Hübner’s masterful work.

The potter inscribed the outer rim of the plate in Fractur script with a command Jesus gave to the multitude in his sermon on the Mount found in chapters 5-7 of St. Matthew, and chapter 6 of St. Luke—specifically Matthew 7:12, and Luke 6:31, as well as the date and name of the plate owner: “ March 5th 1789 the plate of Susanna Steltz. All that you would have others do unto you, do unto them.” [5] The inner portion is decorated with a double-headed eagle as per the Fractur script between the two heads: “Portrayed here is a double-headed eagle.” [5] Please note that this is not a Holy Roman Empire double-headed eagle bristling with authority and might, but rather a double-headed eagle of totally different temperament to whom Hübner gave a broad and flowering Pennsylvania Dutch heart.

“Dear People, Observe” Pennsylvania Stove Plate, 1753
Radiant-heat stoves existed in northern Europe as far back as the mid-sixteenth century. The tradition of casting them in iron with low relief decorative and textual elements, both secular and religious, also originated on the Continent. Some of the eighteenth-century German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania brought these cast iron stoves along with them to heat their homes, and when they needed to replace or repair damaged or worn plates, found iron masters who could replicate the traditional plates at local forges.

The Pennsylvania Dutch house in the mid- to late eighteenth century consisted of three rooms on the main floor: a Küche or kitchen on one side of a centrally-located chimney, and a family living space known as the Stube or “room,” as well as the Kammer or “sleeping chamber” on the other. The fireplace opened into the kitchen and, just as in Europe, the most economical way to heat the Stube was via the cast iron five-plate jamb stove, which when put together, formed an open box that could be put against an opening in the wall shared with and opening into the kitchen fireplace. Placing hot coals or burning wood from the fireplace side into the stove opening provided heat in the Stube without the annoyance of smoke.

These plates were made in the same way as in Europe, and typically were adorned with secular or religious inscriptions done in Romanae Quadratae or Capital Square Letters. Fractur visual motifs such as tulips, stars, medallions, wheat sheaves, and human figures often depicted a Biblical story with or without a saying, reminding the viewer of his temporal existence, and need to take stock of the eternal path he was forging.

One unusual stove plate, however, stands apart from all the others, and appears to be a political satire on an event taking place on September 14, 1753. As Henry Chapman Mercer noted in 1914 in his work The Bible in Iron, and as is still the case:

No event on September 14, 1753, either in Pennsylvania, where James Hamilton
(1748-54) was Governor, or in Germany or England, where Frederick the Great
and George the Third reigned, appears to explain this joke or satire (the only
caricature in the whole collection), upon some person, so publicly well known as
to strike the popular fancy and increase the sale of a stove at that time. [6]

This stove plate’s message was easily understood by the denizens of southeastern Pennsylvania in 1753, and although we don’t yet know the true significance of its imagery and text, we can at least contemplate both its visual, and verbal elements.

Two vaulted panels are divided by a vertical molding: At the top on the left in relief are the letters “17.” In the center a rider, in tricorn hat and long coat, clenches a sword in right hand, while holding aloft possibly a torch in his left hand. He conspicuously sits upon a goat. At the top on the right are the letters “53.” In the center a man on foot, wearing a headdress and long coat faces the rider, and with both hands holds a sword in horizontal position in front of him.

Underlined Romanae Quadratae or Square Capital Letters follow:


“Michael Weber Rests Here in God” Tombstone

“Well over one thousand examples of handcarved decorated gravemarkers exist in Pennsylvania German graveyards with German inscriptions and decorations not unlike those on Fraktur.” [7] The tombstone of Michael Weber, a Revolutionary War veteran, is one of these, and, although the tombstone cutter failed to include any Fractur visual motifs, he chose to inscribe Fractur script, a much more difficult task than if he had used the Square Capital Letters or Romanae Quadratae so suited to stone carving. This marker, unlike many that have been damaged by vandalism, acid rain, and neglect is well cared for and clearly legible: “Michael Weber rests here in God. He was born September 29, 1735 and died December 24, 1826 at age 88 years, 2 months, and 25 days.” [8] As so many others before him, who had used the tools of their trade upon stone, wood, glass, metal, clay, textiles, and paper, this tombstone carver consciously left a lasting warning and promise, one which reaches us even today as we read upon the gravemarker: “O wayfarer, consider your end, which can come all too quickly. Put on Christ Jesus, through whom you can be redeemed.” [8]

[1] Johannes Gutenberg introduced the first movable type printing press in Mainz ca. 1440.

