Not All Amish Communities Are Created Equal

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When I started thinking about this post, this was the title that popped into my head. Not all Amish communities are equal, not all are the same. They differ in their Ordnung, the written and unwritten rules that govern a settlement, but they differ in other ways too.

This week, I had a reader ask me about the use of tractors in my Wells Landing Series. I explained that it was an actual part of the Amish community that inspired Wells Landing. But it made me think about the different Amish communities, how they vary, and how we perceive them.

I just finished the first novel in what will be at least a three novel series set in the little talked about Amish settlement near Pontotoc, Mississippi. Yes, there are Amish in the South!

The Pontotoc Amish settled in Mississippi as a spin-off settlement of the Swartzentruber Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee. Swartzentruber Amish are among the most conservative of the Old Order Amish, not even allowing indoor plumbing. But when I first saw the houses, I immediately wondered how these people scrape out a living.

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Mississippi red clay dust coats everything. All the houses are covered in aluminum siding, mostly white, but there were a few red ones. Yes, red! There are no flowers planted out front, no cute swing sets for the children to play on. There are no phone shanties. But there are plenty of signs made out of the scraps of siding which bear the carefully lettered names of the items the family sells. The gardens are large and fields of cotton and peanuts are plentiful. Almost every house has a shed where they sell the products that they make—goat milk soaps, gel air fresheners, potholders, button necklaces, and all sorts of canned goods.

It’s a peaceful, though dusty, and has a beauty all its own. But it’s miles away from Lancaster County in both distance and attitude. But it’s next to impossible to visit the two areas and not compare them. And on the surface, Pontotoc can look at bit rundown. And my heart went out to the people who live there. But when we mentioned this to our Amish friends in Pennsylvania, their sixteen-year-old had an insightful theory.

It doesn’t have to be that they are poor, but that they have different priorities.

Wait…what?

Yes, even the Amish can have different priorities.

My Amish friends in PA plant flowers in their yards every year. Do you know how much water it would take to keep flowers alive in the MS heat? A lot. So they don’t plant them. Instead they grow muscadines, tomatoes, and corn. Something with more value, something worth the effort it takes to keep it alive. Just different priorities.

And just something to think about the next time you get to visit an Amish community.

Have you ever been to visit the Amish? Where did you go and what was something interesting you observed?

This week I’m giving away an audio copy of Caroline’s Secret. Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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68 thoughts on “Not All Amish Communities Are Created Equal

  1. I live about an hour from the Lancaster County Amish Country. I visit there often.
    I have to say that I love to drive around the countryside. Their homes are so neat. The fields are always taken very good care of.
    I love to visit Amish roadside stands and shops. I am amazed with everything that I purchase from them.
    Amy…I am enjoying you giving us a “history lesson” on other Amish settlements. Thank you!
    Looking forward to reading this new series! Live you book!

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  2. I love to read about the Amish from the different writers of Amish fiction. You each have a way of explaining things, a way to help me understand what the life of an Amish person is like. I visited the Amish once, many long years ago. We went to Lancaster County. I don’t even remember what we did there, Whether we were just driving through, or if we stopped. I do believe we stopped and visited some homes that were open to the public, but at the time. I wasn’t into learning about the Amish. Wish I had the money and power to go back.

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  3. Amy, I loved this article today. Very insight full and set my mind to thinking if you asked a young Englisher boy the same question do you think you would get such and insightful and knowledgeable answer, I think not and that is sad. What a shame that we do not teach our youth better! I have been to Ohio – Holmes County Amish country and parts are very commercial you have to search for the treasures. I have been to Lancaster Pa Amish country and it is beautiful and had a great guide to many of the treasures.

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  4. we have amish in Wisconsin they have phone shanty they have bakery sell corn eggs weget most egg from amish rubrarby they very nice talk too we give little gifts teadybears and a quarters we get this amishcabbage sweetpotoes strawberries thank you god bless

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    1. I’m a bit fascinated by the phone shanties. Not sure why, But I would love to go in one and see what others have written in there and the notes they’ve taken on calls, etc. Or maybe I’m just a bit nosy! LOL Thanks, Linda!

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  5. This article was so interesting to read and to be able to learn something about different Amish communities in the United States. Can’t wait until your book is out so that I can read your new series.

