Amish News Roundup: Basketball Fans, Deer Poaching & Another Fire

Today a grab bag of eight Amish news stories from the past days and weeks. Let’s dive right in.

1. Amish Basketball Fans (Topeka, Indiana) – Do Amish follow sports? Some do, particularly youth in some places. Last month I was working on my laptop in a local gas station in Lancaster County, when several Amish teens came in to charge a battery…and as you can see here, catch a bit of the Bears-Giants game:

A couple of girls were watching with the guys as well.

In the Hoosier State, basketball rules. And in northern Indiana, it gets more than a little support from local Amish. This is from an Indianapolis Star article about local high school team the Westview Warriors:

“A lot of people around here have Amish backgrounds,” said Elijah Hales, a senior basketball standout. “Amish families have a really strong community and tend to stay around here. You definitely have to get used to avoiding the buggies and avoiding the (horse) poop. You have to be on watch the whole time.”

There is a crossover from Amish to basketball, both directly and indirectly. At a home game, teenage and young adult Amish from Topeka and Shipshewana tie their horses to a fence outside the school and make up a large – and distinct – fan section at Westview games.

“The Amish are some of our best fans,” Hales said. “The whole side up above (the reserved section) is all Amish.”

Rensberger, who moved to the Westview district from Wawasee in sixth grade, said he had a curiosity about the Amish when he came to the school. He said the support from the Amish “is awesome.”

“They pack the stands like it’s nothing,” Rensberger said. “They don’t have electricity or anything so I don’t blame them for coming out to watch a basketball game. The Amish are hard workers and nice, polite people. To have them all rooting for you is really cool. We love to see them here.”

2. Bank Welcomes Amish (And Their $$?) (Willsboro, New York) – A bank in upstate New York has installed a hitching post to make things more convenient for new Amish arrivals:

When arriving into town to run errands, Amish residents had been tying their horse and buggies to a tree near the road.

Champlain National Bank Board Chairman Peter Paine noticed and offered to build a hitching post, said Jacqueline Hallock, a company spokeswoman.

“It was literally out of the goodness of his heart,” Hallock said.

The farmers selected a location near the tree line adjacent to the bank’s parking lot where the horses would be in the shade.

The new site has been popular with the farmers and community alike, as indicated by a recent Facebook post.

This is not unusual to have pop up when you have Amish come into a new area. Hitching posts in front of your store make it that much easier for you to add new Amish customers.

Photo credit: Champlain National Bank

Sounds like this was a nice gesture, and as a bonus, also not a bad bit of PR.

3. Dairy Farmers Find New Milk Buyers (Wisconsin)  – Remember the story about Amish dairy farmers dropped by their buyer?  The good news is that those farmers have found a new milk buyer willing to take their Grade B milk.

Grade B milk is limited to making cheese and a couple of other products, while Grade A can be used for drinking milk. Some Amish from plainer communities provide Grade B milk so need to be able to have a suitable outlet for their product.

4. Oaklawn Helps Amish Mental Health Patients (Goshen, Indiana) – This center founded by Mennonites in 1963 has long welcomed Amish patients. Some employees are of an Amish background and can communicate in Pennsylvania Dutch, making the process more comfortable.

Glen Miller, the center’s “Amish advocate”, say stigma over mental illness has declined among the Amish, which can only be a good thing. “We try to provide treatment that is culturally sensitive that does not go against their biblical worldview,” says center employee Dale Raber.

5. Amish Bouncing Back After Business Fire (Centre County, Pennsylvania) – Seems like a lot of fires striking the Amish lately (this is the 4th I can count dating back to the Thanksgiving Eve blaze in Geauga County).

Thankfully in this case there was no loss of life. The video report below explains how Amish are bouncing back quickly and plan to rebuild following a fire at Diamond Custom Kitchens:

6. Amish Face Code Violations (Shelby County, Ohio) – Amish in western Ohio face civil suits regarding violations over plumbing, human waste disposal, building permits, and more. This recalls similar feuds such as the one in Hardin County, Ohio which was eventually resolved, or the ongoing case in Minnesota.

7. Amishman Fined $28,000 For Poaching (Coshocton County, Ohio)  – An Amish hunter landed in hot water for shooting a second buck after already bagging his allotted limit of one in early November. The man first shot an 8-point buck and then later the same day shot a 26-point buck. He knew what he was doing was wrong, as there was some further deception involved. For the violation he was assessed a fee of about $28,000 and had his hunting license suspended for one year.

I guess antlers of that magnificent size were too tempting to resist. Not to excuse the illegal behavior in any way, but file this under “Amish are human too.” This account (article removed by source) by a local gives further detail on the story of this deer, which was known to local hunters as “Hay Rake.”

