Holmes County contrasts

Holmes County, Ohio is one of my favorite Amish communities to visit, in part due to the diversity of groups. There are four main Amish tribes here; adding up the sub-groups and spin-off affiliations you get more than double that.

A short list of differences you’ll find among Holmes County Amish:

Holmes County Amish DifferencesSilent vs. spoken prayer

Peeling paint vs. pristine walls

Rubber vs. metal rims

Singing groups vs. beer parties

The 30-person firm vs. the one-man/woman cottage business

Assurance of salvation vs. a living hope

Suspenders vs. “magic pants” (no suspension needed?)

A phone in the home vs. the shanty vs. in the pocket

Holmes County vividly illustrates the fact that there are many ways to be Amish.  You could add a lot more to this list.

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    1. Marvin Mohler

      Very interesting. We have observed some of these differences. They have all changed some over the years. 30 years ago sometimes you would see some of the Old Orders eating in a restaurant with their hats on, never pausing before starting to eat. The last little while we haven’t seen that. They bow their heads in silence before beginning to eat. Good change.

      1. stan

        In the pocket

        Phones in the pocket and used in the buggy while trying to control a horse or two going down a highway. We see accidents and often wonder what caused them. The horse often gets the worst of it.

    2. Carolyn B

      Good morning, Erik and Amish America community,

      I don’t have a real comment to make but since I want to read all of yours I’m typing this hello just so the later comments will land in my email to be read and not missed.

      I enjoy you all. Have a wonderful blessed Thursday!

    3. Alice Mary

      So much for "standard Amish"!

      Erik, I’m going to save your list of contrasts for my friends and acquaintances who think “all Amish are the same.” Boy, will THEY be surprised! In fact, your list of contrasts of just the Holmes County Amish would make for a good poster, a nice visual learning aid. I’m sure it would end up much larger, once all of the other Amish groups in the U.S. and Canada were included.

      Thanks for the very useful(to me) post!

      (I’m curious about “magic pants”—is that like, Sans-a-Belt?) 🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. Glad you enjoyed Alice Mary. That is just my goofy name for them. Amish in Holmes County and northern Indiana to name two often go without suspenders, and no belt of course. The pants stay up though. Must be magic.

    4. At a grocery store we visited last weekend in Knox County (adjacent to Holmes), I saw a young Amish father buy cigarettes. In Crawford County, PA, by contrast, an Amish bishop told a member of his flock that she would have to shun her husband because he wouldn’t give up smoking. (He started smoking in his 20’s.) This woman cleaned house for my mother. She told Mom, “We aren’t shunning anybody.” Later, after the family moved to IN, they joined the New Order Amish.

      1. I like hearing what people in one community have to say about Amish in other communities. Lancaster Amish have a reputation for being highly hospitable. I did hear critical words on Lancaster and tobacco though in a discussion on tradition with an H.C. Amishman.

        1. kerry

          That is interesting. I see many Amish men around here (HC region) smoking, but usually pipes. Never see cigarettes except with the teenage boys (very prevalent). But I live in a highly concentrated Swartzentruber area, though, so that probably explains it.

    5. Mary

      By the way…”ASSURANCE OF SALVATION” and “LIVING HOPE”, are the same. Something that’s “LIVING” won’t let you down. The opposite of “ASSURANCE OF SALVATION” is only “WISHFUL THINKING”. (Been there!)

      Very interesting since Holmes Co. is my home stomping grounds.

      1. I’m not so sure Mary. If you are assured of something, that would seem to contradict the idea of “hope”. Maybe I am misunderstanding here, but at the least it would seem to reflect a difference in attitude and a meeker outlook concerning salvation.

        1. Mary

          I know what you are saying Eric. In the natural everyday things of life we would use hope in the way you are referring to. But when the Bible uses the words “Living Hope”, it is used in a way that means “Positive Confidence”. (Check it out in the original Creek) Our Positive Confidence, or Assurance is not based on our own works, but in the finished work of Christ. Does that make sense to you? Sorry if I’m not clear!

          1. Assurance vs. Positive Confidence of Salvation

            Thanks Mary for elaborating on that. I still believe we’re talking about two different things. There is a good exposition on this topic in The Amish Way: http://books.google.com/books?id=YiPv2S9pzW4C&q=assurance#v=snippet&q=assurance&f=false

            Excerpts: “The Amish consider such a claim presumptuous. To them, salvation is a judgment that only God can make at the end of one’s life…For the Amish a living hope means a quiet confidence that in the end God will be a merciful and just judge.”

            There is still a gap between even a positive confidence and being assured of salvation. New Order people are generally on board with assurance, and there are some sympathetic Old Orders as well, particularly in Holmes County. But most are not.