[2] Youth’s Obligations Towards Life, a translation of Schirmer’s writing sample “Lebens Pflichten der Jugend,” in Geöfnete Schreib=Schule…Franckfurt am Maÿn: Selbstverlag, ca. 1760, copper plate No. 40. For original Fraktur script see Fig. 8. The following is a transcription thereof: Bedenke an deinen Schöpfer | in der Jugend, und habe denselben immer vor Augen | und im Herzen: widme ihm die Erstlinge deiner Kraft, in hertzlicher Lie= | be, kindlicher Furcht und vollkommenem Vertrauen. Bewohne | deinen Mund nicht zum Fluchen und Schwören, und schäme dich | nicht, denselben im Beten, Loben und danken aufzuthun. Lerne fleis= |sig das Wort Gottes, und führe dein Leben darnach [.] Sey demü= | thig gegen jedermann, und ehre die Alten. Befleissige dich der | Dienstfertigkeit gegen Freunde und Feinde. Schandbahre | Wort und Narrentheidung laß ferne von dir seyn. Fliehe die Lüs= | sten der Jugend, und halte dich keusch und züchtig. In deinem Be= | ruf sey fleissig, und esse dein Brod mit Ehren. Verbanne die | Falschheit und Lügen. Hege keine böse Gedanken, und meide | endlich alle böse Gesellschaft.

[3] “He Shall Prosper Whom the Savior Blesses,” a translation of Wilhelmus Faber’s 1812 Johannes Klinger Vorschrift. For original Fractur and German script, see Fig. 9. The following is a transcription thereof: Vorschrift der Liebhabern zum Lesen und Schreiben, 1812. Wohl dem, den der Herr in | seiner Arbe[i]t segnet, und seine Haushaltung beglücket. |[Luther Bibel, 1545; Psalm 91: 9-11] Denn der Herr ist Deine Zuversicht der Höchste ist Dein Zuflucht. Es wird Dir kein |übels [sic] begegnen, und keine Plage wird zu Deiner Hütte sich nahen. Denn er hat seinen [sic] | Engel befohlen über Dir, daß sie Dich behüten auf allen Deinen Wegen.
A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A a | b c d e f fs g h j i k l ll m n o p q r s ss s t u v w x y z tz ch ß sch fl fi tz
Johannes Klinger seine Vorschrift, Exeter d 28ten November 1812

[4] Ellen Gehret, This is the Way I Pass My Time: A Book About Pennsylvania German Decorated Hand Towels (Birdsboro, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1985), 5.

[5] For original Fractur script, see fig.10. The following is a transcription of the plate rim: “Mertz.5ten 1789 Susanna Steltz, ihre schüssel, Alles was ihr wolt das euch die Leute Duhn sollen Das Duth ihr ihnen.“ Between the two eagle heads, the transcription reads: “Hir ist Abgebilt ein dobelter Adler.”

[6] Henry Chapman Mercer. The Bible in Iron (Doylestown, PA: Bucks County Historical Society, 1961), 59, No. 73, “The Man and the Goat.”

[7] Gehret, 5.

[8] For original Fractur script, see Fig. 12. The following is a transcription of the tombstone: “Hier | ruhet in Gott | Michael Weber | er war gebohren den 29 . | September 1738, und starb | den 24 . December 1826, | in dem Alter von 88 Jahre, | 2 Monate und 25 Tage. | O, Wanders Mann | Gedenk ans Ende. | Das leichtlich kommen kann; | Vielleicht auch gar behende, | Und ziehe Christum Jesum an, durch den man selig werden | kann.

Arthur Cecil Bining. Pennsylvania Iron Manufacture in the Eighteenth Century. Harrisburg: PA Historical Commission, 1938.

“Wilhelmus Antonius Faber” in 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, 264-265.

Wilhelmus Faber’s Johannes Klinger 1812 Vorschift in Henry S. Borneman, Pennsylvania German Illuminated Manuscripts. Norristown, Pa.: Pennsylvania German Society, 1937, published as plate 3.

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

Tandy and Charles Hersh. Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans. Birdsboro, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1991.

Stacy C. Hollander et al., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum Catalog. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001, 141-142, no. 104 [Georg Hübner].

 Catherine E. Hutchins., et al. Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans. New York, NY: Published for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum by Norton: 1983.

