When ‘Sauer Kraut’ loaned its name to this Pennsylvania Dutch neighborhood in York


This view, looking north on South George Street shows York, Pa.’s, ‘Sauer Kraut Hill’ today. Edwin Greiman gave the boundaries of the largely German neighborhood in the late 1800s as running on South George Street between Maple and South streets. The district is hardly a hill but is part of the elevation as George Street rises from its Codorus Creek crossing. St. Mary’s Church is slightly north of Greiman’s boundaries. But this church, popular with German Catholics, attests to the German concentration in that part of York. Greiman’s ‘Memoirs’ show how Penn Park served as a playground for youngsters in the neighborhood. Also of interest: Helpful York County cooks come forward with their time-tested hog maw recipes.

One hundred years ago, sauerkraut and pork, that Pennsylvania Dutch dish popular this time of year, loaned its name to a neighborhood in York.

Edwin Greiman, an artist and astute observer of York County, described that district in his “Memoirs:”

“It was a quiety, sultry, summer night on ‘Sauer Kraut Hill’ – that portion of South George Street in York, Pennsylvania, lying between South and Maple streets, which was so named by one of the residents, since so many German lived there … .”

He told of a man with a black satchel stopping in front of a now-demolished house on the corner of Charles Alley and George Street.

He was admitted and all was quiet, for a moment.

“Suddenly the neighbors were aroused from their sleep by an ear-splitting ‘BAAA!’ Some thought it was a sick sheep down on Penn common. Then, as the cry changed to ‘WAAA,’ one of the neighbors saw the buggy in front of the house, and, putting their heads together, they decided it was just another little ‘Sauer Krauter’ who had slipped into town by a hard ‘squeeze.’ ”

And thus Edwin Greiman entered the world in 1871 on Sauer Kraut Hill.

And his memoirs from the late 1960s remind us of these times when Pennsylvania Dutch was still widely spoken around York County and, German culture – and
– served as a way of life around here.

Much has changed in this neighborhood, but one can almost still detect the sour smell of that delicacy on the sidewalks of ‘Sauer Kraut Hill’ this time of year.


Joan Concilio’s blog,where this photo first appeared, has about everything you’d ever want to know about sauerkraut. Also: The Pennsylvania Dutch tradition: Pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s.



About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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4 Responses to When ‘Sauer Kraut’ loaned its name to this Pennsylvania Dutch neighborhood in York

  1. Terry Downs says:

    Have heard of Sauerkraut hill from woman if still living would be over 115 years old (passed away at age 98). She also resided on Jefferson Avenue near Farquhar Park and mentioned the term ‘Vinegar Hill’ in regard to her community there. Thanks for your story Jim – and Happy New Year!

  2. Interesting article Jim. I was given a copy of my great uncle’s “Memoirs” years ago by one of his former co-workers when I worked at York Graphic Services. Edwin was my great grandfather’s brother. Memoirs is a fascinating read. I never got to meet him but it seems he left quite a legacy, not only in his accounts of York County history but very much in the printing industry too. It was in Memoirs where I first heard of Sauerkraut Hill.
    Your mention of how PA Dutch was widely spoken in this area makes me think how much I wish I would have thought to record conversations with my grandma Greiman. She had a very heavy German accent. Her maiden name was Gunnet and was from Stoverstown and her family immigrated here well after the Greimans. When she’d see my dad and I coming over on Sundays, I remember hearing her yell to my grandpa in PA Dutch that we were there. My father’s name was Edward and she’d yell “Da Kunda Eddie”. Spelling that phonetically, no idea how it’s really spelled in German.
    Thanks for the memories, Jim!

    • Jim McClure says:

      Brett, thanks for your memories. When I was writing the piece, I wondered whether there was a connection. Two Greimans. Both artists. So readers know, Brett Greiman has made several contributions in his art, the one most significant in my mind is this panel: Civil Rights Heroes.

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