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Last week’s column dealt with the diary of Moravian missionary Theodor Schulz who traveled to Bethlehem and other nearby Moravian settlements in 1799. As noted last week, personal documents such as diaries, letters, journals, business records, and art work created by people living during the old times are the most trustworthy historical sources.
The Theodor Schulz Diary is presently part of the Henry Stauffer Borneman Pennsylvania German collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia. A stellar collection, it was previously owned by Henry Stauffer Borneman, Esq. (1870-1955). Borneman had an expert eye as he selected rare examples of Pennsylvania German Fraktur, imprints, and manuscripts. After his death in 1955, the Free Library of Philadelphia was fortunate enough to purchase eighty-five years worth of carefully chosen artifacts. It’s also interesting to note that Borneman was co-founder of the Temple University School of Law.
According to Borneman family historian Ruth Borneman, Henry Stauffer Borneman was born in Allentown, the son of pharmacist and dentist Joseph Borneman. Dr. Borneman moved his family to Clayton, near Bally, in 1872. He then became the proprietor of Eagle Drug Store in Boyertown.
It has been said that the Bornemans in this area are all descendents of Daniel Borneman who emigrated in 1721. He bought land and cleared a farm along what became Knight Road in Upper Hanover Township. Daniel’s son Christian moved to Limerick Township and his son John, a stone mason who settled in Boyertown, was the father of Joseph.
Historian and researcher Del-Louise Moyer of the Free Library of Philadelphia is transcribing and translating Schulz’s Diary for a forthcoming publication. It is written in German script, a cursive handwriting that replaced Gothic calligraphy at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Under a Save America’s Treasures grant from the National endowment for the Humanities, the Diary is being conserved by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia.
During his four months in Pennsylvania, Theodor Schulz recorded what personally interested him, and reflected on matters close to his heart: the contemporary landscape, customs of the land, architecture, crops, commerce, weather and the daily spiritual life of the Moravian communities he visited. Selections continued from last week:
“2 September , Christiansbrunn (Christian’s Springs) and Gnadenthal (Gracedale) . One finds fruit and peach trees at both locations. The grain here is usually threshed using horses. The barns are built on the hillsides, so that on one side, built into the foundation, are entrances for the animals to their stalls, and on the other side, above the stalls, is the threshing floor, across which one can drive . The way milk is kept here is also quite wonderful. By means of small water locks, clear flowing spring water can be fed at higher or lower levels into stone spring houses. The milk pans stand in this cold flowing water (Spring water has a constant temperature in southeastern Pennsylvania of 50-55 degrees F.)…
“13 September, Br. Reichel showed us around the place, and we were especially impressed with Br. Henry’s rifle manufactory, the lovely hatmaking workshop, and the metal workshop. In the afternoon we went to Br. Henry’s mill in Plainfield Township, about three miles distant from Nazareth, where his rifles are bored, smoothed, and polished. It was a superb walk northwards through pleasant chestnut and nut trees, and beautiful plantations—four miles from the Blue Mountains, which formed a magnificent vista. Here we tasted the wild, large wine grapes known as fox grapes, which, although very large in size—almost the size of plums—and therefore quite noticeable to us, were not to our liking. There is another type of wild wine grape in Pennsylvania, which is smaller than normal, but tastes very good….
“21 September, …First we traversed the Lehigh river and its islands; then through the small Jordan Creek at Trexlers. We breakfasted on the Little Lehigh and Large Spring. After that we went through the village of Cootstown (Kutztown), then the city of Reading. The latter lies in a charming area on a plain between rocky mountains, not far from the Schuylkill, over which we took a ferry. We travelled through the mountains on very stony paths, and several creeks. On the way we encountered a lot of undergrowth and ground acorns—thus the saying that in America the swine eat the acorns from the trees. Then we went through a miserable little place called Adamstown, which probably got its name from the red earth, i.e. Adam’s earth. We came to Reamstown at noon, and afterwards past Ephrata where the German Seventh-Day Baptists have their colony and cloister. …
To be continued…
Schulz served as a Moravian missionary to Surinam, but returned to Bethlehem in 1806 due to his wife’s deteriorating health. He went on to serve as pastor to Moravian congregations.
Preservation of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania German Manuscript Collection has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: because democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Credits: Transcription/Translation: Del-Louise Moyer, Theodore Schulz Diary (forthcoming publication) Courtesy: Henry Borneman Pennsylvania German collection, Free Library of Philadelphia.