Inside a Swartzentruber Amish Home (Video)

We’ve previously seen video footage from within a Lancaster Amish home, as well as photos from inside homes of the very plain Swartzentruber Amish.

But this is the first video I’ve come across showing the interior of a Swartzentruber home.

In the video below, LaVonne DeBois of Heartland Tours gives us a look inside the home of a family she is obviously well-acquainted with.

It’s not common that Amish allow filming inside their homes, and one would expect that to be less so, the more conservative the group. Swartzentruber Amish are among the most plain and tradition-minded of all Amish.

LaVonne explains how she was able to record the footage of this Holmes County Swartzentruber home in the video’s comments section:

this is not a common opportunity. I have known this family for 8 years and we take a lot of business to them. The group was outside and It was approved that I could do the video as long as the members of the church were not filmed.

Children are not church members, and so little Sarah greets us as Lavonne approaches the front door.

We then see inside the kitchen and the cast iron stove that provides both a means to cook and heat the home.

LaVonne points out the light blue colors favored in Swartzentruber homes:

Here’s a circular laundry hanger:

A calendar and kerosene light on the nearly-bare walls:

Someone has some candy on the table:

A look into the living room:

And glimpse of the master bedroom:

Clothing hanging on the wall and a hickory rocker:

Here’s the full video:

Swartzentruber Amish have a very characteristic appearance.

What did you notice?

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    1. Debbie H

      Thanks for sharing this Eric. Interesting. I was surprised how small the house is and it looked like only one bedroom. I noticed they only use kerosene lamps for light. I was a little surprised that there was paper and other objects scattered on the floor and dishes setting out to dry. I guess I had the impression that all Amish are super neat and would dry their dishes and put away.

      1. Glad you liked it, Debbie. Well as far as dishes, I have seen it done both ways, dried and put away or on a drying rack/counter. On neatness in general, Swartzentruber Amish have the reputation for being not as neat as other Amish (one example is the appearance of their yards and property in a lot of cases). Other aesthetic things common to “higher” Amish like extensive flower gardens would generally not be seen among Swartzentruber Amish.

      2. Swartzentruber home video reply to Debbi H

        Debbie H….
        I did not go upstairs to the bedrooms in this particular home. The Swartzentruber‘s as well as the majority of Amish homes have three levels. I filmed on the second level only. the master bedroom is always on the second level. The children’s bedrooms are on the third level. The lower level is where the families spend most of the summer months because it’s much cooler. Swartzentruber‘s do not use gas lights they use kerosene lanterns. They’re very austere as you can see.
        La Vonne

        1. Thanks LaVonne for the extra detail! Great video you made.

    2. Alice Mary

      Always interesting to glimpse Amish life, especially Schwartzentruber which tends to be so mysterious since they are uber conservative.

      I know children are not church members until they’re in their mid-teens or beyond, and then only when they choose to join, but I still find it strange that the Schwartzentruber parents allow videotaping of their children.

      How old are the parents and children who live here? I agree with Deb, the house sure seems small. If there are other children, where do they sleep? How does this family earn its living?

      A question—the clothing hanging on pegs included something that looks like a wooden object—almost like towel hangers I’ve seen. Is that was it is (or are my eyes REALLY bad today?)

      Thanks for giving us the opportunity to view this video. Thanks to LaVonne, too. She must be privvy to a lot of Amish “secrets”, of sorts, in her line of work! Very interesting!

      1. Alice Mary, some good questions – I don’t know answers to most, and there wasn’t a lot of extra detail on the video page, but as far as the size of the home – it seems to me that it has a second story, at least that’s how it appears from the exterior, and would be pretty common for a classic Swartzentruber farmhouse design.

        Ah I do know one semi-answer to the age question – however old they were in this video, add 5 years, as it dates to 2012 🙂

    3. Min. Terry Miller

      Does anybody know why they use so much blue?

      1. This question comes up and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a good answer as to why, beyond “tradition”. Maybe there is one. Also applies to groups like the New Wilmington Amish and the light blue doors on their homes.

    4. Scott Lehman

      Inside a Swartzentruber Amish home

      Hello Erik, question on the picture of clothing hanging on the wall. What is the wooden object hanging next to the clothes? Really enjoy your website. Best Regards, Scott

      1. Hi Scott, thanks! I didn’t even catch that when I viewed this video. I am not sure, not recognizing it. But, to me it looks like something that could also be used to hang clothes on (if you imagine flipping it up and each wooden piece hanging down being an individual arm). But maybe someone else would know better, I’m a bit blind as to clothing related details (if that’s what this is).

    5. Al in Ky

      I have been in several Swartz. homes in Indiana, Ky. and Minn. Those homes look almost the same as the one pictured here. I’m wondering if there is pretty much uniformity in Swartz. home furnishings, while there is much more variation in homes of more progressive Amish affiliations. To answer Scott’s question, the wooden object hanging by the clothes looks like a towel drying rack which I’ve seen in several Amish homes. They are hung up horizontally and towels are hung on the small rods that extend outward.

