31 responses to Inside an Amish…Outhouse
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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 06:20)

    A concrete block outhouse is quite a luxury! I have lived in places where we had an outhouse, and I don’t really mind. Handled properly, they are ecologicslly sound, and sanitary. As the old farmer here said, when his offspring built a picnic/barbeque patio in the yard, “Used to be, we ate INDOORS and (crude farmtype word for using a bathroom) OUTDOORS.”

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    Marilyn in New York
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 06:27)

    One of my Aunt and Uncles use to have an out house and it was made of wood. I was never crazy about out houses-of course I was brought up with in door plumbing. If I had been brought up with out houses-I would probably think they were fine. I like that wall decoration they had inside the school out house. I think that is cute.

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      Comment on OLD plumbing (December 19th, 2016 at 07:55)

      OLD plumbing

      in the late 40’til late 50’s, my Irish grandparents had a house in Carmel, NY mountains and had a 2 seater out house, a water pump in kitchen sink, NO telephone/tv, an ice box, crank record player, NO electricity til early 50’s, basement was carved out of rock, where kids slept…. it was great, ice gotten from town and mail, long walk now but as kids… great.. God bless all, oh am 71 now 😀

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 06:30)

    What are those smaller white structures in front of the outhouses?

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      Richard Kontny
      Comment on What are they? (July 4th, 2017 at 23:19)

      What are they?

      They are what we call blinds, a privacy wall to prevent looking into the different gender’s bathroom. (Privacy

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 06:37)

    Jessica those are wooden dividers meant for privacy.

    Magdalena a great saying capturing how the world has been turned upside down 🙂

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    Alice Aber
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 06:42)

    I guess you do what you have to do. For many years my grandparents homestead only had the out house,,,, but I can remember as a small child when they finally got indoor plumbing, the family through a party to celebrate, LOL.

    The sign is cute and a good reminder in humility.

    Love the pictures!
    Blessings, Alice

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    Robin Miller
    Comment on Grandmomm's Backhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 07:16)

    Grandmomm's Backhouse

    My grandmother who I referred to yesterday re: the wood stove and cooking, also had an outhouse (we called it a backhouse). In the worst winter months, she kept a chamber pot in an unused bedroom. My uncle offered profusely to install a bathroom in her home; at least a toilet and sink, but being a lady born in 1883, she saw no need. She passed in 1962. I hated going down the hill to the outhouse. It was creepy, lots of bugs. I’d never go alone. Usually my father or an older sibling would accompany me. I was only 9 years old when she passed. However anytime I’m forced to use a porta-potty, all I can think about is Grandmomma’s outhouse.

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    Richard (www.Amishstorys.com)
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 07:20)

    Good morning everyone. I kind of thought i was on the wrong web site for a min with the outhouse post, its a tiny little box most don’t like to talk about, well until you need one maybe,lol. You don’t know how tough it is for me to post my comments on this one with a straight face, but it is part of life. I have seen some very elaborate outhouses in my time, from only the outside of course. Richard from Lebanon county’s Amish community.

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 07:40)

    Well Richard here at Amish America we don’t shy away from even these delicate topics 🙂

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    Katie Troyer
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 08:38)

    I should dig through my old photo albums I made before the diginal camera and take another look at the cleanest, neatest backhouses I have seen and uses. These were not Amish backhouses, but their generationsl roots came from the Scottsville KY Mennonites.

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    Suzanna Laitinen
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 09:19)

    I remember an article about an outhouse controversy in the now de-funct Pittsburgh Press on this subject, a few years back. In the article they described that PART of the issue- besides being against regulations in that area- was that alot of the people residing in that general area relied on well water, and they were afraid that ground seepage from outhouses would eventually contaminate their water sources. It became such a controversy that the authorities actually locked an Amish family out of their home and farm. They had to stay with relatives. The Amish community met with officials- I assumed they meant the bishop, etc- and offered to construct concrete walls in all new outhouses (underground, to help prevent seepage) and use some type of chemical treatment for the waste. But the county(?) didn’t want any more new outhouses constructed, period. I have no idea what ever happened in this instance, but it was a big topic. Even though it was about outhouses, lol. It amazed me that they actually locked the family out of their farm.It may be an odd subject, but it’s obviously a very real debate.

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    Michelle P
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 10:26)

    I think one of the nicest outhouse I ever used was several years ago when Jack and I was on a ranch for a ride with a group. Heck, some indoor bathrooms aren’t as nice!

