Category Archives: Lutheran

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.


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.

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