Talk:Germantown, Philadelphia

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Quote[edit]

Quote "British Brigadier General Agnew".

If I remember correctly, the British Army does not have the rank of "Brigadier General" but the rank is simply named "Brigadier".

Songwriter 18:13 3 Jul 2003 (UTC)


I am curious about the spelling "Phildelphia", which appears to be deliberate? 216.62.168.225

On defining William Penn as "a Dutch American"[edit]

Yes, Penn's mother was Dutch per the source cited, and yes, he spent some years in America, but you have to comprehend it from the 17th-/18th-century perspective. The North American English colonies were just that—colonies of England. Penn was a loyal English subject who lived most of his life in England. It is true that his views on religion and on colonial government were somewhat radical for the England of his times, but he never defined himself as "not English", nor did he assert colonial independence from the Crown. When you define his nationality, it would have to be defined as "Englishman". It would be OK to phrase the sentence something like "Most were Quakers who came over in response to the appeal of William Penn. (Penn had carefully courted Dutch Quakers for his colony, and his mother was Dutch.)" I will go change it to that, pending further discussion. — Lumbercutter 01:53, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

This seems to be an interesting problem here, however there are a few things that need to be clarified: 1. Francis Daniel Pastorius was NOT Dutch. He was as German as one could be during the Holy Roman Empire and I have seen some of his original writing held at the Library of Congress. 2. Pastorius brought over approximately 13 families that were made up of Quaker, Mennonite and Pietist faith. Now, if anyone here knows anything about Mennonites, you'll know that they speak low German. I know, I grew up with them as well. The problem is Mennonites at that time were everywhere in Europe, but as I recall, they started by following Mennos... who was Fries, NOT Dutch. Argue with the Fries about that one ;) In any case, if people are familiar with modern Northwest German and eastern Friesland, you'll know that linguistically, there is very little difference and the Fries STILL don't refer to themselves as Dutch and they still have their own language (although, they do learn Dutch in the schools). So... you have one group who are certainly Freis, being led by a German. 3. Pietists... to the best of my knowledge the pietists at this time would have been a splinter group from German luthrens... in other words likely Germans 4. Quakers - well... thought these folks were English at that point in time

Anyway, my point was only to try to point a few people who have more time than I in the right direction. But I would suggest care be taken with respect to identifying these folks as "Dutch" outright.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jimjutte (talkcontribs) 02:06, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Germantown's first settlers: Dutch? German? Both?[edit]

There is no arguing the first settlers were in fact Dutch and not German. The confusion arises because they were Dutch who were living in what is now Germany prior to their emigration, but nonetheless, they spoke Dutch. A further point of confusion is that these Dutch are considered the first "Pennsylvania Germans" (one only has to look at the Pennsylvania German flag used by the Grundsau Lodges- and thus the Pennsylvania Germans, being a composite people, include not only Swiss, and Southwest Germans, but also actual Dutch people). A final point that makes things confusing is that in the early years these Dutch Mennonites and Dutch Quakers communed together in their homes, and many of those identifying as Quakers had previously been Mennonites in Europe. Stettlerj 05:26, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

I believe that the first settlers actually were from Germany (Krefeld) of Dutch extraction. I believe that the three OpdenGraff brothers were second or third generation residents of Krefeld, their family having left Holland because the Anabaptist were being persecuted for their unconventional beliefs 72.9.3.192 (talk) 15:45, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

The reference at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen cited by Rex Germanus says that Germantown "remained almost exclusively Dutch until the beginning of the eighteenth century." But it sounds to me from other sources like there were plenty of both Dutch and Germans during the 1680s and 1690s, although many English apparently lumped them all together mentally. I'm not sure that we can say the "almost exclusively" part. I do gather that many of the Germantown settlers who had been living further up the Rhine in Germany were in fact Dutch. But also I don't think that they all were. Plenty of the names look Dutch, and plenty look German.
One other small note: lots of people on the web (including the reference at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) say that "Germantown is now a suburb of Philadelphia", but that has never been true. Prior to 1854 it was a town outside Philadelphia (and "suburbs" in today's post-automobile sense did not exist). You traveled past farms and woods to get there. Since 1854 it has been a part of Philadelphia, not a suburb of Philadelphia (and the farms and woods got developed long ago).
— Lumbercutter 02:32, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
This might be a dutchism, in Dutch suburb is somewhat broader.Rex 16:05, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