      1. Aha, and looking down at Al’s comment here, it looks like you beat me to it. Towels! Yep those come in handy 🙂 Thanks Al.

      2. Al as far as uniformity of furnishings, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true, since there is just more latitude in even wall decor in more progressive Amish homes. Here are a couple old examples you might recognize:

    6. Garry Chaney

      As a long distance van driver, I spend lots of nights in Amish homes in many different states. I drive for any of the families in central and eastern Ky. Most of the Swiss homes I’m in are very plain and like the one in the video.

      1. Your job sounds like an adventure, Garry. I bet you meet some interesting people. You reminded me that we have a couple of shots from inside a Swiss Amish home. This is from a Swiss settlement in PA. It also has a very plain look:

    7. Mary

      Inside a Swartzentruber Amish Home

      I can give you some good answers, yes that is a clothes rack… not just for towels, altho they are used for towels. This rack is wonderful too for drying underwear “on wash day” in the winter. Especially things with elastic, as you don’t want to freeze elastic too much or the stretch will go out.

      The color blue is very popular in Swartzentruber homes, in our area we hardly use that color. Bright grass green is used in conservative areas as well.

      1. Scott Lehman


        Al, Mary, Erik…..thanks for the information. I have seen drying racks before but not that design.

      2. Thanks Mary! This is good insider info 🙂 I would have never know that about elastic.

      3. Carol

        towel rack?

        Elastic, really? Thought I read somewhere that the ultra conservative Swartz group forbid elastic.

        1. Not to speak for her, but Mary is actually not from a Swartzentruber church but from a higher Amish church, so I believe she was just speaking about what these racks are generally useful for in her community.

    8. Kevin Lindsey

      Fascinating video, Erik, thanks for sharing it. I showed it to my wife as well. Like the way this family handled all the big kitchen utensils. Might try that ourselves

      1. Glad you liked it Kevin. Yes as I mentioned I’d seen video on numerous occasions from inside Amish homes. We also shared another of LaVonne’s vids, from a Swartzentruber shop, earlier this year. But hadn’t seen any footage from inside a Swartzentruber home as far as I know (I don’t think they even had any in the PBS film The Amish). Seems to be a very simple and practical layout, doesn’t it.

    9. Nicholas

      I noticed that everything had some sort of practical purpose, and that everything was set up to be very functional. Very little for leisure purposes. Some of that would be by necessity as living the way the Swartzentrubers do requires a lot of work due to the lack of labor-saving devices.

    10. Maureen

      Inside a Swartzentruber Amish Home

      Eric, I’m surprised this woman gained entry to the Swartzentruber home! The order is very conservative – at least in upstate New York. Erik is correct, not especially tidy in either home, barn, or garden. They take a long time to know and accept The English. Once they trust, they will give you their right arms in assistance and beyond.

      The other orders Byler and New Order that I know, are pristine in home, garden, and barn. Light blue front doors, white curtains, and award winning gardens. They are crazy hard workers, respectful, and fun. They too make the best of friends especially with the same values.

      1. I was surprised that she was able to film in particular. It sounds like she has a long-running relationship with them. Sounds like you have some friends in the community as well 🙂

        Karen Johnson-Weiner is very well acquainted with the Swartzentruber Amish. Your comment reminded me of a previous guest post of hers. A neat slice of life from the home of some of her Swartzentruber friends:

        1. Maureen

          Swartzentruber Amish Home

          Indeed,I have read Karen John-Weiner; she is in the know! Yes, friends from Fort Plaine, the Mohswk Valley, and the North Country – Penn Yan and Lawrence. I workfor some of these orders. But recently we said good bye and farewell to a Swartezenbruber groups that relocated to Maine and another to Canada. Both are joining family and found it a bit difficult , due to both land rules and regulations as well as difficulty with family dynamics. They will be greatly missed by The English as well as other Amish and the Christian farm communities.

          Always leave yor posts with a smile Erik; thank you.

    11. jb

      nice home

      I noticed the toddler, who was adorable, had a plastic pacifier and I think a plastic chair which was weird to me. Also the calendar really made a statement over the lack of pictures allowed, as did the few fine pieces of kitchenware on display, in a different way. I noticed how orderly it was, like on tables there are no knick knacks, no flowers. no random items accumulated by various means, no candles, no bible quotes. Some kitchen towels however were really colorful, the quilt was decorative, and they live in a beautiful place which must make life enjoyable. I dont know why the tour guide takes tourists there but as much as amish claim to separate themselves from others, many seem to open a door for money.

      1. Thanks for the comment and observations, JB. Amish don’t make everything they use themselves, which is a not uncommon misconception, so even the plainest Amish like these would use plastic mass-manufactured items.

        Your observations are apt in that these are some of the simplest Amish homes in terms of the decor. As far as money, while on the whole they are probably less materialistic than non-Amish Americans, Amish still need it like anyone else and operate in the conventional economy.

        And even the most traditional are pretty far from completely separate as they have to interact with non-Amish for business purposes, medical reasons, and sometimes transportation. These posts might be of interest as they touch on several of these topics: