Monday, August 13, 2018

Americana In Pennsylvania German Country ...

~ “Yaeder mon set gae” (Pennsylvania German phrase for “Everyone should come”)
~ “Mer hoffe mer sehn eich datt” (Pennsylvania German phrase for “We hope to see you there”)

“The Peerless,” a traction steam engine made in 1917, can be seen at left bedecked for its 100th birthday at the 2017 Schpotyaahr Fescht (Fall Festival), the 15th annual living history event demonstrating the life of the Pennsylvania Germans in Weisenberg and Lowhill Townships.

The festival was held at the 153-year-old Werley’s Corner Hotel in New Tripoli, Weisenberg Township, Pennsylvania. The two-day annual event in early September is sponsored by the Weisenberg/Lowhill Township Historical Society. Werley’s Corner is an unincorporated community in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Germans, also known as The Pennsylvania Dutch, are a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants. The work “Dutch” does not refer to Dutch people or language, but to the German settlers known as Deutsch in standard German and Deitsch in the principal dialect they spoke, Palatine German.

Most emigrated to the Americas from Germany or Switzerland in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time, the various dialects spoken by these immigrants fused into a unique dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania “Dutch.” At one time, more than one third of Pennsylvania’s population spoke this language.

A sign explained the 1917 Peerless Story: “Hello, my name is Peerless. I am a traction steam engine. I was manufactured in 1917 in Waynesboro, which is in south central PA. I was purchased when I was new, and went to work for a threshing crew on the local farms around a small town called New Schaefferstown, in western Berks County.

In 1923 I was purchased by William Stoudt. He used me to thresh the fields from June through August. In the spring and fall he used me at his brother’s farm to run a saw mill. I liked William, because he kept me in the New Schaefferstown area and if I was not working, he would take me to shows or parades in nearby Schaefferstown, Bernville or Shartlesville to show me off and have fun.

In the 1980s, William’s health started to decline, and I got parked outside under a maple tree. When William passed away, I sat under that tree and remembered the fun times I had over the years.

One day in November of 2008, a family friend saw a young fellow that he knew at an auction. While they were talking, my name was brought up, and he thought maybe he and his brother might be interested in purchasing me from the family. He thought they might like to try to get me up and running, so we could have fun going to shows and parades again.

In February of 2009, I met my new owners. They are Ben and David Sonon from Hamburg, PA. They pulled me out from under that maple tree, took me home and put me in a shed. In the summer months they get me out to go to shows, but it is not as fun as before, because when I was sitting out under that tree the weather took its toll on me. I can only movie if something pulls me along, because what you can call my engine (firebox) is bad and it is very expensive to repair.

If you would like to help the Sonon Brothers get me back up and running, so I can have fun and play at places like this under my own power, please make a donation to help them get me better again.”