Pennsylvania Dutch country

Sorting through cookbooks to reduce many hundreds to a small set that I can fit into my Ramona St. condo, I came across an old paperback copy of Ruth Hutchison’s The New Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book — fallen into several pieces, the pages now brown and brittle, clearly not salvageable. But the volume had some sentimental value for me, so I checked the web. And found a copy of the 1958 hardbound edition (the first edition was in 1948), on sale for very little money. It has now arrived, and it’s in excellent condition. Lacks the colorful cover of the paperback, but has endpapers with a map of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Turns out others have somewhat different ideas of where the borders of PaDuC are, but the core seems to consist of (parts of) six counties:

Lehigh (with the city of Allentown), Berks (with the city of Reading), Lebanon, eastern Dauphin (with the town of Hershey), Lancaster, York

As usual, region names are subject to different criteria, having to do with history, cultural practices, geography, and economic life. The core areas are historically regions of early settlement from German-speaking areas of Europe, especially the Palatinate of the Rhine, many of the settlers being religious outsiders in their homelands, almost all of them farm people, who came to share various cultural practices, including their language, but also food, dress, and crafts. The original settlements were in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania, on land suitable for farming.

From Wikipedia:

Pennsylvania Dutch Country, also called the Deitscherei in Deitsch, refers to an area of southeastern Pennsylvania, United States that by the American Revolution had a high percentage of Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants. Religiously, there was a large portion of Lutherans. There were also German Reformed, Moravian, Amish, Mennonite, Schwarzenau Brethren and other German Christian sects. The term was used in the middle of the 20th century as a description of a region with a distinctive Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but in recent decades the composition of the population is changing and the phrase is used more now in a tourism context than any other.

Geographically the area referred to as Amish/Dutch country centers on the cities of Allentown, Hershey, Lancaster, Reading, and York. Pennsylvania Dutch Country encompasses the [20] counties of Chester, Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks, Montgomery, Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, Schuylkill, Snyder, Union, Juniata, Mifflin, Huntingdon, Northumberland, and Centre. Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants would spread from this area outwards outside the Pennsylvania borders between the mountains along river valleys into neighboring Maryland (Washington and Frederick counties), West Virginia, New Jersey (Warren and northern Hunterdon counties), Virginia (Shenandoah Valley), and North Carolina.

This is a very large area. The New Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book map takes in 14 counties:


For touristic purposes, the Pennsylvania Visitors’ Network site divides the state into 8 regions, Pa. Dutch – Amish Country being one of these, with 9 counties in the region (Lehigh County and Northampton County, Bethlehem’s and Easton’s county, have been lumped in with Philadelphia and the counties closest to it):


Finally, the Wikipedia map, which takes in 14 counties, but not the same 14 as the cook book:


There are 5 counties shared by the three maps (Berks, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, and Dauphin), to which we should certain add Lehigh, for the 6 core counties I listed above. The southern portion of Northampton would be a reasonable 7th addition (taking in Bethlehem and Easton, though Easton is now culturally oriented towards New Jersey and New York City).

Just as the cultural pull of New Jersey and NYC is strong for the eastern edge of the historical PaDuC, so the pull of Philadelphia is strong for Berks and Lancaster counties, and the pull of the Baltimore / Washington urban complex is strong for the southern tier counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.

As for the language, it is now used almost only by certain Amish and Mennonite sects — historically the “plain Dutch” — and not by the descendants of the historical “gay Dutch”, who (like my mother and her sisters) have fully assimilated to English.

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