Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2001 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

It's German, not Dutch

Our tombstone-reading blitz which we held one day recently at Oak Grove
Cemetery in Grayville was not a huge success, but we did get a start.
Some people who could not work on that particular day volunteered to
take a section to read at their convenience. Since there are several
sections to be completed, we are looking for more workers who might be
willing to work in their spare time.

These sections appear to be easier to read than those of most
cemeteries, because the markers are in straight rows and are quite
legible. If you'd be willing to work a section, please call Pat Davis
during hours at the genealogy library (382-8425) from 10 to 2 Tuesday
through Saturday. Or you may call me at 966-3744.


In some article recently I noticed the phrase "Pennsylvania German."
This term is correct, but we rarely see it used. Most of the time the
incorrect term, "Pennsylvania Dutch," is used instead.

It was the Germans who settled in Pennsylvania. They lived closely with
other German immigrants, and the German language was spoken almost
exclusively. When a German said, "Ich bin Deutsch," this was
translated, "I am German." "Deutsch," the word for German, sounded so
much like "Dutch" to others who came in contact with these Germans, that
people began to call these Germans "Pennsylvania Dutch" instead of
Pennsylvania German, which would have been more accurate.

In the early 1700s, William Penn offered religious freedom and land
ownership to people who would settle in Pennsylvania. The repressed
people of the Alsace-Lorraine territory of the Rhine Country had endured
persecution and war, and had been alternately under French and German

They jumped at the chance to come to Pennsylvania, and German peasants
came by the thousands. They had not been allowed to own land in their
homeland, so they worked hard and were successful in their new country.
They soon owned large tracts of Pennsylvania land. So it was the Germans
in Pennsylvania--not the Dutch.

Scotch and English officials spelled the German names phonetically, so
many names were changed or Americanized. Examples are Huntzinger
(Hunsinger), Fahnckuser (Funkhouser) and Koch (Cook).

Practically all genealogists can add some names of their German
ancestors to this list. Most of us in this area have some Germans among
our ancestors--although it was not popular to admit this during the
time of World War I and World War II.


This column was a while in the making. While in the midst of typing it,
suddenly nothing came up on the monitor screen. It was then I discovered
my energetic puppy had chewed the cord from my keyboard in two! So a
rush trip was made to Carmi to purchase a new keyboard, and also to go
to the public library to discuss how best to handle the chewed-up book
which the puppy had devoured prior to his encounter with the keyboard


Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.

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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2001 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.