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beads, scalping, dowry, Native Americans, clocks, superstitions, furniture


A handwritten set of notes documenting various stories passed down through the Dietrich family by an unknown author, dating from circa 1939. Within, the author details various tales involving early settlers and Native Americans, folk cures, hypnotism, a grandfather clock and a peddler of eyeglasses.

Corresponds to:

Packet 232-16 to 232-27


Pokeberry Ink 1939

How to make ink with pokeberries: great grandmother told us how she used to make it. When she was a girl way back in the fifties.

First get berries that are ripe then crush them to extract the juice. Then strain the juice and put in bottles. After straining it is ready for use.


Dolly Madison’s Workbox

[Pattern illustration]

Colors blue and white

Gram said her mother had a quilt of this design.

The design shown here, she saw in an article on quilts, in the Country Gentleman, ten years ago.

This design was exactly like her mothers quilt. Except for one thing, that the name was changed.

“Dolly Madison’s work box” was what her mother used to call it.


The Scalping

These are true stories, they were told to me, many times in German by my great Grandmother, to whom they were told by her grandfathers and Grandmothers.

Kistler’s Valley

Once when the Indians, were still in the mts. of Berks Co. the settlers of Kistlers Valley saw a band of hostile Indians coming.

They gave the alarm, and all started running for the fort, the fort was a strong log or stone house. All the inhabitants reached the fort in safety, except an old woman named Bauscher, she was very heavy, weighing nearly three hundred pounds. Therefore she could not run.

When the Indians reached the settlement they found old Mrs. Bauscher, they murdered her and took her scalp.

The Last Indian

My great great grandmother, Catherine Anna Dietrich used to tell this story to her children, one of them was daughter Susannah. Who was my great grandmother, who in turn would tell it to us children. Susannah used to say:

“The last Indian, seen in this section of Berks County was seen by my mother”.

He lived in an old hollow tree near Dreibelbis Station.

Whenever there were public sales or gatherings they often had foot-races and other forms of athletics. This old Indian always always participated in these races. And always won. 1830s

“He lived in the old hollow tree until his death.”

Great grandmother always said “ar hud drig shtarig shpringa cana” and “ar hud immer ga-wunna.”

Hunting wild geese Will Baillie

Old John Seip and His musket and Hunting Dandelion

De Sora buna the Sarah Beans

the making of the Buckwheat cakes

As is kann Shont fah ormsy awer sis so whandich

The Cure

G. Grandmother used to tell a story about an old man who lived in Klinesville, Pa., years ago. In her grandfather’s time. She used to tell the old man’s name but I’ve forgotten it.

This old man had an enormous corn, on one of his toes. He was made miserable by this corn. He used to scold and bawl over it. One day his patience was exhausted, and he said, now I’ll get rid of this corn once. He went and got a powder horn and emptied its contents on the toe, that had the corn, and lighted the gun-powder. There was a flash of fire, a big puff of smoke and when the smoke cleared away the corn was gone, and so was the toe. On top of that the old man got blood poisoning and nearly died.

Der Auld Nadan Leiby


Mary Leiby used to tell this story: Her father in law, Nathan Leiby was a carpet weaver who lived in an old log house, a few hundred feet above Mary’s big stone house. When she had started housekeeping she would occasionally take a pie or cake up to her father in law, old Nathan’s. They would often chat a little before she went home. One day old Nathan asked Mary if she cared to stay and listen to a tune, if he played one on his fiddle. Mary said she wouldn’t mind so Nathan got his fiddle and started to play. The more he played the less she was able to move, she felt as if she were frozen to the floor. Try as she would she couldn’t move, she knew she was “gabonned”, or hypnotized. Mary was terrified, she tried to force herself to move, at last with a super human effort she succeeded. She dropped her pie flat and ran out of the house, and never entered it again, as long as old Nathan lived. In his younger days Nathan used to play his fiddle at dances. When the boys used to go to old Nathan’s place to get the woven carpet, for their mothers, they used to see the rats climb up on the stove and steal the fried sausage out of the pan. The rats ate two big holes in the base of his old corner cupboard so they could come and go as they pleased. Some panes were broken on the top section of the cupboard and the rats would run along the chair rail and jump in through the broken panes, and go from shelf to shelf in search of tidbits. Old Nathan would laugh if someone were present, and say the rats were company.

