An Interview With Swartzentruber Amishman Dennis Hershberger (Video)

“I grew up Amish…and for somebody that never was Amish, and goes Amish, I have no way of telling you what that guy would have to go through,” he laughs. “I imagine it would be pretty tough.”

Images: Matthew Bluhm/YouTube

That’s Swartzentruber Amishman Dennis Hershberger discussing Amish life, from a very nicely done 8-minute video showing us the community at Harmony, Minnesota.

In it, we ride along with a tour guide who takes us through the community, with a stop to chat with Dennis, owner of Countryside Furniture. He appears on camera (all but his face anyway), first discussing his business, then Amish life.

“The reason they come here for furniture is because they can meet the guy who actually builds it. They’re not used to our lifestyle, and they enjoy coming to the builder and getting to know me,” Dennis explains.

“I’m used to people asking me questions on how we live. And I can see why – they’re always wondering – I guess we don’t advertise too much the way we live. It’s getting to be quite a bit out there anymore. The more information you have on us, or the more that’s out there, the less unique we will be,” he says with a laugh.

Dennis’ grandparents were among the first to move to Harmony, in 1975. The first settlers here originally came from Wayne County, Ohio. He and his family came in 1985.

“The simple things for you – having a bathroom in the house – that would definitely be a big change. And not having a phone or electric. As far as you’d want to use a microwave, there is no way to quickly heat up a cup of coffee. Unless you’ve got hot water and a stove going, you can do it.”

Dennis is frank. “There is also a lot of things that I don’t envy you guys for – what you have…we do have our hectic – it seems hectic for us too – but you guys have another level on that one, on us.”

But I think he catches himself here, maybe not wanting to sound too critical. The film closes with this: “You are people just like we are – we’re all humans, and the older I get, the more I realize it.”

The rest of the short film, created by Matthew Bluhm, is professionally done with a lot of excellent visuals. I recommend watching it in full.

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    1. unexpected attire

      No suspenders. Buttons.

      1. A lot of Amish actually don’t wear suspenders, at least not for daily wear. Other examples would be Amish in more progressive communities like Holmes County and northern Indiana. Another example from the more conservative end are the “Nebraska Amish” primarily in the Big Valley area of PA. Buttons on shirts etc. are also common.

        1. Guess I thought Swartzentrubers were more conservative.

          1. They generally are. The hooks and eyes can be seen on the jacket of a mutza suit. I don’t know that the presence of suspenders is necessarily a sign of being more conservative, given the example of the Nebraska Amish and others like this one.

        2. Unexpected Attire

          I couldn’t help but notice that Dennis’s shirt looked like a long sleeve polo shirt, with what appeared to be a 3 button placket, rather than a traditional button down shirt. Is this type shirt unique to their community?

    2. Lurie Baty


      I really enjoyed this short film, thank you for sharing.

      1. Glad you liked it. I thought the creator did an excellent job. And made me a bit eager for autumn as well:)

    3. Geo


      He just sounds like he has a good satisfying life. He’s a great ambassador for the Amish.

    4. not as awesome as in days gone by.

      You are wrong. The spread is not getting wider but closer. The Amish are caving in to modern culture. I see it everyday and it is so sad the English have corrupted them as far as I am concerned.

      1. Amish converts

        Mr. Golubski: No one can corrupt anyone who isn’t willing to be corrupted! By the way, what is wrong with Amish wanting modern conveniences? Why does it bother you?

        1. Robert Golubski

          Doesn’t bother me one bit. It is just sad to see an old culture die out.I am sorry you are so judgmental on my reasoning.

          1. Amish converts

            Mr. Golubski: I’m not judging; I’m asking you why it bothers you. The judgement is on your part when you say the English are corrupting the Amish. I don’t think anyone is putting a gun to any Amish’s head to buy modern conveniences. It’s human nature to want to make one’s life easier. If you will remember from your history classes, or even from your parents’ or grandparents’ stories, they also lived as the Amish do, and most likely adopted every modern convenience available to them at the time, as soon as they could afford to. I don’t believe all the Amish prefer to live the plain way. They are born into it and most don’t really have a choice. Not in their reality.

    5. J.O.B.


      Yes. Many Amish are caving in to modern culture. Each generation moves one step closer to full assimilation to the English.

      But I think it’s the Amish youth who are exposed to so much that when they get older, they can’t let go. I think they are slowly pushing to allow more modern culture into their community.

      They love social media. Cell phones. Amish play softball and wear fancy uniforms.

      I also have seen a lot of Amish youth leave to become mennonite because they want more. The car. Better jobs. Travel.

      Many Amish just use the beards and dress as a business uniform to help make money. Then go home and put on regular clothes. You should see how wealthy some are. The vacation homes. How some dress their kids in name brand athletic shoes and shirts.

      1. Robert Golubski

        not as awesome as in days gone by.

        o very, very sad. – but all Christians seem to be watering themselves down.

        1. Christianity does seem to be dying out in the U.S., although on a slower trajectory than in Europe, where it is an endangered religion. Seems to be healthy only in Africa and Latin America.

          1. Amish converts

            Mr. Rensberger: Christianity isn’t dying out in the US. What is dying out is the trust in hypocritical evangelicals who justify 2016-2020, and January 6th, 2021! Why do churches have tax exemption if they’re going to dabble in politics?

            By the way, why do some English want the Amish to continue living a lifestyle few people would choose to live? Does the desire for modern conveniences make the Amish or anyone else, less Christian? if so, what do the people who lament the Amish’ desire for modern conveniences think of televangelists who preach the “Gospels of Prosperity”, and live in luxurious mansions with every conceivable modern convenience available to them? Do they think those preachers’ Christian souls are dying? The Bible does say that loving the material over God, is a sin, does it not? By all accounts, those televangelists love the material over God, because, they certainly don’t appear to be sharing much of that wealth with the needy!

        2. Larry Clarence Lewis

          Some Amish Groups Caving Into Mainstream Culture, But Not All Groups, In Particular, Not the Swartzentrubers

          Dear Mr. Golubski, I don’t intend to dispute your observations which seem to be first hand. This is, as you state, a sad development among the group(s) of Amish you observe closely. But, it is quite different among the Swartzentruber Amish featured in this sensitively and accurately produced video. Indeed, the Swartzentruber Amish would probably concur with your assessment of the more progressive groups of Amish. From what I have observed, the Swartzentruber Amish hold to and zealously maintain a very traditional way of life and have successfully handed it on intact since 1913. It is indeed an austere and ascetic way of life from the point of view of the mainstream way of life, but, at the same time a very fulfilling life. Weighed against the mainstream way of life, many of us would say it comes out on top. At present, I am still confident that groups such as the Swartzentrubers will maintain their whole way of life for the foreseeable future. If we go back to 1905, there were only 5,000 Amish in total. Everyone, both co-religionists and sociologists, were certain the Amish would be absorbed into the mainstream society within a generation or two. This didn’t happen. Indeed, the Amish have grown, and as of 2020 number more than 350,000. They are doubling every 20 years. Let us pray that they thrive and prosper for the good of us all. Sincerely, Larry Clarence Lewis, Canada.

      2. Amish converts:

        J.O.B. It’s human nature to want the good things in life. Especially indoor plumbing and electricity.