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  #21  
Old 03.03.2014, 20:55
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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The Pennsylvania 'Dutch' are actually (mostly) of Germanic descent. Dutch is often said to be a misunderstanding of Deutsch.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Dutch

(But according to Wiki, "This folk etymology is however not supported by the historical record" so go figure... )



But, it is quite true that some variants of Swiss German are similar to Dutch. My husband (dutch) said he heard some similarities between the Bernese variant and Dutch.
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Old 04.03.2014, 01:36
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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The Pennsylvania 'Dutch' are actually (mostly) of Germanic descent. Dutch is often said to be a misunderstanding of Deutsch.
Dutch and Deutsch are originally the same word. Cf meaning of the words 'ben ik van duitsen bloed' in the Dutch National Anthem.


BTW, The first Mennonites came to Pennsylvania when Pennsylvania was still a British colony. As William Penn didn't have enough Quakers to colonize the province, he toured Europe to encourage like-minded groups to come and join him. As the mennonites were being persecuted at the time they were eager to sign up. In the case of the Mennonites and Amish, their pacifist outlook was good enough to be considered common ground. They don't really have much else in common with Penn's Quakers.
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  #23  
Old 04.03.2014, 07:05
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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But, it is quite true that some variants of Swiss German are similar to Dutch. My husband (dutch) said he heard some similarities between the Bernese variant and Dutch.
True, I am Bernese and I understand quite a lot of Dutch. A friend of mine is from Eindhoven and we normally speak to each other in our mother tongue with the odd word in the other language. Must sound pretty weird for outsiders.
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Old 04.01.2015, 05:20
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I came across this site and was reading the posts. I am a descendant of an Amish Family which came to Pennsylvania in about !743 on one of William Penn's ships which left Holland with a group of Amish families from the Swiss/German border region. My family's name is Myers. That is the Anglicized version of the name. When they disembarked in Philadelphia, I'm sure this might be when the spelling was changed.

I would very much appreciate hearing from anyone who might have any knowledge of this family name and where (what city) in Switzerland families with this name (or the German version of it) might still exist.

Thank you.

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Ellis Island (the 'clearing point' where so many immigrants first landed and registered) was established in 1892 and ran through 1954. This was a time of high immigration from Europe to the US, so many of us look here first for info.

Prior to that one needs to look at the various ports, or at ship's manifests, etc.

The first Amish settlers to the US arrived in the early 1700s. The largest wave, though, came 1800-1860.



The Pennsylvania 'Dutch' are actually (mostly) of Germanic descent. Dutch is often said to be a misunderstanding of Deutsch.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Dutch

(But according to Wiki, "This folk etymology is however not supported by the historical record" so go figure... )
My family who are Amish from Switzerland came to Pennsylvania through the Port of Philadelphia in the 1740's and settled near Lancaster in and around Mt. Joy, Penn.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.01.2015 at 21:25. Reason: merging successive posts and removing first name for privacy reasons
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  #25  
Old 04.01.2015, 05:38
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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I came across this site and was reading the posts. I am a descendant of an Amish Family which came to Pennsylvania in about !743 on one of William Penn's ships which left Holland with a group of Amish families from the Swiss/German border region. My family's name is Myers. That is the Anglicized version of the name. When they disembarked in Philadelphia, I'm sure this might be when the spelling was changed.

I would very much appreciate hearing from anyone who might have any knowledge of this family name and where (what city) in Switzerland families with this name (or the German version of it) might still exist.

Thank you.
There are about 25 Myers families in Switzerland, many around Geneva and Meyrin,

http://tel.local.ch/en/q?what=Myers&where=&rid=9jNe

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.01.2015 at 21:25. Reason: removed name from quoted text
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Old 04.01.2015, 06:15
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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There are about 25 Myers families in Switzerland, many around Geneva and Meyrin,

http://tel.local.ch/en/q?what=Myers&where=&rid=9jNe
... but they are almost certainly immigrants. The OP is right, it's not a Swiss/German spelling.

OP, your ancestors were probably Meier or Maier. Unfortunately for you that's one of the most common surnames in Switzerland, so it really doesn't narrow the search at all.
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Old 04.01.2015, 06:48
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

Sbrinz and MathNut,


Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. Your help is much appreciated. This information will help

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.01.2015 at 21:26. Reason: removed first name for privacy reasons
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  #28  
Old 04.01.2015, 10:23
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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... but they are almost certainly immigrants. The OP is right, it's not a Swiss/German spelling.

