Learn About Amish

Origins

The Plain People, originated in Switzerland in 1525. They are the descendants of a religious group called Anabaptists who were persecuted in the old world for their insistence on an adult baptism and Because of their pacifist views during a time of much religious strife and sectarian warfare. There are no Amish left in Europe.


Move to the “New World”

In about 1720 a Swiss religious leader by the name of Jakob Amann brought his people to the “New World “, to William Penn’s safe haven of Pennsylvania to be exact. They became known as the “Amish,” after their leader’s name Amann. His belief was that plain living brings them closer to God. In the 1830’s and between 1860’s and 1892, more large waves of German immigrants left, due to over population and a desire for religious freedom. Many in this second wave saved enough money to travel as far as the Midwest and buy land.

Lifestyle

A strong and deep seated religious faith shapes the world and lifestyles of the Amish. They express that value system by their use of horse and buggy, simple dress and a strong sense of community and family. The thing that best helps us relate or understand “The Old Amish Tradition,” is their belief in a simpler lifestyle. The television, automobiles, and electricity, bring with them certain temptations and also undermine the value they place on family and community. The “Old Order Amish,” still hold on to their traditions, and self-sufficient lifestyles.

Family

amishThe family unit is very important to the Amish, many have as many as seven to ten children. The Amish family traditionally worked together farming the land with giant teams of Belgian horses. But, with the changing economic scene in rural America requiring increasingly larger amounts of venture capital, larger machinery and larger plots of land, some Amish have turned to other occupations like carpentry and furniture building. All families still maintain large vegetable gardens where they grow their own food.

Amish work hard and long hours creating a good living from God’s green earth, practicing a life of hard work, thrift, and self-sufficiency. The success in farming they attribute to God’s divine blessing. Farming became important to the Amish after being persecuted in Europe, it became a means of survival. Amish families today may have cattle, pigs, and chickens, the wife cans items from the garden such as green beans, corn, tomatoes, beets, also canning fruits for pies apples, cherries, peaches, and making applesauce, jams, and jellies, and in the winter making quilts. The husband may make a set of kitchen cabinets in his shop during the winter. Self-sufficient may be an understatement regarding the Amish.

Amish Wood Shops

These shops, which dot the Amish countryside, are characterized as being located right next to house where the Amish family lives who owns the shop. They are staffed by men and women, who in many cases, have been raised in or around the shop. The men normally begin their craftsmanship careers as little boys who like to build their own projects with scraps of leftover wood from the shop. They will eventually take a job in the shop at a young age (Amish children only complete eight grades of schooling).

Being taught, from a young age, diligence, good work habits, frugality, and the importance of quality, ensures that these people will continue to produce some of the finest, most competitively priced cabinets on the market today! For them, manufacturing custom hardwood cabinets is more than an occupation, it has become their livelihood! The Amish countryside in Daviess County Indiana is dotted with dozens of cabinet shops. The many kitchens produced here are shipped throughout the Midwest and beyond.

Traditional Dress

amishThe Amish style of dress has the purpose of being plain or simple that reflects the literal interpretation of the Bible. A set of unwritten Amish laws, the Ordnung, addresses behavior, appearance and other traditions and beliefs.

Amish men wear dark straight cut coats with no lapels, trousers with suspenders, solid colored shirts, black socks and shoes, and hats that are black or straw with broad rims. Shirts that fasten with conventional buttons, Suit coats and vests that use hooks and eyes.

Amish women wear solid-colored fabric usually with long-sleeves and full skirts, between the knee and calf, covered with aprons or capes. Women’s clothes are fastened with snaps or straight pins. The hair is never cut but worn in a bun on the back of the head, concealed by a white prayer covering.

Education

Amish children attend small, rural, schools until the eighth grade level. They feel that higher education will negate against their idea of a simple life. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court exempted them from the state attendance beyond the eighth grade level. The Amish build and maintain their own church funded one room schoolhouses. The children study reading, and writing, mathematics, geography, history, English, German, music and art.

The Amish society is, in itself, a trade-school of sorts. It trains their young people in the fine art of craftsmanship in fine cabinetry, furniture, carpentry, farming, and last but not least homemakers. An Amish girl that is twelve years old knows how to cook a meal for a whole crew of workers, and the young Amish boy knows a farming operation by the time he is a teenager.

Horse and Buggy

amishPerhaps no item identifies The Amish like the horse and buggy. This has been maintained as a matter of Christian discipleship by the most conservative Old Order Amish. Although they do not feel that vehicles
are inherently wrong they refuse to own automobiles. By doing so the amount of travel is limited thus avoiding many temptations and creating a stronger sense of community. They will use public transportation, and will hire cars and vans for special needs. Buggy shops today make wheels, axles, tops, hardware, employing craftsman that continue in the fine art of horse-drawn transportation.