|Regions with significant populations|
|United States, especially Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia; Canada, especially Ontario (Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Markham, Stouffville and Pickering), smaller population in California|
|German (Pennsylvania Dutch) |
English (Pennsylvania Dutch English)
|Lutheran, Reformed, German Reformed, Catholic, Moravian, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Amish, Schwenkfelder, River Brethren, Yorker Brethren, Judaism, Pow-wow|
|Related ethnic groups|
|German American, Palatines, Black Dutch, Knickerbocker Dutch, Swiss American, French American|
The Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsylvania Dutch: Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch), also known as Pennsylvania Germans, are a cultural group formed by German immigrants who settled in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the 18th and 19th centuries. They emigrated primarily from German-speaking territories of Europe, now partly within modern-day Germany (mainly from Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, and Rhineland), but also from the Netherlands, Switzerland and France's Alsace-Lorraine Region, traveling down the Rhine river to seaports.
The first settlers described themselves as Deitsch, corresponding with the German language Deutsch (for "German") later corrupted to "Dutch". They spoke numerous south German dialects, including Palatine German. It was through their cross-dialogue interaction, the relative lack of new German immigrants from about 1770 to 1820, and what was retained by subsequent generations that a hybrid dialect emerged, known as Pennsylvania Dutch (or Pennsylvania German), which has resonance to this day.
The Pennsylvania Dutch maintained numerous religious affiliations, with the greatest number being Lutheran or German Reformed, but also many Anabaptists, including Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. The Anabaptist groups espoused a simple lifestyle, and their adherents were known as Plain people (or Plain Dutch); this contrasted to the mostly Lutheran or German Reformed Fancy Dutch, who tended to assimilate more easily into the European American mainstream. By the late 1700s, other denominations were also represented in smaller numbers.
The Pennsylvania Dutch Country is heavily associated with them.
Contrary to popular belief, the word "Dutch" in "Pennsylvania Dutch" is not a mistranslation, but rather a deriviation of the Pennsylvania Dutch endonym Deitsch, which means "Pennsylvania Dutch" or "German". Ultimately, the terms Deitsch, Dutch, Diets and Deutsch are all descendants of the Proto-Germanic word *þiudiskaz meaning "popular" or "of the people".
Dutch in the English language originally referred to all Germanic language speakers. The English settlers referred to the Dutch Language spoken by the Knickerbocker Dutch of New York and New Jersey as Low Dutch (Dutch: niederduits), and the Dutch language spoken by the Pennsylvania Dutch in Pennsylvania as High Dutch (German: hochdeutsch). Below is a quote from the Boston Gazette on October 8, 1795 mentioning a speaker of high and low Dutch:
"A white girl... who talks good English, high and low Dutch."
Speakers of Low Dutch called themselves "Niederduitsers" and speakers of High Dutch called themselves "Hochdeutsche".
The continued use of "Pennsylvania Dutch" was strengthened by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 19th century as a way of distinguishing themselves from later (post 1830) waves of German immigrants to the United States, with the Pennsylvania Dutch referring to themselves as Deitsche and to Germans as Deitschlenner (literally "Germany-ers", compare Deutschland-er) whom they saw as a related but distinct group.
After the Second World War, use of Pennsylvania Dutch virtually died out in favor of English, except among the more insular and tradition-bound Plain Dutch, such as the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites. A number of German cultural practices continue to this day, and German Americans remain the largest ancestry group claimed in Pennsylvania by people in the census.
The Pennsylvania Dutch live primarily in Southeastern and in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, a large area that includes South Central Pennsylvania, in the area stretching in an arc from Bethlehem and Allentown in the Lehigh Valley westward through Reading, Lebanon, and Lancaster to York and Chambersburg. Some Pennsylvania Dutch live in the historically Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking areas of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
The Pennsylvania Fancy Dutch descend from Palatine refugees who left the economic conditions and devastation in the Palatinate after the Thirty Years' War. The Plain Dutch are descendants of refugees who left religious persecution in the Netherlands and the Palatinate of the German Rhine. Of note were Amish and Mennonites who 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.
The Pennsylvania Dutch are culturally related to the Knickerbocker Dutch of New York and New Jersey; many Pennsylvania Dutchmen have Knickerbocker ancestry.
Most of the Pennsylvania Dutch have roots going much further back in the Palatinate. During the War of the Grand Alliance (1689–97), French troops pillaged the Palatinate, forcing many Germans to flee. The war began in 1688 as Louis XIV laid claim to the Electorate of the Palatinate. French forces devastated all major cities of the region, including Cologne. By 1697 the war came to a close with the Treaty of Ryswick, now Rijswijk in the Netherlands, 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 devastation of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) and the wars between the German principalities and France caused some of the immigration of Germans to America from the Rhine area. Members of this group founded the borough of Germantown, in northwest Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, in 1683. They settled on land sold to them by William Penn. Germantown included not only Mennonites but also Quakers.
