Contributor Don Burke today shares some photos from a visit to the Amish community at Canton, Missouri (Lewis County).
This three-decade-old settlement was three church districts in size as of 2013. Canton is one of many Amish places in the Show-Me State. As of 2016, Amish had settled 43 distinct locations in MO.
These photos were actually taken in early 2015. Thanks to Don for his efforts with both the photos and the accompanying text. I hope you enjoy this snowy look at another out-of-the-way corner of Amish America.
Last year as part of a trip to the northeast corner of Missouri, I decided to include a passing visit through a few of the Amish communities in the area. One of these was the community of Canton. Some recent snow made the brief three-hour visit into a photographer’s wonderland.
The Amish houses and farms in Canton were pretty typical for what you would expect Amish places to look like, but allowed for a great variety of designs, building materials, etc.
I happened to catch an Amish farmer shoveling feed into a wagon.
The stereotypical phone shanty would be found scattered here and there.
With three church districts, the Canton community has a number of schools. I found at least five one-room schools as I traveled through.
Amish in the Snow
About three years ago I have my first opportunity to take a “Amish in the Snow” themed shoot, and it’s still a favorite subject. The black closed buggy against a snowy background, or the bundled-up Amish in an open buggy is still a favorite capture.
Of course, kids are kids, and Amish or not snow is a kid-magnet, whether that involves sleds…
…or other snow-related fun.
With rare exception (such as Garnett, KS), buggies are just an assumed part of Amish everyday life. And in my experience you can tell quite a bit about the community just from their buggies.
This one picture tells a lot about where this community (or at least district) falls on the conservative-progressive spectrum. They do not use electric flashers (which would suggest a progressive-leaning group), but rather limit themselves to the kerosene-lamp-powered lantern to help make them visible to automobile traffic at night. However, they are not on the extreme conservative end of the spectrum since they do allow the orange SMV triangle, a red reflector, and the white reflective tape – all which would be rejected by the most conservative.
Canton sports a fairly wide variety of buggy types…
… as well as the occasional Amish that just forgoes the buggy altogether.
In a community of this size there are naturally numerous Amish businesses. Here an Amish family has a greenhouse business right beside their house.
This Amish family has a small engine business in an annex to their home.
An Amish candy store.
Horse shoeing and trimming
There seemed to be a lot of timber-related business, including this home-size gasoline powered saw mill…
…and at least three commercial-sized saw-mills.
Yutzy Cattle and Construction.
I was intrigued by the two church wagons at this one location, and was told later that these were for a large funeral that had taken place the day before.
A couple of things caught my attention at this home. For one, the black drum strapped to the roof was unexpected. I later discovered that this is probably their heating system for water used in their shower. Water is pumped up by a small engine, allowed time to warm, then used in the shower directly below it.
The same house also sported what appears to be an ice locker.
This was an enjoyable, even if brief, visit.
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Canton, MO Photos
Thanks for posting these nice photos. I enjoyed each and everyone. In my area it’s rare to see and adult Amish on horseback.
This might be of interest, I do see this from time to time in Amish communities, usually more often younger people in my experience.
I can count the times on one hand when I’ve seen Amish riding horseback. Depending on what the task at hand is, and the age of the person, often they’ll take a bike or rollerblades.
My mom was 11 years old when they moved to town in 1929. There was a farm on the edge of town that sold milk and she’d rollerskate with her tin pail in hand to buy some. The rollerskates of the day were held on with clamps over your shoes, and she’d have her key around her neck just in case she needed a tune up on the way!
So, if we’re Amish or English we can use our resources if need be!
I better go start the car so it’s warm for the ride to church. We’ll save the talk about a ride to church in a cold buggy for later!
Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. I especially like the ingenuity of the family with their answer to solar water heater, Very cleaver.
Thanks for highlighting my work, Erik. It is always a privilege to be able to share here on AmishAmerica.
I always thought that it was using lanterns rather than electric lights for buggy lighting that was a sign of an ultra-conservative group, such as the Swartzentrubers, the Troyers and most of the Nebraska Amish subgroups.
And I haven’t heard of any group that doesn’t put some kind of reflective material on their buggies – even the Swartzentrubers use tape, and the Troyers and Nebraska Amish both use the SMV triangle.
Also, the practices of placing the SMV triangle on the top left corner of the buggy’s rear and having a single reflector on one side seem to be associated with the Buchanan County, Iowa settlement/affiliation, which is noted for its conservatism.
RC, it’s been several months since I wrote the commentary for these pics, so to be honest I don’t remember all that I was basing some of those comments on. Sorry, but the mind gets a bit fuzzy any more , but it seems there had been an article here on AA that dealt with some of the reflector/tape question. But I could be wrong.
I do know that one of the communities I’ve visited a few time near here (Clark, MO) doesn’t typically use the SMV triangle on their buggies. The two exceptions I’ve seen to that were both youths, and one or both of them showed other embellishments that were clearly not the norm for this highly conservative group. (https://amishamerica.com/a-thanksgiving-visit-to-the-amish-of-clark-missouri/)
As to the tape and reflector, if that is incorrect, my apologies and my thanks for point it out. Erik if the copy is wrong please will feel free to correct it.
It’s a Winter Wonderland, there is no word to describe the nice photos in this post (a picture has a 1000 words). Reminds me of Christmas time, but I know that has been over some weeks ago!
You are right, lanterns are more conservative, but there is a difference between the darker (almost black) reflective tape the Swartzentrubers and until recently most Troyer Amish use and the lighter tape shown in the photos.
If you compare the tape on Swartzentruber buggies with the tape in the photos, you’ll see what I mean.
And the SMV on the edge or top corner of the photo does indeed show the Buchanan Co. influence, as does the buggy-curtain straps being on the outside of the curtain. Most curtain-buggies have the straps on the inside so when the curtain is rolled up, it is on the outside of the top. These Buchanan Co. type groups have the straps on the outside so when the curtain is rolled up, it is fastened on the inside.
Small details, but a lot can be read into those details.
Swartzentruber buggy visibility features
Thanks Mark for the follow-up. RC, here are a couple rear shots of Swartzentruber buggies for comparison, first in Ohio and then TN (scroll down a bit on each):
I live in Reading, Mi and in our settlement here the Amish are not allowed to use covered buggies year around. They must always use open buggies
Thanks for sharing these really nice photo’s. I enjoyed seeing and reading about them.
I always enjoy seeing pictures of Amish communities, such as Canton, that I likely will never have the opportunity to visit.
I really agree with Al in Ky – I love when you have photo essays in Amish country. Coming from a completely different part of the Country – it intrigues me with the diversity of houses, buggies, farm equipment, and just the differences in curb appeal of Amish homes. I also love the seasons on display. I always click on these posts. Thank you for sharing them, Don Burke. As always they are appreciated!