Scholla: Lincy’s Luck Romance in Hamburg 1825

Lincy’s Luck Romance in Hamburg 1825

When a man writes his autobiography it deserves to be taken seriously, for it is the literary kin of a death-bed confession; but when the autobiographer is a professional clown such as that delightful rogue, Hugh Lindsay, it is difficult to determine whether he is not plying his old trade and kidding his readers as he did his audiences under the big top. In reproducing the story of Lindsay’s abruptly terminated romance in Hamburg, Berks County, we may be perpetuating a tall story emanating from the vagaries of an egomaniac. But the story is good in its own right, and whether true or otherwise it  bears retelling here.

Lindsay’s show was playing in the town of Hamburg. After the show was ended a dance was held in the tavern and as the wee hours of the morning came, young couples began to pair off, homeward bound. Lindsay was standing on the hotel porch “looking for a chance.”

After the crowd thinned out the clown-performer espied two girls standing alone on a side road. Boldly he approached them and in English asked, “May I see you home?”

Demurely one of the maidens replied in German, “Yah, ich denk du kannscht.” Realizing that a party of three was a bit unwieldy, Lindsay asked the second girl whether she would welcome another young man as an escort. To this the girl drawled a giggling, “Yaa.”

Hailing his fellow-actor, Pursel, who responded with alacrity the two couples set out upon a four mile trek through darkness to the fast recesses of the Blue Mountains. When they reached the home of the girls, who were sisters, they found that all of the doors to the house were locked.

“Kummt en anner mohl,” the girls suggested to the young swains. But a four-mile hike after midnight should not go unrewarded with a gate-goodbye reasoned the young men. When the girls left them to try other entrances to the house the Romeos waited patiently for the front door to open for them.

Alas! Time passed and no door was opened. After a while the weary wooers heard someone stirring at a window on the second floor, just above them.

From their lofty position the girls taunted the persistent would-be lovers, challenging them to climb up to the window. Out to the barnyard rushed the hopeful ones and there they found a ladder on one of the hay wagons, probably the side of an old-fashioned Leeder Wagge. They carried this heavy equipment to the house, erected it against the side leading to the room from which the girls had addressed them and then the two of them began to climb toward their romantic objective.

Lindsay climbed up first and reached the top rung of the ladder poked his head into the window from which the girls had called; Pursel was clambering after him when Alas! Alack! The ladder was pulled out from under them. Pursel dropped to the ground and Lindsay was suspended in mid air, holding onto the window ledge until he was forced to let go and drop to earth.

On the ground they lay, helpless while the father and the brothers of the girls rained blows upon them with heavy clubs and horse-whips. While they laid it on the Dutchmen shouted:

Robbers do- tunner wedder, hock druff for doms,” which is Lindsay’s dialect rendition.

Lindsay lost his hat in the scrape and both young Lotharios carried welts on their bodies for some days afterwards. They took their revenge at cursing the “Dumb, Dutchmen.”

Archival Notes: The series of Scholla posts titled LIncy’s Luck are derived from Hugh Lindsay’s autobiography

History of the Life, Travels, and Incidents of Col. Hugh Lindsay The Celebrated Comedian for a Period of 37 years. By Hugh Lindsay. O.P. Knauss, Book & Job Printer. Macungie, PA. 1883.

Hugh Lindsay was one of the most famous showmen in Berks County history. Born in 1804, he spent many years performing as a circus clown and puppeteer throughout eastern Pennsylvania and neighboring states. He also worked as a hotel keep throughout Eastern Pennsylvania in locations such as Reading, Maidencreek, Sinking Spring, Wernersville, and Bethel to name a few. He spent his final years of life living at the base of Cushion Peak near the site of Grand View Sanatorium. 

Looking South on 3rd Street Hamburg, PA.
Looking South on 3rd Street Hamburg, PA. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society.
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