I came across this story on www.pajack.com, it is taken from the book 'Spooky Pennsylvania". I love this story, it really gives a good idea of how the powwow doctor was viewed in the community.
The history of Pennsylvania Germans in our Commonwealth is long, and their culture is a rich part of the state's heritage. Famous for their many folk remedies, the tales of the "powwow" doctor, the Braucher, add yet another chapter to these tales. Talk to the old old timers, if you can find one, about Braucherei as opposed to Hexerei. In the meantime, read and enjoy the tale that follows.
When Ike Yoder first came to Reading, he bought a rundown old farm just outside town and moved onto the property with his plump wife and seven children. The family worked hard from sunrise to sunset tending the farm, doing chores, going to church, and being active in their community. Within a very few years, the farm was paid off, the buildings were good as new, and the Yoder family was making a prosperous living.
Then a mysterious illness fell upon Ike Yoder. Day after day he would faithfully do his work, attend the town meetings, and do his duties as church deacon. But he grew thin and pale, and folks soon noticed that he moved slowly, like a much older man. The Yoder family was alarmed. Mrs. Yoder made sure Ike had plenty of good food to eat, and though he ate with the appetite of a young boy, he grew thinner and paler.
The local doctors came to see Ike. They prescribed herbal remedies and large doses of castor oil, but these seemed to have no effect. Ike even went to the big city to see the specialists. They poked and prodded him, and gave him even more medicines that tasted horrible and made him feel worse than he had before. Ike continued to lose weight, and became so tired and worn out that Mrs. Yoder was afraid she would lose him altogether. His children too were worried greatly about their father.
The specialists finally told Ike there was nothing more they could do, not that they had done anything so far and that it might be best if he put his affairs in order. Ike was tired and weary, but he wasn't ready to pass away. One night he told his wife that he was thinking of visiting the local hex doctor. His wife didn't approve of these "powwow doctors," who were known to use faith healing and even occult practices, and Ike didn't like the whole idea either, but all the other doctors had failed. Maybe this was what he needed. They had heard many tales of the powwow doctor succeeding where others had not, so Ike made up his mind.
The hex doctor was a mysterious man, but he was well respected in the community. He was tall and thin as a rail, with unruly white hair and a sharp, chiseled face. He spoke with a calm yet authoritative voice. He was reported to have special knowledge and magical powers. Not only did he use herbal concoctions, he was familiar with magic marks and symbols that were able to drive evil spirits away. The belief in hexes, or evil spells cast upon one person or his belongings by another, was more widespread in the Pennsylvania Dutch towns and farmlands than Ike had imagined.
The doctor had Ike lay down and examined him from head to toe, passing his hands over and above Ike's body all the while whispering what sounded like chants. This went on for some time, but finally he told Ike to sit up. "All the signs point to a hex, a curse of some kind, that is upon you," the doctor told him. "Do you have any enemies?"
When both Ike and his wife told the doctor that there were no enemies that they knew of, he frowned and from his bag withdrew a small black book. Ike could see the title - "Der lang verborgene Schatz und Haus Freund." It was known in English as "The Long Lost Friend," by John George Hohman. Ike knew it contained a collection of supernatural recipes, spells, and procedures for the occult healer. Quickly turning the pages, the hex doctor came to place he wanted. He recited a powerful incantation, the appeared to put himself into a trance. In a voice deeper and unlike his own, and with his eyes staring intently at Ike, the doctor said to him, "I see an old man, dressed in blue trousers with white stripes. He has a small pointy beard on his chin; his right hand shakes like a palsy. Over his arm he carries a red horse blanket."
Mrs. Yoder almost screamed, "Why that sounds like Jake Wetzel, our neighbor."
The doctor blinked rapidly several times, and stood quiet a moment, bringing himself out of the trance. "Is he mad at you for some reason?" the doctor asked Ike. "Does he hold anything against you?"
Ike thought for a moment, and then replied. "He has asked several times to buy some of my south fields, where our lands join, but I don't want to sell. The last time was a few months ago, just before I started feeling sickly."
"Ah ha," the doctor said. "Has he said anything particular to you when you wouldn't agree to the sale? Has he done anything unusual to you since then?"
Mrs. Yoder was quick to answer. "He would come to the field each time Ike wouldn't sell it to him about evening and wave his red horse blanket over the field three times. My sons finally chased him away and that's the last we've seen of him."
"Well that is it then," said the doctor. Old Jake Wetzel has hexed you, and if the spell can not be broken, you will surely die." Mrs. Yoder almost fainted dead away on the floor. Ike and the doctor helped her to a chair. Then the doctor wrote out a set of instructions and gave them to Ike. "This is what you must do," he said. "The quicker the better."
When they got home, they quickly opened the doctor's instructions. Doing as they were told, they softened some beeswax, and formed it into what looked like a little man. They tried to make it look exactly like Jake Wetzel. They loudly declared that the wax image was indeed Jake, as this had to be done to "fix" the image upon Jake, the man they were sure had hexed Ike Yoder.
