Browns, Sugar Creek and Riggs, Waterford Township, Clinton County, Iowa

Compiled by Lorraine Houghton and Marilu Thurman, updated August 2006.
Thank you so much to Lorraine and Marilu for sending this information to us. 

Understanding the Language in Browns

It is interesting to hear people talk about the old days, when they had such language barriers. People came from different areas of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Poland, and Prussia. Many younger children were hired by families who spoke a different language, or the same language with a different dialect so they could not converse with each other very well. Once the children reached the age of approximately 14, they were old enough to "work out". There were so many dialects, even within the German language, and even within people who originally came from Gottschee. The people whose families had lived near the mountains spoke a different dialect from families that came from the lowlands. The people from the cities spoke a different dialect than the farmers. Thus, the high, middle and low German and many variations thereof. Some families mentioned that they did not visit some of the other Austrian families as they were "higher up" than their family was. That did not mean a social class distinction, but it meant the elevation of where their ancestors had lived. Also, as the families settled in the area and the children started learning English in school, many of the children could not understand their uncles and aunts, and other elder family members. Footnote from Marilu: The people from Gottschee spoke their own dialect of German called Gottscheabarish.