Paula, Thanks for the tip. I have tried searching Pa Dutch as well with little success. Pa German is still taught as a first language in many of their schools and can be heard often in my area. I think that any historical references are going to be in that language. So, as you have suggested, I have begun looking into contacting those communities personally. I even found a website that teaches Pa German. Interestingly enough, but off topic, there is a talk next Monday about how the American Civil War affected the Mennonite community given by the Mennonite Historical Society. I think that it will be very interesting.
Also, thanks for sharing about your family history. I think that my great grandfather on my mother's side was from an Amish background in Lancaster. As far as I know, there was no German spoken in his home, but we do have a wonderful little German Bible and his surname is very common up there. As far as I know they don't participate in the census so I can only trace the genealogy back so far.
Hank, I am finding this a problem as well. It seems that over the years people, in this area, have gotten into the habit of calling any painted furniture, German. In The Practical Book of Period Furniture 1914 (I had to broaden my search years) there is an illustration of a painted chair from the Empire Period that is very commonly around here called a Painted German Chair. We even have one in our family that we have always referred to as such. BTW, love the link to all of those beautiful benches.
I am beginning to wonder if there was a difference in the style of furniture that would have been found in a German home. Furniture making is still very prevalent and I am wondering if they made the same styles for themselves as they made for sale to the public outside their communities.
The main thing that I am trying to stay away from is staging a German farmhouse parlor with high society furniture.
Beth, Thanks for those resources. I'll look into those.