The National Park Service says "Founded in 1683 by Germans fleeing religious persecution who were invited to Pennsylvania by William Penn". Pastorius's article says he was German. Perhaps the area was first settled by Dutch, but it seems clear the village was founded by Germans. And logically, if the Dutch had founded it, would they have named it Germantown?--BillFlis 13:42, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

German-American Day uses the founding date of Germantown, Pennsylvania which was actually a Dutch settlement?[edit]

Ok, in the German-American Day article it is mentioned that they chose the 6th october as this was the founding date of the "first german settlement" in the colonies. But here it reads that the settlement was actually Dutch. Does not compute. Which one is correct? CharonX/talk 02:56, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Possible answer (tentative hypothesis, not well verified)[edit]

I am not any kind of expert on the history of Germantown or of Philadelphia. However, in my armchair learning, I have gathered so far that the following may accurately describe what really happened. (If I ever find the time to read extensively on this topic, I may revise the article accordingly.):

Short answer[edit]

The short answer is that it seems that the early settlers of what is today Northwest Philadelphia were a mix of Dutch and Germans, but that the English-speaking community never did a good job of differentiating them, and lumped them all together as "Germans". Even during the 1680s, when the German Township was formed, the English-speakers were lumping them all together under the term "German". This apparently has led to the oversimplified idea, still widespread, that these settlers were all native to [what is now] Germany.

Detailed answer[edit]

It seems that when William Penn first started attracting people of Europe to come and be settlers in his New World colony, called Pennsylvania, sometime around 1680, he made appeals to lots of people from various religious sects and nationalities, most especially Quakers of England, Holland, and the various principalities that today are northern Germany. (At that time there was no unified Germany.) Penn believed in religious freedom, so he probably also welcomed Lutherans and others.

It seems that the people who first colonized what is today Northwest Philadelphia were a mix of Dutch and Germans, but many of the Dutch had been living further up the Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. This is hardly surprising, because etically, there has historically been a gradual spectrum of language and culture up and down the Rhine valley—not a night-and-day dividing line—with people often traveling throughout the valley. No wonder that the various Low German dialects are not really so very different from Dutch. No wonder that English-speakers were a little ignorant about differentiating people from various spots along the valley. Remember also, that in the 1600s and 1700s, what is now Germany was many different principalities. The English word German was a catch-all term for anyone from any of them. They were even a little hazy about maintaining a distinction between the (cognate) words Dutch and Deutsch (an idea often touched upon when discussing the Pennsylvania Dutch).

In summary, it seems that the early settlers of what is today Northwest Philadelphia were a mix of Dutch and Germans, but that the English-speaking community never did a good job of differentiating them, and lumped them all together as "Germans". Even during the 1680s, when the German Township was formed, the English-speakers were lumping them all together under the term "German". This apparently has led to the oversimplified idea, still widespread, that these settlers were all native to [what is now] Germany.

— Lumbercutter 16:08, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Ah, that shines some light on things. Maybe we could write "Dutch and German settlement" or something like that, as all of nationalities got lumped together (and it would as one sided to exclusively mention the Dutch as it would be to exclusively mention the "Germans")? CharonX/talk 01:27, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree—I don't think it's very good at present. Needs balance in talking about the mix of identities. Overemphasizes the "gotcha" angle. (In so many words, "Despite the name, there were no Germans involved." Seems oversimplified and inaccurate.) Pastorius himself was not Dutch. But I have not changed it because I wanted to do some reading about the topic first in order to write something well referenced. (Would like to find time to read full text of Learned, Marion Dexter, The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius, the Founder of Germantown, Campbell: Philadelphia, 1908 in its entirety.) However, if anyone beats me to this task, feel free. — Lumbercutter 03:03, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

It seems that when William Penn first started attracting people of Europe to come and be settlers in his New World colony, called Pennsylvania, sometime around 1680, he made appeals to lots of people from various religious sects and nationalities, most especially Quakers of England, Holland, and the various principalities that today are northern Germany. (At that time there was no unified Germany.) Penn believed in religious freedom, so he probably also welcomed Lutherans and others.

