A month ago we looked at the first Amish settlement in Canada – that of Milverton, Ontario.
In the post I referenced a quote from Fred Lichti, a Mennonite pastor who lives in nearby Elmira. Fred had this to say in a talk on the community:
These Amish in the Milverton area have continued to worship in homes on Sunday mornings. They had little growth for nearly 100 years, but since the 1980s and 90s they have grown rapidly, and their population has doubled since 1999. The Milverton Amish tend to have more traditional dress than many other Amish communities. They also do not use covered buggies, and their buggy wheels have steel rims. According to Lichti, common surnames in the Milverton area are Kuepfer, Albrecht, Jantzi and Streicher, names that are not common in other Amish communities.
Fred and I were in touch following that post. He kindly offered to share a few words on the annual school auction held in Milverton.
He also added some great photos, taken by Se Yim of Harrisburg, PA.
Here’s Fred on the auction:
On the third Saturday of July, the Milverton Amish community organizes an annual School Auction to raise funds for their parochial schools. Hosted on Amish farms throughout the community, this year’s sale was sprawled across a recently harvested hay field on the Kuepfer farm north of Milverton.
Much like the Ontario Mennonite Relief Sale in nearby New Hamburg, the Amish School Auction is attended by thousands of locals and Province-wide visitors who come to bid on a wide array of items and enjoy the food.
Local auctioneers sell everything from harness and horses to hand crafted furniture, antiques and quilts. The large sale requires the involvement of hundreds of volunteers from the 10 Amish districts in the Milverton area.
Developed in the mid-1960s as an alternative to the consolidation of the public schools in Ontario, Amish communities build and maintain their own schools, provide their own curriculum and pay their own teachers.
They do not accept any government funding. Some see a direct connection between the development of parochial schools and the very high rate of retention among Old Order groups.
Thanks to Fred for that. He also shares why horse-and-buggy Mennonites are better-known than the Amish in Canada:
The Elmira area is home to the oldest and largest Old Order Mennonite community in Canada. In the US, the Old Order Amish population is much larger than the Old Order Mennonite. In Canada, the reverse is true and we have three times as many Old Order Mennonites as Old Order Amish.
Bonus: Another reader sent in a collection of photos found online, of Amish from this community. As noted, dress styles are different in Milverton. One photo in particular jumped out at me, showing the way that girls apparently wear their hair here. I guess you’d call the style “pigtail braids”? You can view the photo here.
Though you sometimes see baby girls with their hair braided, I have not seen this style worn by older girls in Amish communities before. The Milverton girls tie their braids up when ‘dressing-up”.
Other notable dress customs include ministers always wearing a blue-gray shirt, and their wives wearing a thin black scarf over the kapp.