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The Pennsylvania Dutch are the descendants of Germanic peoples who emigrated to the U.S.marker (primarily to Pennsylvaniamarker), from Germanymarker and The Low Countries prior to 1800. The Dutch are generally regarded as one of several Germanic peoples. The German, Deutsch, the archaic Dutch, Deitsch, and the modern Dutch, Duits, each mean 'German' yet are all cognates of the English, 'Dutch'. Hostetler (1993) gives the origin of 'Dutch' as a "folk-rendering" of 'Deitsch'.

Pennsylvania Dutch are a people of various religious affiliations, most of them Lutheran or Reformed, but many Anabaptists, non-Christian, and non-religious as well. They live primarily in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the area stretching in an arc from Bethlehem and Allentownmarker through Readingmarker, Lebanonmarker, and Lancastermarker to Yorkmarker and Chambersburgmarker. They can also be found down throughout the Shenandoah Valleymarker (the modern Interstate 81 corridor) in the adjacent states of Marylandmarker, Virginiamarker, West Virginiamarker and North Carolinamarker, and in the large Amish and Mennonite communities in Mifflin Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, in Ohiomarker north and south of Youngstownmarker and in Indianamarker around Elkhartmarker. Their cultural traditions date back to the German immigrations to Americamarker in the 17th and 18th centuries. Only then did German immigration from various parts the southern Rhineland, Palatinate, the southern part of Hessemarker, Baden, Alsacemarker Switzerlandmarker, and Tyrol Austriamarker gain momentum, and soon dominate the area. But the Pennsylvania Dutch language is ultimately a derivative of Palatinate German.

Pennsylvania Dutch from the Palatinate of the Rhine

Many Pennsylvania Dutch are descendants of refugees from the Palatinate of the German Rhine. For example, most Amish and Mennonite came to the Palatinate and surrounding areas from the German speaking part of Switzerland, where, as Anabaptists, they were persecuted, and so their stay in the Palatinate was of limited duration.
Pictures from Old-Germantown.
Shown here is the first log cabin of Pastorius about 1683, Pastorius' later house about 1715, print shop and house of Caurs about 1735, and the market square about 1820.
However, for the majority of the Pennsylvania Dutch, their roots go much further back in the Palatinate. During the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), French troops, under King Louis XIV, pillaged the Palatinate, forcing many Germans to flee. The War of the Palatinate (as it was called in Germany), also called the War of Augsburg, began in 1688 as Louis took claim of the Palatinate, and all major cities of Cologne were devastated. By 1697 the war came to a close with the Treaty of Ryswick, and the Palatinate remained free of French control. However, by 1702, the War of the Spanish Succession began, lasting until 1713. French expansionism forced many Palatines to flee as refugees.The first major emigration of Germans to America resulted in the founding of the Borough of Germantownmarker in northwest Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1683-1685. Mass emigration of Palatines began out of Germany in the early 1700s. In the spring of 1709, Queen Anne had granted refuge to about 7,000 Palatines who had sailed the Rhinemarker to Rotterdammarker. From here about 3,000 were sent to Americamarker either directly, or through Englandmarker, bound for William Penn’s colony. The remaining refugees were sent to Ireland to strengthen the Protestant presence in the country. By 1710, large groups of Palatines had sailed from Londonmarker, the last group of which was bound for New Yorkmarker. There were 3,200 Palatines on 12 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died en route to America. In New York, under the new Governor, Robert Hunter, Palatines lived in camps and worked for British authorities to produce tar and pitch for the Royal Navy in return for their safe passage. They also served as a buffer on the frontier separating the French and Native Americans from the English colonies. In 1723, some 33 Palatine families, dissatisfied under Governor Hunter’s rule, migrated from Schoharie, NY, along the Susquehanna River to Tulpehocken, Berks County, PA, where other Palatines had settled.

Pennsylvania Dutch identity

Pennsylvania German Sticker "We still speak the mother tongue"
Recently due to loss of the Pennsylvania German language (among others) in many communities, as well as to intermarriage and increased mobility especially in the more secular communities, Pennsylvania Dutch ethnic consciousness is often very low, especially among younger Pennsylvania Dutch. Many young Pennsylvania Dutch consider themselves only descendants of Pennsylvania Dutch and it is not part of their personal identity. However, many of those raised in the immediate area, or those who have close ties there, still hold those ties close even if their parents don't emphasize those ties. In some communities the Pennsylvania Dutch name is reserved only for members of the Amish and traditional Mennonite communities.

See also


  1. Hostetler, John A. (1993), Amish Society, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 241
  2. Newman, George F., Newman, Dieter E. (2003) The Aebi-Eby Families of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and North America, 1550-1850. Pennsylvania: NMN Enterprises

External links

In Pennsylvania German

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