Friday brain dump: news, updates, semi-random thoughts…and one odd photo

It’s Friday, and a good day to clear the deck.  Here are some news bits, updates, and mental flotsam from Amish America-land:

  • Comments are now enabled on all Amish Online Encyclopedia entries.   I held off on this earlier as I was figuring out the format.  But no longer.  Looking forward to hearing from you on AOE.
  • We’ve got at least 4 more book giveaways lined up as of right now (plus interviews).  I’ve let the cat out of the bag already on 2 of these (as you can see in the sidebar-Sherry Gore’s Taste of Pinecraft, and Donald Kraybill’s Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites), the rest will remain a surprise at this point.
  • I’m currently working on the Amish State Guide entry for Wisconsin Amish, but beyond that haven’t planned the next one.  Thought I’d ask  for suggestions?   Right now we’ve got 22 entries to go, so at a pace of one per week or so, it will take the next 4-5 months to complete.  But if there is a state you’d like to see sooner than later, you have a chance to sway me.  Just leave it in the comments–I’ll choose the next state from the choices you share.
  • Back to book giveaways for a sec–I’ve only received 6 out of the 10 Amish Way winners’ addresses to send books.  And, Tracy Beard, winner of the New York Amish book contest last month, we haven’t heard from you either.  We want to get your books to you!   So let us know how with an email to
  • This week I was contacted by two production companies looking to film Amish-themed programs, one in Los Angeles, the second in Norway.  I get these inquiries fairly frequently, sometimes from odd places.  The only thing that comes to mind: when TV production companies from Norway come calling, does that signify a peak in interest in the Amish?  Or is Trinidad and Tobago a better indicator?
  • My Amish business book continues to tromp onward.  I gave a few talks in Tennessee and Kentucky last month and a number of interviews.  Next month will see three significant media pieces, one coming out in a major Italian magazine and a couple state side.  Publishing and promoting a book has been quite a learning experience and one I feel very fortunate to have had a shot at.  A hefty thanks to everyone who has picked it up or helped spread the word!
  • I just got word that my Polish Amish book is due to release (finally) before Christmas.  This will be the first book on the Amish in the Polish language.  So I’m pretty happy it is coming out after a good 2.5 years.  I’ve dedicated it to my Polish grandmother, which she doesn’t know about yet, and won’t, since she doesn’t have internet at home, therefore has no chance to read this blog (and even if she did, speaks no English).  Envisioning giving her a copy is probably about the most exciting thing I can think of right now.
  • I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to post this photo.  It’s one I found on Flickr.  I suppose you could make a whole range of comments on it.   A “Nebraska Amish” family’s trip to the zoo:

amish zoo

Photo: Jill/Blue Moonbeam Studio

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    1. Amy

      “By the rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois…” (hint)

      So many interesting things in one post! This Friday format is fun!

      The photo is interesting and, like the post, encourages me to dig a bit deeper and do a little research. Fun Friday Format! Yea!

    2. Amy, cool to hear–I think I got maybe even 2 hints here! 😉

    3. Karen Pollard

      I’m in Kentucky, so where did you speak? I would love to hear you sometime.

    4. richard

      ive been checking this site out for awhile now, even though i have a blog about the amish myself, this one is very well done, and interesting to read, but i think theres room for everyone when it comes to amish culture. i have a question for you erik, since i have not read one of your books yet, what sparked your interest in the amish, did you ever live in a amish community before, and do you live in one now?. ive writen a few notes on your site before, im the guy whos just moved from florida to the lancaster penn area. infact, i took a drive over to the lebanon county amish community to explore that countys amish settlement. since i live in south lebanon county, that was very easy for me. have you been there eric yet, its located in the village of reistville. its not commercial like lancaster, and thats not anything against lancaster which i love and think is very beautiful, its just a non- fancy look at amish life……….. richard

    5. Esther

      I enjoy your posts!

      The state I would enjoy reading about is Michigan, mostly the southern area around Centreville. I grew up there, but left the area 42 years ago.

    6. IJ

      You have a very nice site, but I notice that you have nothing on braucherei. Do you plan on doing anything with that in the future?

    7. Marilyn

      Thanks Erik for your posting! These you show today seem much more colorful in their dress!
      And Richard: Why didn’t you let us know your site, so we can read your views also?
      Enjoy your weekend! ~~mm

    8. Hi Karen, in Kentucky I spoke at Georgetown College. Nice place and pretty town! It was the week of the big worldwide equestrian event they were having at Lexington.

    9. Hi Richard, thanks for asking and I appreciate all your comments. There’s a little bit about how I first met Amish here:

      Basically I sold Bible-oriented books in Amish communities across the country, and met a lot of Amish. I’ve lived with Amish before and have spent a lot of time around them.

