Amish Dolls


The more time I spend visiting with, studying, and writing about the Amish the more I realize how much there still is to know. Like most of you, I find them fascinating. I love their faith, their sense of community, and their devotion to the needs of their fellow man. But the more time I spend with the Amish, the more I realize that some of the popular (English) beliefs about the Amish aren’t entirely true.

I’m certain that at one time every popular belief about the Amish was grounded in fact, but the Amish are incredibly resourceful. They are ever-changing, deciding what of the modern world to keep and what to leave behind. And it’s these choices that make for such different beliefs and customs among the Amish as buggy color, suspender style, and head coverings, just to name a few.

One of the other big differences I’ve seen is with Amish dolls. It’s a popular belief that all Amish girls play with faceless dolls. As quaint as this idea is, it’s far from true. I’m not even positive that we can say most Amish girls play with faceless dolls considering what I’ve witnessed in Lancaster County.

That’s not to say  that faceless Amish dolls aren’t out there, They are. But they may be different than you think.


These are the dolls I’ve collected in my travels. The doll on the left came from Ethridge, TN. The doll on the right is from Lancaster County, and the one in the middle is from Big Valley.

Sadie is my doll from Ethridge.


She was the first one in my collection, bought from a store there in Tennessee. The people who run the store are English, but have a good relationship with the Amish. The shop owners offer wagon rides through the Amish community and stop at certain houses that are tourist friendly. When we visited, I only wanted a doll,  but there were none for sale at the houses where we stopped. (Note: Most of the Amish houses in the area have ‘shops’ where tourists can stop and buy jelly, jams, pickles, and the like.) When we got back to the store, the ladies there told me that they only had one Amish-made doll left. I snatched it up quickly. As they rung me out, they told me where the woman who made it lived (we actually stopped at her house on the tour) and they explained that her bishop said that she couldn’t make any more dolls to sell in the store.

Ruth is my doll from Lancaster County.


Notice that she has a commercial store tag. That’s because she was bought in town and was made in a factory. Even though, I’ve never seen my friend’s little girls play with faceless dolls. They play with regular old plastic-molded dolls like we had when we were kids. In fact, there are a lot of Amish girls who play with American Girl dolls and even have large, organized tea parties for them! I’m not sure when this change came about and I cannot speak for all the Pennsylvania Amish girls. This is just what I have seen myself.

This doll came from the Big Valley in Pennsylvania.


I bought her at the dry-goods store. It’s an Amish run store with no electricity. The shelves are just about head high and have a variety of goods, including books, cards, and homemade soap. And dolls of course. As you can see my dollie doesn’t have shoes. They were a separate purchase item. They also had kapps, bonnets, and other dresses for them. Sort of like Build-A-Bear, but not. <LOL>

Dolls are the one thing I always look for when I travel. Sometimes I can find them and sometimes not, but I’m always on the look-out.

Can you help me name my Big Valley doll? Submit a suggestion below and I’ll pick the top 4 or 5 and we’ll vote starting next week!

Also, by leaving a comment, you’ll be entered into this week’s drawing for the 3 sets of Amish Christmas Sleigh. (Remember, that’s one for you and one for a friend x three chances to win!)

And now for something completely different…

Reader Karen G, graciously shared this photo with me of the Amish buggies she saw recently in Whitehall, New York. It’s a wonderful picture! Notice the four different types of buggies represented. Thanks Karen!



She also emailed me a couple of links to some great articles about the Amish. Here they are if you have a mind to check them out!

And a big thanks to you all for reading!






What’s with those yellow buggies?


Lately I’ve introduced a lot of you to the Amish of Kish Valley (also known as Big Valley). The Valley is home to the second largest settlement in Pennsylvania and twelve distinct Amish and Mennonite groups. It’s also the setting for my new mystery series that begins in early 2018.

The most obvious distinction between the Amish groups is the use of different colored buggies.

Now most people are familiar with the gray-topped buggies of Lancaster County and the black-topped buggies of places like Holmes County, Ohio, and Jamesport, Missouri. But a trip through Big Valley is colorful in so many ways.


Before I get into that, let’s talk about the black-toppers.


The black-topped buggies belong to the Renno or Peachey Amish. I love this name since almost all the mailboxes we stopped to read in the Valley bore the name Peachey.  The Renno Amish are considered to be the least conservative of the Amish groups in the Valley, which isn’t saying a lot. After all, they are more conservative than our Amish friends in Lancaster County.

