History & Dancing in David Rogers Park

A reader shares photos today from a festive occasion in northern Indiana.

There’s nothing especially Amish about this, except that this park is in a heavily-Amish area of the county, and that Amish attend the event (and by the looks of it, make up a large portion of attendees).

I remember passing this park numerous times in my Indiana bookselling days in 2006.  I never had the time to visit, though I do like the idea of a park in the middle of a rural county.  Parks seem like they belong to cities, where green space is dearer.

Our reader writes:

David Rogers Park is located between LaGrange and Topeka, Indiana.  Part of the LaGrange County park system, David Rogers Park is home to several relocated pioneer cabins.  It’s also home to an event in late August called “David Rogers Days,” a historical reenactment of sorts that concludes with a dance on Saturday evening.

log-cabin-amish-park

 

amish-gathering-indiana

 

amish-park-benches

 

david-rogers-band

There were many Amish families in attendance and some even danced this year.  Last year we watched as two girls asked their parents if they could dance, but were answered with a negative head nod.  No such restrictions this year.

david-rogers-dance

 

amish-girls-dancing

Here’s a sign on the park’s namesake:

david-rogers-sign

It reads:

“Dr. David Rogers was a land speculator, herb doctor, naturalist and philanthropist that earned a reputation as a generous healer.  His estate was bequeathed to the Commissioners of LaGrange County to build a home for the “orphaned poor and other destitute persons.”

The red brick Children’s Home can be seen past the row of pine trees on the north side of the park.  David Rogers Memorial Park is part of the original Rogers Children’s Home property and was the first LaGrange County Park.

Though the Rogers Children’s Home ceased operations in the 1960’s, the Rogers Children’s Fund still serves LaGrange County youth to this day.

Here we honor Dr. Rogers’ caring and pioneering spirit.”

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    8 Comments

    1. Alice Mary

      Inspirational

      Dr. Rogers should be an inspiration to anyone involved in the health care/concerns of others…and all of us, for that matter. Giving of ourselves for the good of others is always a noble cause.

      I enjoyed the photos, and found it interesting that Amish (at least the kids) actually participated in dancing. I thought dancing was not allowed, even in the more liberal Amish communities.

      Comment, Erik?

      Alice Mary

    2. Debbie H

      Yes, I had always read that Amish didn’t allow dancing. But, I am happy to see some have embraced the idea that it is just plain fun and no harm done.

    3. Alice Mary it is true that dancing is not an accepted custom among the Amish; this sounds to me more like parents letting it slide. The person who shared this could comment better but I doubt baptized/married adults were involved.

      However dancing and other things happen in some youth gatherings when parents are not around. Though this looks like some pretty tame circle dancing.

      1. ShipshewanaIndiana

        To my knowledge all dancing participants were unmarried women. I do not know if any would have been baptized members. It was a loose moment and everyone was having a good time 🙂 I have been told the Bishops typically remind their congregations not to attend the County 4H Fair. Some still attend. My neighbor explained it to me this way, “some people say the bishop didn’t talk about it this year, so lets go…” I’m not sure if David Rogers Days would fall into that category or not. When we lived in Arthur, Illinois no Amish individuals would attend the County Fair or anything of a similar nature. But the communites are different. Some of the amish here in Elkhart-LaGrange even attend Easter Egg hunts. I think much goes back to their acceptance of public education and the resulting integration into the greater (English & Amish) community and it’s events (ie. basketball games, school sponsered events such as the science fair, annual ping pong tournament, easter egg hunt, art contest were the winners are announced at the Shipshewana Mayfest…) I think it draws the Amish into the local community in a way that wouldn’t normally be accepted outside the school system… Just a thought anyway.

        1. ShipshewanaIndiana

          18 and under

          My wife just came home. She said all the girls would have been 18 or under.

    4. Naomi WIlson

      Old fashioned singing games

      In the book, Rosanna of the Amish, there is mention of the unmarried youth doing singing games or “playparties.” This is a type of old-fashioned dance, similar to square dancing, in which a cappella singing takes the place of any musical instruments. Everyone sings and dances at the same time. I taught some of these old games in my days as an elementary music teacher. I have always wondered if there are any groups of Amish whose youth still play these games, or if they have disappeared completely, being too “old-fashioned” for todays’ Amish youth.

      1. Rich Stevick

        Naomi, This kind of “acapella dancing” still occurs among the unmarried youth in Lawrence County, Western Pennsylvania. I’m fairly sure that it also takes place among at least some of the so-called Nebraska Amish, actually located in Pennsylvania. And I believe that some of the “buggy gangs,” the most traditional youth groups primarily from the southern part of Lancaster County, may still do unaccompanied dancing. One of my young Amish friends told me 20 years ago, “Rich, you should see it when it’s outdoors and under the stars. It’s beautiful.” I’m sorry I missed it.

        1. Naomi Wilson

          Rich, thanks for this response. I was wondering if the Nebraska Amish might keep these old games alive. I know a family in S. Lancaster, I’ll have to ask them if they know anything of a cappella dancing.