A Look Back In History: William Penn’s legacy of Christian love & the Pennsylvania Dutch |May 24, 2017

Prior to 1727, a number of Rhineland immigrants who embarked at Philadelphia had the luxury of worldly possessions to enable them to become prosperous settlers. But after that year, those Rhinelanders that didn’t, were sold as redemptioners to pay off their passage to previous settlers.

The Historian: Oak Splint Baskets |May 24, 2017

Sturdy and inexpensive, oak-splint baskets were used in almost every kitchen and barn on the old homesteads. Prized now by collectors, these plain, undecorated, utilitarian forms tended to fall by the wayside in the twentieth century when inexpensive imported baskets, commercially made bushel and “peach” baskets, and all sorts of other containers came on the market.

A look back in history: Jonas Day Family of Irish-Pa Dutchmen in Berks County |Apr 26, 2017

Of all the ethnic peoples assimilated in Berks County’s PA Dutch Country, none have left their ethnic image on our architectural landscape, more obvious than a number of Irish frontier immigrants.

The Historian: Travails of the Early Protestant Ministers |Apr 26, 2017

By 1750 there were at least 20,000 Lutheran immigrants and as many Reformed in Pennsylvania. There were, however, very few ordained ministers to serve them. In the 1740’s, the Reverends Michael Schlatter, Reformed, and Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Lutheran, accepted the call from their church fathers in Europe to come to Pennsylvania as missionaries to try to organize the scattered congregations, such as they were.

wELCOME TO MY WORLD: What’s in a name? Let’s talk toilets |Apr 19, 2017

Thomas Crapper actually has a day named after him – January 27 is Thomas Crapper Day!

A look back in history The Importance of the historic Keim Homestead in American Folklife Institute’s early years |Apr 19, 2017

When the American Folklife Society in the 1970s was allowed to preserve the historic Jacob Keim farmstead outside of Lobachsville for a museum in the Society’s early days, they very much appreciated Rudy Rhoads’ wisdom and cooperation with Pike Township, as Director Shaner recalled.

A Look Back in History: Salvage art creations and industrious Pennsylvania Dutch |Mar 27, 2017

Among the most logical waste items on a dairy or cattle farm were the many strands of bailer twine that were left over after opening up bales for bedding or feeding hay to livestock. Usually hung on a nail in the barn feedway, said cut bale twine could not be used again by the bailing machine.

A Look Back In History: The rare feature of a ‘Schpriggel bar,’ still seen in a Maxatawny Township barn |Mar 23, 2017

Both Schweitzer and standard barns in the region are frequently found with a practical large earthen bank at its rear, which allowed wagons carrying sheaves of grain or loads of hay to bridge the threshing floor.

REFLECTIONS: The price of a too early spring |Mar 23, 2017

Unless you’re an avid skier or for some strange reason love to have the wicked, winter winds carve you up with an icy scythe, we can’t wait to embrace spring.

The Historian: ‘Hit and miss’ engines were a hit with farmers |Mar 10, 2017

Editor’s Note: This column is part one of an extended piece.

a look back in history: Wm. Penn’s Quakers influence on our Pennsylvania Dutch history in a nutshell |Mar 8, 2017

Our PA Dutch people who had immigrated to the American frontier were on the cutting edge of discovering New World goods and opportunities to create new Americana ways of life; not just simply copying their Old World ways, but creating exciting hybrid ones like our barns, hex signs, and rural folk art.

REFLECTIONS: Lent is doing hard time |Mar 8, 2017

We’re now in the Lenten season and loving every minute of it, right?

a look back in history: Rare Fegley and Moyer photos show life in Oley Valley’s 19th century |Feb 28, 2017

When photography was invented in the 19th century, few photographers took the time to photograph actual Folklife of people living in the Oley Valley except H. Winslow Fegley and Amandus Moyer, who lived near Lobachsville.

CHRIS FREIND: We need common sense in immigration debate |Feb 24, 2017

The immigration debate was back in the headlines. Par for the course, both parties’ spewed lip-service on the need for reform, while simultaneously killing any meaningful legislation. Comprehensive immigration reform hasn’t gone anywhere in decades, making it clear that neither party’s ruling class wanted it.

NATHAN BENEFIELD: Reinventing Pennsylvania government |Feb 24, 2017

Imagine if Stephen King had written “Green Eggs and Ham.” What if Dr. Seuss had penned “The Shining?”

From Arthur’s Policy Desk: Trump’s Order and the Ninth Got it Wrong |Feb 21, 2017

Columnist On February 9th the political drama of President Trump’s executive order took an old turn when his opponents translated a political fight into a constitutional question and thus dragged the courts into the ring of battle.