While we were in the Valley, Stacey and I stopped at a quilt shop that belonged to a Renno Amish woman. Of course the quilts were amazingly beautiful, but I couldn’t help taking note of a few things in the house. The windows were covered with a plain green shade. (You know the kind they use in cartoons that once you pull it down it winds back up with hilarious results.) The floors were wooden and bare. There was running water in the house, but all in all it made me think of my grandmother’s–just a small, country farmhouse filled with love.

The white-topped buggies belong to the Nebraska Amish.


This is something of a misnomer since most of the Nebraska Amish live in Pennsylvania. The Nebraska Amish are hands-down the most conservative of the three main groups in the Big Valley. They also dress a bit differently. We only saw a couple of Nebraska Amish so I wasn’t able to test my research, but I am told that the Nebraska Amish men wear brown trousers and no suspenders. Their pants reportedly lace up the back and they wear their hair to their shoulders. Nebraska Amish women aren’t allowed to wear bonnets and supposedly wear a tie-on flat straw hat for working outside. On my next trip to the Valley, I am definitely going to be looking closer!

The yellow-topped buggies are certainly eye-catching.


They belong to the Byler Amish. They are the middle of the road when it comes to being conservative in the Valley. The men wear one diagonal suspender and it is said that the women wear brown bonnets. I can testify that the men indeed wear only one suspender, but I wasn’t able to catch a glimpse at a Byler Amish woman wearing a bonnet. Stacey and I stopped in a bait/hunting shop run by a Byler Amish man who also sold honey. We talked to him a while mostly about hunting and bait, but he was very friendly and seemed to enjoy chatting with us.

Now, these aren’t all the differences in the three sub-groups of Amish in Big Valley. But it’s a start! What’s the most surprising difference that you’ve read in this post?

Leave a comment below and be entered into the Week  #4 drawing for two copies of The Amish Christmas Sleigh! (In order to be eligible for this giveaway you must leave a comment on this blog. Giveaway ends Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 12am EST.)

Thanks for reading!







Big Valley in the Fall


Keeping in line with my current Big Valley theme, today I’ve posted a few pictures of the Valley in the Fall. Here’s how to find them:

On the MENU, click ALL THINGS AMISH > AMISH PHOTOS> THE AMISH OF KISH VALLEY (that’s the green one)>KISH VALLEY AUTUMN 2016. (Note: this is not a link, only instructions).

If you’ve been following this 6 week giveaway, then tell me what you think. Is Kish Valley prettier in Summer or Fall? If you’re joining us for the first time, simply tell us which photo is your favorite.

Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for one of three sets of The Amish Christmas Sleigh which includes my novella, A Mamm for Christmas.

Sets? you ask. Yes! If your name is drawn you’ll receive 2 autographed copies of the book–one for you and one to give to a friend. So don’t forget to leave your comment and as always, thanks for stopping by! ❤




Merry Christmas Giveaway


Christmas? Wait…it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Well, Thanksgiving is a little over a week away and since it’s so late in the month, Christmas will be here before we know it. So that’s why I’m giving away three copies of The Christmas Sleigh, which includes my Paradise Christmas novella, A Mamm for Christmas as well as two more great holiday stories from Molly Jebber and Kelly Long. Let’s get into the Christmas spirit!

kish-valley-5-mkd-wmBut wait! There’s more! If you are chosen as one of the winners, then I’ll send you a second copy for you to gift to a friend! Yep, you read that right. One signed copy for you and another one to give to a friend.

So what do you have to do in order to qualify for the giveaway? Head over to my page dedicated to Kish Valley (aka Big Valley) and tell me what your favorite picture is there. Be sure to stay for the entire slide show. There are a few pictures of the infamous yellow buggies of the Valley.

The three winners will be chosen by random drawing at the end of each week (We’ll actually draw on Sunday and announce the winners on Monday morning.)

If you don’t win the first week, never fear, I’m giving away the three-plus three copies each week from now until Christmas. That’s 18 chances to win!

So go check out the pictures and leave me a comment as to which is your favorite. Thanks for stopping by, Merry (early) Christmas, and the best of luck to everyone!

How do you get to the page? Simply click All Things Amish<Amish Photos<The Amish of PA Kish Valley< Kish Valley part 1.

And feel free to poke around a little. There are a lot of great things to see here!

Thanks for reading!



