7 Sights From an Amish Mud Sale (& Other Stories)

Photo: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY NETWORK

I won’t give them all away here, but Joel Shannon of the York Daily Record has put together a list of 7 things you’ll see at an Amish mud sale.

They include “Hot dog lines” (50-cent hot dogs still exist), “Cliques”, and “Phone booths”. Shannon recently attended the Gordonville sale. See the rest here.

Amish History: Ohio Parents Jailed Over Children’s Schooling  

Today Amish schools are ubiquitous, as is the system of schooling which sees Amish children finishing their formal education at age 14 or 15. Half a century ago, however, Amish parents struggled for the right to educate their children in the way they felt best.

You might recall the infamous photo of Amish children fleeing into cornfields to avoid forced busing to a town school in Buchanan County, Iowa. Eventually the 1972 Wisconsin v. Yoder decision ensconced the ability of Amish to limit their children’s schooling to eight grades.

But even before the 1965 Iowa incident, other Amish parents were persecuted for refusing to comply with laws of man which conflicted with their conscience.  The Akron Beacon Journal recently ran a short piece reliving a gripping case from 1958, in which parents in Wayne County, Ohio were imprisoned:

Three Old Order Amish couples from Mount Eaton had been charged with contempt of court for refusing to place their teen sons in the Wayne County Children’s Home. The boys — Sammy Hershberger, 14, Andy Hershberger, 15, and Jacob Slabaugh, 14 — were considered truants because they weren’t going to high school.

Ohio law required children to attend school until age 16, but formal education in Amish households ended at eighth grade. Something had to give.

The boys had fled to hide out with relatives in Pennsylvania. The parents were ordered to court, and then jailed when they refused to hand over their boys. The public reacted strongly. Several attorneys worked pro bono for the Amish case. The Amish couples received a flood of letters, which prompted one of the parents, John Hershberger, to remark that “We have more friends than we thought.”

Eventually public backlash became so great that they were released after about two weeks. They were no longer prosecuted, though the matter was not formally resolved until the 1972 Supreme Court decision.

At one point in the proceedings, a local bishop named Samuel Swartzentruber spoke in court in the families’ defense. I found his comments powerful:

“For all those here … if you’d like to have your religions persecuted, persecute ours,” he said. “If you want to be free under the Constitution, you should give us freedom, too.”

If it were God’s will, the families would stay in jail, Swartzentruber said, but they wouldn’t give up their children.

“We’ll have to suffer the consequences for Christ’s sake,” he said.

Also of note are the several old photos included in the article. I’ve included one below:

Buggies parked near the Wayne County Courthouse during the Amish parents’ appearance in court. March 12, 1958. Beacon Journal/Ohio.com file photo.

Given the ages of the parents at the time (mid-40s), it is highly unlikely that they are still alive to recount what happened, but their teenage sons might very well be. That would be an interesting story to hear.

Police Impersonator Stops Amish Buggy

This is an odd incident which occurred last week in Lancaster County. Someone driving a decommissioned police car pulled over an Amish buggy and asked the driver about alcohol and drugs. Though the man was initially reported to be in his 20s, it turns out these were two youth playing what appears to be a prank.

Of course you can’t pretend to be a police officer. Though as we’ve seen, police sometimes have to pretend to be someone they’re not – sometimes the last person you’d expect – to catch the bad guys.

Indiana Counties Search For Horseshoe Damage Solutions

We recently reviewed the various ongoing issues with road damage in Amish-inhabited areas around the nation.  A new report looks at how Indiana counties are addressing the problem caused by Amish buggy horseshoes.

Elkhart County is one of the only localities which requires license plates on buggies. Plate fees are dedicated to road repair. But it seems the $55 annual fee is not enough to cover the damage, so the county is eyeing an increase.

Meanwhile on the southern end of the state, Amish in Orange County have agreed to use less abrasive shoes for part of the year. Here’s the video report from WFYI:

3 Photos From Around Amish America

Finally, here are three photos that caught my eye recently on Flickr.

Amish youth hunters. Wayne County, Ohio. Photo by Andrew J. Cerniglia.

Farm at dusk, near Middlebury, Indiana. Photo by yooperann.

Amish people may be reluctant pose for photos, but their dogs don’t seem to have a problem with it. New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Photo by WCN 24/7.

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