Won wasser ivver Sivva dreshtay Gade, Isses soutuer. G. Gr.

Great Grandfather Lazarus Smith had peacocks on his farm.

February ess dor Kotza Monat Cut Short

Die Ald Dietrich Ure

G. Grandmother used to tell us children this story, of her mother’s “Grandfathers”, clock.

When Catherine Dreibelbis was married to Jeremiah Dietrich, her dowry was all her household goods as was customary among well to do Dutch farmers in the old days. Catherine’s mother, Susannah Dreibelbis had ordered a local cabinet maker Peter Adam, to construct a very elaborate Dutch cupboard and a high chest of drawers with glass knobs in the Empire design. The Dutch cupboard had beautifully turned posts and rounded drawer fronts ornamenting the base and arched gothic panes and a lovely cornice on the upper half of the cupboard.

Also Catherine received from her mother a very expensive Grandfathers clock. The clock was very tall and Catherine always wound the clock Herself, and wouldn’t allow the children near it. The clock had a colored picture of a sailor holding an anchor with his hands in the lower door, and Catherine would tell the children that if the children got near the clock the man would pull them in with his anchor. While the children were small they were afraid of the clock. When Catherine died in 1907 Susannah would of bought the clock at her mothers sale, but her house which she had bought had low-ceilings so she couldn’t of set the clock up in the low ceilinged rooms.

A tinsmith, from Hamburg bought the clock and put it in his shop. The shop was built partly on wooden piles on posts over a small creek running through Hamburg and past the old post office. Shortly after the tinsmith bought the old clock there was a terrible cloudburst in Hamburg. The level of the creek rose so high that it overflowed its banks and washed away the tinsmiths shop. The tinsmith, and the old Dietrich clock. Nothing was ever found of them again.

De Mariah Brunner un Dar Gwidder Raya

On the story of Maria Brunner my Great Gr. Gr. Grandmother, Maria Dietrich. This story was told to me by Mabel Herring. Maria Brunner Dietrich was also an ancestor of Mabel Herring’s.

When Maria Brunner was still a young girl she was hired, by a family living near the old Dietrich place. She had been an immigrant from the old country, and one day while out minding the cows, an awful thunderstorm came. It was still early in the day, but the storm clouds gathered so thickly, that soon it was pitch black and as dark as the darkest night.

Maria was terribly frightened as she was a good distance from the house and couldn’t find her way home in the dark. She heard the cows get up to go home, just before it got too dark to see. She grabbed one by the tail and let the cow drag her home. Before they had gone very far it was pitch dark so Maria held onto the cows tail for dear life, and in this way she reached home. If it hadn’t of been for the cows instinct, Maria wouldn’t of got home that night.

De Hex Euf Em Bluddsbarig

G. Grandmother used to tell us that years ago when she was a girl “Brilla graymer”, or spectacle peddlers would come around. If someone’s eyesight weren’t normal, they would try on one pair of glasses after the other until one pair was found that would improve ones vision.

One of these Brilla gramer came to her mothers place and tried to sell her a pair of glasses. Catherine Dietrich said she had a good pair of glasses and didn’t need any.

The peddler said “well put on your glasses once”, so Catherine got them and put them on. They were glasses that had octagonal glasses, and were very much out of date even in those days. Then the old peddler looked at her very critically and said “Yar sane aw moll hee we der aw guggsht, du guggsht arriger os we de Hex luf em Bluddsbarig

Hayla hayla kinkle drech Superstition, bis maria free Gellis weck. The wearing of earrings to improve slight cases of deafness.

Salinda Waxwood, the woman who made fleuss carella. These fleuss carella were worn to cure fleuss.


The women used to bury their still-born children under the eaves of the church (dock drop) the reason being that by doing so they would never have another still-born child.

The Buzzard Gang and the grave of "Ammon anno"


The unnamed author is a descendant of Susannah Dietrich.


English and Pennsylvania German

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Stories and Notes From the Dietrich Family, 1939



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