Is Isreal Easterday, Convicted For January 6 Attacks, Really Amish?

Is “Easterday” an Amish surname In Kentucky? Or anywhere else for that matter?

I’m asking because of an unusual detail in a recent report which caught my eye. A 23-year-old man named Isreal Easterday was convicted and recently sentenced to two years in prison for a pepper spray attack on two Capitol police officers on January 6, 2021.

He’s also said to have had a Confederate flag with him, though I’m unclear if that is officially part of his crime, or presented as background. I mention this as it relates to the quote I’m about to share.

Isreal Easterday during the pepper spray attack. Source

What’s interesting is that in the reported defense by his lawyers, Easterday is described as Amish. Here is the quote from the AP News report:

Easterday’s attorneys say he has led an “extremely sheltered life” at his Amish family’s farm in rural Kentucky and didn’t fully understand what the flag signifies.

He’s also described elsewhere as his family’s “primary cow-milker” and that he was homeschooled until age 14 or 15. Here is a relevant paragraph from the relevant court document:

Mr. Easterday is a 21 year old man with no prior criminal convictions. His mother, Marian Easterday, is Amish, and raised Mr. Easterday and his siblings according to the tenants of that faith. Until he was approximately 12 years old, Mr. Easterday’s family traveled by horse and buggy, and went to a nearby town only two or three times a year.

His family home was not connected to an electrical grid and used water from a well. He wore simple clothes with a hat and suspenders, and was home-schooled until he was 15 years old, when he began working full time on his family’s farm. He served as the family’s primary cow-milker from the age of around 5 until he left home at age 18 ½. Case 1:22-cr-00

Before I came across the above document, I was thinking that what you’re seeing in news reports is not exactly a full direct quote from the lawyer. So I wasn’t 100% sure if he indeed painted him as belonging to an Amish church community.

Or rather (my first thought), that the lawyer said something like “he grew up at his family’s farm in Amish country” which was then clumsily transcribed. But the above document seems to spell out plainly that, at least in someone’s view, Easterday was/is Amish.

kentucky amish auction
Produce auction – Munfordville, KY Amish

The community Easterday is associated with, mentioned further in the document, appears to be Bonnieville, Kentucky. I thought at first that this might be a group in the vein of the Christian Communities, an Amish-esque group with a history in Kentucky (for that matter, the state has been described as “notorious for picking up experimental plain Anabaptist churches”). But Bonnieville appears to be right in the area of the Munfordville/Horse Cave Amish community, which is the largest Amish settlement in the state.

What’s odd about this

But taking these reports at face value, several things about this seem odd to me.

One is this fellow’s last name. I’ve never run across personally or heard of the surname “Easterday” among the Amish. Of course, from time to time converts do join the Amish, so that is a possibility here. Perhaps his father joined an Amish community, though only his mother is mentioned as being Amish in the above excerpt. Maybe father exited the picture at some point.

Isreal Easterday at the Capitol building

Another odd detail: Easterday was captured on a missionary trip in the Caribbean: “Easterday, now 23, was arrested in December 2022 in Miami, where his boat was docked for a missionary trip to provide free bibles to churches in the Bahamas.” Mission work in the Caribbean is not a typical thing for most horse-and-buggy Amish, though perhaps some New Order Amish churches would do that sort of thing. But that’s a small and relatively obscure group in Amish society.

As mentioned above he’s also described as being homeschooled, which is generally rare (though not unheard of) among the Amish. I also scratch my head as to why he traveled by horse-and-buggy only until the age of 12. Did the family leave the horse-and-buggy group at that point? Maybe Easterday’s Plain Amish roots were at least partially severed some years ago, which might explain the overseas missionary work.

Why it’s interesting

One thought that occurred: Could it be Easterday’s lawyer was trying to depict his client as “Amish” to try to garner goodwill? Mindful that Amish defendants might be treated more leniently than non-Amish ones (especially if they can be depicted as isolated and unaware of the ways of the world as seems to be the picture here) an attorney might try this as part of a defense. He is further described as being from an “extraordinarily sheltered background.”

Image: Don Shenk

We’ve often seen the Amish name co-opted for purposed of marketing products and tourist experiences, to name a few. But, if this theory proves true, this would be a more unusual example of borrowing Amish credentials in an attempt to lessen a judge’s punishment.

Of course, there is the chance that Easterday does in fact have a parent or parents who converted to Amish Christianity. It’s hard to say for sure one way or another. If anyone has further information, I’d be curious to learn more.

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    24 Comments

    1. George

      Skeptical

      It sounds like a story he and his lawyer cooked up to play on the court’s sympathy. For all of the reasons you mentioned, I’m skeptical, and would need to see much more corroboration before I believed it.

    2. Tracy L Stout Powers

      Amish?

      If they thought passing him off as Amish might help in his sentencing, I don’t think it worked. Whether he is or isn’t, I don’t know.

      “Isreal James Easterday, 23, of Munfordville, Kentucky, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge James E. Boasberg to 30 months in prison, 500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.