OP, your ancestors were probably Meier or Maier. Unfortunately for you that's one of the most common surnames in Switzerland, so it really doesn't narrow the search at all.
Don't forget the Meyer and Mayer.

Nowadays you find in the phone book about
- 22'000 Meier
- 11'000 Meyer
- 1'400 Mayer
- 1'300 Maier (rather German origin)

But these are phone book entries (families) with a total number of inhabitants of over 8 million (23% foreigners) nowadays.

Around 1740, there were only 1.3 million people living in Switzerland! By the way with only about 2% (~26'000) foreigners those times!

In Swiss German you speak about "d'Mayers" or "d'Müllers" when you refer to a family with such a family name (Mayer, Müller). Or the answer to the question "Wer sind Sie?" (Who are you?) would be: "Mer sind d'Meyers" given the family name is Meyer. And given that those times hardly everybody was able to write, it is easily imaginable that the similar question by an immigrant officer would have resulted in the same answer. And then "Myers" would have been written down, instead of Mayer, Meier, Meyer, or Maier.

And around 1740 I would expect that Meiers were not yet that distributed over the whole country. And yes it is a typical Bernese family name. No surprise, since the Amish were (also) from the Bernese Emment(h)al.

But see here:

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/singing-...an-way/6013324
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/the-amish-come-home/3436624
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/pilgrima...mental/1994660
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  #29  
Old 04.01.2015, 10:46
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

Years ago I visited Ellis island and consider it the true birthplace of America.
All records of everybody who passed through have been made available on the website, you may want to have a look.. http://libertyellisfoundation.org
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  #30  
Old 04.01.2015, 11:51
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

During periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, an "Ueberseeische Auswanderung im Jahre ___" document was completed for Swiss emigrants by the shipping agency organizing the emigration. This document lists personal details including the emigrant's Heimatgemeinde, Wohngemeinde, occupation, ship, destination, etc. This document might also be useful to locate the ship's manifest, which might have more details of the emigrant.

I do not know if this document was completed for Swiss emigrants in the 18th century.
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Old 04.01.2015, 12:24
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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Years ago I visited Ellis island and consider it the true birthplace of America.
All records of everybody who passed through have been made available on the website, you may want to have a look.. http://libertyellisfoundation.org
A very moving place indeed. However, not all immigrants are recorded there. About a dozen youngsters from my native village here, including my dad's older brother and sister- were put on a train to Paris and then Le Havre in the late 20s, and then a single fare to New York. They did not have to pass through Ellis Island as they had sponsors in the USA, realtives who'd moved in the late 1800s- and 2nd class ship tickets.
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Old 04.01.2015, 12:28
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

This book about the Menonites being thrown out of Protestant Bern, but 'welcomed' in Catholic Jura- providing they would rent from the Basel Bishop lands to farm which were about 1000m (and that nobody wanted of course, as such hard work and poor yields)- was truly fascinating and taught me a lot about the history of the Jura. I've lent it to several friends from that area near Porrentruy, who are still 'good praticising' Catholics, and they really were quite surprised too.

Going back to post 17 above- I've now joined the Swiss Huguenots society to try and get answers to my questions re the conversion of the Huguenots in the Jura, when and why? Of course it may well have to do with what is described in the book mentioned in post 1- that they too were limited in what jobs they could do, and could only rent poor uplands above 1000m.

For me, finding out aged about 50, in the UK- that after all the hassle due to 'class' and religion in my family- that our ancestors were in fact Huguenots- persecuted for their faith and forced into exile- only to later become the darkest kind of Catholics- is loaded with irony. So would love to find out how and why conversion took place, individual, or en bloc/why/when.
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  #33  
Old 04.01.2015, 12:36
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

