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)

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)

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)

  1. ^ http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphiade#Original_13