33 responses to More of your Amish questions answered
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    Comment on Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 07:30)

    Amish questions answered

    Well done, ERIK — looks like you’ve made some progress weeding through all of those questions, we bombarded you with!!

    You’ve answered a lot of questions, I’ve also wondered, and now I know the answers! THANKS. Looking forward to reading more!!

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    Lee Ann
    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 07:56)

    Thanks Erik for answering so many questions. Wouldn’t be surprised if you get alot more questions coming in.

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 10:25)

    Those of us who don’t go out in public much don’t worry so much about the morning shower, I guess. Having lived off-grid, well, you wash as you can, especially when there is extra hot water on the stove. I should write a blog post on that. As for sharing bath water – I would say it was fairly common in families without central plumbing to run the kids through the tub sequentially. I don’t know anyone who does that now.

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      Comment on Who goes first (January 25th, 2012 at 10:50)

      Who goes first

      I would like to read that post!

      As for the order of sequential bathing, I wonder if that’s determined by drawing straws or perhaps an executive decision from Mom ranking kids from dirtiest to cleanest.

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        Alice Mary
        Comment on Heebie-jeebies! (January 25th, 2012 at 11:29)


        Thanks for your replies, Erik. I asked about the “bathwater sharing” because in one particular Amish fiction story I read, the “English guest” was given first dibs on the “clean” bathwater, with the host’s family following. Eeeuu! I’m sorry, but the thought of it (especially after raising kids who were sometimes QUITE dirty) gives me the heebie-jeebies!

        I must say that showering regularly is, at least for me, one of life’s greatest “little pleasures.” Of course, I also enjoy the luxury of various bath soaps and gels, etc. Maybe if I used lye soap like Busia used, I’d have other opinions (and probably drier skin).

        Alice Mary

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      Mary Ann Chase
      Comment on sharing bath water (January 25th, 2012 at 17:35)

      sharing bath water

      Heck….I used to bathe my little ones together and that was in the ’60’s early 70’s….up to a point, and it had nothing to do with not having hot water.It was just more convenient. I’m sure people still do. In early American history it WAS due to lack of hot water. I believe dad got the first of it, then mom and the kids….hence “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. I imagine they refreshed it with water kept hot on the wood stove tho. There was a T.V. program on living like they did in the 1800’s or earlier, and it looked pretty miserable to me….especially lack of modern shampoo. I’m glad that the Amish have that convenience. This is such an interesting web site. I’m glad I was directed to it. MA

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 10:41)

    Great information, Erik! Thanks for all you do! You are helping me fill in the gaps of my knowledge on the Amish every day.

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    Comment on Thank You (January 25th, 2012 at 11:48)

    Thank You

    That was a lot of information and I enjoyed reading it all. Thank you for taking the time to anwser so many questions at once.

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    Jane Reeves
    Comment on Thank You!!! (January 25th, 2012 at 12:24)

    Thank You!!!

    Thank you for answering so many questions. I love reading your post.
    Jane Reeves

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 12:39)

    My pleasure to take a crack at these. Certainly some of them could be elaborated on and anyone who can fill in gaps or add is welcome to. It had been a little while and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do a full post on each so I wanted to get a first “batch” out.

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    Comment on Local tragedy (January 25th, 2012 at 13:59)

    Local tragedy


    I didn’t know where to forward this to you, but I just saw this and wanted to make you aware. Another tragedy from the same area the girl died last year.


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    Comment on Questions/answers (January 25th, 2012 at 14:42)


    Thanks for answering the questions Erik, you’re doing a GREAT job. As for the bathing thing…I know for a fact that my cousins & I teamed up in the tub when we were younger, both sexes at that. Don’t even try to do that in today’s times!! Totally different world today.


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      Mary Ann Chase
      Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 26th, 2012 at 15:02)

      I too remember bathing with a girl cousin in an old fashioned tub and loving it…sliding down the slanted end…and then years later tossing my little kids in with their cousins, both sexes, into the bath after a wild and woolly day outside.