Henry J. Kauffman and Quentin H. Bowers. Early American Andirons and Other Fireplace Accessories. Nashville, Tn: Nelson [1975].

Henry J. Kauffman. American Copper & Brass. [Camden, N.J.]: T. Nelson [1968].

_______________. Early American Ironware: Cast and Wrought. Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle Co., 1966.

_______________. Pennsylvania Dutch: American Folk Art, New York: Dover Publications, [1964], 94-95 [Georg Hübner].

Henry Chapman Mercer. The Survival of the Mediaeval Art of Illuminative Writing Among Pennsylvania Germans. [Doylestown, Pa: Bucks County Historical Society], [1897].

_______________. The Bible in Iron. Doylestown, PA: Bucks County Historical Society, 1914, 59, No. 73, The Man and the Goat. Google Books, Accessed 22 July 2016

Lisa Minardi. A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life. Winterthur, DE: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc., 2015, fig. 20, 22 [Georg Hübner].

_______________. “A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans And The Art Of Everyday Life, In Collect Interiors + Collections Online, Fig. 5. Photograph by Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Accessed 27 July 2016.

Betty Ring. Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers and Pictorial Needlework,
1650-1850 . New York: A. A. Knopf, 1993.

Earl F. Robacker. “Pennsylvania Redware,” in Pennsylvania Folklife. Vol. 46, No. 3 (1997), 137-142. Pennsylvania Folklife Magazine. Book 150. Accessed 26 July 2016 [Georg Hübner].

Margaret B. Schiffer. Historical Needlework of Pennsylvania. New York: Scribener, 1968.

Johann Michael Schirmer. Geöfnete Schreib=Schule oder Deutsche, Lateinische, und Franzöische Vorschriften. Frankfurt am Maÿn: Selbst Verlag, ca. 1760.

Peter Steltz Sr., Last Will and Testament, with Codicil, 1832. Wills, Vol 6-7, 1821-1839. Proved and Letters Testamentary Granted to Valentin, Christian, and Peter Steltz Jr.; Author: Montgomery County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Montgomery, Pennsylvania

John J. Stoudt. Pennsylvania German Folk Art: An Interpretation. Allentown, Pa.: Schlecters, 1966, 313 [Georg Hübner].

Stove Plate – Eighteenth Century. Pennsylvania. The State Museum of Pennsylvania. 33.107.3, accessed 9 July 2016

Swan, Susan Burrows. A Winterthur Guide to American Needlework. Winterthur, Del.: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1976.

_______________. Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1650–1850. Austin, Texas.: Curious Works Press, 1995.

Marjie Thompson, Kathleen L. Grant and Alan G. Keyser. Forgotten Pennsylvania Textiles of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Cumberland, ME: Linen Press, [2005?].

Daniel Berkeley Updike. Printing Types Their History, Forms, and Use: A Study in Survivals. Cambridge:Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962, 2 vols.

Anna Maria Weber, m. n. Angelmayer (6/21/1749-4/3/1834), Friedensville Cemetery, Friedensville, Pa Accessed 10 July 2016

Michael Weber (1738-1826), Friedensville Cemetery, Friedensville, Pa.Accessed 10 July 2016

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 such as Johann Michael Schirmer’s ca. 1740 Geöfnete Schreibschule 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 Donald Trump of the Friedensville Evangelical Lutheran Church; Joanne Kintner and Robert Wood of the Goschenhoppen Historians, Inc.; Patricia Herr, Author and Collector; Dorothy McCoach, Independent Textile Conservator; Janine Pollock and Joseph Shemtov of the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

How God Spoke to the Pennsylvania Dutch and Moravians Through the Media Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images, except for images of the Elisa Kulp 1816 Sampler; the Susanna Steltz Plate; and Sehet zu ihr liben Leut Stove Plate,
© 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

Schwenkfelder Eighteenth & Nineteenth Century Textile Samplers and Writing Samples

Sampler motifs harken back to the Renaissance when all levels of society satisfied their love of ornamentation with decorative textiles. Professional embroiderers of clothing, bed hangings, and furniture coverings advertised their work and colors to prospective clients on linen cloths. From this came the custom-made samplers for individual use. These were the forerunners of the Pennsylvania Dutch textile samplers. Along with figurative examples, alphabets, one’s name, initials, and dates were added as personalized features. Most were worked in colored silk embroidery on a ground of plain weave bleached linen.  From about the 1520s to the end of the eighteenth century, pattern books played an important role in France, England, and Germany, recording pattern designs for use in embroidery, knitting, embroidery on knotted net, and lace making. Some of these designs were incorporated into the European-made samplers that the Pennsylvania Dutch brought with them when they immigrated, and were passed on from generation to generation within family groups, religious communities, and regional areas.

Tandy and Charles Hersh in their 1991 Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans define a sampler as a “textile used to record and practice embroidery motifs, stitches and alphabets for future use.”[i]

Four periods of development are identified:

  1. Transition 1683-1776
  2. Refinement 1777-1809
  3. Continuity & Change 1810-1860
  4. Survival 1860-Present [ii]

During these four periods sampler makers positioned the motifs in four different ways:

  1. randomly without plan;
  2. in rows according to size;
  3. uniformly around a centrally aligned figure(s);
  4. and in mirror-images aligned along a horizontally or vertically positioned central line. [iii]

In southeastern Pennsylvania a teenage Pennsylvania Dutch girl traditionally learned how to make cross-stitch samplers at home using her mother’s, aunt’s, cousin’s, sister’s or other older family members’ sampler(s) as a template. Besides the cross-stitch, the Schwenkfelder [iv] sampler makers are known to have used other techniques as well: double back stitch, geometric satin stitch, and chain stitch. [v]

Maria Schultz (1785-1841) was a Schwenkfelder, and the sewn together two-piece sampler she made (ILL.1), one with smaller motifs in 1798-1799, and one with larger designs in 1801

was the very first purchase of the Goschenhoppen Folklife Museum, [vi] and the beginning of the present collection [at Green Lane, Pennsylvania]. Its prime importance, beyond its fineness as a piece of early Dutch folk art, is its importance as an evidence of the folk cultural process of acculturation, between traditional groups within the larger Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture.[vii]

A few of the motifs on Maria’s sampler can be traced back to a random sampler (ILL. 2) Maria’s great grandmother Anna Wagner (ACWW 1733) brought to America from Saxony when she immigrated to Worcester township, Montgomery county (then Philadelphia county) in 1737. Stitches she used include cross-stitch, back stitch, and geometric satin stitch.

In 1778 Christina Wagner, Maria’s aunt, and Anna’s granddaughter created a rowed sampler (ILL. 3) , copying six of the thirty-one motifs from her grandmother’s sampler. Maria and her two sisters Christina and Rosina, also residents of Worcester Township, used their aunt’s sampler as a guide. Maria was thirteen, and Christina sixteen when each made her first sampler in 1798-1799: Christina chose a row format (ILL. 4a)  like her aunt’s, whereas Maria placed her figures randomly on the canvas (ILL. 1, Top). However, both copied many of her motifs, including the small designs and letters in rows three to five and the bottom row with a cartouche enclosing their initials. Most notable of all is the corner decorative figure that can also be found on a Swiss or German sampler housed at the Textilmuseum in St. Gallen, Switzerland Inv. No. 20046, and scarcely changed in Christina Wagner’s nor subsequently in her nieces’ and other Schwenkfelder samplers (See illustrations in this post: Christina Wagner: ILL. 3; Maria Schultz: ILL. 1, upper sampler; Christina Schultz: ILL. 4a ).

Melchior and Salome (née Wagner) Schultz, Maria, Christina, and Rosina Schultz’s mother and father, took Regina Hübner into their home after her parents died. Her two younger cousins borrowed freely from the random sampler (ILL. 6) Regina had made in 1794 at age seventeen : three carnations; a crown with three diamonds; the seven flowers and vase; three tulips in a vase; five cross flowers; rooster, small corner flower, large corner flower, a chair, a table with two bowls, along with a creative addition of a cruet, and dog standing on the lower table shelf. Stitches they used include cross stitch, double back stitch and chain stitch (See illustrations in this post: Regina Hübner: ILL. 6; Maria Schultz: ILL. 1, lower sampler; Christina Schultz: ILL. 4b; Rosina Schultz: ILL. 7).

In 1809 Rosina, the youngest girl of the Schultz family, made a random sampler (ILL. 7) of over one-hundred motifs, many of which replicated her sisters’ designs, and which carried the sampler tradition into the next generation, serving as a template for her three daughters, Salome, Maria and Rosina Kriebel. Sara Schultz, daughter of Rev. Christopher and Susanna

Yeakle Schultz, a peer and cousin to the Kriebel girls, did not make her home in Worcester township, Montgomery county like most of her Schultz relatives, but rather lived in Berks county. Here she created a random sampler (ILL. 8) on paper at age seventeen in which she combined six of her mother’s sampler motifs with ones from her Aunt Christina Wagner. She also added designs from her other Schultz kin of Worcester Township, along with those in the northeast Berks Franconia Mennonite Area. [viii]   Such borrowed designs, also known as signature motifs, inspired other Schwenkfelder sampler makers, who repeatedly and faithfully borrowed the very same images, sometimes creating variants thereof, in cross-, back-, and chain stitches from ca. 1809 to 1875.

