Monday, February 13, 2012

The Spirit of the Revolution Lives On!

When the freedom-minded revolutionists of 1848 and 1849 failed to overthrow imperial governments in German-speaking Europe, many fled to America, with a surprising number of them settling in Watertown, Wisconsin. Twenty-three years later, this advertisement appeared in the October 12, 1872, issue of the Erzähler, a supplement to the Watertown Weltbürger. During difficult economic times in America, butcher R. E. Steinberg invokes a spirit of upheaval with his cry: "Down with high prices! Revolution in the Butscherei!" The term Butscherei is uniquely German-American, as is the spelling of Butschershaps. Steinberg also assures his honorable customers that the quality of his casings is very high, and will never bring anyone into embarrassment. His purpose is not to become rich quickly, but instead to grow his shop into one of renown equaling the Butschershaps of larger cities.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finding Water in 19th-Century America

This question and answer comes from the "Mit Unserm Leser" (With Our Readers) section of Das Evangelische Magazin, vol. 22, no. 4, April 1890, published by Lauer und Mattill in Cleveland, Ohio, and edited by C. A. Thomas and R. Matt. We provide a translation here:

A reader, Kansas. 1. Is it really true that there are people who can run around the land with a rod in their hands, and then are able to say where to find water for a well? 2. Is it advisable or recommendable to employ such a person if one wants to dig a well?

Answer 1: Using a so-called "dowsing rod" to search for water, coal, oil, natural gas, and also minerals is quite an old practice, and is based upon completely natural principles. It does not involve any magic or witchcraft. Artificial dowsing rods have even been invented, which work as well as hazel rods. Everything depends, however, on the constitutional conditions of the individual person, since the hazel twig or dowsing rod is not effective in every person's hand. We do not have the space here to discuss cause and effect.

Answer 2: If we wanted to bore a well and could find a neighbor who knows how to carry the rod, then we would ask for his advice, and would cut the hazel rod to his own satisfaction, and also try it ourselves. Who knows, perhaps the rod would be effective in the hand of our inquirer. It is neither superstition, abuse of the name of God, nor hocus pocus, because it happens completely naturally.