It seems that the people who first colonized what is today Northwest Philadelphia were a mix of Dutch and Germans, but many of the Dutch had been living further up the Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. This is hardly surprising, because etically, there has historically been a gradual spectrum of language and culture up and down the Rhine valley—not a night-and-day dividing line—with people often traveling throughout the valley. No wonder that the various Low German dialects are not really so very different from Dutch. No wonder that English-speakers were a little ignorant about differentiating people from various spots along the valley. Remember also, that in the 1600s and 1700s, what is now Germany was many different principalities. The English word German was a catch-all term for anyone from any of them. They were even a little hazy about maintaining a distinction between the (cognate) words Dutch and Deutsch (an idea often touched upon when discussing the Pennsylvania Dutch).

In summary, it seems that the early settlers of what is today Northwest Philadelphia were a mix of Dutch and Germans, but that the English-speaking community never did a good job of differentiating them, and lumped them all together as "Germans". Even during the 1680s, when the German Township was formed, the English-speakers were lumping them all together under the term "German". This apparently has led to the oversimplified idea, still widespread, that these settlers were all native to [what is now] Germany.

— Lumbercutter 16:08, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Ah, that shines some light on things. Maybe we could write "Dutch and German settlement" or something like that, as all of nationalities got lumped together (and it would as one sided to exclusively mention the Dutch as it would be to exclusively mention the "Germans")? CharonX/talk 01:27, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree—I don't think it's very good at present. Needs balance in talking about the mix of identities. Overemphasizes the "gotcha" angle. (In so many words, "Despite the name, there were no Germans involved." Seems oversimplified and inaccurate.) Pastorius himself was not Dutch. But I have not changed it because I wanted to do some reading about the topic first in order to write something well referenced. (Would like to find time to read full text of Learned, Marion Dexter, The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius, the Founder of Germantown, Campbell: Philadelphia, 1908 in its entirety.) However, if anyone beats me to this task, feel free. — Lumbercutter 03:03, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Lumbercutter does a nice job of clarifying this. The most important thing to remember is that there was no German nation until 1871, but Germantown received its name centuries before then (1689, according to this article). So what did German mean to people in 1689? For that matter, what did Dutch mean? Of course, Holland was a "nation" long before Germany - more precisely, it was an empire. But who knows what "Dutch" or "German" meant to Americans at the time? Would they have made a distinction? In one sense, Holland was just one more among hundreds of states in central Europe (none of which were Germany, but perhaps collectively referred to as "German"). Holland probably meant something - it was important enough and rich enough that John Adams went there to try to borrow money for our new country after the American Revolution. Reading this discussion, I couldn't help but think about the year I spent in high school drawing and redrawing the map of Europe from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. We used different colors to distinguish different principalities - the area that became Germany was a nightmare to draw. What a relief when we got to 1871! Ngriffeth (talk) 12:35, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
After the above response, it suddenly occurred to me to check the meaning of "German" in the Oxford English Dictionary, which has the historical as well as the present meanings of words. Here is the most relevant sentence in the discussion of the origin of the word German: "In English use the word does not occur until the 16th c.... The older designations were ALMAIN and DUTCH (DUTCHMAN); the latter, however, was wider in meaning." And one of the quotes they cite is quite enlightening: "1705 Bosman Guinea 190 They are as impertinent and noisie as the..German Jews at their Synagogue at Amsterdam." Sounds like little or no distinction was made at the time between German and Dutch. Ngriffeth (talk) 12:48, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
right and wrong, before 1648 the present day Netherlands were part of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation, technically they were one nation and one people speaking mutually intelligible dialects of the German language (see wikipedia article for dialects of the continuum of continental westgermanic) and even long after the 17th century culturally and linguistically bounded to present day Germany, so therefore not to be distinguished people and to be classified as Germans in a historical sense, but one should state the fact that a large part of those settlers actually came from present day Netherlands and probably Belgium (Flemish part) as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.1.252.137 (talk) 13:20, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
They came from Krefeld, which is (and always was) a German town [1]. End of story. --77.186.167.221 (talk) 07:12, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
It's not so clear-cut as that. Krefeld was (and is) a border town, which spoke Plattdeutsch and had a blend of ethnically Dutch and German residents. See here for instance. --Wormcast (talk) 16:16, 15 September 2015 (UTC)
krefeld never was dutch 17:33, 6 October 2017 (UTC)~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by 109.192.147.102 (talk)