Ike was feeling so poorly, he went upstairs to his bed, and his wife carried on with the doctor's orders. She took several long pins from her sewing box and began to stick them into all areas of the little wax man. This was to "torture" Jake and loosen the hold of the hex on Ike. When the figure was full of pins, Mrs. Yoder put it into the fireplace to burn. Some of the wax was consumed by he fire, some dripped into a puddle among the ashes under the grate. But now the doctor's "cure" was complete. They could only wait to see if it worked.
For six long days, Ike lay in his bed, eating little and growing more pale and wan. Mrs. Yoder was sure the cure had failed and had just about given up hope. But on the seventh morning, the hex doctor came to their house to tell them that Jake Wetzel had dropped dead right in front of his house. Mrs. Yoder shrieked with delight at the news, and she and the doctor started up the stairs to tell Ike. But Ike didn't need to be told. At the very moment of Jake's death, the strength started returning to Ike. He was sitting up in bed when his wife entered the room. He looked better than he had in weeks. "What's for dinner?" he wanted to know. In no time at all Ike and his wife and their children and the hex doctor were gathered at the table. From that day on Ike Yoder was a healthy man.
Article appearing in the November, 2013 issue of the Republican Herald; a newspaper from Schuylkill County PA, in the Days Gone By column: 100 years ago -1913 Forest fires are raging in the surrounding mountains and great damage is being done, especially to young trees. Broad Mountain at several places has the resemblances of fiery furnaces, the wind blowing embers to other parts of the mountain, thus causing fires. Fire in the Tumbling Run valley has burned to the ground the home of David Thomas, who two years ago was given much notoriety when members of his family reported that his death was caused by a hex cat.
my personal note: I assume by "hex cat" they refer to a witch who changes herself into the form of a cat.
In October 1935, an article was published in the Reading Eagle about a local PowWow Doctor. HERE IS THE LINK TO THE ARTICLE. It's a sweet story, although the interviewer seems to lean mostly on the side of disbelief. However, I like the sincerity of the PowWow Doctor and would love to learn more about this guy.
In the 1920's A. Monroe Aurand Jr, a member of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society and a resident of PA Dutch country, wrote a series of little booklets about life in Pennsylvania amongst the German (Dietsch) peoples. He is most noted for his Powwow Book (1929). His booklet, Popular Home Remedies and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans, brought to light some of the more 'quaint' customs and beliefs of the PA German peoples. To many people outside the community and, in some instances, to Aurand himself, the customs of our culture seemed backward and uneducated. But within Pennsylvania German society, our customs and beliefs are intertwined within our deep religious convictions and our ways of life. While we are not all Amish, Mennonite, or Brethren (in fact, only a small percentage of us are), we do share a common commitment to our Christian faith and a love for our culture and our customs. Here are presented some of the more interesting excerpts from Aurand's Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans booklet. Keep in mind that this book was written in the 1920's... many thoughts and beliefs have changed; many have not. I leave it to you to decide how 'quaint' or not these seem to you.
When several teaspoonfuls of its own baptismal water are given to a child, it is said to make him bright and perhaps a good singer.
A child born on the thirteenth of the month will be unlucky. If born on a Wednesday, the child will either be stupid or have a very short life. If born on Saturday they will tend to be slovenly, especially if born before the usual morning chores are finished about the house!
An axe placed under the bed will prevent bed sores.
Freckles can be removed by washing your face with water collected from tombstones.
To prevent headaches or toothaches, make sure you always put your right sock on first then your left; then your right shoe, then your left.
To stop a nosebleed, you only need recall the last person to sit next to you in church!
Never sew anything while the person is wearing it.
Always put your right foot on the floor first when getting out of bed in the morning. If you step down first with your left foot, you will have a bad day!
If a fork is dropped, it means a man will visit. If a knife drops, a woman will visit. If a butcher knife falls, you will be visited by a preacher (this could also signify a death or even a marriage---whatever brings the preacher!).
And my all time favorite superstition: Be careful if you pick up anything from the street, it may have been used in powwowing!
The murder of PowWower Nelson Rehmeyer is a local and well-known story where I live. John Blymire and his two teenage friends were convinced they were hexed by Rehmeyer and, in order to break the hex, they were instructed to steal his copy of Long Lost Friend and a lock of his hair. The mission went badly and the three young men brutally murdered Rehmeyer. The story brought Pennsylvania to national attention and sealed the fate of PowWow in our state for nearly 70 years. But the real instigator is often lost to history. It was the crafty wiles of a local witch, Emma Knopp aka Nellie Noll (aka The River Witch of Marietta) who convinced the men of Rehmeyer's guilt. You can read a little about the story HERE ON THIS LINK.
Nelson Rehmeyer, PowWow Doctor, murdered by John Blymire and his two teenage accomplices.
I found this article connected to the Kutztown Folk Festival website and wanted to share it here. Please find the original at www.kutztownfolkfestival.com This article strikes a cord with me because I see the way that Pennsylvania German culture is being absorbed into other cultures and ways of life, and I also see how Pennsylvania itself is being transformed by Mcmansions and ugly housing developments that tear up our beautiful farm land. But luckily the PA German culture does survive, despite attempts made by some to rewrite history or to superimpose ideas that are contrary to our state's history.
These "obstinate" Pennsylvania Dutch
More than a century ago, sentimentalists were decrying what they felt was the passing of the Pa Dutch culture from America. They predicted the eminent demise of a little used language, the dropping of old customs and practices, and the loss of the Pennsylvania Dutch arts and crafts.