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    Wm Justice
    Comment on Soaps (January 25th, 2012 at 15:31)


    After many years of annoying skin rashes and other dermatological problems, I just happened to buy some lye soap from an Amish lady on one of my first trips to Randolph, MS. That was all it took to get me hooked on their soap. I have used no other soap for at least the last 10 years and have never had any more skin rash problem. I buy a four pound sack of bars for $10 which last me a very long time. (And yes, I do shower daily. Didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.)

    The lady I buy it from makes all sorts of scented soaps but I prefer the plain stuff. I did purchase a bar of honey scented oatmeal soap a while back but used it only once. My wife told me after I showered with it that I smelled like a big sugar cookie. Talk about an assault on one’s masculinity. I told that to my soap maker and she still laughs about my wife’s olfactory observation.

    Dirty lard is not used in any of the soaps I have seen sold in Randolph. They may make it but they don’t offer it for sale. My wife did purchase a dirty lard bar from the soap maker at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. She decided it smelled too much like bacon. Not that bacon is a bad thing; she just didn’t want to smell like it so she gave it to me. Maybe I can get my friend in Randolph to make a maple syrup scented soap and use it along with the dirty lard soap. That way everyone will think I just enjoyed a big breakfast at a Waffle House. I’ll keep you posted.

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 18:55)

    Speaking of bathing, I don’t think I have come across much on the topic of plumbing. I can see lesser technology groups operating very much like “the old days” but what about other groups. No city water I would imagine. Wells? Diesel generator run well pumps and pressure tanks with plumbing? Propane hot water heaters? Etc…

    Just wondering.

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      Comment on Plumbing (January 25th, 2012 at 19:10)


      I have read just what you mentioned — generators for hot water heater, and to run the pump for their well, and to run their washing machines, if they have an updated washer. I have read that some church districts allow propane for some conveniences, also. Of course, I could be wrong, so anyone is free to correct me on this….All depends on their district’s rules.

      While we are discussing bathing — I, too used to let my 2 sons bath together, to save water and time. But, not sure how I would have liked the idea, if I was using the same bath water, for 7-10 kids, mom and then dad!! ha…and yes, that LONG HAIR of the women would be a challenge to wash! No wonder some only bath once a week!It’s all in what one gets used to, in their case. Nothing wrong with that! 🙂

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      Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 26th, 2012 at 14:43)

      Yes, well water (though you may find city water with Amish living near built-up areas), air pressure plumbing–you will periodically hear the pressure escaping in a whoosh of air from a release usually located somewhere on the lawn near the home. Propane is often used to heat water.

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 19:38)

    When I visited my cousins on their farm overnight as a shy young teen, I was allowed to be the first one in the fresh bath water before the other 4 or 5 kids. I was an only child, only took showers at home, and had NEVER heard of sharing bath water. I remember being mortified to think my older boy cousins would be in there after me. Couldn’t look any of them in the face at breakfast the next morning! Hadn’t thought about that in a long time – your post gave me quite a chuckle this evening!

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      Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 26th, 2012 at 14:25)

      Great “tub stories” from all of you 🙂

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      Mary Ann Chase
      Comment on primitive plumbing (January 26th, 2012 at 14:53)

      primitive plumbing

      Oh yes, I remember being totally embarrassed when visiting cousins in Kentucky when I was somewhere between 10-12….they had no inside facilities. I had fun at the farm tho but was teased mercilessly by them about snakes. M.A.

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    Mona (Kentucky Lady).
    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 20:11)

    Some of these were rather funny 🙂 I finished “ANNIE’S PEOPLE’ a few wks. ago and in that story, they shared the bath water and one of Annie’s pen pals came to visit and she too shared the bath water…just don’t remember which number she was LOL….I just wondered if this was just fiction or does this really happen ?

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      Comment on Amish questions -- plumbing and bath water (January 25th, 2012 at 20:15)

      Amish questions -- plumbing and bath water

      Mona (Kentucky Lady), I too, read that book, plus more of Beverly Lewis’ books — they are very good — and I believe Annie let her pen pal, be the “first” in the tub. 🙂

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    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 25th, 2012 at 21:59)

    The Amish in my home community were not allowed to have propane, so the propane hot water tanks were altered so they could use kerosene. They used gasoline motors to pump well water. In a few cases, a spring was tapped, which means it was gravity-fed. Because there was no air pressure, a pitcher didn’t fill up very fast.