Look back in history: King George III of England was actually a German! |Feb 21, 2017

A few years back when the PA German Society and the offices of the American Folklife Institute hosted a modern Germanic television film crew to televise our current PA Dutch territory for an European Broadcasting Company, we were glad to meet local PA Dutchmen, some of which were Palantine Germans, who came from New Jersey and were celebrating their 300th anniversary of arriving in America.

Reflections: Albert Boscov had a heart of gold and the golden touch of King Midas |Feb 21, 2017

The injection of energy and the infusion of personality that personified Albert Boscov were as remarkable as his marvelous accomplishments that will remain vivid in the folds of time.

Welcome to my world: Sally, the Pianist |Feb 15, 2017

Just recently, Sally Anderson, joined our breakfast group. Sally told us, “I lived in California for 28 years and moved back to Pennsylvania in 2015, because I wanted to be closer to my daughter and five grandchildren.

A look back at history: An amazing creativity in folk art developed in the New World |Feb 7, 2017

Here in the New World in a land of plenty, pioneer immigrants had the resources to develop an American style of folk art never dreamed about in the Old Country, hence the creativity of these Rhinelanders blossomed into an amazing folk art form that was nurtured by freedom of religion and free private enterprise, thus becoming American Folk Art! Although the Plain Dutch, such as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, seldom engaged in bold colorful folk art as seen by the Church PA Dutch, both groups were known for their religious folk art writings, known as Fraktur, in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Carole Christman Koch: President’s Inauguration firsts, traditions, and more: Part 2 |Jan 22, 2017

Part 2 Franklin Pierce, in 1853, accepted his presidency, but was still in mourning. Just a few months prior to the ceremony, the Pierces lost their 3rd and last child in a railroad accident, that both witnessed.

At the Movies with Rodeo’: Kid reviewer gives ‘Fantastic Beasts’ 4 popcorn boxes |Jan 6, 2017

A companion piece to the “Harry Potter” film franchise. Writer Newt Scamander lands in early 1900’s New York, with a suitcase full of creatures in all sizes and shapes endowed with other-worldly powers.

A Look Back: How PA Dutch Are You: Did you eat your good luck pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day? |Dec 31, 2016

This folk practice still creates a yearning, especially among our older folk people and those still appreciative of our heritage and a good, hot Pennsylvania Dutch meal. Many Dutch families over the generations and years never forget this dish on New Year’s Day and eagerly partake in the consumption of pork and sauerkraut.

Through My Kitchen Window: Baking with children, challenging but fun |Dec 29, 2016

When I think about this column entitled Through My Kitchen Window, I envision people looking through my kitchen window while I bake. I wonder what they would see.

Welcome to my world : The Hands of my Family |Dec 28, 2016

Farm Woman Written by Mary Alice Kohler Christman

Think about it: Becoming a full-time member of AARP |Dec 28, 2016

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” — Ann Landers

Reflections: Good looks are kind to the mirror and the bottom line |Dec 28, 2016

We’ve all heard again and again that you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.

person to person — impact: Better Than MREs* |Dec 26, 2016

Over ten years ago, Barb and I, along with several others from our church, started a program we called Operation Encouragement. The objective of the program was to pray for, communicate with and send care packages to the men and women serving in our Armed Services.

A look back at history : New Year, New Ideas, New Horizons in the PA Dutch Culture |Dec 26, 2016

Plain groups as the Old Order Mennonites and Amish continue to prosper in our area and expand, protecting our rich and vast farmland. Nearby Plain Brethren, once called “Dunkards,” the sect that founded Pricetown in the Oley Hills, still maintain their 18th Century Brethren Meeting House off the modern Pricetown Road.

A Look Back in History: American history records the Pennsylvania Dutch |Dec 16, 2016

Historians trace this Rhineland immigration to as early as 1683, when the first waves of Rhenish immigrants speaking the Germanic Dialect arrived in Pennsylvania. One Historian, R. Webster records: “Although the immigrants that made up the 1683 Germantown settlement in the city of Philadelphia were German-speaking Dutch, German, and Swiss immigrants, most of them were Dutch.

The Historian: The story of ‘black head’ bricks |Dec 14, 2016

If you examine local brickwork of the 18th and 19th centuries you will see a small number of bricks that have black ends, apparently glazed. This black glazing is not intentional. The “black-heads” were those bricks directly exposed to the kiln fires.

A Look Back in History — To Allemangel and Westward: Travels by a PA Dutch Conestoga Wagon … |Dec 7, 2016

By the mid-1700’s, when immigrant Colonial wagon trains passed through the beautiful Oley Valley and East Penn region from Philadelphia en route to frontier lands northeast of Kempton (upper part of county), the Germans called this new territory “Allemangel,” meaning all wants, for its lack of fertility and farmable land.

person to person — impact: In His Time |Nov 23, 2016

The main speaker in my column of November 8th, “Precious In His Sight: Bill Montgomery” (, which talked about the home going of Bill Montgomery, indicated his death was no accident.

