The Lost and Found Fences of Amish Indiana


A reader in Indiana shares:

The fences around here are used as a “lost and found.”  I have seen halters, lead ropes, buggy wheel rubbers and the most common item — horseshoes hanging from the fences lines in the Elkhart – LaGrange community.

Perishable items like clothes, expensive items like batteries, or small items like bike lights are usually picked up and then listed in the “lost and found” section in the local Amish paper Die Blatt.

Living here for 2 years I have found many horseshoes, a tractor seat, two bags of grain, a battery and a hitch ball from a buggy on the road.  With the exception of horseshoes, you can almost always find the owner.  I’ve attached two images of horseshoes hanging on fence lines.


“Lost and found” seems a little like a concept from yesteryear.  I remember them as a boy, but they always seemed more like a reservoir of shattered hopes than a place where you’d be happily reunited with your misplaced Transformers lunchbox.

They’re where you’d go to get the bad news that no, no one had dropped off your wallet or the favorite scarf your grandma knitted.  Maybe that pessimistic take just reflects my own experience with them 🙂 Sounds like these Amish lost and founds do a good job connecting dropped items with their owners.

Where do we still see lost and founds?  I have a pet theory that they have declined due to the general cheapening and devaluing of products–kind of the same reason shoe repair shops have fallen by the wayside. Or maybe I’ve just stopped noticing them (am I better now at hanging onto my stuff?)

Do you have any happy lost and found stories?

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    1. OldKat

      Interesting approach

      Looks like an effective, low tech way to deal with the issue. Amazing how simple this is, but I bet it works.

      Horseshoes can be reset if the nail holes are not too worn or “wobbled out”. For those of us that don’t drive our horses on the road frequently it is usually possible to rest them at least once. I have heard of people that manage to rest them twice, but it is rare. Point is, you need all four shoes to be able to do so. If you knew about where it was that your horse threw a shoe and someone was kind enough to pick it up & hang on the fence you’d have a good chance of getting the right shoe the next time you came back that way.

      Not sure if the Amish are even able to reset the shoes on their horses because of how much they drive them on hard surfaced roads … it really degrades the shoe fairly quickly.

      Still, an interesting approacht …

    2. OldKat

      Typo time.

      Oops …. that was supposed to be “reset”, not ‘rest” the horse shoes.

    3. Katie Troyer

      At the Pinecraft Park there is still a huge wooden lost and found box. Most of the items are coats, jackets, sandals.

    4. Denise

      Schools and churches still have “lost and found” boxes. Just a week ago a purple purse was found at church. Since I work with the children, I was asked about it. After looking at the contents,which included lots of hair accessories, jewelry, etc., I said, “I bet that’s Emma’s”. Sure enough, on Sunday, there was Emma with her purple purse.

    5. Erin

      There is a Lost and Found box at my children’s school. Starts out as a small Rubbermaid box at the beginning of the year and ends up being multiple by wintertime. They have spring concerts so the school sets up tables and lays everything out right in the entryway. Much easier to look at when it’s laid out rather than digging in multiple boxes! At the end of the school year they donate the items to Good Will and Catholic Charities.

      On a different note: I received a phone call many years ago asking if I knew whom J. Pluimer may be. They looked my number up in the phone book (there’s very few of us!). They found a lighter that belonged to my father-in-law that was etched with his name and Ku Chi, Vietnam ’68. It was apparently in the back of a car that my father-in-law had owned for over 30+ years. That was the strangest call I have ever received. My father-in-law was elated!

      1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

        Erin; That is awesome when things like that happen. It’s nice that there are people in the world will try to return something of sentimental value to a person after however long. Thank you for sharing that story.

        1. Erin

          It is the craziest thing having been in the back of that car for so many years with several different owners. Not sure where it was that it wasn’t discovered before but my father-in-law really appreciated the man’s willingness to track down the owner!

      2. OldKat

        What a great story!

        That is fantastic Erin. Kind of restores my faith in people, if you know what I mean.

      3. Having something treasured (not always things) returned to you that you thought was long gone…probably one of the best feelings one can have.

    6. Al in Ky

      In the Budget, I quite often read in a local scribe’s news about lost and found items. It seems like it’s usually items of clothing that have been found after a funeral or wedding when there are large groups of people attending from near and far away. Since The Budget is a national paper, it probably is a good way to get the word out over a large distance.

    7. Sadie

      Lost & Found / Mother's Day

      Lost & Found as a topic reminded me of the comment by one Budget scribe a couple months ago, following some sort of multi-district event, to the effect of, “If you’re going to stitch your initials into your bonnet or ( other, I forget ), it’d be helpful to add your district number.” The way it sounded, it sounded like enough of the people had the same initials that even that wasn’t so helpful anymore! *grins*

      And, that reminds me of something, so, I must add this. If anyone has ever read the columns by “Oba H.” ( Sullivan, Illinois ), that is some of the best and most humorous writing I’ve ever read! That’s always the first column I look for, following the one for Bellefontaine, Ohio, which I always wonder why is listed as Bellefontaine rather than Belle Center, because sometimes there is even a subtitle reading “Belle Center Area,” ( unless I dreamed that part! ).

      Finally, I wonder if any Amish ( of any order ) celebrate or take note of Mother’s ( or Father’s or Grandparents’ ) Day. I have absolutely no idea! One of my favorite days as a child in elementary school was Grandparents’ Day, as usually all the grandparents would be invited to a half-day program at school, usually consisting of sitting in on a partial class of ours, the students singing songs and presenting the visitors with various cards and paper gifts we’d made, and I believe there was usually food.

      I was fortunate enough to have my mom’s parents come to those programs all four years ( 1st through 4th grades ). They’ve been gone a long time now, and I miss those days. This past winter, one of my cousins came across something I’d made them for one of those special days and mailed it to me, and it was so sweet of her to do, and so interesting to see something I’d never have recalled making.

      1. Sadie those initials in hats and tupperware and other look alike items are pretty important. I was looking to reference a post of a couple months back but just now found it:

        Bonnets will travel Notice in a recent Ohio Gemeinde Register: ”Check your bonnets. The one I have is marked E.W.Y. Call 330…”. Below this you find a similar notice for a “thick, black denim coat” leaft behind at church. Even with initials, how often do clothes items go home with the wrong owner?

        Bellefontaine is the county seat and the big town in the area. I like how the locals pronounce it, something like “Bell-fountain”. Nothing highfalutin about that pronunciation (seeing it on the map I would probably try to produce some sort of bad French pronunciation 🙂 ). Not sure why it’s not just Belle Center if it the scribe is from that community.

      2. Mother's Day

        As for Mother’s Day, yes, and here is a piece from last year sampling some Mother’s Day content (poems and thoughts) from the Connection magazine: