Pennsylvania Dutch: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch
Mennonite and carriage publ.jpg
Total population
85,000 in the USA.
Population total all countries: 100,000.
Ethnic population: 200,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
United States, especially Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia; Canada, especially Ontario

English, Pennsylvania Dutch


Lutheran, Reformed, Evangelical, Moravian, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Amish, Schwenkfelder, United Church of Christ, River Brethren, Yorker Brethren, Roman Catholic, Urglaawe

Related ethnic groups

Palatine German, Alsatian, Swiss German, Hessian, Württemberger, Huguenot

The Pennsylvania Dutch are the descendants of Germanic peoples who emigrated to the U.S. (primarily to Pennsylvania), from Germany, Switzerland and The Low Countries prior to 1800. The Dutch are generally regarded as one of several Germanic peoples, which explains the corruption of the German word Deutsch to Dutch; therefore, the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch are really Pennsylvania Germans. 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'.[2]

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 Allentown through Reading, Lebanon, and Lancaster to York and Chambersburg. They can also be found down throughout the Shenandoah Valley (the modern Interstate 81 corridor) in the adjacent states of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, and in the large Amish and Mennonite communities in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, in Ohio north and south of Youngstown and in Indiana around Elkhart. Their cultural traditions date back to the German immigrations to America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Only then did German immigration from various parts the southern Rhineland, Palatinate, the southern part of Hesse, Baden, Alsace Switzerland, and Tyrol Austria 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, some 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.[3]

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 Germantown 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 Rhine to Rotterdam. From here about 3,000 were sent to America either directly, or through England, 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 London, the last group of which was bound for New York. 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

Pennsylvania Dutch edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  1. ^ 1978 Kloss and McConnell
  2. ^ Hostetler, John A. (1993), Amish Society, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 241
  3. ^ 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


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia Wikipedia


Possibly from Pennsylvania + Deutscher (= Germans)

Proper noun

Pennsylvania Dutch

  1. The Amish; those people of German origin who settled in the Pennsylvania area prior to 1800.
  2. Their language.


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