For more than two centuries the Pennsylvania Germans, or "Deitsch", who settled the area of Eastern Berks County had remained unique, keeping their language and customs brought over with them from the Palatinate Region of Germany. Their journey to their new homeland was arduous. After having endured the Thirty Years War in their homelands, then persecuted for their religious beliefs, thirteen families of these uprooted people accepted the invitation of William Penn and undertook a 12-month journey of hope to reach "Penn's Woods". They arrived in 1683. News of this new "land of freedom and good farmland" eventually reached back to the Palantinate Region, and more came. Having nothing but devastated farms, repression and persecution to face at home, an exodus of immigrants heading to "Penn's Sylvania" soon occurred. By 1775, one third of the population of Pennsylvania was German.
Nearly all of these people arrived in Pennsylvania through the port of Wilmington, part of the present day city of Philadelphia. They quickly moved North, settling the areas of Montgomery and Bucks Counties, then crossing into the Lehigh Valley and heading west to the East Penn Valley and Oley Valley of present day Berks County. Here our forefathers settled. Many more passed through, continuing west into Lancaster and north over the Blue Mountains into the fertile rugged valleys of Schuykill.
The settlers here in Eastern Berks County cleared the land, and started building their farms. Life was not easy. Across our landscape are scattered their cemeteries. Many of the markers are those of children. The hard life, disease and sickness took their toll on the young ones. The native Indians were frequently hostile, several times destroying entire settlements, and taking the surviving children as slaves. The outlying farms frequently became "forts" defended by the families against their attackers. It was not an easy life, but they persevered.
A portrait of these settlers must emphasize a deeply moral, resourceful people with a strong sense of determination and the courage to succeed in establishing a better life for their families. They tolerated indescribable hardships. In spite of it all, these invincible "Pennsylvania Deitschman" endured to create a productive, rewarding existence and to establish a rich legacy for their heirs in the United States of America.
Patriotic Americans they have always been. Those not pacifistic by religious beliefs fought proudly in all of America's wars. George Washington chose as his personal bodyguard troops a Pennsylvania Dutch Regiment, due to their fierce loyalty and determination. The Pennsylvania Regiments at Gettysburg turned the tide of the most horrible battle ever fought by Americans, bringing a resounding victory to the United States that broke the back of the Confederate Army and ultimately led to the reunion of our nation.
But, all things change. In the age of modernism, the late 19th century, the PA Dutch culture was said to be doomed. Gobbled up in the melting pot that America had become, assimilated into the "New" America, there seemed no place left for the quaint language and customs of the PA Dutch. The tide of modernism swept America, bringing new lifestyles, architecture and customs, and America never looked back. But… the Pa Dutch were not so accepting of all these changes. Adapting what they wanted for their own uses, they also kept their old ways, living and flourishing just as they had done for generations. Labeled as "backward" and "stubborn", they held on to their ways of doing things. The twentieth Century brought America a financial collapse, wars, and an entire nation without roots or meaning to their lives. It was about this time that the world rediscovered the PA Dutch. The first folklife festival in America was held in Kutztown, Pennsylvania and focused on the PA Dutch. There has been one here continuously every year since then. The crafts of the Pa Dutch created a renaissance of fine craftwork in America. The quaint home remedies are now the basic formulas of sophisticated medicines, the architecture has stood the test of time, proving itself to be the finest built in America. And the Pa Dutch people… they have not changed. Today, in the year 2009, we hear the same things as were said 100 years ago. The language is dying, no one cares about the old stories and customs. Nobody practices the folkways or the healing. Nobody cooks like they used to. Only the old people care anymore or speak the language. It'll all be gone when they pass away. I don't think so.
The twentieth Century brought America a financial collapse, wars, and an entire nation without roots or meaning to their lives. It was about this time that the world rediscovered the PA Dutch. The first folklife festival in America was held in Kutztown, Pennsylvania and focused on the PA Dutch. There has been one here continuously every year since then. The crafts of the Pa Dutch created a renaissance of fine craftwork in America. The quaint home remedies are now the basic formulas of sophisticated medicines, the architecture has stood the test of time, proving itself to be the finest built in America. And the Pa Dutch people… they have not changed.
Today, in the year 2009, we hear the same things as were said 100 years ago. The language is dying, no one cares about the old stories and customs. Nobody practices the folkways or the healing. Nobody cooks like they used to. Only the old people care anymore or speak the language. It'll all be gone when they pass away.
I don't think so.
PA Folklife, Earl & Ada Robacker, Dr Eugene Stein
I suppose I could find a better place on this site to include this information, but this will do for now..... In PA Dutch culture, lineage is important. It's how we trace our cultural identity through time. In PowWow, it is often important to know who your teachers are more than what their credentials are. Some put more stress on this than others. Nevertheless, my blood lineage is far more important to me.
