Andy Weaver Amish
Yesterday’s interview with Karen Johnson-Weiner on New York Amish examined, among other things, how diverse Amish groups have adapted to life in the state. One of the groups Karen discusses in depth in her book is the Andy Weaver Amish.
The Andy Weaver Amish are an affiliation which came about in the 1950s in Holmes County, Ohio, over the issue of social shunning.
Andy Weaver Amish occupy a place between the Old Order and Swartzentruber groups in Holmes County, where they number around 30 church districts.
They are noted for being stricter on acceptance of technology, though not so much as the highly conservative Swartzentrubers. They also take a more strident approach to shunning.
Interestingly, Andy Weaver Amish in Ohio are in fellowship with Amish in Lancaster County, who allow a significantly greater degree of technology.
Outsiders may have trouble discerning Andy Weaver Amish from their Old Order affiliation neighbors. Some years ago, while selling books to Amish in Holmes County, I was unaware of the difference between these two affiliations until pointed out to me by an Amishman. Amish themselves would have less of a problem.
Learn more about the Andy Weaver Amish.
I bought the book as I’m interested in ALL sides of the Amish and am wondering why the author, like a few others who write exclusively on the Amish and Mennonites (e.g. Kraybill & Nolt) ignore or downplay their involvement in puppy mills and the abuses inherent in Amish-owned puppy mills? For example, the news about kennl owner David Yoder of Romulus gassing his 93 dogs with a tractor pipe is all over the internet this week:
Just Google Romulus Kennel and you’ll find pages on this depraved act.
Anyway, I’m REALLY curious why authors shy away from the Amish puppy mill problem?
Thanks much, Eric! Agree with many of your points and will search for the earlier posts (I’m a fairly new subscriber and LOVE your Blog, learning a lot). I’m enjoying the book on NY Amish and fascinated by the Swartzentruber Amish but thought after reading many Nolt and Kraybill books that perhaps there’d be more on puppy mills this time around. You are right, when Amish act badly (drinking, drugs, sex abuse, buggy horse abuse, puppy mills), the public’s reaction is jaw-dropping – and media attention is heavy – most likely due to the romanticizing of the Amish by tourism boards, would you agree? Anyway, I appreciate your sincere comments!
Amish puppy breeding-media coverage
Thanks for reading my blog, and I do appreciate you sharing your comments on puppy breeding.
I don’t know that it is completely accurate that others would shy away from this issue. I wouldn’t purport to speak for them, but for instance it is addressed in an upcoming book by 2 of the authors you mention.
At the same time it is one of a number of aspects of Amish studies.
Animal rights activists would probably consider it the number one issue when it comes to Amish; sociologists or historians probably wouldn’t.
Cases like the one you link to are deplorable of course.
A significant number of Amish are involved in dog breeding, though as a percentage of the entire Amish population, it is small.
It is true that a number of cases involving Amish have gotten fairly extensive coverage in the media.
I think a reasonable question is if this is standard practice among Amish, and also, how does the attention given non-Amish puppy mills compare.
On the first question, I don’t have data but I tend to doubt that gassing dogs is representative of standard practice among Amish breeders.
That said I think there tends to be a difference in how some Amish breeders perceive dogs, versus how non-Amish pet owners might, which may lead to these types of cases occurring.
On the second question, I’m a bit skeptical that non-Amish breeders who treat animals cruelly receive the same coverage as Amish breeders who do. From a news standpoint it is just not as interesting of a story. I think it’s helpful to remember that not only Amish breed dogs in America.
I have actually covered puppy mills on at least a half-dozen occasions on this blog. Feel free to use the search box (top right hand corner of the page) and you should be able to locate those posts within a click or two.
I tend not to write about this anymore as those who are interested can read the fairly extensive amount I’ve written already, and because (to be perfectly honest) I am more interested in other aspects of Amish society.
Though, please understand that I do not condone this or think that killing dogs in such a manner is in any way okay. Personally I find it quite sickening.
Amish behaving badly
Hey Elizabeth, many thanks and again I appreciate the question and glad you brought it up.
I think that there are a couple of factors involved with the public and media reaction–and you are right that the romanticized image is part of it. When Amish act differently than we would expect them to (based in perceptions and expectations that may or may not be accurate or appropriate) the contrast can create a shock. “Saintly” Amish just don’t do these sorts of things.
I also think that a certain contingent finds it gratifying whenever there appears further proof that the Amish are not perfect. Amish tend to evoke strong reactions on both ends of the spectrum. There are some who despise Amish people, for various reasons.
If you or anyone else is interested, some of the best work on Amish, media, and their perception among non-Amish has been done by David Weaver-Zercher (his book The Amish in the American Imagination is a favorite). Weaver-Zercher along with Diane Zimmerman Umble edited and contributed to another excellent book entitled The Amish and the Media, maybe you are familiar with it. Both examine the issues of public perception of the Amish.
Professor Weaver-Zercher also did an interview for this blog a couple of years back which hits on some of this as well: https://amishamerica.com/an-amish-america-q-and-a-with-professor-david-weaver-zercher/
In any case I think individuals who break laws should face the same consequences, Amish or non-Amish. The court of public opinion, however, tends to judge the Amish more harshly.
Thanks again for your kind words on the blog and for your thoughtful comments Elizabeth! 🙂
A technical question about the Andy Weaver Amish, if you where to chat out of the blue with a person of that group and ask about their religion would that say “Oh, I am Amish”, “Oh, I am Andy Weaver Amish”, “I am an Andy Weaver”, or would they go a little Mennonite-y and say “Oh, I am an Weaverite”? If I where such I think I’d shorten it, but that’s just me. What do they do.
With an outsider they’d describe themselves simply as Amish. Among themselves they’d be likely to refer to themselves as Andy Weaver or rather “Dan Church” which is the common colloquial name, at least in Holmes County. I’ve never heard “Weaverite” 🙂
The two Amish settlements I am most familiar with are the Indiana County PA (Smicksburg) settlement and the Lawrence County (New Wilmington/Volant PA area) settlement. Both are referred to as being “Old Order Amish” but seem to be more traditional/conservative than say Lancaster County and Holmes County Old Order Amish. From my own observations this seems to hold true for most all the smaller settlements spread throughout western PA that are tagged “Old Order”.
Besides the “Andy Weaver” there is also the “Troyer” Amish group. Does anyone know of the nuances of these two groups?
Hey Bill, coming to your comment a bit late here, but Karen Johnson-Weiner gives a good description in the NY Amish book of the Troyer group. I should probably do a separate AOE post on them. But there is also a bit on this State Guide entry on New York Amish: https://amishamerica.com/new-york-amish/