A Look at the Life and Work of an Amish Folk Artist

Amish Folk Artist Barbara Ebersol: Her Life, Fraktur, and Death Record Book. By David Luthy. 1995. Hardbound, 128 pp., $29.95, plus $3.50 postage and handling. (PA residents add 6% sales tax.) ISBN: 0-9614479-9-0. Published by Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2215 Millstream Rd., Lancaster, PA 17602-1499.

In late nineteenth century Lancaster, Pennsylvania, an Amish folk artist named Barbara Ebersol “marked” books, meaning that she decorated and inscribed German Bibles, hymnbooks, and family mementoes with fraktur—a form of calligraphy and painted decoration. Aside from marking books, she compiled a death records book. This detailed genealogical record names 1,300 relatives, with the earliest entry beginning in 1792. Entries typically included the person’s name, birth date, death date and age at death. Canadian compiler David Luthy has beautifully reproduced a four-color, horizontally-shaped volume of Barbara Ebersol’s life, complete with illustrations of her fraktur, and a thorough transcription of her death record book. The book is both artistic and scholarly. Genealogical data on many Pennsylvania German families is found in the death record book. Among the surnames appearing most often are Arthaud, Beiler, Blank, Ebersol. Fischer/Fisher, Glick, King, Lapp, Lebold, Petersheim, Schmucker, Schwartenztruber, Speicher, Stolztfus, and Zook/Zug.

Amish Folk Artist Barbara Ebersol: Her Life, Fraktur, and Death Record Book (Mennonite Sources and Documents) is also available from Amazon.com (affiliate link).

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