My great great grandfather, Solomon Koenig, met his wife, Sarah Hauser, while they both lived in Austria. They came to America sometime in the later half of the 1800's. Austrian immigrants were often lumped into the PA German culture by way of their common language. Their church, Zion's Stone Church, in New Ringgold PA became the church of their daughter, Henrietta Koenig, and Henrietta's husband, George Whitley. George and Henrietta gave birth to Arthur Owen Whitley. He married June Betty Bankes. They are my grandparents. Their son, Robert Owen Whitley, was my father. He married my mother, Grace Kathleen Chapman. I was born Robert Owen Whitley Jr but had my name legally changed in 2006 to Robert Chapman (my mother's maiden name). In 2015 I got married and became Robert Phoenix. My family's church is Zion's Stone Church in Lehighton, PA. My paternal family is all buried in the Zion Stone Church's graveyard.
While there is nothing to indicate that any of my family practiced Powwow, they were a part of the German-speaking immigration to America and were absorbed into the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. My grandmother was especially true to the culture (Her father was a Henne).
Family history is fascinating to me and it is especially important to me to help preserve the PA German cultural practices in as historically accurate a method as possible.
To research your own history, I recommend ancestry.com. You can get a free trial (ten days, I beleive) and just start searching!
This important and beautiful hymn has been woven into a beautiful Vorschraft (artistic rendition of a sermon) and shows how the decoration of PA German folkart was often reflective of the poetry or prayers painted or woven onto the piece itself. The Pennsylvania Germans were deeply spiritual people and many of the religious beliefs were considered mystical in nature. This hymn and it's mystical associations is a testament to that. What follows is the original German and the English translation.
. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem Herrn,
Die süße Wurzel Jesse!
Du Sohn Davids aus Jakobs Stamm,
Mein König und mein Bräutigam,
Hast mir mein Herz besessen,
Schön und herrlich, groß und ehrlich,
Reich von Gaben,
Hoch und sehr prächtig erhaben!
2. Ei meine Perl’, du werte Kron,
Wahr’ Gottes und Mariens Sohn,
Ein hochgeborner König!
Mein Herz heißt dich ein Himmelsblum;
Dein süßes Evangelium
Ist lauter Milch und Honig.
Ei mein Blümlein,
Hosianna! Himmlisch Manna,
Das wir essen,
Deiner kann ich nicht vergessen!
3. Geuß sehr tief in das Herz hinein,
Du leuchtend Kleinod, edler Stein,
Mit deiner Liebe Flamme,
Daß ich, o Herr, ein Gliedmaß bleib
An deinem auserwählten Leib,
Ein Zweig an deinem Stamme.
Nach dir wallt mir,
Ewig Güte, bis es findet
Dich, des Liebe mich entzündet.
4. Von Gott kommt mir ein Freudenschein,
Wenn du mich mit den Augen dein
Gar freundlich tust anblicken.
O Herr Jesu, mein trautes Gut,
Dein Wort, dein Geist, dein Leib und Blut
Mich innerlich erquicken.
Nimm mich freundlich
In dein Arme, Herr erbarme
Dich in Gnaden;
Auf dein Wort komm ich geladen.
5. Herr Gott Vater, mein starker Held,
Du hast mich ewig vor der Welt
In deinem Sohn geliebet.
Dein Sohn hat mich ihm selbst vertraut,
Er ist mein Schatz, ich seine Braut,
Drum mich auch nichts betrübet.
Himmlisch Leben wird er geben
Mir dort oben!
Ewig soll mein Herz ihn loben.
6. Zwingt die Saiten in Cythara
Und laßt die süße Musika
Ganz freudenreich erschallen,
Daß ich möge mit Jesulein,
Dem wunderschönen Bräut'gam mein,
In steter Liebe wallen!
Dankt dem Herren!
Groß ist der König der Ehren!
7. Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh,
Daß mein Schatz ist das A und O.
Der Anfang und das Ende!
Er wird mich doch zu seinem Preis
Aufnehmen in das Paradeis;
Des klopf' ich in die Hände.
Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone,
Bleib nicht lange,
Deiner wart' ich mit Verlangen!
. How lovely shines the Morning Star!
The nations see and hail afar
The light in Judah shining.
Thou David's Son of Jacob's race,
My Bridegroom and my King of Grace,
For Thee my heart is pining.
Lowly, Holy, great and glorious,
Prince of graces,
Filling all the heavenly places.
Lift up the voice and strike the string.
Let all glad sounds of music ring
In God's high praises blended.
Christ will be with me all the way,
Today, tomorrow, every day,
Till traveling days be ended.
Sing out, ring out triumph glorious,
Praise the God of your salvation.
Oh, joy to know that Thou, my Friend,
Art Lord, Beginning without end,
The First and Last, Eternal!
And Thou at length, o glorious grace!
Wilt take me to that holy place,
The home of joys supernal.
Amen, Amen! Come and meet me!
Quickly greet me!
With deep yearning
Lord, I look for Thy returning.
One common practice amongst most Christian sects is the recitation of the Lord's Prayer. In my powwowing, I use the Lord's Prayer as both a means for blessing and a means of sealing a powwow working. While it is not necessary to speak the Lord's Prayer (or any other charm) in a German dialect, it is a nice way of honoring our ancestors who came to America and, in many cases, gave up their native language so they could be absorbed into the American culture of English-speaking residents. There are variations in dialect and sentence structure, so the translation I use may vary from the one you use.
