Alice Ziemer

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folk remedies, baby lore, ailments, folk cures, Pow-wowing, plants, salves


A handwritten set of old folk remedies and cures of the 19th century South Eastern Pennsylvania Dutch community compiled by Alice Ziemer, dating from circa 1950. Within, Ziemer provides remedies for ailments such as pneumonia, whooping cough, epilepsy, warts and the common cold. The notes also contain folklore surrounding infants and rhymes in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.

Corresponds to:

Packet 735-26 to 735-30


Adamstown, Pennsylvania


Contributed by Mrs. Alice Ziemer

Old remedies

1. Salve was made by frying jimsonweed or tea leaves in lard.

2. Years ago a woman in this section is said to have cured a severe case of pneumonia by applying pancakes baked with as many kinds of tea leaves she could find, on the chest of her child.

3. To keep a child from getting whooping cough a strip of leather from a pigs hide was tied around his neck when asleep. This had to be done without waking him.

4. Katzagraat (spelling?) (catnip) tea was supposed to be good for babies colic

5. Salwei (spelling?) tea was supposed to be good for colds.

6. Wann mer schmertsa (sidestitch) in die seid hot, solmer um es dishbee drei mal gradla.

En kindt sed net unich die fense gradla schunsch wakst es nimme.


Reita, Reita Geille

Alle stundt en Mille

Farhre mer ivver en blockhaus

Gucka drei bobba raus

Eene spinnt seida

Die anner flecht weida

Un die anner grabt en Brunna

Un hot en bubbli funna

Wie sol es hessa

Becky odder Maisie

Wer soldie winala wesha

Ei die Liza Dobberdesher

Contributed but definitely NOT Recommended by H. S. Ziemer M. D.

Home remedies and beliefs in the 19th century in Southeastern Penna.


1. When baby is born first wrap in silk shirt so that he will love his or her father.

2. When new baby first leaves room where it was born carry it upstairs (to attic if necessary) so that it will become "high minded" (intelligent). It will become “low minded” if carried down stairs first.

3. One shouldn’t cut fingernails of baby during its first year or it will become “long fingered” (thief)

4. When a woman is pregnant she shouldn’t be scared or crawl under a fence - for the child might be birthmarked.


1. Convulsions in babies. Place coarse salt in baby’s hands, sliced bacon on its feet and a Bible under its head

2. Epilepsy in Children

Cut hunk of hair off child’s head and bore a hole in an oak tree. Put hair in hole and put plug back in tree. As the tree grows the epilepsy will pass away.

3. Warts

Cut onion into four parts - rub on wart - put parts together and bury in ground - as onion rots the wart will disappear

4. Hemorrhage

1 Pow wow

2 Cobwebs taken from a barn and placed on bleeding

5. Wounds

1. Place cow manure on wound.

2. Place plug of tobacco on wound.

6. Sore Eyes and Babies

The mother squirted milk from her breasts into the babies eyes to wash them.

7. Belly Ache

Either chicken or horse manure soaked in warm water - (this may have helped for the manure may contain ammonia and this would relieve gas)

8. Chronic Indigestion

Take the linings from the stomachs of chickens - dry them at low heat - grind them and eat them on bread after each meal. (The chicken stomach linings may have contained pepsin, depending on the temperature of drying, and that may have relieved the indigestion.

9. Stomach ulcers or severe abdominal pains

Some sections used a very fine blue clay before meals. This was also used by Indian Tribes.

10. Severe bodily pain

One pint of whiskey

11. Foreign body in eye

Place a flaxseed under eyelid

The following were taken from German clippings pasted inside front cover of old Bible belonging to my great grandmother from about 1800

1. Stomach Cramps

Three or four drops of kummel oil mixed with rum or strong burned wine (brandy)

2. Sour stomach and heartburn

Burn a cork and mix on plate with milk or water. Take every two hours (cork is charcoal so this remedy may have given relief)

3. Edema of body or legs

Make infusion of carrots, salt peter, and water drink quite a bit.

4. Wounds

Epsom salt solution


Tea was made from [pipsissewa] leaves or from gentian leaves.

Poultices for wounds

1. Were made from Jimson weed (This contains an alkaloid related to belladonna)

2. Were made from rosin or wool fat or suet


Croton oil - made from croton beans.

Camphor was hung around neck to ward off disease

Asafetida was hung around neck to ward off whooping cough

Gilead Salve

The leaves were crushed and mixed with lard.

(This is the one I learned years ago)

Dat drivva, dat drovva, dat draus

Dat hocka so scheene meedlin hars

Sie sin so schee, sie sin so schee

Sie hen so scheene dicke bee

Wann du sie froogst fa mit dansa geh

Saga sie - Du bischt fer rickt mein kind

A favorite of my Great Grandmother Rachel Krick Kricktown

Der mann un der hund kerre naus

Der mann fer schaffe, der hund fer blaffe

Die frau un die katz karre ins haus

Die frau fer hausa, die katz fer mause.

(Miss) Alice Ziemer


English and Pennsylvania German

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Old Home Remedies and Beliefs of Southeastern Pennsylvania



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