22 responses to Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago
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    Marcus Yoder
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (July 26th, 2013 at 05:07)

    Elvan Yoder was my uncle. I can remember visiting and playing here as a child.
    Marcus Yoder

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    Comment on Thanks for sharing! (July 26th, 2013 at 05:46)

    Thanks for sharing!

    It’s a very interesting little booklet, by the sounds of it. I love collecting booklets from different attractions, events or communities telling the story of their community or the history of an event that might have happened there.

    I really enjoyed the pictures you shared, Erik, I will be serious for a moment, then I’ll be silly, not all communities had a great number of “cars” even in the late 1950s, or if they did they might not have pictured prominently in pictures of daily life, I mean sure, there are pictures that exist of people posing in front of their cars even dating back to the era between 1900 and 1910, especially when Ford (Henry) came on the scene big time, mind you, the circumstance of the odd picture might have been played out that it was actually snapped at a time of day when there where the Amish population was at that location, mind you, also, a number of English people still used horse and cart/carriage for transport, although rarer in 1958-9. In all likelihood my grandfather did in the 1950s Manitoba before moving to the city, my mother and father both told me “he never drove a car in his life”

    The boys baseball picture could probably pass for any rural American group in the 1950s, or certainly before, again with my relatives, my rural male relatives between 1935 and 1955 seemed, by the pictures we have of them, preferred short sleeve work shirts, but the style of clothing, particularly the pants (minus the straw hats, my Manitoba relatives are never pictured with straw hats on, neither fedoras or even Stetsons for some reason) certainly matches, although I suppose though looking the same, English farmers of the day might have preferred zippers, some might have continued to wear buttons, though it probably depended on cost, it was increasingly rare.

    I am getting sillier now, I love the hairstyle of the man getting his hair trimmed by either his wife or some other female relative or friend, the hair style is certainly a reminder of the nineteenth century, a reminder of Moe from the Three Stooges (minus the beard) and a hint, at least in my imagination toward a certain Liverpool, England rock band that would emerge to worldly prominence in the English world not terribly later in the 1960s. Seriously though, for a very long time, that kind of hairstyle was very common.

    [The silliest bit] Speaking of that English (British) rock band, in what I’d call the Amish family portrait, doesn’t the father look a lot like a clean shaven John of the late 1960s and 1970s vintage, I mean look at his face, the nose, the mouth, the glasses, if we where a dumb conspiracy theory group I’d suggest that Lennon had stumbled across time travel and abandoned the stress of the rock star life in 1980, went back to the 1950s and started life again as an Amish farmer in Indiana.

    Again, let me thank you, Erik for sharing excerpts from this booklet, it is fascinating.

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      Carolyn B
      Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (July 26th, 2013 at 16:58)

      SHOM, you, sir, are as hilarious as you are observant. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    • Just looking back at the haircut photo now Shom, I like the look of semi-concern on his face. Assuming that’s what it is, is he more worried about getting an ear nicked or too much hair landing on the floor?

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      Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (August 1st, 2013 at 21:05)

      Hey, SHOM, you never know! Here’s a quote from John Lennon:

      I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?

      John Lennon


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    Juanita Cook
    Comment on Thanks (July 26th, 2013 at 06:26)


    Thanks for sharing this this. It was very interesting. Loved all the pictures.

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    Loretta T
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish (July 26th, 2013 at 08:03)

    Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish

    We have been a visitor of Arthur, yearly, for 15 yrs. We have tried to dine at Rockome Garden twice and found it to be awaste of our money and time. Hopefully there are new owners and/or waitresses because we could have spent our money better elsewhere.

    However, Arthur is still our favorite of all the Amish settlements.
    We traveled to Ethridge Tn last and spent a couple of days. That is a totally different experience then what we have in Arthur.