This group of Mennonites was organized by Francis Daniel Pastorius, an agent for a land purchasing company based in Frankfurt am Main. None of the Frankfurt Company ever came to Pennsylvania except Pastorius himself, but 13 Krefeld German (South Guelderish-speaking) Mennonite families arrived on October 6, 1683, in Philadelphia. They were joined by eight more Dutch-speaking families from Hamburg-Altona in 1700 and five German-speaking families from the Palatinate in 1707.
In 1723, some 33 Palatine families, dissatisfied under Governor Hunter's rule, migrated from Schoharie, New York, along the Susquehanna River to Tulpehocken, Berks County, Pennsylvania, where other Palatines had settled. They became farmers and used intensive German farming techniques that proved highly productive.
Another wave of settlers from Germany, which would eventually coalesce to form a large part of the Pennsylvania Dutch, arrived between 1727 and 1775; some 65,000 Germans landed in Philadelphia in that era and others landed at other ports. Another wave from Germany arrived 1749–1754. Not all were Mennonites; some were Brethren or Quakers, for example. The majority originated in what is today southwestern Germany, i.e., Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg; other prominent groups were Alsatians, Dutch, French Huguenots (French Protestants), Moravians from Bohemia and Moravia and Germans from Switzerland. 
Pennsylvania Dutchmen composed nearly half of the population of Pennsylvania and the Fancy Dutch population generally supported the Patriot cause in the American Revolution; the nonviolent Plain Dutch minority did not fight in the war. Henry Miller, an immigrant from Germany of Swiss ancestry, published an early German translation of the Declaration of Independence (1776) in his newspaper Philadelphische Staatsbote. Miller often wrote about Swiss history and myth, such as the William Tell legend, to provide a context for patriot support in the conflict with Britain.
Frederick Muhlenberg (1750–1801), a Lutheran pastor, became a major patriot and politician, rising to be elected as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Pennyslvania Fancy Dutch came to control much of the best agricultural lands in all of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth. They ran many newspapers, and out of six newspapers in Pennsylvania, three were in German, two were in English and one was in both languages. They also maintained their Germanic architecture when they founded new towns in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Dutchmen already possessed an ethnic identity and a well-defined social-system that was separate from the Anglo-American identity. Their Anglo-American neighbors described them as very industrious, very businessminded, and a very rich community.
The Pennylvania Dutch had a strong dislike for New England, and to them the term "Yankee" became synonymous with "a cheat." Indeed, New Englanders were the rivals of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The Pennsylvania Dutch fought in the American Civil War; the ones who fought were the Fancy Dutch. Nearly every regiment from Pennsylvania had Pennsylvania Dutchmen present. Some regiments like the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were entirely composed of Pennsylvania Dutch.
Pennsylvania Dutch companies sometimes mixed with English companies (The Pennsylvania Dutch had the habit of labeling anyone who did not speak Pennsylvania Dutch "English.") Many of the Pennsylvania Dutchmen who fought in the Civil War were recruited and raised at Camp Curtin, Pennsylvania.
Blacks have historically assimilated and identified with Pennsylvania Dutch culture, with many of the Pennsylvania Dutch diaspora being Melungeons, and called themselves Black Dutch.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania originally had slavery, and slaves living within Pennsylvania Dutch lands learned the Pennsylvania Dutch language; slavery sharply declined after the emancipation act of 1780, creating a free Black Dutch population. Slavery was finally abolished from the Commonwealth's law in 1847.
Black Dutchmen of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country spoke Pennsylvania Dutch and followed the same Fancy Dutch traditions as their white counterparts. Some Black Dutchmen may have also spoken a unique Pennsylvania Dutch, similar to speakers of Jersey Negro Dutch (negerduits).
In Canada, an 1851 census shows many blacks and Mennonites lived near each other in a number of places and exchanged labor, or the Dutch would hire black laborers. There are accounts of black families providing child care assistance for their Dutch neighbors. These Pennsylvania Dutch were usually Plain Dutch Mennonites or Fancy Dutch Lutherans. The black-Mennonite relationship in Canada soon evolved to the level of church membership.
An early group, mainly from the Roxborough-Germantown area of Pennsylvania, emigrated to then colonial Nova Scotia in 1766 and founded the Township of Monckton, site of present day Moncton, New Brunswick. The extensive Steeves clan descends from this group.
After the American Revolution, John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, invited Americans, including Mennonites and German Baptist Brethren, to settle in British North American territory and offered tracts of land to immigrant groups. This resulted in communities of Pennsylvania Dutch speakers emigrating to Canada, many to the area called the German Company Tract, a subset of land within the Haldimand Tract, in the Township of Waterloo, which later became Waterloo County, Ontario. Some still live in the area around Markham, Ontario and particularly in the northern areas of the current Waterloo Region. Some members of the two communities formed the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference. Today, the Pennsylvania Dutch language is mostly spoken by Old Order Mennonites.
