James H. Groff

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chickens, bread, New Year, Christmas, manure, Bernville, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect


A handwritten letter from James H. Groff addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dating from circa 1950. Within, Groff writes to detail some of his childhood memories involving Pennsylvania Dutch customs and superstitions.


James H. Groff


Alfred L. Shoemaker

Corresponds to:

Packet 270-3


Bernville, Pennsylvania


Dr. Alfred Shoemaker

Dear sir;

As I am sitting here all by myself, some things that happened in my younger years come in my mind that is true that I heard with my own eyes + ears, I am now 83 yrs old.

Here is one near my house there was a Woman by the name of Sidna Leob, she had 1 little bantam chicken also a rooster. She was always crocheting and singing, here is what she said. Other side.

Heilig, wether heist my netter hell shwararote heist mine gode. Gigeren heist mein glives hinkelee.

Here is one a man by the name of Daniel Schaeffer lived at New Schaeffers town. His wife’s name was Hattie. He had a hand wagon, they came to Bernville for their groceries + stuff when he came to a hill he set own a ride down, any one day Mrs. was with so when went they came to big hill. I say it. This is what said.

De Hattie hud scad Ich will ou mohl an blescelichy ford dar dan hud scad ivvel Hattie huck dich druf owver hem dich so sin se gonge deo is ferdomed springe, er hud es net geida kena so hems so im schniska de Hattie wor um mechtich, ure see ower so sich kurmuna is hut se ower dar Daniel fur shulda dar dan hud ust scaud kattee habe dich.

Here is one

Dow is dar darma dr shittled the blauma Dr. oner finger laed se uf dr necht lased se uf dre nicht draged see hams, dr gla shehn fresd se al de hause.

Now I give some of old Dr. how they traveled in my younger days. We had three Drs. John Brobst, Wellington Beyerle. Darius Deppen I know when they went on horse back. And then they each had a 2 wheel sulky, those sulky had 4 posts where the seat was on high up. Those days they carried the medicine along, they had a medicine bag shaped like a saddle so they threw that over the seat part back of the seat the other part in back than they sat on. 1 of them had a high silk hat, which was now given to me when he died. In a very fine shape yet if you come to Bernville, I will show it to you.

Here is one when I was a little boy I was at home at a place where we were not allowed to take any manure out of the stables between Christmas and New Year. Women were not allowed to wash on a Wednesday I do not know I guess for good luck.

At the same place a piece of bread was laid out on porch night before New Year, in the morning the old man got up gave each of the family a piece of that bread. Gee wis how I hate to eat that. Why that was I do not know.

So if can get something out of this, perhaps if come to Bernville I will remember some more.

Respectfully J. H. Groff


English and Pennsylvania German

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Letter From James H. Groff to Alfred L. Shoemaker



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