Unser Vadder im Himmel, dei Naame loss heilich sei, Dei Reich loss komme. Dei Wille loss gedu sei, uff die Erd wie im Himmel. Unser deeglich Brot gebb uns heit, Un vergebb unser Schulde, wie mir die vergewwe wu uns schuldich sinn. Un fiehr uns net in die Versuchung, awwer hald uns vum ewile. Fer dei is es Reich, die Graft, un die Hallichkeit in Ewichkeit. Amen.
Unser Vadder im Himmel,
dei Naame loss heilich sei,
Dei Reich loss komme.
Dei Wille loss gedu sei,
uff die Erd wie im Himmel.
Unser deeglich Brot gebb uns heit,
Un vergebb unser Schulde,
wie mir die vergewwe wu uns
Un fiehr uns net in die Versuchung,
awwer hald uns vum ewile.
Fer dei is es Reich, die Graft,
un die Hallichkeit in Ewichkeit.
This article appeared in the October 2011 Berks-Mont Opinion newsletter. You may notice some unusual punctuation. This is exactly how the article appeared so I have not made any changes. Enjoy!
Among the PA Dutch dialect speaking farm folk of Berks County, anyone who practiced evil witchcraft on their neighbors was referred to in the dialect as a person who can do more than â€œBrod Essaâ€ (Do more than eat bread!), a euphemism for a witch among the Pennsylvania Dutch which would not cause the witch to retaliate on the person who exposed them.
Powwow faith healers, â€œBrauchers,â€ should not be associated with this term since they cured individuals by calling on the Holy Trinity to bless their sickness away. But there were always evil souls that sought out the powers of Lucifer among earthly mortals in ancient German texts like the anonymous 6th and 7th Books of Moses!
So when I met my great uncleâ€™s neighbors in the Oley Hills at a hinterland place called Ruppert â€˜s â€œEckâ€ (Corner), I was not surprised to hear that his wife Annie Buchert-Bieber (1874-1960) could do more than â€œBrod Essa.â€ Living secluded on an eighty-acre mountain top farm in Rockland Township, he was a basketmaker and she assisted him weaving their melon shaped oak potato baskets.
On my trips to visit them, I would stop in at the Fredericksville Hotel run by Russell and Alma Stahl, two PA Dutch people. So when the hill folk at Fredericksville learned that I was a blood relative of Freddie Bieber (1885-1978), they looked at me with suspicion. Old Allie Day in particular was uneasy if by chance I sat down alongside him at the bar.
In the 1960s I soon became aware of the fact that my recluse aunt Annie (who only spoke the Dutch Dialect) was feared by a number of hill folk for being able to do more than â€œBrod Essa.â€ She was an elderly woman who walked with a cane because of a back injury she once suffered at an apple butter boiling fire when she fell into the fire (1957 or 1958). She was nice to me but admired my 23 jewel Buliva wristwatch I wore, from high school graduation, because she did not own a watch.
One true story told to me by Jonas Day at Ruppertâ€™s Corner (Allie Dayâ€™s brother) was that his son as a child was cranky and could not sleep! Therefore, he sought advice from doc Sterner a local Powwow doctor at Ruppert Corner. The â€œBraucherâ€ said some one has robbed your son of his sleep; we must do something to break the spell. Sterner instructed Jonas to take the next diaper the child messes in and wrap it up and put it high in his attic under a crock. After doing this the witch will come to his home and ask to borrow something from him, said doc Sterner.
He warned Jonas not to lend anything to the witch no matter how small. Low and behold the next day my great aunt Annie stopped in at the home of Jonas Day. She said to him while passing his house she got a terrible taste in her mouth, could he lend her some bread? To which startled Jonas said, â€œNo,â€ and sent her on her way!
In another incident at Ruppertâ€™s Eck, Mrs. Hess had a child who likewise had a problem and would not eat its food! Seeking assistance from doc Sterner, who lived four miles away, the wise faith healer asked Mrs. Hess, â€œDoes she know Annie Buchert-Bieber?â€
To which she said, â€œI refused to buy her foods when she comes huckstering at my home!â€
In order to protect the children and family of Mrs. Hess, doc Sterner prescribed a safeguard for her home since Annie stopped in regularly to huckster berries and vegetables. She was to make a circle around her house after dark with a canister of salt.
On the night before Annie stopped in that day, when old Annie went down the path to the Hess home she froze at the point where the trail of salt encircled the home. She could not step over this salt line, making an about face she grunted with her cane and never came back ever again, remarked Mrs. Hess.
I sometimes thought that doc Sterner was getting a kick back from Annie Buchert, since whenever she was accused of witchcraft bedevilment the hill folk relied on the wisdom of doc Sterner by rewarding him for breaking her bad spell incidents. But after old Annie passed away unexpected I did find her occult copy of the 6th and 7th Books of Moses. In fact, there were two, one in English and the other in early German, with other PA Dutch occult culture.
Mysteriously Freddie Bieber and his wife, Annie, were robbed by two thieves in 1960 who believed that these two recluses had cash buried in their remote home. Annie was beaten severely and needed medical help from the medical doctor in the village of Oley. She had a friend in the Eston Herner family and stayed there in Osterdale to be nursed. But she got worse, and fearing that she would die she motioned to Mrs. Herner to utter her â€œlast words.â€
Thinking that old Annie wanted to pass on her paranormal Hexerei power on her death bed, Mrs. Herner closed Annieâ€™s bedroom door for she was not interested in learning Luciferâ€™s knowledge, and Annie died alone. But the two men who beat her and her high school band up were never found. However, Annie may not have been the evil one, as I learned when I bought this enchanting farm from my uncle.