The Schwenkfelder tendency to borrow, replicate, and create alphabets and variant designs in their textile samplers is repeated in their illuminated manuscripts on paper as well, the ABCs and visual motifs being common to both mediums. Printed writing samples such as J. J. Brunner’s 1767 Vorschrift zu nützlicher Nachahmung…[ix] or A Useful Writing Sample for Copying… were available to the general public, and demonstrated several variants of the same Alphabet. Schoolmasters used such works as references when creating writing samples for their students. These same alphabet variants appear in textile samplers, and change according to regional cultural influences and time period. The Schwenkfelder samplers exclusively used the alphabet that appears on the sampler (ILL. 2) that Anna Wagner brought with her to Pennsylvania in 1737 right up to1875 when Regina Schultz used it in her first sampler. [x]

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A school teacher before becoming a minister, David Kriebel (1787-1849), one of the best known of the Schwenkfelder frakturists, made a writing sampler or Vorschrift „Jerusalem Du Gottes Stadt or Jerusalem You City of God [xi] for Abraham Anders on February 24, 1805. Like Brunner, Kriebel intentionally demonstrated several ways to present the same letter(s) in Fraktur script for his pupil to imitate. Abraham would build upon this, and eventually use his quill, like the Schwenkfelder young ladies used their needles, to create a new design variant.

Susanna Hübner (1750-1818), another renowned Schwenkfelder frakturist, lived with her brother Abraham (also a frakturist) and his family on the old homestead after their father’s death, and made illuminated manuscripts for all of the children. She found David Kriebel’s illuminated initial “J” of “Jerusalem” from the Anders Vorschrift so appealing that she devised a near replica of it as the initial letter “J” for her nephew Jacob’s Christian name in an illuminated manuscript Jacob Aber Zog Seinen Weg or Jacob Went His Own Way (Genesis 32: 1-2) that she created for him on April 2, 1808.

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We find the same tendency in Schwenkfelder frakturist families as we do among the Schwenkfelder textile sampler maker families. Close proximity encouraged relatives to borrow each others’ designs and ideas, but in a creative manner. Susanna Hübner made her niece Maria an illuminated manuscript to the text Maria Hat Das Gute Theil Erwählet. Das soll nicht von ihr genommen werden… or Maria Has Made the Right Choice. That Should Not Be Taken From Her… (St. Luke 10:42) on December 4, 1808.

Maria faithfully copied a portion of her Aunt Susanna’s gift Maria Hat Das Gute Theil Erwählet. Das soll nicht..,.using the same color scheme for the text, and the same vase of tulips. However, in the process she respositioned both, and added a bird perched on a very original elongated flowering tree, thus creating an entirely new variant based on her Aunt’s original.

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On December 16, 1804 David Kriebel made special gift for Susanna Kriebel surrounding the text Gott hat in meinen Tagen mich väterlich getragen or During my Life God Has Supported Me in a Fatherly Way [xii] with floral designs reminiscent, in the opinion of some, of central and eastern Europe. Dennis K. Moyer in Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection found that “the color and motifs that he chose seem to imitate a quality and style similar to the art and textiles of the Near East. Perhaps the ideas for the design and color were drawn from printed or woven textiles.” [xiii]

The similarities between the vertically-oriented drawing (bookplate?) Susanna Hübner made for her niece Susanna and the rectangularly conceived religious text framed in a dense floral border that David Kriebel created for Susanna Kriebel are obvious. Hübner borrows profusely from Kriebel, but lightens up the density of his flower-patterned periphery by adding mustard yellow to the darker blue and red colors, as well as by interspersing feather-like leaves among the floral foliage. Her multi-rayed star is more vibrant and takes on a three-dimensional energy because of the circular background rays. A brilliant addition is the potted floral bouquet that Aunt Susanna places in the center of the picture above her niece’s name. It is so geometrically conceived that it could easily be included in a textile sampler.