References

Missing Information[edit]

Its an interesting discussion of whether the original settlers of Germantown were Dutch or German. A discussion that seems to have ended (at least in the article as currently written, in favor of them being German. There are two additional pieces of information that are useful for the discussion.

Names of earliest settlers. There are references in the discussion to some of the names being Dutch. Most likely this is a reference to the "Op Den Graef" surname. Abraham, Dirck, and Herman Op den Graef were among the original thirteen family heads of Germantown. "Op Den Graef" certainly sounds Dutch, and its definitely not High German, as "Op" has no meaning in High German. However, in Low German dialects, and in Dutch, it means "On" (and not "of" as often interpreted). "Op Den Graef" could be either Dutch or Low German. Given the location, and the known history of the family, its far more likely to have been a low German name. Given the location, it would seem more likely that they were culturally German. Without forcing the data overly much, the family can be shown to have been present in the general area of Krefeld since about 1585. If they were indeed of Dutch origin, they came to the area well previous to that, and far earlier than their arrival can be documented. Which is to say, for all practical considerations the residents of Krefeld were culturally German. Proving otherwise would be challenging

Location of Krefeld 1597-1702. For most of its history Krefeld was a very small village/town in one or another of the German states. Old maps show it sometimes in the Electorship of Cologne, sometimes in Julich/Cleves, and sometimes in Gelderland. None of which are particularly "Dutch". However, more to the point, in 1597 the County of Moers came under the control of Maurice Prince of Orange through inheritance, and so became in effect a Dutch state within the Holy Roman Empire. County Moers itself, centered on the modern city of Moers, was not a very large state. Some period maps ignore it altogether, showing the area as with in the Electorship of Cologne, etc. Krefeld was an exclave of County Moers. It was not exactly "in" the County of Moers, but it nearby. If County of Moers gets mishandled on some of these old maps, more so Krefeld, which even if Moers is shown, is frequently shown as with the electorate of Cologne. Politically, if not culturally, Krefeld was in fact "Dutch" from 1597-1702.

Residence of Original Thirteen in Europe. So, if you think of the original Germantown settlers as being from Krefeld, and think of Krefeld as "Dutch", then I suppose there's justification for that. However, not all of the original thirteen settler families of Germantown were in fact from Krefeld. Niepoth, 1950, traces out their residences fairly well, if you're looking for a source. In anycase, of the thirteen at least six, and perhaps seven, of the families lived in Krefeld (or perhaps within the small area immediately around it considered its "Herrlichkeit". Two of the families came from the nearby town of Kaldenkirken. Two from Moenchengladbach/Gladbach/Rheydt a few miles away, one came from Waldniel (20 miles west of Krefeld), and one from Wesel which is about 30 miles north of Krefeld, on the right bank of the Rhine.

Of the thirteen original families, only seven of them actually lived in Krefeld, and were citizens of Moers, and hence Dutch citizens as well. The others lived on other principalities, with no connection to the Netherlands.

