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superstitions, hair cutting, blood, Dietrich family, trains, witches, Hexfoose, proverbs, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect


A handwritten set of notes documenting various stories and superstitions passed down within the Dietrich family, author unknown, dating from circa 1939. Within, the author documents a number of folk beliefs, riddles, proverbs, and anecdotal stories - many written in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.

Corresponds to:

Packet 232-28 to 232-43



When someone tread on a nail the women used to take the nail and put salve or lard on it, and then put salve on the wound or punctured skin.

As ni yore Sheesa Om Olda Dietrich’s Blods

1765 + 1820 +1840

Log Frame Stone

Dee ni yore sheesar sin ols rumm Gonga, sin hen ols ni yore ghussa omyader blods Im Dietrichs dall. Om 's Dietrichs, es Wentzels, uns Shpona bloos, uns Seegers.

De ni yore Sheesar hen Ols eera Arbardichar bleds kod wei se ols Gshdubbed hen faw essa. Dar Dietrichs Blods wore anes fun denna bleds De Catherine Dietrich un Eera made De Susannah De Mary un De Catherine udder de Kid, hen Ols arbardich garisshd ushd faw De ni yahr shids.

Mol aw yahr hen see de flind nagsht on es fenshder ghoova un hen gshussa, faw de made fashrecka, dar ghroch da fun Hud's shipe ni gshloga. Mar Kon danka we de made gagrisha Hen. Noche os se fardich wora Sheesa, sin se ni Ins hars Gonga, un hen gessa.

De wipes-leid hen seepa kucha, poi, Kichlicher, un wise broad mid waldsa mail gabocka, kod un ols Brunda wy, un rhodesees karsha wy, Os de lide drinka ken Kenna.

Noche os se gessa Kod-hen Hud aner ols ni yore gawinsht os wore an mon os avig shay Shwedsa hud kenna. Is wore an shay Long shdick. De Susannah, hud nuch dole gawessed, un huds mere Ols gsaud, ower och hops all fagessa os we de pawer warda Ich winsh dere en harrlich Glickaliches nies yahr Fun doah bis unn de shire Dahr,

Ich winsh un eich en grosser Disch

Om yader Ick en goldner Fisch.

Des oss all os Ich mere may Ey bilda konn.

Obb Garissa na tsaya we de glayna boova un made ols noch bore feesich galuffa sin, Iss ols ufft de hard los Garissa um de tsaya, ess Beshda ding faw ess hayla mocha waar faw enn shdick wall nemma unn umm dar tsaya binna. Dess huds gshwinder ghailed oss Oynsich ebbes.

The Buzzards Gang and the Grave of Ammon Anno


About haircutting

It was considered very bad luck for a woman to cut a mans hair or a boy’s because if she did it was supposed to take away their strength.

Also you were supposed to have your hair cut when the moon was waxing, to make them grow more luxurient. If they were cut when the moon was waning, it was supposed to make them grow thin.

Years ago there was an old famer near Blandon who used to save up the blood of cattle and hogs at butchering time, and use it to paint over the barn doors and sills. This was said to seal the doors of the barn and make it impossible for witches to enter and fohex the cattle.

The woman who was against Lincoln.

Frank Wagomans Grandmother was an ardent and outspoken Democrat and during the civil war when she heard that Lincoln had been assassinated she went to his funeral at Washington and said “Dard is mol on gudiar shuss gafolla.” When several police heard her remarks Republicans happened to be near and overheard her.

Feeling was running high at the time, and the result was that the woman was arrested, and sent to the U.S. Arsenal at Baltimore where she was jailed. She was sentenced to sew stars on flags for fourteen days


Du guggsht nad faw broad-warsht, Imm-a huns shdal du finnsht ken brodle warsht imma huns shdal.

The Aeroplane

Gram used to tell us that when she was a little girl, her Grandfather would tell her that in years to come, people would fly through the air. Susannah often said she never thought she would live long enough to see this come true. She often said this when she saw a plane overhead

Susannah Dreibelbis Miller

Johann George Dietrich

The First Banana

The Dutch Boy and the Gold Pieces

Emma Heinley Story

Years ago before the railroad was here there lived a Deutsch boy who was in love with a girl and the girl did not return his love. The boy was so much in love with the girl that he tried to win her affection in every way he could think of. None was successful.

At last he had a brilliant idea. He went and got all his savings which he had secreted somewhere, and which consisted of a nice collection of Gold pieces. These he tied in a red handkerchief and this was fastened to a stick. Then the boy put the stick over his shoulder and walked past the girls place, several times.

The boy thought that with this irresistible lure, the girl would fall for him, like a ton of bricks. Naieve as it was, this strategy did not prove successful.

“Lotsayhaw Lock Ess Nadelie Om B Once

One of my teachers in Schlemsville near Evansville, Pa. was Wm. Kline, this is a story he used to tell. When he first taught school he asked a class of first grade to make a sentence using the word once. The first boy to use it composed this sentence.