 In 1818, Maria Hübner rethought the drawing her Aunt Susanna had made for her sister, deleting the name, but keeping the motifs almost exactly intact. She chose a more subdued
pastel palette of colors , and added two flowering vine plants, one above the other on the right-side margin of the leaf. The drawing is a tribute to her Schwenkfelder heritage, a reconceived amalgam of friends’ and family’s designs in a color scheme of her generation.

Whether the medium was textile or paper, the Schwenkfelder artists, with needle and quill, were imitating and transforming designs and alphabets from what they had available in their time and place. By recycling these visual motifs and texts, they extended the cultural life of their community for generations to come. In the eighteenth century one expected to find the Pennsylvania Dutch girl’s sampler in her sewing basket, ever ready with the designs she could choose for her sewing and embroidery needs. As time progressed, the purpose of the sampler changed, and became more ornamental than practical. What used to be tucked away, was now framed and hung on the wall. The same is true of illuminated manuscripts that originally were kept away from view taped to the lid of one’s dower chest, and/or safely put away in a drawer or folio Bible. Labeling them folk art, and promoting their commercial potential as decorative wall accents has replaced their cultural value as the Pennsylvania Dutchman’s private expression of his love of God articulated through art.


[i] Tandy and Charles Hersh,. Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans. Birdsboro, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, vol. XXV, 1991, 14.

[ii] Ibid, 47.

[iii] Ibid, 14.

[iv] The Schwenkfelders, followers of Kaspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig (1490-1561), were severely persecuted for their non-orthodox beliefs. Fleeing in 1726 from oppression in Silesia , they were first welcomed by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf on his estate at Berthelsdorf and Herrnhut in Saxony. This proved to be a temporary home.   From 1731 to 1737 small bands emigrated to Pennsylvania where they settled in the Goschenhoppen, and Skippack areas among the Mennonites, Lutherans, and Reformed who had also settled in this part of Montgomery county (then Philadelphia county) around the same time. All of these settlers transferred a bit of their cultural heritage to southeastern Pennsylvania, some of which can be said to be common to all, and some of which can be recognized as unique to one group or the other.

[v] Dorothy D. McCoach. n. d. Conservation Report for Maria Schultz Sampler 1798, 1799, 1801 (Project #: 01.103.A), n.p., pp. 1,2.

[vi] The Goschenhoppen Historians, Inc., presently celebrating the 50th anniversary of their incorporation, continue to identify, preserve, and disseminate the Pennsylvania German folk culture and history of the Goschenhoppen region.

[vii] Isaac Clarence Kulp, Jr., ed., “The Cover Picture,” The Goschenhoppen Region vol. 1, no. 1 ( Peterkett/St. Peter in Chains Day August 1, 1968): 2.

[viii] Hersh, 145.

[ix] Johann Jacob Brunner. Vorschrift zu nützlicher Nachahmung und einer fleissigen Übung zu Gutem vorgestellt und geschrieben durch Joh. Jacob Brunner älter von Basel. Gegraben in Bern von Carl Gottlieb Guttenberger aus Nürnberg. Bern, Switzerland: n.p., ca. 1766.

[x] Hersh, 67.

[xi] Jerusalem Du Gottes Stadt gedenke jener Plagen….in Das kleine Davidische Psalterspiel. Germantown: Christoph Sauer, 1744, p. 216, Hymn 221, verse 1.

[xii] Gott hat in meinen Tagen mich väterlich getragen….is part of the opening line of a seven-verse religious poem by Jakob Friedrich Feddersen (1736-1788).

[xiii] Dennis K. Moyer. Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection. King of Prussia, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, vol. XXXI, 1997, 115.

My thanks to Bob Wood, and Linda Szapacs of the Goschenhoppen Historians; Dorothy McCoach, Independent Conservator; Dave Luz, Hunt Schenkel and Candace Perry of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center.

Schwenkfelder Eighteenth & Nineteenth Century Textile Samplers and Writing Samples Blog Post including transcriptions; translations; and photo images excepting illustrations in Tandy and Charles Hersh’s Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans © 2016 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!

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.

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.

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

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.

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. (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.

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.


[Aussenseite des Mss]

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


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.


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

Outside of Mss]

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

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.


H.G. Schmidt

[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.


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: (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.

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


“Charlotta Eisenbrown, Where Buried,” in Find a Grave. Accessed 4 September 2015.

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.

P. F. Eisenbrown Memorials of Reading, PA. Accessed 3 September 2015

“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.

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

© Del-Louise Moyer 2015