Friday, September 26, 2008

Sauer Almanac

When Christopher Sauer, Sr. opened his printing business (sometime in 1738), he printed some ABC and spelling books. In August 1738 he produced an Almanac - "The High-German American Calendar for the year 1739." This Almanac, the first German one, published in America, was issued annually by Sauer, his son and grandson for 49 years.

Sauer's Almanac, like others of its day, contained signs of the zodiac and aspects of the planets. Times for sunrise and sunset and the dates for the phases of the moon were considered important by its users. The first edition advised, for example, that crops which bear fruit above the earth should be planted when moonlight was increasing, while those whose fruit grows in the earth should be planted during waning phases of the moon. Sauer, nevertheless, added the practical counsel that God's blessing would be with those crops planted in well-fertilized, well-weeded soil that had been cultivated to retain moisture.

The almanac contained some literary features and moral advice that received mixed reactions from readers. Weather predictions, compiled from other almanacs of the day, occasionally brought complaints to the publisher from those who relied on them too much.

These almanacs were circulated from New York to Georgia. The Germans relied upon them implicity. It is related that a farmer, named Welker, from above Sunnytown, consulted his almanac, found it promised fair weather, loaded his wagon, and started for Philadelphia. On the way it began to rain. Welker was angry. He denounced the "weather book" and decided to stop at Sauer's place in Germantown and give him a severe reprimand for publishing such lies.

Sauer listened to his harangue and then meekly replied, "Friend, be not thus angry, for although I made the Almanac, the Lord Almighty made the weather."

Source: A History of the Brethren, Brumbaugh
The Brethren Encyclopedia