It seems that the reason Annie and Freddie lived in a crude frontier lifestyle was because an urban real estate mogul had owned the land leading up to their house. The reason that they lived so primitively was because Gladys Paddock would not allow them to obtain a right away so that the Metropolitan Edison Electric Company could install electricity to their farm to live normally.
Years later sitting with the Met Ed executives, I finally got Paddock to agree to allow Met Ed a right away over her land to electrify the Bieber home. But not until I promised to give Gladys Paddock the cast iron kitchen range of Annie Bieber, in return for this electric pole right away. It seemed to be a bazaar condition for electrifying the Bieber farm, but when my neighbor and I took down the cast iron stove pipe to this early cast iron Orr and Panther stove, we discovered that the pipe fitting was molded with unusual cast iron dragons on either side. Perhaps Paddock was fearful that Annie had cast one last spell meant for her uncooperative neighbor.
Richard Shaner, director, American Folklife Institute in Kutztown.
The following article appeared in the Reading Eagle (PA) on 5/29/2013 and features an interview with an acquaintance, Patrick Donmoyer.
By Terry Scott Reed
Reading Eagle Correspondent
It is faith-based, has medieval roots, and is not based on medical research, yet many Berks Countians, even today, turn to a powwow practitioner for relief of pain and suffering.
Powans, as practitioners are known, work one-on-one to apply their art, frequently in the home, and not in front of large audiences like the TV evangelists.
They refuse direct payment for their assistance.
Pennsylvania Dutch in nature, the practice is common in Berks, perhaps because the definitive guideline or reference book, “Der lange Verborgene Fruend” (“The Long Lost Friend”), was published in Berks in 1819 by John George Homan.
He emigrated from Germany in 1799 as an indentured servant.
Don Yoder, author of “Twenty Questions on Powwowing,” describes Homan’s book as the most influential German book ever published in Pennsylvania. Homan certainly didn’t write it, but based its content on previously published work, so it should probably be thought of as a translation from German with some annotation.
Patrick Donmoyer, an exhibit specialist at the Pennsylvania German Heritage Center at Kutztown University, is a student of the culture. He said powwow, also known as braucherei, has a positive aspect.
Powans are empowered by Christianity, and are different from hexerei, who are believed to draw their powers from Satan. It is not officially recognized by the Protestant church, but neither is it condemned.
In practical terms, the most commonly encountered modern example of powwowing is probably the “curing” of warts. Donmoyer describes the wart-removal procedure this way:
“During a full moon, the practitioner rubs half of a raw potato counterclockwise over a wart, saying ‘What I rub, may it decrease.’ Traditional instructions say to bury the potato half under the eaves of the house.”
Donmoyer said it was probably done that way to speed rotting from rain runoff, since most homes did not have gutters and downspouts in those days. As the potato rots, the wart disappears, he said.
Today, powans generally bury the potato under the downspout.
Numerology also plays a role in powwow.
Donmoyer cited a cure for hiccups: seven swallows without a breath, for example. But as it is with any folk art, there are many variations in practice. Some will use only words, others only prayers or bible verses, and some will speak only Pennsylvania Dutch.
There is also risk. As the wart is transferred to the potato, disease may be transferred to the powan to be cast out by prayer.
There are certain standard procedures, according to Donmoyer. Rubbing anything counterclockwise removes or draws out the offending malady. Clockwise motion is used to add, not remove.
“Homan’s book does not explain how to proceed,” Donmoyer added, noting that generally, work is done during a full moon or a waxing moon.
A practitioner will always work from top to bottom, then right to left, while the patient is seated facing east, he said.
However, most practitioners don’t rely on Homan’s book, Donmoyer said. It became popular as a sort of talisman: Lay people carried the book with them as a type of protection from their enemies and from disease.
The knowledge is passed cross gender. With some known exceptions, a woman must teach a man and a man must tutor a woman, he said.
Not everyone has the gift.
There are still powans active in powwow. They fall into two general categories: family and the professionals, who sometimes keep office hours, Donmoyer said. But it is unlikely a family powan would deny help to a stranger or neighbor who needed treatment.
Practitioners are not permitted to accept payment from the hands of the patient. This usually meant leaving consideration behind where it could be easily found, or by having another handle the transaction.
Payment was typically according to what the patient could afford.
But there were incentives for patients to be generous. Leave too little, and the powan might refuse to see you next time. Worse, the disease could return.
Though powwow is still practiced, you won’t find a powan on Google or in the Yellow Pages, Donmoyer said. Their services are known only by word of mouth.
Pennsylvania German expert David W. Kriebel, author of “Powwowing: A Persistent American Esoteric Tradition” (www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeIV/Powwow.htm,) writes that powans are not only practicing today, but are likely to continue.
“The interest in the practice shown by children and grandchildren of active powwowers suggests that the practice will persist in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in some form for at least two more generations,” he wrote.
Kriebel, who was able to interview several practitioners and their patients, attributed the low profile to opposition from religious leaders and fear of being labeled as crazy.