New Amish Pictures

After taking some time off to finish a couple of projects, I decided that it was time to get back go blogging. (Hey,  those books don’t write themselves you know! LOL)  But with the first mystery in my new series turned in and accepted by my editor (yay!), I felt it was time to put up a few more pictures. Especially since they pertain to that book. Just click below to check out all (well, almost all <wink>) my pictures of Kish Valley. This is where my Kappy King mystery series is set. But more on that later. We still don’t have the title completely nailed down and without a title there is no cover. But we do have a release date–January 2018!


Of course we were in Lancaster County visiting for a while. And when we’re there we always find some reason to snap a few pictures.


And if you’ve been keeping up on Facebook, you know that Stacey and I have been traveling. Here are the pictures from our latest trip to Chouteau.


Later this month, we’re on our way to Texas, then hopefully on to another research trip to Pontotoc, MS. That Swartzentruber Amish community is the setting for my next new romance series. If you haven’t seen any of the pictures from our first trip, click below.


This gets the website all caught up…for now. Hope you enjoy the pictures from our summer trips. It’s been an eventful year for sure!

Thanks for reading!


BTW-which community is your favorite? Comment below to be put in an end-of-month drawing for an autographed book! Keep it for yourself, or gift it for the upcoming holidays!


New Series

I’m so very excited to announce that I will be starting a new series this fall. And even more excited that the series is set in my home state of Mississippi! Yes, it’s an Amish Series. What? You didn’t know there are Amish in Mississippi? I didn’t either until recently. But when I heard I headed for home and paid a visit to this sleepy Mississippi settlement.

pontotoc-mississippiThe community in Randolph (just outside of Pontotoc) is a Swartzentruber settlement, a spin off from the community in Ethridge, Tennessee. They are very conservative and very concerned with being self-sufficient. Most work at the mill or at their own business on their home property. Many have stores where visitors can shop for such things as goats milk soap, honey, jelly, baskets, and pickles, of course.

It’s going to be a challenge to write about such conservative people, but I’m excited for the opportunity. But since this is all I can share with you about the stories for now, I thought I might share a few pictures with you. Click below to go to the Pontotoc page here on my website for a glimpse at this unique community.

Did you know there is an Amish community in Mississippi?  Be sure to leave me a comment. I’m giving away a book at the end of the month to one lucky contributor!

Happy Reading!





A Visit to an Amish School

It’s August and for the kids here in the Sooner State (and others too, I’m sure), it’s back-to-school time. Not just for the English kids, but the Amish ones as well.

Although Amish schools are very different from English ones, not all Amish schools are the same. Last year, I got to visit an Amish schoolhouse and observe. What great fun to see the teacher and scholars in action. I also asked a ton of questions (how unlike me, right?). Here’s some of the great info I discovered and saw.

Before school starts in the fall, the moms clean the schoolhouse. The teacher has a few students come the week before to help her get set up. Just before the first day of school, everyone (students, parents, and teacher) will go to an all-school singing and picnic.

When we arrived at the school, the students stopped what they were doing and sang three songs for us. I found out that they do this for all visitors. While they sang, we were allowed to look through the visitor’s binder. Inside is a page for each scholar at the school. At the beginning of the year, they answer certain questions and decorate a scrapbook page.

One of the scrapbook pages I saw was “What I want to be when I grow up.” Some girls put “own a bakery” and “be a maid” and they decorated the page with stickers. A few of the boys wrote “be a hunter” and “be a farmer.”

Some of the questions from the binder were name and grade, along with the names of their siblings and parents. Other questions included:

Something people don’t know about me

Some cute answers I saw were:

“I like pickles.”

“I know how to milk.”

“I was in an accident when I was two and got to ride in a helicopter.”

“I went on a train to New Jersey.”

My pet peeve

Some cute answers were:

“When people chew with their mouth open.”

“When people talk with food in their mouth.”

“Milking cows.”

“Going to the dentist.”

“Do-overs.” (A do-over is when someone gets a 70% or below. They have to do that paper over until their grade improves.)

A good habit the entire world should practice

Almost everyone wrote The Golden Rule

The binder was such fun to look through. It really gives good insight into the likes and personalities of the kids.

The teacher called each grade to the front by her desk to practice reading out loud, locating states on a map, doing flashcards, and practicing German vocabulary. When each grade came up, the others remained at their desks doing silent work.