8. Toasty Oven Bakery (St. Anna, Wisconsin) – The Mast family of Calumet County, WI opened a bakery about 6 months ago. This replaces a bakery which previously existed for about a decade in the community, but which closed two years back.

The bakery sees more non-Amish than Amish customers, who come for doughnuts, cinnamon sticky buns, and the bakery’s most popular item, turnovers (pictured below, though these look like what I would call fry pies):

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    1. Amish Dairy Farms

      This question is not directly related to the Wisconsin dairy farmers. In general, I thought anyone–Amish or not–can privately sell their milk to individuals who are neighbors or private citizens. Is that correct?

      1. Jim if you mean raw milk sales, those laws vary by state. That’s actually something that’s come up here before with the Amish involved, particularly in one case in PA some years back. Here’s a map showing differences across states:

    2. Jack M Hughey

      Hello photos

      Hello I really enjoy the email an news..but I can’t get the photos in the emails or when I click on wonder if you can help ..thank you row crop farmer jack in Brooksville Florida USA 352 238 5078 a blessed 2019 to all

      1. Jack thanks and glad you enjoy it – actually the photos are mostly not going to be in the emails themselves, so you’d need to click the “Read More” link in each email to come here to the post page itself to view the full post, as I just send short excerpts in the emails. Hope that helps!

      2. Cynthia Bliss

        Jack M Hughey

        Try clearing your browser,it might help.

    3. Kentuckylady717

      Hey did not know you were on twitter…..hope to see you again….I usually get on here every day and not that much on FB or email anymore…..just when I think about it….
      So how’s it going…. ?

      1. Well about the only thing I do on Twitter is share these posts 🙂

    4. Jason M.

      Westview basketball

      I graduated from Westview High School in Indiana, and not only are the Amish good basketball fans, they have some good players, too. In the 90s, the Westview public school district was half Amish through 8th grade. At least one local Shipshewana Amish church district was more progressie and seemed to be okay with parents allowing their children (typically male) to attend high school. The Westview basketball teams of the late 90s often featured a few Amish boys. Typically, in Jr. High and early high school (before they turned 16) the boys wore basketball shorts and jerseys but had Amish haircuts. They often got “English” haircuts after they turned 16. I’ve had friends question me on that, so I had to go check and confirm in my old yearbooks that there are pictures of JV and Freshman basketball teams featuring players with Amish haircuts.

      One starting senior on the 1997 Westview boys basketball team was an Amish boy named Jerry Lambright. After graduating, he attended Goshen College and got an accounting degree. Then he went back to Shipshewana, married an Amish girl, and joined the Amish church. That’s a bit of an unusual path, as far as I know.

      1. Neat story Jason. In my experience I’ve also found that some in this area are more progressive in that regard. I remember meeting one Amish mother who matter-of-factly said her son was in high school. Not what you’d expect in most Amish places. There was also this bit from the article:

        Dennis Wingard, a feisty, defensive-minded senior guard, grew up Amish. Wingard followed in the footsteps of Norman Miller, a 2017 Westview graduate who worked in a local furniture finishing company for two years after eighth grade before returning to school. Miller, who was too old to play his senior season at Westview, is now a student manager for the Butler basketball team.

        Wingard said his parents supported his decision to attend high school and pursue his college dreams.

        “It has always been my dream to go to college,” Wingard said. “I definitely have the mindset of being thankful for everything I’ve got. The Amish have a really strong work ethic. It’s a really simple life.”

        1. Jason M.

          Westview basketball #2

          One of my high school friends who is now a coach at Westview just told me that it is becoming more common for Amish girls to play on the basketball teams too. She said it is most common on the Junior High teams, but this year she has her first Amish girl playing on the High School JV team. The girl initially dropped out following 8th grade as is common, but came back to attend high school after a semester away. She and her parents are still Amish, but she is continuing in high school as well as playing on the basketball team.

          1. This is really interesting Jason, thanks. Something that in most places would be unheard of. It highlights how this community is generally on the more progressive end of things. Yet at least in recent times they have quite a high retention rate here, of around 95% staying in the faith, reported by Nolt and Meyers in Plain Diversity (published 2007).

    5. Poaching

      I think this is an extremely high fine no matter where the poaching took place. Just wrong

      1. Apparently they base these fines upon the value of the deer, which I would guess is tied somehow to the # of points. Here’s the explanation from another article on the incident:

        On Dec. 13, Municipal Court Judge Tim France fined Troyer $150 for each charge and $87 in court costs. Additionally, Troyer was ordered to pay $27,904.46 in restitution to the State of Ohio based on the value of the deer.

    6. Robert wilson


      Need a roof done in lake villa Illinois do Amish do work in Lake County Illinois