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 10:34)

    We still have an outhouse on our property in northern Wisconsin at my family’s cabin. My grandpa built it, but when the time comes for a new one, we won’t be able to build another one because of the proximity to the river. My aunt is thinking a nice little structure with a composting toilet would be a good direction. I think that’s an excellent idea.

    Eric, do you know of any Amish groups that opt for composting toilets either in their homes or outhouses? It seems that a composting toilet would defuse the situations between some groups and local laws. Not to mention, they are good for the environment:-)

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 11:20)

    The outhouse. Never a favorite of mine, as another poster above stated that their grandparents had one, so did mine. Outhouses can be quite a torture in the Middle of summer, or the dead of winter.

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 12:26)

    We had outhoses at the scholl I attended in a village in Leicestershire, Boys one side girls the other, a hole cut in a plank over a galvanised bucket. It was emmptied each night…..we did have an indoor toilet where we lived but the old outhouse was still on the property in case anyone got’cut short’ whilst outside in the fields.

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on Inside-outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 13:54)


    Suzanna–interesting story! I’d like to know how things turned out, too (if you find out, please post).

    Christina, I’d have to agree with you about the composting toilet. Heck, my yard is only 1/4 acre, but I wouldn’t mind a composting “unit” in the shed, especially on those days when I’m really grubby from digging & don’t want to trek through the house. I’ve seen them in the Lehman’s catalog, so I assumed the Amish (somewhere) used them. When I still had my dog, I used a “doggy doolie” composting unit for his “deposits”. It worked OK in warmer months, but not in below freezing weather (it was set about 24″into the ground, with the lid at ground level) I’d guess a composting toilet kept in an unheated outhouse (or shed) would have the same problem.

    In the house I grew up in in Chicago (built in the 1880’s), before it had indoor plumbing, there was an enclosed outhouse on the back porch. By the time I came along, the house had indoor plumbing for decades, and the porch was enclosed. The “indoor-outhouse” was converted to a storage shed…but the board with the hole was still there, under a bunch of junk, and as a child I couldn’t figure out what it was for. Eventually, my mother explained…and I was fascinated!

    The house also had old gas lines for when gas lighting was the norm (converted to electricity in the early 20th century).

    Note to Richard: your posts nearly always leave me with a smile…actually, I don’t know how many of us COULD keep a straight face regarding this subject!

    Alice Mary

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    Debbie Welsh
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 14:06)

    My grandparents had a big, old, dark, creepy house that was worse than the Addams Family’s! In the kitchen they had a big old hand pump for the water so of course us grandkids just had to have a drink, which we’d get in an old jelly jar. And of course they had an outhouse which we were fascinated by, and even though it was dark, scary, buggy, and smelly, us kids just had to try it anyway!

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    Richard (www.Amishstorys.com)
    Comment on Lancaster/Lebanon sunny and windy, and more outhouse talk. (April 21st, 2011 at 15:00)

    Lancaster/Lebanon sunny and windy, and more outhouse talk.

    Just getting back home, and the weather here today In the Lebanon/Lancaster area is sunny and pretty windy. Debbie your description of that outhouse from childhood being dark, scary, buggy, and smelly pretty much sums up being in a outhouse. I think someone will be on the doctor phil show very soon, poor thing,lol. Am i really on Amish America?, or did i accidently get on the web site “Outhouse America”,lol. Your still doing very well Erik, but maybe we need to be keeping an eye on you alittle,lol. Richard from Lebanon countys Amish community.

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    Comment on Outhouse of the future (April 21st, 2011 at 17:11)

    Outhouse of the future

    Well Richard, don’t worry, “Inside an Amish Outhouse” is probably not going to be a recurring feature 🙂 But see my last comment, this site is all about Amish life–the good, bad and the ugly 😉 Thanks for keeping me chuckling here

    Well, let’s just say outhouses are not my favorite subject, but enjoying the fascinating tales here…I wonder if one day in the future we’ll think the same way about flush toilets as we do about outhouses…okay I’m probably wondering too much here 🙂

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    Comment on Outhouse photos (April 21st, 2011 at 17:15)

    Outhouse photos

    Katie T if you come across any photos please let us know. You are a great photographer, I have always enjoyed your shots be they from your blog or the Pinecraft Pauper…something tells me that with your skills you could do an outhouse justice 🙂

    Christina, on your question about composting toilets, I am drawing a blank here…I guess I never really paid that much attention, but now I will have to thanks to this day of outhouse study!