    6. Marijane grassie

      Holmes county Amish and ny Amish

      After visiting old order amish in upstate ny. I have seen many diff. Between the Amish communities. I was so surprised to have old order Amish actually spend time conversing with you. It was a most welcome difference. I as well as my husband enjoyed our visit there. We have also spend time in the Ohio Amish community and Lancaster pa. Keep the updates going they are enjoyed by many.

      1. I wonder if you were in a Swartzentruber Amish community in NY Marijane. That might explain why it was light on the conversation.

        On that topic a couple of days ago a mainline Amish friend admitted he was sometimes embarrassed by the Swartzentruber people, though he granted he understood where they are coming from.

      2. kerry

        I think like with anyone personality plays a part whether Swartzentruber or not. The Swartz. around here range from silent to some like the lady down the road who is a real Chatty Kathy, lol.

        The one family we see often has an older teenage girl who can’t/won’t even look us in the eye or speak and keeps her head down even being familiar with us, especially with my husband – and it really bothers him even though he understands, lol. I often wonder what unfamiliar visitors think when she is the one working their little food hut. But both of her parents talk so much that we sometimes have a hard time getting away from their little stand!

        1. Definitely true kerry. But if we’re generalizing the more conservative Amish people for a variety of reasons are probably going to be harder to connect with. Of course I can think of other exceptions though.

    7. Richard from Amish Stories

      Im not too sure if Lancaster county has any “new order” Amish like in Holmes county, Ohio? So maybe someone can answer that question for me. Richard from http://www.Amishstories.net

      1. New Order Amish in Lancaster

        There was a similar New Order movement in Lancaster but did not propagate as the Ohio movement did…today there is apparently a single congregation (near Honey Brook I believe), though I don’t know if it is even considered a congregation as it is apparently all older folks and very small in number.

    8. Marilyn from NY

      Holmes County Contrasts

      That’s one thing about the Amish and Mennonites in my area (Upstate New York)-you can always tell their farms by the beautiful paint jobs on their houses and barns. IF I find out a farm is Amish owned and the paint is peeling-I know it will be painted shortly. When driving down road you call tell who is Amish or Mennonite and who isn’t buy the paint job on their house and barns.

    9. JR

      What about their English accents? Do the Holmes County Amish speak more with a twang that I noticed some of the Amish in the show Amish: Out of Order speak with or do they have more of a German accent that I remember hearing in Lancaster County?

      1. kerry

        I live here and usually it sounds German to me – but occasionally I do hear the “twang” a bit from some. I sometimes have a hard time understanding the Swartzentrubers who live around me because the German-like accent is so strong (and this coming from someone whose grandparents were German and had very strong accents, lol).

    10. In June of this year my husband and I had the privilege of visiting Holmes County and spending 3 nights in a bed and breakfast at the home of an Old Order Amish family. We had a great time! This family seemed a little more progressive in some ways than I expected. They had a phone on their kitchen counter. I don’t know whether that had anything to do with their business.

      On our first night there we had dinner with the family. As it was time to start the meal, the man of the house said that it was their normal practice to have silent prayer before their meal. But since they had a guest who was a minister (my husband), he asked that my husband voice the prayer. We considered that to be something of an honor for him to be asked to pray. Through conversations with this family and our experiences at a couple of church services in Lancaster County, we have found guests to be very well treated.

      1. Spoken prayer

        Very nice experience Pam. On spoken prayer I have encountered this in New Order homes as well as Old Order on occasion.

    11. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I am with Alice Mary about the “Magic Pants”, maybe there ought to be a post dedicated to them.

      Singing Groups vs Beer Parties caught my attention, is this more of a Rumspanga thing, or is it old folk also?

      On the phone in the pocket thing, if an Ordnug’s strictness forbids trouser pockets what’s to stop a man from wearing a discrete pouch matching a man’s pants, shirt, or jacket, hanging from his suspenders to hide the phone [which he can’t hide if, for instance, he’s chatting with the wife at home in a market]?

      1. Shom that was to do with young folk only. Holmes Co has singing groups (similar to adult-guided groups in Lancaster Co) and also wilder events. Sadly a youth was killed in a car accident following a party this past week.

        Some Amish have little holder attachments on the suspenders…I don’t know what they’re called.

    12. Emily J

      So glad this was posted!

      I was just reading a mystery set among the Amish in Holmes County, and it really bugged me that the family prayed aloud at supper. I thought this was a mistake, though the book was generally pretty accurate about the Amish. Now I know! Out of curiosity, how does that one fit different groups?

      1. Emily New Order people tend to be more comfortable with spoken pre-meal prayer, some Old Orders might, I doubt you’d see it in any groups lower than that.