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Preserving the Past...Ensuring the Future

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Pennsylvania German Folk

William Penn invited residents of the German Rhineland to move to Pennsylvania.  He promised religious freedom, political expression, and economic opportunity.  Through the 1700’s and until the Revolutionary War, they came.  They initially settled in Germantown, near Philadelphia.  But eventually, their numbers were do large, and land was becoming so expensive that they moved west into Lancaster and Lebanon Counties and north into Berks, Northampton and Lehigh counties. (Dauphin County was created from Lancaster County in 1785.)


The settlers were members of Lutheran, Reformed, Moravian, Brethren, Mennonite, and Amish churches.  They valued hard work, love of family, and stewardship in the community.   As farmers and craftsmen, they prospered economically.   But rather than adopt the lifestyle of their English and Scotch Irish neighbors, they held on to customs, language, food and dress, and even artistry that they practiced in their homeland.  Today some of those traditions continue to be part of our lives like sauerkraut on New Years Day, baptisms after catechism training, quilt sewing, and the Kutztown Fair.  


The Historical Society is celebrating Pennsylvania German Folk with new exhibits and a driving tour.    

  • The Pennsylvania German Folk exhibit at the Parish House highlights German craftsmanship and artistry with displays of painted furniture, frakturs, bookplates,  handiwork, and decorated kitchen items.  The display is open to the public on Mondays, by special appointment, and during monthly general meetings.

  • The Rural Routes Barn Tour, scheduled for Saturday, October 29, features 28 sites to be seen by driving in your own automobile through South and East Hanover Townships.   Many are Pennsylvania Bank Barns, which is a barn style that the German immigrants brought with them from their homeland.   Tickets are $25 per automobile.

  • Photographs of local barns and models are displayed at the History House at 32 West Main Street.

  • The Quilt 2 Show is scheduled for January and February, 2017.  Sixty quilts will be displayed in the Parish House.  The Society’s quilt show in 2012 was so popular, that this new show is being staged.

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