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rhymes, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, eggs, fever, frogs, roosters, pranks, superstitions, folk cures


A set of compiled notes transcribed by Alfred L. Shoemaker, dating from circa 1950. Within, Shoemaker documents various topics, ranging from folk cures and childhood pranks to women's methods of working and caring for children.

Corresponds to:

Packet 705-12 to 705-16


Customs of Early Settlers. Charles Milton Kaufman interviewed

In his very early life, butter was unknown. Instead the fat that fried out of ham was used as a spread for bread … The family contenting themselves with the ham fat spread because of the good price commanded in the markets for butter.

p. 33 copy

There was a Young Girl from West Penn, who once bought a big Bramah [Brahma] hen; the hen laid an egg, as big as a keg, which pleased the Young Girl from West Penn.

There was a Young Damsel from Reading who used cabbage leaves for her bedding; when the bed was worn out, she ate it for kraut, this herbivorous damsel from Reading.

Note from “Scrivenings” found among the possessions of Squire Benjamin Hain Gulden and given the Library by his granddaughter Alice Margaret Wilkenson.

Take the infant’s diaper, which had been wetted and burn it in a very hot stove. 3 or 4 days [illegible]

Stomach fever. A piece of string was drawn around the abdomen of the sufferer and cut the exact length. This string was then wound around a fresh egg. The end was not to be tied but rather fastened by looping under. This was then dropped into a hot fire; if the egg remained intact and the string refused to burn, the patient had stomach; if however, the egg exploded and the string burned, it wasn’t stomach fever.

A headless man pushing a wheelbarrow in which rested his head

Pine Grove One for the man who hates to shave

Burn a large frog to ashes, and mix the ashes with water, and you will get an ointment, that will, if put on any place covered with hair, destroy that hair and prevent its growing again.

It was the general belief that if a crazy person would spit in your face, you would become afflicted in the same manner.

Old Christian Spong

Sei nause is long

Do schtrul dich mit da feier tsang

137 - drumming-one-of-[illegible]

146 - Copy

Die Katie geet mer widder fatt; Sie geet bis ans Bedaley 'a; Dannt mit ansr a menna [illegible]; Un ich murs fer sie sarry 'a.

Oh, I am going to the Hamburg to the Hamburg, to the Hamburg Fair; To see the monkey ride the Elephant and the wild Kangaroo and Bear.

If you clap your hands, imitating a rooster flapping his wings, and then crow like one, at midnight, you can get all the roosters in the neighborhood flapping their wings and crowing.

Corn meal we roasted in the same manner (in frying pan). This we took to school and often put between the pages of our geographies to hide it from the teacher, and scooped it up with our tongues.

Der Jakey Shoppel -


I was suffering with chills and fever, but was able to go about in my better moments. Upon an occasion, while watching a farmer working in a field, my fever came upon me. The man took me to the shadow of a tree and told me to “lie down, and move with the sun, as the shadow moves. At sundown you will be cured.”

Young man escorted 2 girls home To Nawsa-dawl "meed, marbe eich ens bett." To young man, "Un du mach dich beem, du hocher tsu weil ab ennicher.“

How many doors in this bar room? One, two, and six [illegible] makes ten!”

Mei Gott, was un geg ax!

[illegible] 105-109

John Sen-hucha-heb.

The good old fashioned red brick is not made any more. It had many uses, housewives pounded it into dust and scoured their metal household utensils with it.

Tin Whistle - blow tune on an old tin whistle [illegible].

“Mickey Whalen went sailin’, Johnny Rite had a bite, and Mary Doyle got a boil.”

nothing but Dutch. Dutch for breakfast, dinner, supper and at bedtime. Let’s go where we won’t hear it” (beginning 705-15)

Like the spirit of ’76 the blood of the Dutch conductor boiled, and burst forth with equal fervor!

“You won’t hear any Dutch in hell, my friends!”

The sophomore at Penn State Center invited a Freshman to go for ebbedutche. He [illegible] up his room which was all verrunzled; was somewhere doppich but finally got on a blutz wagon. He became schuslich, began to rutsch and finally spilled his lunch from the tut. His hair became strubly and he started to gvetz. They finally reached the Pogey and on account of spritzing on the highway were forced to take a blutzy road where the poor Freshman held the bag. Finally his lunch was all, so about midnight he returned to Pottsville when he outened his light and into bed.”

Bennytown - Sacramento

Getting free pair of boots

G. A. Berner

Going for chestnuts was another healthy, pleasant and profitable occupation in the fall, when our mountains and forests were full of chestnut trees. On Saturdays we would start out with our long chestnut poles with an iron hook at the end, also a bag to carry our chestnuts and a lunch in our pocket.

This means that we did not wait for the chestnuts to ripen and drop from the open burr, but it means that we pulled the chestnuts from the trees and with stones cracked the burrs open, which caused our thumbs and fingers to become tough and sore.

If the burr was very good, we would find three good nuts in it; sometimes only two, in which case there would be a flat empty shell between the good ones and this we called by the significant name “a cheat”.

Bow Zither. John Herneisen at Gouglersville

American Homes and Gardens Nov. 1914

The Art of “Fractur” in Early Pa. by Harold Donaldson Eberlein

Oct 1942

Univ. of Penna. General [illegible]

Architectural Rambles in “Pennsylvania Dutch” Country

By G. Edwin Brumbaugh

Miss Isabel Zerby - MA at Univ. of Tennessee in 1936

Olin Frances Rhinelander in NY [illegible]

Alice Clements Christmas card

Hand me the leffle and I’ll shep me some bree.

We will conclude this paper by relating a little incident that occurred some years ago in Berks County.

A number of metropolitan men and women made a visit to that interesting county. On a local passenger train one of them said, “Let’s get out of here. It’s children breast fed” at least until they had reached the age of four… Invariably, if the child was able to walk, and they all could at two, three or four years of age; he had to carry with him, a small foot stool probably twelve inches high. When the youngster got hungry, his mother stopped work long enough to stand erect, and the child being too big and heavy for her to hold, would hang out her breast and the lad standing on the foot stool would help himself. This procedure was followed, wherever and whenever occasion demanded.

A custom long since forgotten is recalled here, and that is the manner in which the early Pennsylvania German women carried her burdens. Practically nothing of any bulk or weight was ever carried in the hands or on the shoulders. Instead everything was perched on her head, balanced and carried there. A pad, usually made out of a 5 pound salt bag and stuffed with rags, was their only protection for the scalp and skull. Logs were skillfully carried this way, as were stones, buckets of water, market baskets, dead leaves for cattle bedding and often hay from the fields. In the latter case the leaves and hay were piled onto a blanket, on the [illegible] of which short pieces of rope had been securely tied. When filled the corners were diagonally tied together.

Inf: Wm Reed, Tremont 79

G. A. Berner

Most of the fellows of my time learned to swim in the old Canal basin… and it was great fun for the boys, except the victim, to have the Chew Raw Beef trick played on him. While he was in swimming and his clothes lay on the tow path, some bad (?) boys would secretly tie his shirt sleeves into strong knots, and when the victim came out of the water, he could not get into his clothes, and he would have to use his teeth to untie the knots, when the boys would cry:

“Chew raw beef, the beef is tough, chew all day and never get enough.”


English and Pennsylvania German

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Undated Notes and Rhymes From Various Sources and Informants Including G. A. Berner



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