      A U.S. District Court jury found Easterday guilty of six felonies and three misdemeanors on Oct. 26, 2023, including civil disorder; two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, all felonies.

      In addition to the felonies, Easterday was also convicted of three misdemeanor offenses, including disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.”

    3. Pepper Spray Attack

      If he attacked police officers with pepper spray, I’d say that doesn’t sound too Amish to me.

      1. Erik Wesner

        Agree. Quite weird. Though there can be bad apples even among the Amish. Still I’d lean towards this being more like what George suggests above. One of our readers will be in this community this weekend and will check with an Amish contact if there are any Amish Easterday converts there. So I hope to have an update.

      2. Isreal Easterday, Amish, NO

        The father Mark Easterday was LDS, later day saint and was excommunicated, he was prosecuted for being married to 2 women at the same time.
        His wife Marian was raised Amish, Mark Easterday married when she was young.
        I have known them for several years and have never seen them dress Amish or ride buggies, they all drive with or without licenses as you can check Hart County court documents and see several are up on charges as I type.
        Mark Easterday is on charges now for beating, choking, ripping Marian’s clothes off and threatening to kill and rape her after coming off a sailing trip with Isreal and other family. Mark Easterday had myself and friend on the phone tell us everything I just said about assaulting his wife.
        Most of them are on court dockets in Hart County Kentucky now.
        He has always had electric and solar power disconnecting electric few years ago.
        Bad name to associate with in my opinion,
        Marian has since divorced the scum bag and re married. There is a lot more to this story.
        I testified against him for the assault on Marian Easterday, Isreal left home because he had to give his father 80% of his earning every time he or the others got paid.
        Marian EASTERDAY’s maiden name was Detweiler

    4. Sarah

      Sounds sketchy

      In addition to the points mentioned, the mother’s name, cited as “Marian”, certainly doesn’t feed the idea that there is a deep history of Amish background; I’d hazard a guess that her parents (or whatever party/parties who named her) were at the very least, unfamiliar with Amish customs. In 80+ years in Amish communities I’ve never run across it, and as a rule they tend to avoid names that, at least phonetically, have a history of being used for either male or female. Isreal I’ve run into a few times but not common and in the cases I’m familiar with, not awarded credence, at least within the group, of a “good” name. The whole picture sounds like either the situation or the report (maybe both?) is off kilter.

      1. R.C.

        One of the victims of the West Nickel Mines School shooting in 2006 was named Marian Fisher.

      2. Marian Easterday

        I believe her first name is Mariam.

    5. Ann the Least

      Easterday, etc.

      Easterday is the Anglicized version of Ostertag. I have never heard of Amish by that name. I associate the name Marian with Catholics. The male name is normally spelled Marion and has a different origin.

      One would be hard put to imagine an Amish person pepper spraying somebody.

      This article also contains a pet peeve: it is TENETS of a faith, not TENANTS.

      1. Erik Wesner

        I’m with you Ann – I almost mentioned it as an aside but my post had enough words as it is 🙂 But yes it “effects” my concentration when I’m reading texts with commonly mixed-up words like this 😉

        1. Ann the Least

          Laughing

          Tee hee…

    6. Leana

      A different twist

      What hit me right away was something in the opposite direction. The story is fishy in many ways, like something cooked up. But instead of them painting him as a ‘good boy’ to get him off the hook, it may be the other way around. I say this due to background information I have. They may be trying to take an “Amish” straw man (as they say), and paint him as a ‘naughty boy,’ so that they now have a reason (albeit cooked up of course) to come after the Amish. Before anyone flies off of their horse, I study trends in society and the walls are closing in on all conservative and Christian groups, those who live independently, are self sustaining, have a homestead, are a prepper, etc. There is a time of persecution coming to this country, the West, and the world. Such groups, which includes me, are in the target crosshairs. If you think that is ‘way out there,’ just research this. The gov. has a document that is a list of those they consider ‘domestic terrorists,’ they have 72 categories, and that was about ten years ago. (I made a lot of the categories and you will be shocked to see what they are.) Since then they have ramped things up quite a bit. Does anyone remember that eerie speech by Biden in Sept. of 22 with the red and black background and the military guys standing at the ready? No, I’m not paranoid. I have also studied how tyrannies emerge and how they begin their persecution against religious groups, usually Christians (like the USSR, the 3rd reich, etc.). I see the same trends all over again with what is going on here. I just try to warn people so they will be prepared. We have had a long time of peace and safety here but we can’t take it for granted. So that is what hit me right off the bat. Whether or not it is a framed conspiracy with this guy or not, and thus part of this, this thing is real and people need to know. The Amish don’t follow much news (I guess), so they may not have any idea.

      Anyway I look forward to your research and what comes out of it that you can share later. Thank you.

      1. Ann the Least

        Agreeing

        I’m a traditional Catholic and the government claims that makes me a domestic terrorist. I guess they will pry my Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary from my cold dead hands.

      2. Reziac

        I agree with you. While this may not be particularly targeted, and the claimed-Amish may in fact be Dumb Attorney Tricks, it’ll be used as war paint against yet another conservative group.