      I have driven through Lebanon before but haven’t spent a lot of time there. One of my good friends in Lancaster has a sister living in that settlement.

    10. Esther–you’re in luck! And you don’t even have to wait, because Michigan was actually the first state done. You can find it here:

      And the main state guide page is here, with all the states that have been done so far:

    11. Hi IJ, I actually didn’t have a lot of plans to cover braucherei, and in fact wasn’t familiar with the term. I’ve briefly googled it, but can you give a little more background? I’ve not heard it before.

      Marilyn have a great weekend too–I think part of the brighter color is a Photoshop-type effect the photographer used.

    12. IJ

      Braucherei is Pennsylvania German folk medicine–remedy combined with religious incantations and, not uncommonly, magic–and commonly practiced by the Amish, where it’s also called “Pow-wow,” probably derived from “powan” (a Native American term). It’s a blend of magical faith healing, remedy and occultism that incorporates many elements of kabbalah (with similar emphases upon Hebrew as possessing inherently magical properties) but with, obviously, a Christian slant. Google “braucher” and you’ll find several sites devoted to the practice and there are also some interesting books out there. From what I’ve read, the practices remind me a lot of amalgams of folk medicine with magical and religious imagery in other cultures.

    13. Katie Troyer

      I love this picture of the Nabraska Amish. The first time I came in personal contact with a couple, we peppered all kinds of questions at them, about their clothing, lifestyle etc. I was Amish too but a very different Amish than they are.

    14. Daniel Endy

      Interesting. Do the Nebraska Amish all wear the same colored clothing?

      Dan Endy

    15. Michelle

      Hi Erik – I love my grandama too! Grannies are the best, mine only speaks Spanish & Italian, she has never driven a car! Congrats on the book. I want to win Dr. Kraybill’s book! As a teacher, we are discouraged from having Facebook and the Tweeter. All I have is an email address which you have, can I still enter the giveaway contest?
      I guess other people are interested in the “PowWow” too must be the time of year.

    16. Marilyn

      I just realized there are two Marilyn’s. Me and someone else. That is quite unusual. I would like your next Amish State Guide of the State of New York. I live in New York State and would really enjoy an Amish State Guide and I think others would too. Lots of people do not realize that there are Amish in New York State especialy in our area. I live in the Finger Lakes area. So, my request, Erik, is that you do New York State.

    17. George


      I wonder if this photo is doctored???

      The dolors are questionable…

    18. George


      dolors…make that colors

    19. George, I would say definitely–not by me though! This is how I found it on Flickr. Real life just doesn’t look like that…beyond that though, it is an attractive shot.

    20. Marilyn, you too are in luck. Why? Because the NY Amish entry already exists:


      PS if we see the other Marilyn around here we’ll let her know 😉

    21. Dan–good question…as far as I know, brown pants and vests/coats for men, no suspenders, blue and purple for women. There may be some variation but that is typical, and the brown for men especially.

    22. Katie I am pretty curious what you asked them about.

    23. Michelle, my G-ma is the same, no car 🙂 You can definitely enter the next contest. More details how in a week or so! Am curious where do you teach?

    24. Michelle

      Erik, Yeah ! I can’t wait to enter. I teach in Tampa, FL and visit Pinecraft often. In fact, I’m going tomorrow to check out Yoder’s “newer” Farmer’s Market.

    25. richard

      hi folks…. thanks for the reply erik, and i will read up on your background. someone asked for my blog address on eriks site, to be respectful to erik, i wont promote it here because mine is about the amish as well. mine is a work in progress, but i do have the advantage of living very close to the largest amish settlement in the world(lancaster,pa) and only 5 miles from a small community in lebanon county pa. on my site, i want folks to write in on thier experiences with the amish/mennonite people, but mostly, and this is something im not sure many people are doing, is to give the plain folks a chance to communicate using the internet. this would be through a 2nd party, although ive seen some use a computer for thier business. this will be a much faster way in keeping in touch with thier loved ones, unlike the amish newspapers like the budget where the news is around aweek old. i think most will stay with the tried and true method of sending thier stories into the newspaper to be published, im looking for that small percentage who are willing to try something very new. i had stayed with a amish family for aweek when i was trying to start a small business selling amish crafts in florida, that was interesting, and to be honest, ive found them to be more like us than most people realize, with all the good and the bad. but i do find thier culture very interesting, and would i want them to change thier ways, and become more modern, the answer is no. i respect how they live, and admire them for it. before i go, i notice michelle was going to yoders market in pinecraft. yoders is my favorite place in sarasota, i will miss it with me being in penn, if you try yoders frenh dressing to take home michelle, you wont be sorry. if im not mistaken, the yoders are from the state of kansas, the other restaurant troyers is based in ohio, and the food is very good there as well, but yoders is family run and the best. have a great weekend everyone……. richard

    26. Alice Aber

      Thanks for the book, “The Amish Way”,,,, I got it the other day and have already started reading it. I love it!!

