Amish Umbrellas

Vital on-board gear for the open carriage: the heavy-duty umbrella.


Handy in shine, or rain.

Reader Ed, who took these, says the next two were shot in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, during a, ahem, driving rainstorm:



Thanks to Ed for the photos, and the pun. And aren’t you glad your vehicle has a roof?

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    1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Ooh, rain

      As much as my area of southern Ontario was mild and comfortable this summer I did have need for my umbrella on a number of occasions as a patron on public transit, even a couple of times when I needed to use one to shield me from the burning sun.
      Very nice pictures.

    2. Marcie


      Are they not allowed to have tops on thier carriages?
      Why would that be?


      1. Marcie


        Sorry — I assume these are Swiss Amish? Can you tell me why the Swiss Amish don’t use carriage tops?

        1. Marcie actually these were all taken in Lancaster County (not Swiss). I wish I knew the answer as to why Swiss don’t use the covered carriage, I have just assumed it reflects a generally more conservative tradition among the Swiss.

    3. willard starnes


      they are prepared for all types of weather. I remember as a child riding in a buggy with a uncle and it is a memory I will never forget.

    4. Debbie H

      Most buggies I’ve seen are covered. This is a good Idea though if you don’t have one. Here in Florida you would have to have one with you at all times because if it aint raining the sun is hining hot.

    5. Laura

      I lived in Japan for a while, and got very fond indeed of carrying an umbrella to keep the sun off. It worked even better when I lived in New Orleans! Umbrellas aren’t just for rain — although I have to think that in an open carriage, the passengers are still going to get a lot of rain in their faces because the umbrellas don’t cover them as well as having a top on the buggy would.

      And I would also be very interested in learning why the Swiss Amish still use open carriages.

    6. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I’ve been thinking about it, I think it is possible that the Amish who go without tops on their buggies extend to their buggies the bible verse from Genesis where humanity (particularly Adam, Eve and their eventual children) are told that we are to eat with the sweat of their brow, or however its said, you know? I suppose they see exposure like this to the coarseness of the world as a playing out of the early biblical teaching.

    7. Matt from CT

      Completely unrelated bit of humor from an antique tractor board I’m on. Post from a member named Hofstetter:

      “All my relatives are in Germany…but the name does get me discounts down in Holmes county cause they think I’m related to SOMEONE down thar….”

    8. Alice Mary


      That word just came to mind, thinking about umbrellas.

      I’d like to know where the Amish get their umbrellas, because I’d imagine they’d need to be VERY sturdy to survive the force of the wind/rain when using an umbrella in a buggy. I have enough trouble keeping umbrellas from blowing inside out (and getting ruined) running from the parking lot to the library (our parking lot has a pretty wide-open exposure to Westerly winds).

      I remember when I was a kid, making forts (inside the house or on the front porch) with my mother’s umbrellas. We had a lot of old wooden ones back then. Ma was very particular about making sure to get the umbrella with the most “ribs”, as they tended to be sturdier. Then, “pagoda” umbrellas (metal shafts) came into style, and my very stylish (still is at age 76) oldest sister had an assortment. I thought they were so cool, but wasn’t allowed to play with them.

      Thanks, Ed, and yep, Erik, I’m sure glad my vehicle has a roof!

      Alice Mary

      1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

        I prefer plain black or blue umbrellas, I am not particular about them or the number of ribs, but it does make sense to have more as it seems sturdier.
        I have an umbrella that I kept that I remember from my childhood. Its a cane shape handle with some slight carving into it to make it look more expensive, probably only cost my mom or my grandmother 2-5 dollars, cheap collapsible ones go for 9 dollars these days and they will not last 30+ years, even with gentle care. The fancy one lives in the closet I don’t have the heart to use it.

      2. Linda

        Shetler's large black umbrella

        Alice Mary,
        In the Shetler’s Wholesale Co. catalog from Geneva, Indiana, two sizes of umbrellas are listed for sale at $24.95 each plus shipping. When opened, the Double Canopy Umbrella has a 62-inch diameter, strong fiberglass construction, “wind buster”. The Large Clear Panel Umbrella has a diameter of 68 inches, is heavy duty with extra supports, “our best”. Only one panel of the 68-inch umbrella is clear, the other 7-9 (approximately) panels are black. It seems a clear panel window could help to see where you are going in the rain. Surely the local Amish stores or buggy shops also sell the large umbrellas.
        Shetler’s Wholesale Co., P.O. Box 8, Geneva, IN 46740 has a 128-page mail-order catalog with clocks, Stainless Steel, toys, kitchenware, canning supplies and an upside-down Deluxe Jar Lifter!

    9. Alice Mary–you were allowed to open an umbrella in the house!!! Oh my, my aunts never permitted that because it was sure to bring bad luck! (Same with rocking a rocking chair if no one was sitting in it).

      1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

        I'm not Alice Mary, however..

        I believe that. It is just something I’ve never done, had an unfolded (open) umbrella indoors. I even felt uneasy on picture day when all the photography stuff was out to make us pimply kids look nice for the relatives. I was even ill at ease about it when I studied photography in high school and community college. I know it’s a completely different thing but still.

    10. Carolyn B

      Clear umbrellas

      I don’t know how practical they are or the rib count, but would clear umbrellas that bubble out and can be held down over more of a user’s body be permissible? I think it would be very practical for the driver to stay dry while still seeing the road.