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    Marcus Yoder
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 21st, 2011 at 20:14)

    Outhouse’s are what cause constipation.

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 22nd, 2011 at 07:59)

    While I do know outhouses probably are not one of the highlights of Amish Life..I am still thankful you did a post on it. For some of us we have never seen or been in an outhouse and your picture gave us a glimpse at one..PLUS, that saying is priceless..and it reminded me(sadly) of all the times I might have been a cheerful giver and then “spoke” about it with a bit of pride..thus bragging..What a reminder to me NOT to do that.
    So, while OUTHOUSES might not be at the tops of people’s conversation when they converse about the Amish..it was still a rare oppurtunity to see another aspect of their culture..so thanks..
    I must tell you everyday, I look forward to what you have to write.

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 22nd, 2011 at 08:09)

    Marcus, I have to take your word for it! 😉

    And Annmarie, that is just very kind of you. I love writing this blog, but hearing feedback from people like you makes it even more worthwhile. So thank you for giving me even more reason to keep putting up posts 🙂

    And you know what? I’m glad you brought attention back to the message on the sign. That is probably the most important part of this post.

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    Marcus Yoder
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 22nd, 2011 at 14:35)

    I was probably 12 before we had an inside toilet. If the weather was bad, you would wait as long as you could.
    Marcus Yoder

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    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 22nd, 2011 at 21:59)

    What about chamber pots or bed pans if really necessary? I know the first one is antiquated, even for the Amish, but still, if it works, why not. I mean if there is concern about plainness produce ones without decoration. In English houses a chamber pot was useful and provided decoration to some extent.

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    Marcus Yoder
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 23rd, 2011 at 06:56)

    We had a pot, but that was only for night time or if you were sick. Glad those days are over.
    Marcus Yoder

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on Inside an Amish…Outhouse (April 23rd, 2011 at 10:23)

    While chamber pots/bedpans might be “simple” (decorative or not), I’d hate to be the one tasked with emptying them. (And didn’t/doesn’t that usually fall to the “womenfolk”? In my experience, women are usually stuck with the “****” jobs! I’m sure you can fill in the blank!)

    Alice Mary

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    Comment on Chamber Pots, faux Home Children, reality TV and it’s Fishy business (April 23rd, 2011 at 21:26)

    Chamber Pots, faux Home Children, reality TV and it’s Fishy business

    Traditionally woman probably did clean up the pots and pans in the past.

    I am suddenly reminded of a British series, though I forget what it was called, where a group of modern school children of varying ages were forces to live a World War Two life as Home Children, and one of their chores was to clean the pots, more often than not the kids would spill and be made to mop up the floor wherever the mess was made.

    There was once a small trend in Canada to produce reality shows like that featuring people living and working like people in various historic periods, the best of the Canadian shows had to have been “Pioneer Quest” and the worst of the Quest shows had to be “Quest for Cod”, which despite being a show illustrating the rough glory days of the 1920s and 30s east coast fisheries, ended up being a screaming fest between a woman in her 30s and a girl in her teens about just about everything from work load to social issues (the girl was supposed to be poor, if I recall correctly, and the woman a little more better off) and none of them appealed to a 16-something girl of the new millennia. Not I don’t recall any chamber pots in that series.

    I like reality shows were historic life is attempted to be brought back to life, and as a history buff I watch quite keenly.

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    Terry Berger
    Comment on You truly haven't lived... (April 24th, 2011 at 09:03)

    You truly haven't lived...

    You truly haven’t experienced living until you’ve used an outhouse at 2:00 am in the middle of January!! Do any use chamber pots during the colder months? All of the Lancaster folk I knew had indoor plumbing.


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    Lynn B
    Comment on outhouses (October 25th, 2011 at 18:06)


    We had an outhouse until I was 7 or 8…when daddy built a bathroom in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Our neighbors had them as well. Grandparents had theres until he had a bad stroke, and the family added a room on downstairs to include a bathroom.
    As to the small “buildings” in front, those arent really buildings. The are ells. An L- shaped structure meant to keep wind and prying eyes out, as well as blowing snow, etc. Most farms just had a door, but the ells would be found at churches, community buildings, etc.

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