Individual

Go to List of Family Names Go to List of People < Previous Next >

WEYGANDT Cornelius
Birth:          31 Dec 1871 Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa.
Death:          1957 

Notes
1981 book (see for details)
Cornelius was employed as journalist for the Philadelphia Record and then for 
Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, and later as Professor of English at the University of 
Pennsylvania.  He was the author of over eighteen books. 
1880 in Philadelphia, Pa.
1910 in Philadelphia, Pa. 2 servants, college professor
1920 in Philadelphia, Pa. 6635 Wissahickon Ave, 1 servant, professor (idx Cornellus)
http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Weygandt__Cornelius.html
Weygandt, Cornelius 
Born: December 13, 1871, in Germantown, Pennsylvania 
Died: 1957 
Vocations: Scholar, Historian, Professor, Non-fiction Writer, Biographer 
Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Germantown, Philadelphia County 

Keywords: Dutchiana; On the Edge of Evening; Pennsylvania Dutch; The Red Hills; 
University of Pennsylvania 

Abstract: In the archives of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, one name stands above all 
others: Cornelius Weygandt. Despite the fact that he has been dead for nearly fifty 
years, he remains the leading authority of all things Pennsylvania Dutch. Weygandt 
was a decorated Professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, 
where he was awarded for greatness in teaching by the Friars Senior Society. Through 
his literary contributions, Weygandt has achieved a level of greatness which makes 
him immortal. 

Biography: 

Cornelius Weygandt was born on December 13, 1871, in Germantown, PA. He was the 
son of Cornelius Nolan Weygandt and Lucy Elmaker Thomas. His ancestry consisted 
of a long linage of German immigrants. His great-great-grandfather, also named 
Cornelius Weygandt, immigrated from Osthofen, Germany, to Germantown, 
Pennsylvania, in 1736. Moving into a German community had made the transition 
easier and helped keep his family’s German culture alive. Four generations later, 
Cornelius Weygandt led a life which was still strongly influenced by his ancestry, an 
influence evident by his writing. 

Weygandt authored over eighteen books in his life. With his father a prominent banker 
and his mother a school teacher, it seemed fated that Weygandt would become a 
successful man. Weygandt proved to be enthusiastic and was motivated to become a 
scholar. He enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of fifteen. However, 
by his own admission, he didn’t catch on to the entire meaning of higher education 
until his third year there. Weygandt seemed to possess a thirst for knowledge 
uncommon for a boy of his age; he quenched his thirst with a great number of books 
and volumes of history, as it pertained to his heritage. Throughout his childhood, 
Weygandt busied himself studying all manner of things about the world around him. He 
showed interest in many topics ranging from the local woodland creatures to the 
nursery rhymes of the local Pennsylvania Dutch. 

In his autobiography, On the Edge of Evening, Weygandt reminisces about his 
childhood, having been different from most of his peers. He recalls the other children 
running and playing while he was busy with his texts or learning Latin. Most of his 
childhood friends were actually adults. He would spend his free time listening to 
stories from his Aunt Rachel or Lawrence Kelly, the family gardener, who would teach 
Weygandt rhymes as they worked together. 

Throughout his life, Weygandt always displayed a great compassion for all creatures 
great and small. Although this feeling was instilled at a young age, it carried through 
his life and is evident in the writings of his later years. His writings are an example of a 
man whose passion for the ways of old and findings of nature are driven by a rich 
imagination. 

In his autobiography, Weygandt states, “My belief about writing is that one should be 
so lost in a subject that is possesses him and makes him forget everything but what he 
is writing about. I have never had much patience with self-expression as an end in 
writing, what I have written about is this, that, and the other thing that has possessed 
me since childhood.” Clearly, this is evident in his works, considering that they consist 
of various non-fiction pieces reflecting a compilation of his life experiences. 

The first book that Weygandt authored, Irish Plays and Playwrights, was written in 
1913. During the time that he spent writing his first book, Weygandt was also 
spending his days teaching at The University of Pennsylvania full time. He would labor 
on his writing during the night after he had reviewed his lecture notes for the next day. 

Weygandt took few things more seriously than his teaching. Although he would 
laboriously plan out his lectures, he believed that it was necessary that he did not 
read anything directly to his students, explaining that it would make the lectures more 
tedious for the listener. Instead, he would discipline himself to memorize any quotes 
and have a thorough understanding of the material in order to ensure that the 
message was clear and captivating. Understandably, it took quite a while for him to 
finish the book, considering his other commitments. 

It was not until 1925 that Weygandt wrote his second book, A Century of the English 
Novel. Weygandt was able to produce this book much more quickly due to his 
familiarity with the subject, which he had spent the previous 25 years lecturing about. 
In On the Edge of Evening, Weygandt speaks of his first two books and admits that 
his first book was given a more harsh review by literary critics but, after time, the 
claims that he had made held true. 