From 1800 to the 1830s, some Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonites in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania moved north to Canada, primarily to the area that would become Cambridge, Kitchener/Waterloo and St. Jacobs/Elmira in Waterloo County, Ontario plus the Listowel area adjacent to the northwest. Settlement started in 1800 by Joseph Schoerg and Samuel Betzner, Jr. (brothers-in-law), Mennonites, from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Other settlers followed mostly from Pennsylvania typically by Conestoga wagons. Many of the pioneers arriving from Pennsylvania after November 1803 bought land in a 60,000 acre section established by a group of Mennonites from Lancaster County Pennsylvania, called the German Company Lands.
Fewer of the Pennsylvania Dutch settled in what would later become the Greater Toronto Area in areas that would later be the towns of Altona, Ontario, Pickering, Ontario and especially Markham Village, Ontario and Stouffville, Ontario. Peter Reesor and brother-in-law Abraham Stouffer were higher profile settlers in Markham and Stouffville.
William Berczy, a German entrepreneur and artist, had settled in upstate New York and in May 1794, he was able to obtain 64,000 acres in Markham Township, near the current city of Toronto. Berczy arrived with approximately 190 German families from Pennsylvania and settled here. Others later moved to other locations in the general area, including a hamlet they founded, German Mills, Ontario, named for its grist mill; that community is now called Thornhill, Ontario), in the township that is now part of York Region.
Pennsylvania Dutch culture is still prevalent in some parts of Pennsylvania today. The Pennsylvania Dutch today speak English, though some still speak the Pennsylvania Dutch language among themselves. They share cultural similarities with the Mennonites in the same area. Pennsylvania Dutch English retains some German grammar and literally translated vocabulary, some phrases include "outen or out'n the lights" (German: "die Lichter loeschen") meaning "turn off the lights", "it's gonna make wet" (German: "es wird nass") meaning "its going to rain", and "its all" (German: "es ist alle") meaning "its all gone". They also sometimes leave out the verb in phrases turning "the trash needs to go out" in to "the trash needs out" (German: "der Abfall muss raus"), in alignment with German grammar. The Pennsylvania Dutch have some foods that are uncommon outside of places where they live. Some of these include shoo-fly pie, funnel cake, pepper cabbage, filling and jello salads such as strawberry pretzel salad.
The immigrants of the 1600s and 1700s who were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch included Mennonites, Swiss Brethren (also called Mennonites by the locals) and Amish but also Anabaptist-Pietists such as German Baptist Brethren and those who belonged to German Lutheran or German Reformed Church congregations. Other settlers of that era were of the Moravian Church while a few were Seventh Day Baptists. Calvinist Palatines and several other denominations were also represented to a lesser extent.
Over 60% of the immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania from Germany or Switzerland in the 1700s and 1800s were Lutherans and they maintained good relations with those of the German Reformed Church. The two groups founded Franklin College (now Franklin & Marshall College) in 1787.
Henry Muhlenberg (1711–1787) founded the Lutheran Church in America. He organized the Ministerium of Pennsylvania in 1748, set out the standard organizational format for new churches and helped shape Lutheran liturgy.
Muhlenberg was sent by the Lutheran bishops in Germany, and he always insisted on strict conformity to Lutheran dogma. Muhlenberg's view of church unity was in direct opposition to Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf's Moravian approach, with its goal of uniting various Pennsylvania German religious groups under a less rigid "Congregation of God in the Spirit". The differences between the two approaches led to permanent impasse between Lutherans and Moravians, especially after a December 1742 meeting in Philadelphia. The Moravians settled Bethlehem and nearby areas and established schools for Native Americans.
In Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Dutch Christians and Pennsylvania German Jews have often maintained a special relationship due to their common German language and cultural heritage. Because both Yiddish and Pennsylvania Dutch are High German languages, there are strong similarities between the two languages and a limited degree of mutual intelligibility. Historically, Pennsylvania Dutch Christians and Pennsylvania German Jews often had overlapping bonds in German-American business and community life. Due to this historical bond there are several mixed-faith cemeteries in Lehigh County, including Allentown's Fairview Cemetery, where German-Americans of both the Jewish and Protestant faiths are buried. The cooking of Pennsylvania German Christians and Pennsylvania German Jews often overlaps, particularly vegetarian dishes that do not contain non-kosher ingredients such as pork or that mix meat and dairy together. In 1987, the First United Church of Christ in Easton, Pennsylvania, hosted the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania German Society, the theme of which was the special bond between Pennsylvania German Christians and Pennsylvania German Jews. German Jews and German Christians held "quite ecumenical philosophies" about interfaith marriage and there are recorded instances of marriages between Jews and Christians within the German community. German Jews arriving in Pennsylvania often integrated into Pennsylvania Dutch communities because of their lack of knowledge of the English language. German Jews often lacked a trade and thus became peddlers, selling their wares within Pennsylvania Dutch society.
A number of Pennsylvanian German Jews migrated to the Shenandoah Valley, travelling along the same route of migration as Pennsylvania Dutch people.
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