        Also, having watched the entire day’s events, I have grave doubts that the incident actually occurred as prosecuted. Far as I know (and I read most of the early cases), NONE of those imprisoned did quite what was claimed, but the law sure did stretch itself hard to find criminal behavior.

    7. Central Virginian

      Court Case

      The information presented by the defense attorney won’t present a complete background. It is facts the attorney feels is relevent for defense and leniency in sentencing.
      It doesn’t appear that Easterling is still practicing the Amish lifestyle in which he was raised. The missionary trip may have been undertaken as part of a broader plan for his legal defense.
      As far as I know it’s not illegal to possess any of the confederate flags in DC.

      1. Central Virginian

        Correction

        Eaterday, not Easterling.

    8. Central Virginian

      Name

      There’s just not enough information to know where the name came from. Many scenarios are possible that would make sense if known. For example, perhaps his father was not Amish and he took his father’s name rather than his Amish mother’s and perhaps an Amish step-father. Perhaps he legally changed his name for some reason at some point. Perhaps his mother married someone named Easterling outside the Amish culture, maybe when the defendent was 12 years old hence no more horse and buggy, and he took his step father’s name.

    9. Central Virginian

      More Info

      More details about him in this and other Twitter discussions:

      https://twitter.com/ryanjreilly/status/1780333456196599873

    10. Jackie

      Easterday Post

      Hi, I’m in the UK (it may seem naive [excuse spelling]), but does having that flag in the USA mean anything?

    11. Sharon

      Easterday?

      I have never heard of that name either.
      Where is his Father?
      It would be easy enough to find out the location of the school he should have been attending. Does he have siblings that should also attend school?
      Even more odd is that they only went to town 2 or 3 times a year. If this is an Amish community, he lived in I would think he went to town more often, maybe once a month.
      Does This community have a directory?
      Kentucky is not as rural as it used to be.
      Lawyers can be out right liars. And it strikes me as odd that this fella had no guidance that would steer him away from politics.

    12. Reziac

      I watched 14 hours of 1/6 live, and what I can tell you is that nearly everything you hear is made-up BS, including most of what people are being prosecuted for. (“Your cell phone was in D.C. the day before” is being used as sufficient to indict.) So a dumb kid may have been there waving the wrong flag (which is NOT a criminal act), but I have severe doubts about the pepper spray incident. Remember the story of a cop having his head bashed in by a fire extinguisher? DID NOT HAPPEN. One of several such wild tales, none of them true.

    13. Al in Ky

      Recently I talked with two Amish persons in the community mentioned in this AA posting. They said that several years ago, Isreal’s father had been “neighborly” in the Amish community, assisting the Amish with various tasks. Isreal’s mother had been Amish before becoming wife of Isreal’s father. They did not know of any Amish church (district) that the family had been active participants in. Isreal’s father was known in the community as being a member of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) faith. It makes me wonder about the source of the information that the attorney (public defender) used for the information he presented to the court. Was the only source Isreal himself? Did the attorney talk with any members/ministers of the Amish church (district) where the family lived? I question the accuracy of the attorney’s recorded information.

    14. Wesley Hornberger

      Easterday not Amish

      The possibilities have been mentioned like mom being a convert or maybe a want-to-be Amish or imitator. Christian Communities was mentioned and in that vein, Kentucky and Tennessee are full of communities of folk who try to replicate something they admire about the Amish or other “plain” groups.
      And again, Amish don’t give up their buggy, Amish don’t do mission work, Amish do not quickly travel overseas, and there are a few more discrepancies in this story.
      If you live where a news reporter ascribes something wrongly to the “Amish” (or even if it would be correct), call the newspaper or media company and ask them to stop “cultural profiling” or stop “religious profiling.” When have you last heard, “Lutheran woman arrested for speeding” or “Presbyterian man arrested for shoplifting” or “Catholic couple scams local elderly people.”
      Usually a persons cultural background or their ethnic history or their religious affiliation should not be part of reported news.

    15. Paul Armagost

      Isreal Easterday, Amish, NO

      The father Mark Easterday was LDS, later day saint and was excommunicated, he was prosecuted for being married to 2 women at the same time.
      His wife Marian was raised Amish, Mark Easterday married when she was young.
      I have known them for several years and have never seen them dress Amish or ride buggies, they all drive with or without licenses as you can check Hart County court documents and see several are up on charges as I type.
      Mark Easterday is on charges now for beating, choking, ripping Marian’s clothes off and threatening to kill and rape her after coming off a sailing trip with Isreal and other family. Mark Easterday had myself and friend on the phone tell us everything I just said about assaulting his wife.
      Most of them are on court dockets in Hart County Kentucky now.
      He has always had electric and solar power disconnecting electric few years ago.
      Bad name to associate with in my opinion,
      Marian has since divorced the scum bag and re married. There is a lot more to this story.
      I testified against him for the assault on Marian Easterday, Isreal left home because he had to give his father 80% of his earning every time he or the others got paid.