Think about it: The Sponge Capital of the World |Nov 23, 2016

“Do you ever wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.” — Stephen Hawking

A Look Back in History: 19th Century cane carvers of the PA Dutch Country |Nov 23, 2016

Locally, the most popular cane carver, “Schtockschnitzler Simmons” (1885-1910) from the Kutztown, Moselem, Hamburg area was a late German born immigrant who bartered his carved bird handle canes from farm to farm or tavern to tavern.

Welcome to my World: Grave Epitaphs |Oct 17, 2016

Every summer that I can remember as a kid, Mom insisted Pop drive to visit the gravesites of both the Christman’s, in Lehigh County, and the Kohler’s, in Berks County. Mom also took us on walks to the family cemetery of the Siegfried’s, from Siegfriedsdale, located near our farm.

A Look Back in History: Interesting Folk Days rooted in Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers (pun intended) |Oct 17, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch rural folklore was important in providing Rhineland peasants with knowledge of becoming successful American farmers. Although most PA Deitsch folklore revolved around their religion, it is dubious that Grundsau Day (Groundhog Day) was purely an American idea.

A Look Back in History - Sacrificing to Prosper in a New World: The Cultural Exchange at the Port of Philadelphia |Oct 12, 2016

The interaction between Pennsylvania “Deitschers” (Dutch people) and English farmers around Philadelphia was important to both their well-being, because of the Dutchman’s language barrier attempting to negotiate commerce in Penn’s port city.

Welcome to my World:Mom Mom’s bash proves older people can have fun too |Oct 12, 2016

An invitation: Mom Mom’s Bash You’re Invited To

A Look Back in History: The Americanism ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ still preferred today |Sep 28, 2016

Since Colonial times our ancestors were referred to as the Americanism, “PA Dutch,” a term widely used to describe these immigrants by suburban Philadelphians, who followed the local Quaker-American colloquialism, as people today.

A Look Back in History: The Old Order Mennonite Sect at Kutztown also preserving the Historic Oley Valley |Sep 21, 2016

Living on the Lancaster Plain for many generations, the Plain People have bought as much tillable land as their economy will afford. However, since their families are quite large, there is just not enough land available to accommodate all their offspring in farming.

A Look Back in History - PA Dutch folk art images & scriveners in the New World: Part II |Aug 5, 2016

In trying to understand the American folk art of our 17th and 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants to the New World, one must understand the premise of how much of a religious backlash these Pilgrims were a product of during Medieval times including beheading when scribes of the Middle Ages eliminated religious texts and a stylish lettering form known as this Fraktur, among religious persecution.

Welcome to my World: Memories of Mom’s apron |Aug 5, 2016

Aprons were a very necessary part of Mom’s wardrobe as a farmer’s wife. She had to be careful not to soil the few nice clothes she had. So protecting her dresses from stains and splashes was a priority (Mom never wore slacks - she considered them sinful).

BOOK BEAT - IMPACT: The Long Goodbye |Aug 3, 2016

The last book I reviewed came from a list provided in the Parade Magazine from the Philadelphia Inquirer listing the best books of the 1940s. Today’s review, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, is from the same source but was voted one of the 1950s best books.

Out & About: The Great Northwest Passage Trip - Olympic Gold |Aug 1, 2016

We recently visited the Olympics. No, we were not in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, but discovered another “Olympics” in northwestern Washington State. Our travels brought us to Olympic National Park, a vast wilderness of almost a million acres.

The Historian - Old inns and taverns of Swamp, Part II: Swamp Hotel |Aug 1, 2016

In this area, taverns were a necessity of village life for more than 200 years. First, taverns were friendly meeting places where men, isolated on the farm, could meet, exchange gossip, learn the news and as we say today “bond.

Welcome to my World: Hats galore! |Jul 29, 2016

In the early 1940s, like most children, I enjoyed dressing up in Mom’s dresses and the few hats she owned. At 70, I’m still enamored with hats, whether it’s today’s fashionable ones or the vintage kind.

A Look Back in History: PA Dutch folk art images & scriveners in the New World |Jul 29, 2016

In studying early American folk art, there is no shortage of folk art documents that express early pioneer immigrants’ gratitude for reaching America in a time when many individuals still feared the world was flat, or worse, that sea serpents lurked in the troubled ocean currents enduring their lives.

Ask Esther: How can we improve our home to get the best and quickest sale? |Jul 27, 2016

Dear Esther: We are thinking of selling in a year or two. We want to do all we can to improve our home so it sells for the most money and quickly. What advice can you give to guide us in this?

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: If only we could be kids again! |Jul 27, 2016

No, forget it. I will not accept the Nobel Peace Prize. However, I will let you in on a BIG secret. I have figured out why there is such hatred and violence in our world today. We adults grew up! In other words, we just didn’t stay like innocent kids.