Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Schwenkfelder's & Apple Butter

Schwenkfelder Apple Butter

Bauman's started in 1892 when John W. Bauman purchased a cider press and operated it with the steam engine in his carriage manufacturing shop. Soon he began cooking apple butter for farmers of the community. They called it "lattwaerrick" in their Pennsylvania German dialect.

He used the apple butter recipe his wife had received from her Schwenkfelder ancestors, who had settled in southeastern Pennsylvania alongside John's Mennonite forefathers.

In 1734 the followers of Caspar Schwenckfeld came to Pennsylvania as Christian refugees from Silesia, seeking freedom of worship. They survived on the high seas due in part to an ample supply of apple butter, a fruit product that keeps its goodness without preservatives or refrigeration. On arrival they celebrated with a meal of bread and apple butter, an occasion still commemorated in Schwenkfelder churches.

Before long John Bauman's apple butter business had replaced his carriage shop. As satisfied customers spread the word the business has continued to grow since the turn of the century.

Now in the third generation Bauman's Apple Butter Factory is still a family operation in the Nineteenth Century village of Sassamansville.

Apple butter is a traditional part of the Schwenkfelder Day of Remembrance, or Gedächtnestag, that is held each year to honor the memory of the Schwenkfelders arrival in Philadelphia on September 22, 1734. The Schwenkfelders emigrated from Saxony to America in six groups with the largest group traveling in 1734. They had lived peacefully for seven years in Saxony after fleeing persecution in Silesia but then the political climate changed and oppression began again. Although forbidden to emigrate by the authorities, forty families left their homes in April 1734 and journeyed to Holland. Once in Holland, prosperous Dutch Mennonite merchants gave them food and shelter and paid for their passage to America. The voyage was a difficult one with storms at sea accompanied by sparse food and water rations and nine Schwenkfelders died at sea during the 1734 trip. The diary of 16-year-old Christopher Schultz describes how, on September 21, 1734, the ship dropped anchor near New Castle and they had their first fresh water from the river and fresh apples and bread from a nearby ship.2 They came into Philadelphia the next day and again received fresh apples and beer to drink.3 Two days later, they celebrated their safe arrival with a service of thanksgiving. Gedächtnestag is now celebrated on the Sunday closest to September 24 when a simple meal of bread, apple butter, and water is served. Tradition holds that apple butter was part of the first Day of Remembrance celebration.

No comments:

Post a Comment