After his second book was published in 1925, Weygandt’s writing took off. He had 
apparently found his niche and was able to produce his next book, Tuesdays at Ten, 
even more quickly than the last two. Tuesdays at Ten was a precedential work. 
Weygandt wrote the book to target his former students. It consisted of multiple 
lectures and lessons that he had taught, copied down almost verbatim. It outlined the 
history of the state that he loved so much as well as the school that molded him. It 
was a hit with many of his former students, selling over 1,250 copies, of which he 
personally signed about 250. 

The next book that Weygandt wrote was a personal testament of his heritage. The 
Red Hills outlines the Pennsylvania Dutch lifestyle as Weygandt had experienced it. It 
represents the first book in which Weygandt really exposed his true passion for his 
heritage. He had been considering writing a book on the subject of Pennsylvania 
Dutch for nearly forty years and finally felt that he was ready and able to justify it. 

Weygandt wrote with pride of the Pennsylvania Dutch. He even opposed the 
movement to correct the phrase to Pennsylvania German, on the basis that, to the 
world, they were Pennsylvania Dutch. He felt that most of the greatest things about 
their heritage would be forever tagged as Dutch. Dutch cookbooks, Dutch furniture, 
Dutch pretzels, and more would all be lost to their rightful owners if they insisted on 
being called Pennsylvania German. 

The Wissahickon Hills, published in 1930, was Weygandt’s first book concentrating 
on his appreciation of nature. It mainly focuses on the native birds of Pennsylvania. 
There is also mention of the other flora and fauna that he had learned of during his 
childhood adventures. 

The next book that Weygandt wrote also shared the Pennsylvania outdoors theme. A 
Passing America encompassed more than just the wildlife, going on to revel in the 
memories of the historic covered bridges and the log cabins of the turn of the century. 
It tells of the Quakers that lived in the area and their home made apple pies and their 
downy feather beds. 

In The White Hills, Weygandt writes of his other loved state, New Hampshire. He tells 
of the summers spent at his parents’ cabin in the White Mountains. The book has 
been considered New Hampshire’s version of The Red Hills, which had concentrated 
on all things Pennsylvania. Weygandt tells of the influx of visitors to the New 
Hampshire area following the release of the book. Many residents considered him a 
great interpreter of New Hampshire despite his deep roots in Pennsylvania Dutchiana. 

Weygandt continued to concentrate his writing on New Hampshire for a few years, 
finding great comfort in the expanded repertoire that it gave him. Eventually, he 
returned to his first love, continuing his pursuit of capturing and sharing the 
Pennsylvania magic. 

Once again on the topic of Pennsylvania, Weygandt authored The Blue Hills. It is 
comparable to his previous work, The Red Hills, although he tried to broaden his 
focus from Pennsylvania Dutch to all of the people of Pennsylvania. He wrote of the 
British, the Quakers, and the Scotch-Irish as well as the Pennsylvania Dutch. 

Weygandt continued his writing and teaching into old age, with his last published work 
being his autobiography, On the Edge of Evening, a title which suggests that he knew 
that his day was almost over. His life was rich with the things that he held dearest. He 
was loved by his family, respected by his colleagues and students, and admired by his 
readers. Although he had passed away nearly fifty years ago, he will live on forever 
through his writing. 

Works: 

Nonfiction 

Irish Plays and Playwrights. Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913. 
A Century of the English Novel. New York: Century, 1925. 
Tuesdays at Ten. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1928. 
The Red Hills. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1929. 
The Wissahickon Hills. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1930. 
The White Hills. New York: H. Holt and company, [c1934]. 
New Hampshire Neighbors. New York: H. Holt and company, [c1937]. 
Philadelphia Folk. New York: Appleton-Century, 1938. 
The Dutch Country. New York: Appleton-Century, 1939. 
The Plenty of Pennsylvania. New York: H.C. Kinsey & Co., 1942. 
The Heart of New Hampshire. New York: Macmillan, 1944. 
On the Edge of Evening. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1946. 
Sources: 

“Faculty Award.” Friars Senior Society of the University of Pennsylvania. 20 Jan. 
2006. . 
Snyder, Terry. “Cornelius Nolen Weygandt, 1832-1907.” University of Pennsylvania 
Archives & Records Center. 20 Jan. 2006. 
. 
Weygandt, Cornelius. On the Edge of Evening. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1946. 
This biography was prepared by Seth D. Parker. 


Parents
WEYGANDT Cornelius Nolen ()
THOMAS Lucy Ellmaker ()

Siblings
WEYGANDT Cornelius (31 Dec 1871 - 1957)

Marriage To ROBERTS Sarah Matlack (6 May 1871 - ) m. 19 Jun 1900 Notes Parents ROBERTS John Taylor (14 Aug 1847 - 1895) MATLACK Hannah Maule (2 Feb 1844 - ) Children by ROBERTS Sarah Matlack 6 May 1871 -
WEYGANDT Cornelius Nolen (13 Aug 1904 - 8 Aug 2004) WEYGANDT Ann Matlack (30 Jun 1910 - 30 Jun 2006)
Produced by Fzip 1.7 5/25/2012