The teacher held a spelling activity for the third grade girls. They all went to the front and had to spell words to get back to their seats. A consonant was a step forward and a vowel was a step backward. So they spelled the word aloud as they took the appropriate steps. It took four to five words to get to their seats.

When the lessons were over and it was time for recess the teacher said, “Everyone sit up straight and tall.” Once they did as she asked, the teacher rang a bell, and they went outside. Some kids have chores to do before recess like sweeping the floor.

The kids played softball outside and we stayed to watch. (Well, I watched. Stacey played. But that’s a blog post for another day. LOL) The children also like to play tag where if you get tagged you hold hands and make a long train as they keep trying to catch people. Like most schools, there were swing sets and see-saws to play on as well.

A Few Fun Facts I Learned About Amish Schools

Amish and Mennonite attend the same school in some districts. (When I was in Pennsylvania, there was one Mennonite boy in the school.)

The parents refer to the children as scholars.

Amish schools do issue report cards.

The school we visited was also equipped with an outhouse. And I’m sure it’s not the only one.


Yes, there is discipline in Amish schools. And there are behavior problems that arise. If a student is not well-behaved, the teacher speaks to the parents and the child works to improve the behavior. If the student still does not follow the rules, they will be sent to a different school for a fresh start. If the behaviors still continue, the parents will be required to homeschool.

A fun example of how the teacher encourages good behavior:

Each mom is sent a piece of paper. On the paper, she writes a reward. The students and the teacher do not know what is written on the papers. Then the teacher places each paper in a balloon and the balloons are left in the classroom. Once the class earns two hundred points, they get to pop a balloon and they earn their reward. The day I was there the reward was a pizza party.

Each school has a board which consists of three men (who are dads from the class). Every so often, the school closes so the three dads along with their wives, the teacher, and the 7th and 8th graders will visit other school houses. They visit four that day. They go to get ideas and to see what other students and teachers are doing.

So as you can see, Amish schools can be as similar to English schools as they are different. Have you ever been to an Amish school?

Pictures from an Amish School:

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The Big Valley

For those of you who remember the TV show with Hoss and Little Joe, no, I haven’t forgotten what this blog is about. I’m talking about Big Valley, PA. Also known as Kishacoquillas Valley or Kish Valley. Kish Valley  is home to the second largest Amish settlement in Pennsylvania, with Lancaster County being the first. But in terms of uniqueness, the Valley wins hands down.

big valley pa meme

Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be blogging about Kish Valley and all the interesting things I learned while I visited there. Here are a few of the beautiful pictures I took last month. Enjoy!

kish valley 15

Here’s me and Stace on the top of Jacks Mountain. Down below you can see the Valley. Incredibly beautiful!

Kish valley 17

The Valley from the top of Jacks Mountain.

Kish valley 1 peights store

Peight’s Store in the Valley.

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“Byler Amish” farm. The Valley is home to twelve different sects of Amish and Mennonites, the Byler Amish among them. (more on the Byler Amish later.)

KV black buggy 5

“Peachey” or “Renno Amish” buggy. They go by either name and are the most progressive of the Valley Amish, though that’s not saying a great deal. They are still conservative Old Order Amish. More on the Peachey Amish later. (Yes, I prefer calling them by this name since almost every mailbox we passed had the name ‘Peachey’ on it.)

KV wildflowers

These beautiful purple wildflowers were all over the Valley. I loved seeing them against the weather-worn fence posts.

KV store 1

A road-side store. This one was closed the first day we were there, but open the second. Two very helpful Mennonite women worked there and gave us some great information about the local Amish. Stacey and I bought a jar of church pickles, some corn on the cob, and a couple of tomatoes. Yummy!

Kish valley 38

A Valley farm. So picturesque!

Kish valley 47

Oh, you know how I love cows!

Well, that’s the last picture for this post. Which one is your favorite? Be sure to leave a comment. At the end of the month, everyone who commented will have their name put in a drawing to win a copy of one of my books!

Be watching for more about the Valley Amish, along with news about the new mystery series, updates on the new romance series, and other great info about the Amish in general!

Thanks for reading!

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A few more Amish pics

Look what I found! A few more Amish pics that I forgot to post! For those of you who have already looked through the pictures here on the site, I decided to put them in a blog post so you could enjoy them separately. If this is your first time, be sure check out all my pictures. Click All Things Amish from the menu, then click on the square for Amish Photos, then Lancaster 2016. Enjoy!!