we have family friends who are mennonites not far from you odile- well, not too far, in st.ursanne. still live pretty simply compared to most others but i still find certain things about their lifestyle a bit, uncomfortable. and i didn't think that they were so similar to the penn dutch amish, but it could be a one off
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Old 04.01.2015, 12:36
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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A very moving place indeed. However, not all immigrants are recorded there. About a dozen youngsters from my native village here, including my dad's older brother and sister- were put on a train to Paris and then Le Havre in the late 20s, and then a single fare to New York. They did not have to pass through Ellis Island as they had sponsors in the USA, realtives who'd moved in the late 1800s- and 2nd class ship tickets.
There were of course other places and ways to get into America, after New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the largest immigrant harbors, along with harbors in Maine and New England, but even their records are now being made available over the Ellis island site.
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Old 04.01.2015, 12:55
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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There were of course other places and ways to get into America, after New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the largest immigrant harbors, along with harbors in Maine and New England, but even their records are now being made available over the Ellis island site.
the ellis island records are amazing. i have found handwritten boat registers from 1897 with my family's names and all their info, photos of the ships that they sailed on and how much money they had, who came to collect them, the address where they would be staying, etc. in fact boston was (up until the time of ellis island) possibly one of the busiest ports, and there are also some records available from there as well.
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Old 04.01.2015, 12:56
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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There were of course other places and ways to get into America, after New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the largest immigrant harbors, along with harbors in Maine and New England, but even their records are now being made available over the Ellis island site.
It was also popular to use Canadian ports for immigration to America:

"A large number of immigrants came to the United States via Canada during the mid- and late nineteenth century, and for them there is no U.S. immigration record. They landed in Canada where no U.S. officer met them or recorded information about their arrival in the United States."

http://www.archives.gov/publications...records-1.html

The story in my family was that it cost less to ship to Montreal than to New York, but that may have been only part of the truth.
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Old 04.01.2015, 13:01
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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It was also popular to use Canadian ports for immigration to America:

"A large number of immigrants came to the United States via Canada during the mid- and late nineteenth century, and for them there is no U.S. immigration record. They landed in Canada where no U.S. officer met them or recorded information about their arrival in the United States."

http://www.archives.gov/publications...records-1.html

The story in my family was that it cost less to ship to Montreal than to New York, but that may have been only part of the truth.
i suppose it would also depend where they were coming from- for example from france, mid-northern europe, uk, it would make sense via cultural/political ties to travel to montreal- though for others, southern europeans, etc not so much. also, many people probably started out in canada and once they realized how cold, isolated and wild it was possibly looked to go someplace like boston, new york or the like... just guesses though.
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Old 04.01.2015, 16:10
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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But, it is quite true that some variants of Swiss German are similar to Dutch. My husband (dutch) said he heard some similarities between the Bernese variant and Dutch.
This is just because of two phenomena:
- the vocalization of /l/ (hout, houden etc.) but is far more through in Bernese than in Dutch
- the long vowels not impacted by the so called Bavarian diphtongaison so /u:/ didn't become /ao/.
… add to that the loss of endings, in particular -n, and a couple of vocab that survived in both conservative linguistic areas. That's a lot for people's ears, but it's very little to linguists.

Linguisitically speaking, the differences are otherwise huge, Dutch and Highalemanic are at both ends of the dialect spectrum. F. ex. the sounds /k/ and /x/ (the strong jota sound) are exactly the other way around.
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Old 04.01.2015, 21:15
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

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This is just because of two phenomena:
- the vocalization of /l/ (hout, houden etc.) but is far more through in Bernese than in Dutch
- the long vowels not impacted by the so called Bavarian diphtongaison so /u:/ didn't become /ao/.
… add to that the loss of endings, in particular -n, and a couple of vocab that survived in both conservative linguistic areas. That's a lot for people's ears, but it's very little to linguists.

Linguisitically speaking, the differences are otherwise huge, Dutch and Highalemanic are at both ends of the dialect spectrum. F. ex. the sounds /k/ and /x/ (the strong jota sound) are exactly the other way around.
Absolutely correct, but there also are words that are practically the same both in Swiss German and Dutch but don't exist in all other German dialects between those two extremes. There are even some parallels between Swiss German and English without equivalents in between.

A little bit closer to the original topic: There are Mennonites in our area in Michigan. We sometimes talk, me speaking Swiss German while they use their variant of Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, and we get along great.
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Old 04.01.2015, 22:34
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Re: Anabaptists, Mennonite and Amish communities

From what I remember, pensilvanian Deitsch is rather Rheinisch-Pfälzisch coloured. It's middle-German south of Benrath. That does make it very German, far more so than any kind of Dutch, so very accessible to Swiss-German. :-)
And ja, the Dutch is actually very conservative for vocab also, a common trait with High Alemanic. The Saxon influence on High German didn't do its magic on both of them.
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