28 responses to Healing on both sides of the Nickel Mines tragedy, four years on
  • It’s just so horrible and sad to think about. I don’t understand how anyone could do something like this!

    By the way, did you happen to see the Lifetime movie for the book Amish Grace? If you did do you have anything to say about it?

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      Amish Grace (October 15th, 2011 at 13:15)

      Amish Grace

      I just finished the movie and I enjoyed it. I think they did a great job of portraying the Amish well. Sad story, but very well told.

  • I have avoided watching the movie for a number of reasons. First, I saw the trailer and was convinced from that that the directors would not tell the story well, and would not accurately portray the Amish. Secondly, I felt it was wrong for LMN to profit off this tragedy; but I understand they have just released a DVD version, so it appears they are doing well with it. While I think everyone could profit by reflecting on the forgiveness the Amish demonstrated, I’m not sure that this movie would be an appropriate way to communicate that message.

    But I’m not a big fan of TV in the first place…..


  • I agree with you wholeheartedly!

  • My background is Amish and I have many relatives still there. I tend to be a skeptic of anything ‘Amish’ by anyone who does not have Amish background or close ties with the Amish. Out of curiosity I decided to watch the movie – Amish Grace. Of course I saw inconsitancies in the dress they chose and technicalities like that, and I know this story did not totally line up to the actual incident. Aside from that – the story of forgiveness was amazing – and isn’t that what most impacted the world by this happening? I am not one to often cry during a movie, but this one brought tears to my eyes!

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    Healing on both sides of the Nickel Mines tragedy, four years on (October 2nd, 2010 at 11:52)

    Erik and Don, what a beautifully rendered account of four years later. The parts that are the most touching for me is Terri Roberts reading and singing to Rosanna… wow! that is love and forgiveness, pure and simple. The other part was about “survivor’s guilt.” To think that some of these children feel guilty for living and breathing is absolutely heart-wrenching.

    Thank you for sharing the psychological pain behind the forgiveness story… it makes it all the more powerful.

    Thank you both for this important post.


  • Which is better-Amish Grace movie or book?

    I would recommend the book over the movie. I have heard that it is a very moving film, but that there are inconsistencies (full confession: still have not seen it). There is a reason the authors of the book distanced themselves publicly from production of the movie, which was outside of their control.

    But the forgiveness message is such an important one, and I think the movie probably has value for that alone. For that matter I found the interview with Terri Roberts to be among the most moving things I have read on the incident. The fact that she also had to face the question of “Do I forgive my son?” is one that tends to get lost in the bigger picture. Most attention has been placed on the Amish side, but I felt Terri’s message was very powerful as well.

    To get a sense of how some Amish have reacted to the book, check this post of a couple years ago, which includes Amish reaction to Amish Grace:


    Here’s a sample comment from a Pennsylvania Amishman, from a letter sent to Don Kraybill:

    ‘It sure is a hard emotional read. To see forgiveness layed out (sic) in such clinical terms while for us it is just a gut feeling…I was glad to see how you stressed that we also are human and struggle with this issue on a daily basis.

    The thought came to mind that this generation can not claim credit for our attitude on forgiveness beings it was the result of our [heritage] but we surely can be blamed if it is not passed on to succeeding generations. Thanks much.’

  • Thanks for posting this. I actually rented the movie last night and watched it because we got a copy of it in our store. I had read the book several months ago and wanted to see how it compared. It didn’t really, so I can understand why the authors of the book would distance themselves. Actually, I’m glad I know that now because when I was watching it I was thinking, “Did they consult Donald Kraybill when they were doing this?” Obviously not. The main message about forgiveness was great. That did come out in the movie. I personally had a hard time with the technical things…costume, haircuts, acting, the set…etc. The actors just weren’t believable as Amish folks to me. But, it is what it is and that’s a Lifetime movie.

    On another note, it was nice to read a bit of Terri Roberts’ interview. I can not imagine how she felt when she found that, not only was her son dead, but he had done these horrible things. It sounds like the whole community is healing. Any word on how his wife and children are doing?


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    Katie Troyer
    Healing on both sides of the Nickel Mines tragedy, four years on (October 2nd, 2010 at 15:39)

    After reading this, I shed tears for Charle’s parents.

  • The day after the tragedy in Nickel Mines,a stranger came up to us on the street and offered his condolences and prayers. (We later met and became acquainted.) We were a bit mystified – we lived without electricity and television so we had not heard the news, and although visibly Plain, we are not Amish. Later in the day we found out what had happened. I am still emotionally devastated by this sad event; these little girls were martyrs and took their deaths and injuries with courage and faith. I pray that I could do the same! I cannot preach or even speak on this without breaking down, to this day.

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

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    David Crozier
    Healing on both sides of the Nickel Mines tragedy, four years on (October 2nd, 2010 at 20:20)

    Erik, Nice rememberance. It is encouraging to see victims, victims familes, and communitity folk support one another. Maybe the angry people in NY can learn something. Go Bless <

  • I’ve read both books about this tragedy(Aunt Annie’s(pretzles) husband has written one also) and as a kindergarten teacher I want to thank you and the Professors for bring a spiritual light on the positive aspects of this event. Mutal/Community aid is the essence of life and leads to the pursuit of happiness in one’s soul.
    I am interested in a book about Amish folkways and customs; their use of “Pow wow” doctors and herbs, Big Valley Amish (all),traditions,etc All the books I have read just scratch the surface. Any suggestions? I’ve read “Amish Society” and a few of Dr.Kraybill’s , I want to know why they do what they do.

  • I am still in shock. It was such a cowardly act.
    I will pray for Rosanna. I hope all of you will as well.

  • Hey Christina,

    On his wife and children, I do not have a lot of background. Am I correct to think that she may have ended up leaving the area? Terri has been forward about sharing her thoughts, but I can imagine that not everyone would be comfortable doing so.

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    John Hostetler-Amish Roots (October 5th, 2010 at 12:27)

    John Hostetler-Amish Roots

    Hey Michelle,

    One book that sort of delves into some of those areas is “Amish Roots: A Treasury of History, Wisdom, and Lore”, which is basically a lesser known compilation of various authors’ (Amish and non-Amish) writings on Amish history and practices put together by John Hostetler. There are some offbeat tales and info on daily practices–vignettes on butchering, folk remedies, etc.

  • Thanks Eric, I’ll check it out. I’ve been reading about the Hutterites as of late.
    And I have to ask …. Who would you rather(be)
    Amish or Hutterire ???

  • Oops misspelled Hutterite.

  • Hey Michelle, that is a good question. Going solely by lifestyle it seems like it would be more difficult to live in a Hutterite community–physical segregation from the rest of the world would be hard to get used to.

  • I saw the movie Amish Grace tonight. I knew of the tragic, horrific event, saw the news, heard the stories, and in spite of that I was, all at once again – appalled, shocked, angry and horrified.

    And absolutely stunned by the reaction of the people whose children were killed.

    Perhaps this film does not perfectly reflect Amish life and/or philosophy. Perhaps this film does not perfectly reflect the actions and feelings of the Roberts family or the community situation as it unfolded.

    All I know is that it has affected me very deeply. I think the line was “Hatred soon takes up all the space and pushes love out of your life.” That was a real revelation for me. I hope it is for others as well.

    Anne Rodgers wrote in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette a year after the tragedy: “Dr. Kraybill said, typical Protestant forgiveness theology says God has forgiven you, so you should pass it on to other people,” he said. “The Amish flip it and say, if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. In that sense it leads directly to their salvation,”

    I would say it leads directly to our salvation, as individuals, as communities, as a nation. This is a revelation that for me has shaken my world.

    If this film does nothing else, it is a small – yes possibly imperfect contribution, but a concept that can make our society better, our country better, make our world better, and in a very big way memorialize the lives of those girls and those families in a lasting way that no monument or marker could possibly ever achieve or outlast.

  • Chris thanks for your thoughtful comments and yes it is a profound thought on the negative power of hatred–a message that hopefully will continue to reach those that need to hear it.

  • Thanks for this post Erik. I just now saw it but it was very touching. I recently read Harvey Yoder’s “The Happening” and I highly suggest that if you haven’t read it. It’s written from a fictional girls in the school’s point of view and had me in tears most of the time. Another good book was by Jonas Beiler but I can’t remember the title. He was a cousnelor to the Amish there. I want to read Amish Grace too. Anyone have any other books about Nickel Mines?

  • Hi,
    I read The book the happening.. And I ended up crying because of what happened.. I remember that day all to well.. My family and I went shopping and we were in a store and it was all over the tv’s.. My heart breaks for all the families that lost dear loved ones.. I did however watch the movie.. Me personally I didnt like it at all. Some of the things they had on there were not true.. And I just assume not pay for that movie or anything for LMN.. I do however read the book everytime I can.. Hope each of you have a very blessed day!

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    Country Girl who Loves Lancaster County
    Roberts wife (April 10th, 2011 at 12:00)

    Roberts wife

    What I hear from friends is that she re-married and moved away from the area. I can not blame her for if this is painful for us to even read, can you imagine what the children of this man have to deal with? Bless Rosanna, to go to that child’s house every week takes alot of courage.

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    books (June 6th, 2011 at 13:28)


    I would like to know the titles of all the books that have been written about Nickel Mines. I just read The Happening and shed more than a few tears.

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    Nickel Mines books (June 6th, 2011 at 15:39)

    Nickel Mines books

    Hi Sharla, the first one that comes to mind is Amish Grace, which you might have heard of already. I’ve read it and recommend it. The new paperback edition has the interview with the shooter’s mother, which is worth reading in itself.

    I’ve also read The Happening, which I enjoyed. The approach the author took of making a composite character from multiple girls’ experiences was interesting.

    Two more which I haven’t had a chance to read are Forgiveness: A Legacy of the West Nickel Mines Amish School by John Ruth, and Think No Evil by Jonas Beiler.

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    Amish reaction to Newtown, Conneticut shooting? (December 15th, 2012 at 18:23)

    Amish reaction to Newtown, Conneticut shooting?


    Just wondering if and how the Amish might respond to the tragedy in at the Connecticut school shooting. I’m sure similar to the Nickel Mines shooting, they would be forgiving of the killer, but I’m wondering if a busload of Amish would travel to visit the families to encourage and counsel them? Or would this be seen as being too much “in the world” since the Amish as a group were not involved?


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    Nickel Mines School (October 6th, 2014 at 19:19)

    Nickel Mines School

    A day to remember. Oct. 2, 2006, West Nickel Mine School.


    Remembering the Amish school shooting

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