      I would really love to see the next state you work on for the state guide to be Illinois. I know it has a special place in your heart too Erik. 🙂 You have talked about places in your emails to me that I have not even found yet so I am looking forward to reading what is written on Illinois Amish and if you need anyone to run down there and take a few pictures for you, just let me know. My digital camera is not the best but it takes pretty good pictures.

    27. Thank you Alice! That’s a couple votes now for Illinois, we’ll see if any others come in here. Arthur does have a special place for me.

      Maybe an entry would give you a good excuse for a visit! We’ll see what I can dig up before I send you on any field trips 😉 I do have a few nice shots from someone who sent them in this spring.

    28. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I got a caption for the photo:
      “How much do you suppose we’d stand out if we hitched that giraffe to our buggy?”

    29. Vicki

      HI! I think it would be nice to cover Indiana soon. I am a Hoosier now living in NE Ohio. I was through the New Wilmington, PA area yesterday (friday). It was beautiful seeing the Amish farms, especially at night with the warm glow of light from the windows.


    30. David Crozier

      You almost always, except planting & harvesting season, see the Amish at Longwood Gardens, and sometimes the Philadelphia zoo.

    31. Katie Troyer

      Erik, I used to make Amish Mutza suits at that time for the Aylmer Ontario Amish. So those were my questions. This was my first close-up view of Nebraska Amish and being they were very open, so was I. I had sharp eyes for details when it comes to fitting and sewing. And I could not figure out what held up the men’s pants, since they had no buttons, zippers, belts or suspenders. But they stayed put. I finally asked and the answer was drawstrings in the back. The vest covers the strings. Then I had to see for myself. I quietly walked around the man standing in the kitchen, while he was answering other questions and took a look.

    32. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Katie Troyer; Does it work like the string threaded into the “gusset” part of the nearly abandoned “drop front pants” style or is it more like the string thread into sweat pants or some shorts or men’s bathing suits?
      Neat stuff though! Creative solution on their part!

    33. Hi Richard, feel free to share your site.

      Shom, I was thinking something along the same lines on the giraffe. Also how it must seem to some Amish to be on the other side of the fence sometimes.

    34. Vicki–I know exactly what you speak of. The NW Amish use an oil type lamp which gives a different glow than the higher-powered gas lamps favored by more progressive Amish. It is very pleasant to see.

      I have registered your vote for the Hoosier State!

    35. David-Longwood Gardens?

      Katie, I have to ask–how long did it take you to make a Mutza suit on average? I’ve got a couple of friends in Plain clothing, one of whom sells ready-made off the rack Mutzas. There is a mark-up in price but cuts down the wait time. I imagine they are a bit of work.

    36. richard

      thank you erik. heres my new web site please everyone check it out. its different from eriks, and i only wish it could be half as good as eriks site is. its a work in progress and im learning all over again how to write again……… richard

    37. Katie Troyer

      Those pants didn’t have a belt or gusset. The top of their pants was folded over about 1-2 inches and sewen to make a casing where a long piece of 1 inch width of cloth was pulled through and tied in the back. The tie or knot was hidden under their vest. For practical reasons they wear their pants low under the stomach.

      Erik, making mutza was a side job, so it took me at least a week. I was employed at Pathway Publishers, which was my main job.

    38. Martha

      Hi! I would. Like to see you write about the state of Iowa. Very little is known about Amish in Iowa. Thank you”

    39. Hi Martha, you are in luck too, as the Iowa Amish entry was completed and posted a couple weeks back:


    40. Richard thank you for sharing your blog with us. Katie I remember now you worked for Pathway. That must have been an interesting job.

    41. I live in the state of Texas now in the Dallas area. I was born and raised in Kansas and know we have Mennonite communities, River Brethren, but I’m don’t know if there are Amish communities in Kansas or Texas. I’d be interested in knowing about these states. I’d also enjoy hearing you speak if you plan to come to the Dallas area sometime. I hope you will publish information on that if it happens. Thank you for asking for the comments. Friday brain dump is a fun idea.

      Sharing Christ’s Love,
      Barb Shelton
      barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

    42. Pingback: Saturday brain dump: St. Michael’s Day, taglines, and what the “Am” in Amtrak really stands for | Amish America