    Some families had only cold running water, and then would heat the water on the stove for bathing, washing dishes, etc.

    Still other families, like my own, had no running water, and so we had to carry it, heat it, and bail it. Sharing a bath had it’s advantages… you could have a deeper bath if you weren’t first, cause you have to keep adding hot water as it cools. You can always sponge down with the water in the tub, and have a pot of nice, warm, clean water to rinse down your body.

    In the summer we had “homemade showers” in the corner of the basement. We’d have a basin of warm water to sponge down our bodies. Before we started, we’d hang a sprinkling can of warm water on a nail in the ceiling. After sponging down, we’d hold the “arm” of the sprinkling can and direct the flow of the water over our bodies. I always hated when the bottom came up!

    Shampooing hair was a whole different process… we would do that in the sink with a basin of water. First we’d wet it, then shampoo it, then rinse it with a warm pitcher of water by pouring it over the shampooed hair.

    Every morning I give thanks for my wonderfully comfortable shower. I often find myself chanting, “Life is sweet… life is bliss… when you have a shower like this!” I would not appreciate it so much, had I not had to struggle so to have a bath or shower when I was growing up.

    Wm Justice, you cracked me up with your soap stories! We used lye soap for doing laundry when we had rain water (as you know, homemade soap does NOT work in hard water). We did not use lye soap for bathing or dishes or anything like that.

    Erik, another enjoyable post… thanks.


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      Comment on The "ideal" Amish shower? (January 26th, 2012 at 14:56)

      The "ideal" Amish shower?

      Saloma thank you for the shower account…I shuddered while reading it 🙂 I think if more people read things like this it would be harder to idealize Amish life. I absolutely love going to stay with my Amish friends but I do know it means giving up some creature comforts I’m used to for a little while. Though in the places I stay showering isn’t quite as challenging as you describe it.

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      Mary Ann Chase
      Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 26th, 2012 at 15:13)

      That seems strange to not allow propane but allow kerosene…also seems dangerous somehow. Gasoline to pump water would be very convenient but I imagine you’d have just certain times to get the pump going….and wouldn’t the gas run out.
      Nonetheless I do a happy dance for my shower that comes on when I want it to after reading some of the Amish stories. M.A.

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    Melissa H
    Comment on More of your Amish questions answered (January 30th, 2012 at 09:47)

    Thanks for the posts Erik! I really enjoy reading thru them.

    As for the bath thing…my children always shared bath water when they were little (they are 9, 7, 6, and 4 now). It made bath time much quicker and less water waste. About 3 years ago, we stopped letting our son bathe with his sisters (he’s 6) for modesty reasons. Now, they’re all taking showers. Sometimes with the last in line getting a much cooler shower than hoped for!

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    tiffany rangier
    Comment on ? (January 30th, 2012 at 11:08)


    is their anything wrong with wanting to join this faith?

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    Comment on New Order Amish (February 3rd, 2012 at 17:40)

    New Order Amish

    Erik, I’m looking for more information on the lifestyle of the New Order Amish. In my search I’ve only found it mentioned as one of a number of various branches/orders. I would really like to read something more in depth with regard to their similarities/differences from other Amish groups. Thank you, Everett.

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      Comment on New Order vs. other Amish groups (February 3rd, 2012 at 18:12)

      New Order vs. other Amish groups

      Everett, here’s some general info on New Order/Old Order Amish differences: http://amishamerica.com/whats-the-difference-between-new-order-and-old-order-amish/

      For a more in-depth answer these sources are good:

      “Plotting Social Change Across Four Affiliations”, Donald B. Kraybill, The Amish Struggle with Modernity, eds. Donald B. Kraybill, Marc Alan Olshan

      An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell

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    Comment on Shaving/ sex (May 11th, 2013 at 22:14)

    Shaving/ sex

    Can amish women shave ( ive heard they do not shave any part of their body because they beliece hair is a gift from god, so the more hair the better) but do they shave (legs, armpits, privates)?
    Also, can amish have sex for pleasure or do they only do it specifically for reproduction?

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