An Amish Obituary: Amos S. Zook, Age 93

A while back a reader asked if Amish obituaries are made public. I responded with a post on the topic. I see them appear in news feeds nearly daily. They are published in newspapers and find their way online. With that in mind this recent obituary caught my eye for two reasons.

One is that it is from the Somerset County, Pennsylvania community. I typically see Amish obituaries from the Lancaster County community or northern Indiana or a larger settlement like that. The obit informs us that the deceased gentleman will be viewed at a community member’s home, but then that the funeral service will be held at the Summit Mills Old Order Amish Church. The Somerset County community is one of a handful in which the Amish worship in specially built church structures, rather than at members’ homes.

There aren’t a lot of other details in this obit besides listing his surviving family. However, it does mention a second detail of interest, at least to me: Amos was the owner of Zook’s Chair Shop, a small local business in the hamlet of Summit Mills, for over 40 years. I remember on my 2015 visit to this community stopping by the place, but as I recall no one was in. I did snap the photos below of the chair shop sign:

Too bad I wasn’t able to make the acquaintance of Amos that day. Here’s another view showing the actual shop in the background, via Google Maps. You can just make out a few chairs:

Condolences to the family of Amos S. Zook. Ninety-three is a good number of years on the planet.

In a related question, Walter Boomsma wonders about the etiquette around visiting Amish cemeteries. I have actually never physically been in an Amish cemetery before, though have passed by them and stopped outside them many times.

While the Amish do take care of their cemeteries, they don’t have the same “cemetery culture” you see in some places in the world, where people might make regular visits to pray and leave behind items at elaborate gravesites. Amish gravestones are simple and sometimes not even stone at all.

I consider them to be private, so I wouldn’t visit one without being invited or accompanied, and typically they are located in a field and well off the main road anyway. One exception – at least to that latter detail – that both Walter and I thought of was a large cemetery in Lancaster County known as the Myer Cemetery, located on Eby Road.

It’s in the heart of the community right on a fairly heavily-trafficked road, as you can see in the photo above (via Stoltzfus House website). It has a historic nature, marked by the presence of a plaque on the Myer Homestead. The Nicholas Stoltzfus House website also hosts a cemetery map listing Stoltzfus descendants. Amish bishop and son of Nicholas, Christian Stoltzfus, is among those buried here.

I don’t mention that to endorse visiting, but just note it as one that is in quite a frequently traveled place which you may have even passed on a visit to Lancaster county. It is fenced in as most cemeteries of the sort are, and is not exclusively Amish. Here is the historical plaque, noting that the cemetery contains the remains of Abraham C. Myer and his heirs:

Myer Homestead plaque
Image: Mr. Tone/

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    1. Richard Traunero

      Amos Zook

      I befriended an Amos Zook in White Horse, PA, in Lancaster County, PA. He also is a chair maker/woodworker. I purchased two wooden porch glider swings from him years ago. We still use them on our front porch to this day. Amos is a bishop in his church district. I am sure there are many Amos Zooks out there, as both names are quite common!

    2. Schultzz Schultzkopf

      Amos Zook

      Amos Zook was a good man who was a skilled craftsman. I bought chairs from him many years ago. His home and shop are on a road that many would see if in that area. Along with the old Ordnung in that area everyone is given a job to do from the youngest to the oldest. Amos was no exception and contributed to his Amish community his entire life. I am sure he will be missed by friends and family. I know many members of that Ordnung and do business with them and also am a friend. I am continually impressed with their friendliness, kindness, and holiness. They all know who I am too. They are models of good behavior and manners.

      1. Nice to hear this about Amos and his family. I look forward to another trip to this community. Sounds like you have some good friends there.

    3. Amos Zook obit

      Your description of the cemetery truly sounded like the Miller Cemetery in Shipshewana IN.
      That is where my great-grandparents (Mast/Hershberger) and great-grandparents are along with
      many other family members. My grandparents (Snyder/Mast) are at the cemetery of the Shore Mennonite Church – where my grandfather helped to build it. Your description took me back home – thank you for all of you

    4. Walter Boomsma

      One note...

      We first “visited” the Myer Cemetery some years ago with a guide from the Mennonite Center (a highly recommended experience, by the way). We remained outside the fence–really didn’t give it much thought at the time, partly because we were noticing what the guide was pointing out–the uniformity, lack of family plots as such, and the markers are all of similar size and design, a sobering reflection of Amish beliefs, including death as the great equalizer. None are more important in the eyes of God. In a very real sense, the impact is of the entire cemetery, not the individual grave sites. When we are in the area, we always manage to drive by and pause for the important reminder. It simply hasn’t occurred to us to enter.