As for Homan’s book, you don’t need to prowl the antique markets to find a copy. Donmoyer has painstakingly compiled and published an English translation, with his annotations, that can be purchased through the Berks County Heritage Center.
Proceeds benefit the center.
Skeptics who believe powwow healing is no longer alive will be interested to see that Homan’s book is also available for Kindle and Nook.
Editor’s note: Attempts to interview powwow practitioners for this story were unsuccessful
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not experimental when it comes to food. I like the food I grew up with, I don't need lots of spice, and I'm perfectly content with good home cooking. Here are a few recipes that I wanted to share for some of my favorites.
Amish Style Chicken Pot Pie
5 lbs. chicken or chicken parts water to cover chicken
1 teaspoon parsley 1 bay leaf
salt to taste 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper 2 stalks of celery-diced
1 onion-diced 2 carrots-sliced
2 potatoes-diced 2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt 4 whole eggs
4-6 tablespoons hot water
Place chicken in kettle. Cover with water, salt to taste. Add parsley, bayleaf, poultry seasoning, pepper, celery, carrots, potatoes and onions. Simmer until chicken is tender. Remove bayleaf and discard. Remove chicken and allow to cool.
Remove chicken from bones; skin and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Sift the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt onto a board. Make a well in the center and put eggs into it. Gradually work the eggs into the flour until a stiff dough is formed, adding the hot water as is necessary.
Knead until smooth, about five minutes. Cut dough in half and roll each half until paper thin. Cut dough into 1 inch square noodles.
Return chicken to simmering broth and add noodles a few at a time. Cook until noodles are done, about 5 minutes.
Here's a very typical Dutch recipe that I get a lot of requests for. I think it's great any time of year but due to the cooking time, maybe fall and winter would be the best time to make it. Dumpling Batter: Boil ham for 2 hours. Pick over and clean dried apples and soak them in enough water to cover them, for as long as meat is boiling. When meat is done, add dried apples and water that they've been soaking in and continue to boil for another hour. Prepare dumpling batter: sift together the dry ingredients and mix the dough with egg (which has been beaten), the melted shortening and the milk. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into the boiling liquid of the ham and apples. Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes. You may add raisins if desired. The Amish call this fried dough cake 'drechter kuche'. Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and milk. Sift 2 cups of flour, the salt, and the baking powder and add to the milk, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix while adding more flour until the batter is smooth and not too thick. The funnel should have an opening of at least 1/2 inch and be able to hold around a cup of batter. Put your finger over the bottom and add about a cup of batter. Remove your finger and allow the batter to pour into the center of the oil. Be careful, the oil may splash! Gradually swirl the batter outward in a circular motion, or criss-cross back and forth to make a cake about 7 or 8 inches round. We used to draw our initials to personalize our cakes! Check it with a pair of tongs and turn it when the bottom becomes golden brown. When both sides are done, remove with tongs and let it drip on a paper towel. Funnel cake is often served with powdered sugar on top. You could also use molasses, maple syrup, or fruit preserves. Enjoy! Baked French Toast Heat brown sugar, margarine and syrup until melted together. Pour into 13x9 pan. Arrange bread in a single layer in pan. Beat eggs, add milk and sugar and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let set 5 minutes before serving. You absolutely will not need syrup for this French Toast. It's delicious!!! CORN FRITTERS
Schnitz Un Knepp (Dried Apples, Dumplings and Ham)
1 1/2 c sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
1 c cooked corn
2 eggs, beaten
6 tbsp. melted butter
Sift together the dry ingredients, add the beaten eggs with milk. Mix thoroughly. Add melted butter and corn, and mix. Drop by tablespoonfuls on slightly greased hot griddle. Brown on each side.
Here's a very typical Dutch recipe that I get a lot of requests for. I think it's great any time of year but due to the cooking time, maybe fall and winter would be the best time to make it.
Boil ham for 2 hours. Pick over and clean dried apples and soak them in enough water to cover them, for as long as meat is boiling. When meat is done, add dried apples and water that they've been soaking in and continue to boil for another hour.
Prepare dumpling batter: sift together the dry ingredients and mix the dough with egg (which has been beaten), the melted shortening and the milk. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into the boiling liquid of the ham and apples. Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes. You may add raisins if desired.
The Amish call this fried dough cake 'drechter kuche'.
Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and milk. Sift 2 cups of flour, the salt, and the baking powder and add to the milk, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix while adding more flour until the batter is smooth and not too thick.
The funnel should have an opening of at least 1/2 inch and be able to hold around a cup of batter. Put your finger over the bottom and add about a cup of batter. Remove your finger and allow the batter to pour into the center of the oil. Be careful, the oil may splash!
Gradually swirl the batter outward in a circular motion, or criss-cross back and forth to make a cake about 7 or 8 inches round. We used to draw our initials to personalize our cakes! Check it with a pair of tongs and turn it when the bottom becomes golden brown. When both sides are done, remove with tongs and let it drip on a paper towel.
Funnel cake is often served with powdered sugar on top. You could also use molasses, maple syrup, or fruit preserves. Enjoy!