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    Linda Schendel
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and Arthur, IL (July 26th, 2013 at 08:26)

    Rockome Gardens and Arthur, IL

    My sister and I have been taking our children to Arthur and Rockome Gardens for about 25 years. We have seen the Gardens in their former good times and then the bad times and now on the rebuild. The new owner seems to be trying to bring it back and has built at least one new building. The Harvest Festival that they used to have at the Garden was a great time — my niece rode on one of the wagons and pitch hay. I love the whole area and hope to get back there soon but at least in time for the Great Pumpkin Patch in October (and the bakery)and to wander through the country side and visiting the various cottage industry shops in the area.

    • My only experience of Rockome has been passing by on the road, as it sounds like early visitors experienced it. I was selling books over 14 hour days at the time and didn’t really think about it other than as a landmark.

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    Debbie H
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (July 26th, 2013 at 09:02)

    Thank you Eric. I love looking at old pictures. What struck me was the posed for pictures of the Amish. Apparently this old order group was more lenient than others when it came to pictures. My favorite, the two men caught on the street. A contrast in personality. Love the smiling gentleman. I would have loved to know him.

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    Patty Tolliver
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 yrs ago (July 26th, 2013 at 10:54)

    Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 yrs ago

    I loved the pictures. It’s always good to see the pictures from the past. Gives one a good idea on how things may have been at that time. Thanks for showing us yet another glimpse into the Amish world.

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    Comment on I can give you a rough idea (July 27th, 2013 at 00:12)

    I can give you a rough idea

    … about what it would have been like 50 years ago relative to trying to learn about the Amish; as Erik noted in this comment from his post: “I tried to imagine what it would have been like learning about the Amish people, possibly for the first time, from this publication fifty years ago. It would have been a time of relatively little available info on the Amish, certainly not like today, with books, television, blogs and so on”.

    I can tell you quite well what my experience was like 49 years ago trying to do so. It wasn’t good. Wasn’t easy, either. I first became aware that Amish people even existed 49 years ago last month when my oldest sister, who was on a senior class trip to New York City & the 1964 World’s Fair, mailed to me a post card depicting a road scene of an Amish horse and buggy in Lancaster County, PA.

    When she got home a week or so later she told of seeing these people out in their fields using horse drawn equipment and of seeing them on the streets in some of the towns they went through in that part of Pennsylvania. As a then 10 year old (I’ll give you a second to do the math!)I was intrigued and wanted to know more about them.

    Our little local library had nary a book about the Amish. So I had my mother take me in to the nearby city (Houston, TX), to the Carnegie Branch Library. Whereupon I checked out ALL of the books that they had about the Amish … all three of them. Even as a 10 year old kid I think that I kind of had the impression that two of those books took the information from the other one and just repackaged it. I couldn’t say that I learned a whole lot from those books. If I did, it probably wasn’t accurate and it certainly didn’t stick.

    In dealing with the Amish from time to time in one of my previous jobs, starting about 1983 or so, and from doing business with them in person, through the mail and over the phone since then I learned a lot more about them, but still I really had learned very little new, in-depth information about them until just the past few years. On this website I have picked up a lot of answers to questions that I had about the Amish, but had no resource to turn to for those answers. I’ve also learned a whole lot about them from reading some 12 to 14 additional books about them in just the past few years. These are almost all books that I learned about through this very forum and which have greatly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of them over what I had previously known.

    Really, short of living right amongst them, reading this forum and reading the books by the various researchers of Amish and other Plain people have been the best thing I could have done to enhance my understanding of them. When you consider that I was probably more motivated to have a better understanding of them than most people are when they first learn about them and it still took me the better part of a half a century to get past the basic stuff you can kind of see what it was like filtering through the little information about them that was available in the very era Erik is discussing.

    • This anecdote brought home to me what we sometimes take for granted, which is not only available info on the Amish but info on any range of subjects in general. That you had to trek to Houston and then hoard all of the books on the Amish available (all 3 of them) is an amusing image but also makes me glad for what is available today.

      The issue now is less about gathering the info and more about filtering and processing it.

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        Comment on Correct (July 29th, 2013 at 18:23)


        “The issue now is less about gathering the info and more about filtering and processing it”


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    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (July 27th, 2013 at 06:24)

    I’ve noticed that these older depictions of the Amish often include the Amish posing for photographs. My understanding is that almost none would do so today and that even trying to take photos of the Amish up close would cause offense and likely end the interaction. Current publications with photos of the Amish usually show unbaptized children, adults from a far distance, or the backsides of people.

    Did the Amish prohibition on posing for photos emerge gradually, perhaps coming about as instant cameras proliferated? Or did the rise of tourists lead the Amish to articulate this rule, as the Amish tired from constantly being in the camera lens? Or perhaps these old photos actually featured Beachy Amish or Mennonites or a sect which did not have such a rule?

    Fascinating account, in any case. It is interesting to note at what time that Amish practices were considered “different” from mainstream Americans. Going back 100 years or more, the Amish may have had a different theology, but farming practices and technology would have been more or less the same as their neighbors.

    • History of Amish prohibition of photography

      Ed, all good questions. The historical nature of Amish reluctance to be photographed is touched upon in the recent book The Amish; here is a link to an excerpt from Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=O3lQsi9a2h0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+amish+kraybill+nolt&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aZf2UZ2hHa–4AP9uYHYBQ&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=photography&f=false

      There are a number of recorded instances of Amish making formal declarations against personal photos, dating to the mid-1800s. Though I’d agree, there seem to be a good number of older photos with what appears to be Amish as willing participants. Looking through the booklet, it seems that most if not all people featured are Old Order Amish.

      There is also a paper which I have not read but may also shed light, by Marilyn E. Lehman, entitled “The Taboo on Photography: Its Historical and Social Significance” http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Taboo_on_Photography.html?id=XDmeNwAACAAJ

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    Al in Ky
    Comment on Rockome Gardens and the Arthur Amish, 50 Years Ago (July 28th, 2013 at 20:25)

    Thanks for sharing the historical information and current status
    about Rockome Gardens. I have been there several times, though
    not for about five years. I know that Rockome Gardens has had
    a struggle for several years, so hope the new owners are bringing
    new life to this unique place. Thanks also for sharing the article
    about Pawnee City, Nebraska. It was interesting and well-written.

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      Comment on Pawnee City Amish growth (July 29th, 2013 at 11:35)

      Pawnee City Amish growth

      What caught my attention in that article Al was that the community has grown to 37 families. It looks like there will be a Nebraska Amish presence for a while to come.

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    Comment on Gone, but not forgotten (March 18th, 2018 at 10:54)

    Gone, but not forgotten

    We just recently found out that Rockome is no more, and were both shocked and saddened. We had visited several years ago and have been promoting it widely to friends, family and co-workers as a wonderful place for a family destination. Before I retired several years ago I had photos in a slide show on my PC with many from Rockome.

    • Illinois Amish Heritage Center and Historic Amish Home Restoration

      Ray, here is a recent story in which Rockome is mentioned which might be of interest to you. It’s about the work relating to the Illinois Amish Museum (now Illinois Amish Heritage Center) which was once located at Rockome.

      Two old Amish homes are being restored, with several other buildings in the plans as well. The article also mentions how Amish moved the oldest home using horses, which got a lot of attention at the time (we posted on it at the time here: http://amishamerica.com/illinois-amish-use-horsepower-to-move-their-oldest-known-home/). The new site is located near Chesterville; here is the Heritage Center site: https://www.illinoisamish.org/

      The article:


      The new development plan is broken down into four phases and a current fundraising goal of $1.7 million. An outside consultant has been contracted for fundraising with about $900,000 in pledges to date. The two houses to be restored are those of Moses Yoder, which was the first Amish house built in Illinois (1865), and the 1882 Daniel Schrock house. The Schrock house is nearly restored and is to serve as the interim visitor center until a contemporary museum is built.

      Eventually the Schrock house will serve as an education and conference center, and be used to serve Amish dinners and as a bed and breakfast. Tours of the house were given during the steam threshing event held in July 2017, and Owen Schrock, who once lived in the house, helped with the tours.

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    Comment on great post (September 14th, 2018 at 07:52)

    great post

    Thanks For sharing this information. It’s Nice..!!!

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