A Once crawled up our kitchen wall. This made all of the scholars laugh, including the teacher and caused the little boy to blush.

About fifteen yrs. ago a man told us, that he had a silver three-cent piece and how he acquired it. He said when was a boy, he found a small neat package, at the middle of a cross road. He untied it, and found an antique silver three-cent piece, and three dead bed bugs.

The person who found and opened the package and kept the silver coin, was also supposed to acquire the insects. In some mysterious way this was hexerei.

Mary Baver the maiden sister of Anson, Ed, and Will Baver. Told me that years ago, when some people wanted to know who was a witch they would take a four leaf clover along to church, and when the church left out, the person who followed the person holding the clover leaf, and talked to him, was a witch.

De Shtarn udder Dar Hexafoose

Years ago there were people who would make a hexafoose over their barndoor and the door frame. This made it impossible for a witch to enter and wreak havoc.

The hexafoose was a five pointed star, made in a continuous line.

Merkel plantation

Raydsel Riddle

Was kommt tsum finshder ry un glammdsich nod Gadle uf der dish unn shammd Sich nod unn gade luf dar uffa un faframt sich nod

De Sunn

Fa dar hoch mude meuss mar lida. Es doch Iss es layva fumm gaby.

The excommunication of the young minister from Friedens church

Emma Heinley and the rope bed

Emma Heinley and the milkmaid who had no cares

Will Fry's story of old Rube Bolich

Will Fry's story of the old Shambach hotel

Will Fry's story of the Haunted mill

The massacre at the Spring

The House That the Train Ran Into

Emma Heinley’s Story

When we were still children we used to talk about how fantastic, or incredible it would be if a train would run into a house. One day old Emma was visiting us and overheard us and said “Oh but a train did run into a house once, years ago and wrecked it. Emma used to say that a family named Schaeffer lived in the stone house that stood next to the ford that goes over the Maiden creek above Zettlemoyer’s iron bridge.

One day the train was coming and went so fast that it jumped the tracks, and ploughed into the stone house and completely wrecked it.

The Schaeffer place was a very unique place, a stone wall, the ruins of the house, and a stone walled well and lots of wild flowers are near the ford and the barn and outbuildings were up on a high hill far from the house.

The remains of an old swinging bridge, for pedestrians, are still visible. Two stone [pillars] and the big iron hooks that supported the bridge remain.

The ford crossed the Maidencreek above the bridge.

Die Auld Johnny Zettlemoyer barn

There is also a ford over the maiden creek below Wils Bower’s Place, or near the old Scharrey place. Susan used to say that yrs. ago when she lived in Windsor Township she used to walk home on the Hoffman farm to her mother’s place to help Catherine Dietrich with the work on the farm. Susan used to cross the Maidencreek on a swinging bridge which was beside the ford near the old Scharrey Place, the girlhood home of old Emma.

Exactly opposite this ford over the Auld Lawny was the home of Old Mrs. Johnny Zettlemoyer. Mrs. Johnny Zettlemoyer was a very poor old lady who lived alone.

She used to gather driftwood in the thickets on the west side of the Maidencreek.

When people passed the eastern side of the ford when on their way to Dreibelbies they used to hear old Mrs. Johnny Zettlemoyer singing to herself while gathering the driftwood, this was her song.

Tittle tittle tum tum,

tum tum ti tuma tuma tum tum tum

She used to sing this over and over to keep from getting too lonesome.

Gran used to tell us that the fords were what the old people had in place of the bridges that we have today.


Tsway Shpeck Schward Fun aynra ord Alice Greenawaldt


Don’t transplant parsley or peonies, or someone will die in the family.

If you pick onions, Am tsu mammes licht, noe sin see shtarig, Inm Obb nammes licht Seese.

When the wind ripples through the wheat, gram used to say that de schofe sin Inar da frucht saynsht de schofe Inn da frucht.

Dar pit unn’s switchel

De auld rose dramp

Rumm lafer Ower kenn dramp.

Tramp stopping the train

Tramps making rings and baskets of peach stones


En Iv’ar’ich ar

Ni yore winsh

Ich winsch dere en harrlich

Glicksalich es ni-es yore

Fun doa bis un de shire dore

Dar buggal foll shulda

Dar Arsh fuol grind

Un olla nine monat

En hura kind

Die Auld Lydia Dunkel

Years ago Lenhartsville had their high society too. It consisted of the Spangs the Lenharts the Huey and the Kunkels

Old Lydia Kunkel lived in Klinesville and used to go driving about with her daughters in a coach driven by two snow white horses.

One day while my G. Grandmother Eliza Grim, nee Elizabeth Lenhart was in her garden hoeing. Lydia Kunkel passed with her coach and team of snow white horses.

Eliza Grim remarked to a neighbor, dard gode de Lydia Kunkel gugg mol we shauly as see ess mid era kutch una tswo shnay wisa arle won see mol Iode gade Shlogga se era de ship-euf dar Arsch graud we se uns aw duna


English and Pennsylvania German

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Superstitions, Proverbs and Notes From the Dietrich Family, 1939



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