Rare H. Winslow Fe­g­ley & Aman­dus Moyer pho­tos show early life in ru­ral Berks

Part 1 of three­part se­ries

The Hamburg Area Item - - Local News - Richard L. T. Orth A Look Back In His­tory

The trea­sure trove of culi­nary se­crets that have been passed down to our Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch peo­ple by their an­ces­tors ex­plains only in part their unique f ul f i l l ment of life. As an in­dus­tri­ous, dili­gent peo­ple, some of which still long pre­fer to do things by hand rather than ma­chine, the chal­lenge of hard work is met will­ingly, and the sat­is­fac­tion that en­sues comes from the ac­com­plish­ment of meet­ing the chal­lenge.

There is among the peo- ple a sense of yearn­ing to work the soil by our Worldly and Plain Dutch cousins or as we re­fer to our Men­non­ite colony, “Born of the soil and sub­servient to God.” Whether be it a truck patch, a flower gar­den, or just the groom­ing of the land, a nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity for gad­getry and sim­ple elec­tron­ics and not the ex­pan­sive world of I- phones, tablets, hand­held com­put­ers, but the in­ven­tive­ness and in­ge­nu­ity has en­abled their ru­ral econ­omy to keep pace with the na­tion. Such is also the case with the Old Or­der Wenger Men­non­ites who have made their way into the His­toric Oley Val­ley, only re­cently.

From an an­thro­pol­o­gist’s van­tage point, it’s near im­pos­si­ble for city peo­ple to ap­pre­ci­ate the true- grit ex­pe­ri­ences of an agrar- ian peo­ple, and es­pe­cially those folk who lived in such an orig­i­nal cul­ture as the Oley Val­ley. The daily expe- ri­ences which made their lives ex­cit­ing and sat­is­fy­ing are be­yond con­cept of a mod­ern ur­ban­ite, who be- ing di­min­ished by af­flu­ent liv­ing and com­mer­cial val­ues, are dis­qual­i­fied in find­ing en­joy­ment in the sim­ple plea­sures of life. But are cer­tainly able to wit­ness the grind yet beau­ti­ful sim­plic­ity on their big screen TV’s or tablet pop­u­lar re­al­ity shows such as Moun­tain Men, The Last Alaskans, or the like that give re­sem­blance to the self- suf­fi­ciency once preva­lent in the Oley Val­ley.

In spite of po­lit­i­cal anx­i­eties with re­cent presi- dents, so­cial and eco­nomic pres­sure that con­tinue to en­gulf the East Penn and Oley Val­leys, as well as else­where, the very same ob­sti­nate Amer­i­can in­di­vid­u­al­ism that spawned these folk to­gether with the rest of the na­tion still nur­tures the dy­namic cul­ture of Amer­ica to­day. The devel­op­ment of land in Amer­ica has been an ir­re­versible process that be­gan with the com­ing of the white man to the Western shores and the ex­pul­sion of


Har­vest­ing to­bacco was once a cash crop in the area, es­pe­cially among the Plain Dutch Wenger Men­non­ites in the 1950s when the first moved their colony into Kutz­town. Here, Worldly Dutch farm­ers at work. Photo taken by H. Winslow Fe­g­ley, cour­tesy the Sch­wenk­felder Li­brary Ar­chives, Penns­burg.


Side of Aman­dus Moyer’s brick res­i­dence, these young girls pose for a Moyer photo on horse­back. Cour­tesy Web­ster Rein­ert Col­lec­tion, Photo taken by Aman­dus Moyer.

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