So if there's a need to describe some of them as being Dutch nationals, there's justification for it, even though after 1702 the area would come under the control of the very German state of Prussia. The five other founding families of Germantown, were citizens of the Electorship of Cologne, Julich, or one of the other German principalities.

Personally, I think that identifying any of them as "Dutch" is probably the wrong answer, and the current text seems appropriate. The nuances of whether they were or were not Dutch citizens is probably something better left unsaid in the main article. Ultimately, perhaps the answer revolves around what you think is important to show---either that they were culturally German, or politically Dutch at the time they left for Pennsylvania. TwelveGreat (talk) 17:44, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 16:55, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Notable?[edit]

The following have been removed from the list of notable residents in the main article, pending establishment of their notability, such as by having their own wikiarticles:

I know the 2 rappers are both from Germantown, not too sure about the lady. Isotope23 20:24, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

African American[edit]

The neighborhood is now majority African American and has been for some time. That should be reflected in the article. Its downtown shopping area was a prime retail area in the 19th-early 20th c. when this neighborhood was joined to downtown by street car. I think it became majority African American before WWII.--Parkwells (talk) 00:45, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm sure, from personal experience, that you're correct, but it would be nice to have some firm stats. If you look at some of the other Phila. neighborhoods, you can see how others have used Census data. I think it would make a good addition.--BillFlis (talk) 20:09, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
added text describing demographic shift Wormcast (talk) 02:04, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

POV tag[edit]

This concerns POV tag cleanup. Whenever an POV tag is placed, it is necessary to also post a message in the discussion section stating clearly why it is thought the article does not comply with POV guidelines, and suggestions for how to improve it. This permits discussion and consensus among editors. This is a drive-by tag, which is discouraged in WP, and it shall be removed. Future tags should have discussion posted as to why the tag was placed, and how the topic might be improved. Better yet, edit the topic yourself with the improvements. This statement is not a judgement of content, it is only a cleanup of frivolously and/or arbitrarily placed tags. No discussion, no tag.Jjdon (talk) 23:18, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

German or Dutch Settlers - Several Sources contradict Source in Article[edit]

German-American Day claims the first settlers came from Krefeld (modern-day Germany). This Reuters link also mentions that the settlers came from Krefeld. And this library of Congress page also names them as German (not Dutch) settlers. Does anyone know the details here? CharonX/talk 22:03, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

See above note about missing information. TwelveGreat (talk) 17:38, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
I've changed to have the article reflect that sources above. Please discuss if you disagree.

Thomas Godfrey, Notable Inventor[edit]

You may want to add Godfrey to the list of notables. He was the American inventor of the octant, a device used for navigation at sea. There is already a Wikipedia site for Godfrey which links to Germantown. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.67.24.48 (talk) 05:28, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

done -Wormcast (talk) 03:43, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Germantown and East Germantown[edit]

These two areas (the parts of the original borough that lie west and east of Germantown Avenue, respectively) are considered separate neighborhoods in various sources, but are closely linked historically and culturally. I am of the opinion that the subject of the article should be the combined area, and have been editing accordingly - but I invite discussion. -Wormcast (talk) 18:51, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Winningest[edit]

See here for a 45 thousand word debate on this word.

My takeaway from as much of it as I could stomach is that - independent of one's personal opinion about the tone of the word itself - just about everyone agrees that winningest is: 1) a controversial (incendiary?) word in the wikipedia community 2) generally unfamiliar to non-American English speakers 3) easily replaced with the perfectly understandable and uncontroversial most victorious

So basically, why go with it when other expressions serve? Lacking a good answer I choose to replace it. ---Wormcast (talk) 22:05, 1 May 2016 (UTC)