Baked French Toast
Heat brown sugar, margarine and syrup until melted together. Pour into 13x9 pan. Arrange bread in a single layer in pan. Beat eggs, add milk and sugar and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let set 5 minutes before serving. You absolutely will not need syrup for this French Toast. It's delicious!!!
I heard most of these growing up in Pennsylvania. This specific list was taken from the June 2013 updates to the Pocono Record (www.poconorecord.com)
Turnips hung in the chimney prevent measles.
Come to Pennsylvania and visit any local market and you are sure to get a glimpse of just how prevalent our culture is in our foods and other products!
Although there may be a few local dialect differences, for the most part the following words and phrases will serve you well when you are out and about and pass by your PA German-speaking friends and neighbors!
Guder Daag! (pronounced like goo-der dog) means "Hello, Good day!"
Guder Mariye! (pronounced like goo-der mar-ee-uh) means "Good morning!"
Guti Nacht! (pronounced like goo-ta knocked) means "Good night!"
Mach's gut! (pronounced like mox goot) means "Good bye!"
Wie bisch? (pronounced like vee beesh) means "How's it going?"
Ich bin gut. (pronounced like ick bin goot) means "I am well."
When he says:
Britches.... he means.... bridges
Crotch.... he means.... garage
Boghie.... he means.... buggy
Bortsch.... he means.... portch
Ruck.... he means.... rug
Sing.... he means.... thing
Woted.... he means.... voted
Some.... he means.... thumb
Sink.... he means.... Think
Mate.... he means.... made
Tschuri.... he means.... jury
Colt.... he means.... cold
Ret.... he means.... ret
Walley.... he means.... valley
Cham.... he means.... jam
Rite.... he means.... ride
Chorge.... he means.... George
Sought.... he means.... thought
Sick.... he means.... thick
Bush.... he means.... push
Chob.... he means.... job
Chaw.... he means.... jaw
Chudge.... he means.... judge
Chump.... he means.... jump
Maple.... he means.... Mable
Cherry.... he means.... Jerry
Sank you.... he means.... Thank you
Zis.... he means.... this
Taken from 'Ferhoodled English' 1987, Conestoga Crafts
This information comes from The Old Farmer's Almanac, 1994
The age-old practice of performing farm chores by the Moon stems from the simple belief that the Moon governs moisture.
Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History that the Moon "replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them."
THE MOON'S PHASES
The Moon's phases guided many a farmer and gardener in the past, and still do today:
-Moonrise occurring in the evening brings fair weather, says one proverb, harking back to the belief that the waning Moon (full and last quarter, which rise in the evening) is dry.
-The New Moon and first quarter, or waxing phases, are considered fertile and wet.
-The new and first-quarter phases, known as the light of the Moon, are considered good for planting above-ground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting.
-From full Moon through the last quarter, or the dark of the Moon, is the best time for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops.
-The time just before the full Moon is conserved particularly wet, and is best for planting during drought conditions.
Folklore is rich among farmers, given their close ties to Earth and her natural rhythms.
-Rail fences cut during the dry, waning Moon will stay straighter
-Wooden shingles and shakes will lie flatter if cut during the dark of the Moon
-Fence posts should be set in the dark of the Moon to resist rotting. Ozark lore says that fence posts should always be set as the tree grew. To set the root end upward makes a short-lived fence.
-Don't begin weaning when the Moon is waning.
-Castrate and dehorn animals when the Moon is waning for less bleeding.
-Slaughter when the Moon is waxing for jucier meat.
-Crabbing, shrimping, and clamming are best when the Moon is full.
-Best days for fishing are between the new and full Moon.
-Dig your horseradish in the full Moon for the best flavor.
-Set eggs to hatch on the Moon's increase, but not if a south wind blows.
Content taken from God-Given Herbs for the Healing of Mankind by William R. McGrath, 1971
Apple: valuable for its vitamin and mineral content and tendency to reduce tension; apple cider vinegar is strongly recommended for stomach, kidneys, liver
Asparagus: a tasty, powerful diuretic
Avocado: delicious fruit tending to reduce cholesterol level in the blood
Cabbage: the juice contains a high vitamin and mineral content - a good cleanser
Carrots: high in vitamins, especially good as a purifying juice diet
Celery: a sedative and calmative, especially in the juice
Cherry: relieves arthritic and rheumatic conditions, especially the juice
Citrus fruits: generally beneficial for high Vitamin C content in all rheumatic conditions, kidneys, etc. Diaphoretic when taken hot.
Cucumbers: a diuretic food, also refrigerant
Figs: a good food and an excellent laxative and purifier
Grapes: a blood purifier (especially in the exclusive grape diet or Grape Cure)
Garlic and Onion: two marvelous vegetable anti-biotics; raw onion will cure sores on the tongue and in the mouth
Lettuce: soporific or sleep-inducing action
Parsley: cleanser and sedative, to be taken only in small quantities when juiced
Papaya: a good digestant, rich in enzymes, also a good poultice for burns, warts, freckles, pimples, etc.
Quince: simmer the seed in water to produce a good mouth wash or burn dressing
Radish: marvelous when combined with other vegetables in juice, a purifier, especially for gall bladder
Rhubarb: a safe and effective laxative
Watercress: good for eczema, night blindness, soft teeth, and weak bones
Watermelon: strong in the bioflavonoids and a good diuretic