Amish began moving from Lancaster to Parke County, Indiana in 1991. Today there are six Amish church districts in the vicinity of county seat Rockville.
Along with a similar group in Wayne County, the Parke County Amish are unlike others in Indiana. Here you’ll find the Lancaster grey buggy and plenty of Stoltzfuses, Kings and Fishers, all signs of the “Pennsylvania presence” in Indiana.
I visited this community some years back when I was first learning about the Amish. The Parke County community certainly “felt” different than ones I had visited in southern Indiana and Illinois (my books did not do nearly as well here!). It was an early lesson in Amish diversity. Though there are some differences with the home community, the Parke County Amish remain aligned with Lancaster.
A local station has filmed a pair of videos on the Fishers, a family who have left the Parke County Amish. “The church would not tolerate us anymore and so they put us out and that’s why we are not Amish, although to you, it’d be hard to see the difference,” says Levi Fisher.
One difference I think you will notice has to do with the facial hair worn by the men. Another has to do with their religious disposition and worldview, which would be hard to describe as traditionally “Amish”. In the second video clip, the news crew visits a prison to speak with Elam Fisher, currently serving a six-month term. His crime? Driving a car without a license (he was caught twice). “We don’t need a driver’s license. We don’t need a registration. It’s not meant to be that way,” explains Levi.
I’m not sure how instructive this is on the Amish faith, though it does illustrate what can happen when an individual family leaves the Amish to forge a different spiritual path. What things do you notice here that are atypical for Amish? (videos now unavailable)
Parke Co. Amish sign: Jimmy Emerson/flickr; Amish building crew: Robin Monks/flickr