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  6. Your article was most thought provoking and not just for the Amish community but globally. From what the media present over her in Australia, there is quite a marked division appearing in the US. We pray to Father God for reconciliation in this troubled world. Love reading your books Amy,

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  7. We’ve visited Lancaster, PA. It was mostly tourist attractions. I love to see all the different quilt patterns. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  8. I think they are very practical people, it must be nice to live such simple uncomplicated lives, I love the way they watch out for each other as a big family….

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  9. I loved what you Amish friend’s daughter said, “It doesn’t have to be that they are poor, but that they have different priorities.” Wow! Thank you so much for sharing! This was a great read!

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    1. It was very eye opening for me too and helped me see Pontotoc with different eyes. And gave me a perspective that I hope is brought out in the books! 🙂

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  10. The young person’s response marked maturity beyond their years! This whole article was thought-provoking. We all could rearrange our priorities to match what is more important, what will bear more fruit.

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  11. I’ve been to Lancaster and the whole area was beautiful. We took a bus tour so that we could see more of the country side. I couldn’t get over how nice everyone was – even when one rude man kept insisting they let him stay at their home to see how they lived. The Amish lady was trying so hard to be nice & he just wouldn’t listen. I finally stuck my nose into something – I told him that the Amish rarely mingled with Non-Amish & that he was being rude & insufferable to the lady. He got mad at me, puffed up his chest (like a Banny Roster) and hurried off. He had already paid for his purchases. Oh, I bought several Amish cookbooks from them. The building was next to their farm & all of the Amish in that area had things in there to sell. Would love to go back again. Only not with a tour bus.

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    1. That sounds like a great trip, Pat! The best way to go is with a faithful friend and reliable GPS. Then just drive. You never know what you’re going to find! m:)

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  12. I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit an Amish community in person, but I visit many throughout the year in books! Looking forward to this new series set in the south as I too am from the south! Always interested to learn new facts about their ways of life! Thank you for this giveaway opportunity! I would love to win!

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  13. It has been a while since I have driven through an Amish community. Love how the keep their yards, house and farms beautiful. Thank you for the chance to win.

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  14. The Amish communities that I have visited are more commercialized than the one in MS. Their quiet, private life style reminds me more of the Amish in the Schmicksburg area of Pennsylvania. The area is less commercialized than Lancaster, Berlin, or Pinecraft; although they too offer their own beauty. I suppose each district follows the basic principles of the Amish faith; but, each adjusts their Ordnung to allow for the needs of the people in their area. It’s like we are one United States but each state provides governing guidelines for their own jurisdiction.

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  15. That story was pretty awesome…I love the amish…did you know there are Amish in Prince Edward Island Canada.?..it’s so beautiful there…I love your books

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  16. Love reading your books. When we are in an area where there might be Amish, I always look for the pulley clothesline and the horses and buggies. Love the quilts that the Amish women sew.

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  17. We have over 25 Amish families in our immediate neighborhood. They are very different from the Amish in your books, and they don’t speak to the Amish across the Valley from us.

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  18. Amy, I really enjoyed this post! Born and raised in Millersburg,Ohio I hope to one day visit the Pa Amish. Thank you for sharing

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  19. I have been thru Amish communities in IL, IN, OH and PA. I recall in OH that we had to wait a bit at a gift shop till the lady finished her phone conversation in the phone shack! I enjoyed shopping in the Amish shops in a village in the northern part of PA just across the line from OH.

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  20. I live about 40 minutes from Illinois Amish Country in Douglas County. I’ve visit there often and have made some friends among the Amish and Mennonites. I’ve also visited Shipshwana, Indiana. Shipshwana is more tourist attraction area than Arthur, Illinois. I enjoy the more rural setting that Arthur has than all the tourist. I understand there’s a new small Amish community getting established southeast of where I reside. I haven’t visited there but spoke to a member of the community when I was shopping in that area.

    Thank you for sharing your insight into the different Amish communities. Yes, each one of us have different priorities in life.

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    1. Awesome, Marilyn! You’ll have to let us know if the new community gets up and running good. It would be interesting to hear what it’s like! Thanks!

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  21. I enjoyed reading your post Amy! I haven’t visited any Amish places yet, but hope to one day. I don’t drive any more so it’s hard to get anywhere. 🙂 Thank you for the chance to win!! Have a great day!! 🙂

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  22. I have not been to Amish country and it seems just such a crime when I do not live that far away in Ohio or Pa.

    I always enjoy stopping over and checking out your new posts.

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  23. Amish communities are no different than any other. They are all inhabited by people of all ages, race, religion, etc. I enjoy going to Pinecraft, especially this time of year.

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