It's a word. People who don't know it are welcome to look it up. "most victorious" is objectively worse, makes the sentence longer and clunkier. Why pander to the lowest common denominator, this is not the Simple English wiki. JesseRafe (talk) 00:32, 2 May 2016 (UTC)
Nor is it the American wiki. --Wormcast (talk) 01:37, 2 May 2016 (UTC)
Well, American English is certainly appropriate here. But I find both "winningest" and "most victorious" pretty misleading, as he had a losing record. He was the "longest serving manager in Major League Baseball history", so I put that in instead. Smallbones(smalltalk) 02:50, 2 May 2016 (UTC)
That works for me :-) --Wormcast (talk) 03:45, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

Map of current context?[edit]

With all these graphics, how come

  1. the header map is of "Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania highlighting Germantown Borough prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854"
  2. § Boundaries is headed with a "Plan of lots in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1689, showing lot owners in 1689 and 1714", and
  3. the only modern map is at the foot of the section and shows the streets in detail, but very little of the rest of Philadelphia to set the context?

The header map should be in some format like the current header map, but contemporary, not 160 years out of date! --Thnidu (talk) 17:40, 15 May 2016 (UTC)

In the boundaries section, the placement reflects the chronological flow of the text, and I think that this is clear and appropriate. I do agree with you concerning the header map. if you are good with graphics, please rectify! --Wormcast (talk) 14:30, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

Plot of Germantown Parcels[edit]

The plot of the Germantown parcels is fairly useful for some purposes. There is, however, a distinct problem with it. Namely, it doesn't agree with other early maps of the Germantown settlement. Lehman's map of about 1776 is fairly similar to this map, but the layout of the parcels is a bit different. Since I don't know exactly which of Lehman's maps the current image is based on, its hard to say whether its right. In anycase, the parcel numbers shown in the current version are similar to what's in Lehman 1776, but do not align exactly.

There are a number of maps for the Germantown Townhship Parcels, some showing ownership. Here's a partial list of those that I know about

  • Pastorious c1686
  • Lehman-Scull 1751
  • Lehman-Zimmerman 1776
  • Rogers and Murphy 1851
  • Garber 1907 (in Keyser, 1907)
  • Duffin 2008

Some of these are more useful than others, but none show some of the features shown on this map. The Duffin map of 2008 is probably the most authoritative source for this. It (and the others that provide sufficient detail to speak to the question) does not show some of the features shown here. I'm specifically pointing to the area near the boundary between the Bristol Side Out Lots, and the Bristol side Town Lots. There are what I have to think of as errors in two regards.

1. Duffin (nor any of the other maps above) does not show the Peter Keurlis on the Bristol Side Town lots extending below the Jan Stryper property on the Schuykill side town lots. Rather their lower edges abut at the line of Germantown road. 2. This map shows a curious triangular area on the left hand side of Germantown Road, that's apparently part of Peter Keurlis's Lot 1 (Sckuykill Side). None of the other maps pointed to above show this property extending across Germantown Road.

The above are two points that suggest that the map is inaccurate. There may be others, but these are obvious errors.

Another issue, though not substantive, is that there's little point in highlight Tunes Kunders lot with a red dot. I think its highlighted because the map shown here was intended for use in someone's genealogy (i.e., someone tracing descent to Tunes Kunders.) While this does effect the value of the map in the same way as the two points made above, its still irrelevant for the purposes of the article.

All I'm saying here is that this particular map, whatever its based on, is not consistent with other depictions of the parcels. Stylistically, the map is very similar to Garber 1907 (in that it shows ownership in multiple years), but some of the details appear to be quite wrong. It should probably be replaced. That's something I'll work on but it will take me some time to get a more accurate map ready. In the meantime, though I find the current map unsatisfactory in some regards, it has the advantage that its readily available. It may be flawed but its more easily come to than the other maps I've pointed to. In most cases those other maps are in relatively obscure works---easily found on line if you know where to look, but you aren't likely to find some of them without a great deal of sifting. In some cases (Duffin 2008) the sources are still under copyright, and the works that they are in are fairly pricey---hence won't be found by the average seeker. So I'd recommend that the current map be left in place until a replacement can be crafted.

TwelveGreat (talk) 23:29, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

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