Mose Smucker on being Amish in public

My friend Mose Smucker was in the news over the weekend. Mose is an Amish father of 8 (and grandfather of more) who currently runs a meat shop and sandwich stand at bustling Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia (grab a sandwich from Mose if you’re ever in the neighborhood, if he’s not around his daughters are often there running the show).

Mose Smucker GrillMose used to run Smucker’s Harness Shop in Churchtown in Lancaster County.  This gave Mose some media exposure in the 1990s when publications like Forbes and Wired wrote articles on his business.

Mose is a supporter of the Nicholas Stoltzfus House project, which we’ve covered here a few times in the past. Mose will be the auctioneer for the 10th edition of the annual benefit auction for the house, happening this weekend.

Mose talks about being Amish in the public eye as well as the importance of the Stoltzfus House in an article for the Reading Eagle:

“There are no people who have tried to avoid publicity as much as the Amish, and no people I know who have gotten as much publicity as a group,” Smucker said.

It is a conundrum and as mysterious as faith.

“We have been despised and looked down upon at times for not going to war and going our own way, and other times put in awe because of acts of forgiveness (the tragedy at Nickel Mines, an example),” Smucker said. “Perceptions have changed, but we haven’t.”

But Smucker admitted the Amish are not perfect, simply because the goal of following individual conscience within a community can have its inherent human strains. There have been ruptures.

“But I hope this place (the Stoltzfus house and barn) will be a healing spot, to bring people of faith together in strength,” Smucker said.

The Stoltzfus House annual benefit auction is this Saturday, May 12.

Stoltzfus House Auction

Stoltzfus House AuctionAccording to the website, “The auction serves to preserve the Nicholas Stoltzfus House and to build facilities to accommodate family gatherings and other visitors.”  Here are details if you’d like to attend:

The House is located in Wyomissing next to Berks County Parks along the Tulpehocken Creek which include trails, The Gruber Wagon Works, and a Union Canal museum. Exit Route 222 North from Reading, take Broadcasting Road east 1 half mile to the end, turn right, go about a mile to 1700 Tulpehocken Rd. Come for food, quilts, furniture, etc. For information call 717-367-3906, 610-373-6206 or email Paul Kurtz,

Here’s a photo of construction of a barn to accompany the house.  The barn was raised in 2011 to house a heritage center, bathroom facilities and an apartment for caretakers.

Stoltzfus House Barn Raising

Photo credits: Stoltzfus House auction:; Stoltzfus barn-raising: Nicholas Stoltzfus-House/flickr

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    1. In Plain Sight

      Although Plain life is about modesty and self-denial, it certainly attracts attention. Although I am Quaker and not Amish, I am Plain dressed and Plain living. People sometimes inflate their expectations of these “holy” people, just as they do with clergy and monastics. Often, their perceptions do not match the reality of our lives! A Plain friend and I were sitting on a bench on Sunday, drinking (Starbucks)coffee, and wondering about the weather. So he took out his Ipad…people stopped and had a good look.

      1. Matt from CT

        >People sometimes inflate their expectations of these “holy” people,
        >just as they do with clergy and monastics.

        A favorite quote of mine comes from William Parker who was Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in the 50s and 60s, when speaking about police brutality and corruption, “We’ll always have cases like this because we have one big problem in selecting police officers — we have to recruit from the human race.”

      2. is Saucerman a Amish name?

        My grandmother was from Lancaster PA. Ive been told we are Pennsylvania Dutch, my grandmother was born in 1896 her maiden name was Lee she married William Leo Sauserman also from Lancaster PA. I’m really curious to no if either Saucerman or Lee are Amish names.
        When u own you’re business u have to b public especially if u want it to b successful.

        1. Marcus Yoder

          I don’t know about Sauserman, but Lee is.
          Marcus Yoder

    2. With a name like Smucker's,

      you KNOW it’s gotta be good!

      1. You got that right Forsythia. As it happens Smucker’s Jams is headquartered in Orrville, OH which is in the area of the big Holmes/Wayne County Amish community.

        1. J.

          I'm a little weirded out

          Well the Amish mafia show was terrible, but I’m “picking up” on the strange vibe that there is an amish cabal pulling some wool over our eyes, involving massive wealth. I don’t know why it has to be such a conspiracy and why I’m having this feeling.

          1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

            J., you need to look at my household budget and bank accounts. 🙂 If there is a massive wealth secret within the Amish, we aren’t all “in” on it! There are some very wealthy Amish families, quite a few comfortable, and also many who are trying to make ends meet & pinching pennies where possible.

            1. J.

              Not the common folk...

              The Amish are long time settlers of America, the community is a church also. Like other old families in America and churches, it is possible some at the top are wealthy or considered elite. Or not! I’m sure Amish people have wealth because owning large plots of land is wealth in itself. But I thought of a conspiracy theory. It might not be true, as it is a theory with little to go on. It would be nice if it is not true because most conspiracy theories are evil.

    3. Alice Mary

      I'd love to visit!

      OK, one more addition to my list of Amish places to visit (if only in my dreams)! It sounds like a wonderful tribute to one man & his progeny…although my saying that sounds prideful, doesn’t it? Still, preserving history is right up my alley, and I wish all his descendants well, wherever they are.

      Alice Mary

      1. Stoltzfus House is definitely an interesting visit. I haven’t seen the new barn but it sounds like they are doing a nice job. When I first visited I was surprised that it was basically right off the highway in Reading (this isn’t an Amish area anymore and hasn’t been for many many years) though the area itself is quite pleasant.

    4. Lee Ann

      I had forgotten about Mose’s place when I was back in PA. Wish I had gone and had one of his sandwiches.

    5. Carolyn B

      Thanks for the link back to the Stolzfus house. Loved the article & more especially the pictures of the house.
      I can’t even begin to explain how much I look forward to Erik’s blogs and the comments from the Amish America community each day.

      I wish everyone a blessed day.

    6. Janice

      Mose Smucker

      I too am a Quaker, although not Plain-dressed. I grew up in the Philadelphia area and have lived with my husband and children outside Reading, just a couple of miles from the Tulpehocken park mentioned. We are now several hours away from that area and I miss the feeling of historical connection with the Amish/Mennonite peace churches.
      Erik, I start my day with Amish America and also Katie Troyer. Thank you.

    7. I think it is great that someone from the Amish community will talk about your way of life. I find it very interesting, and find it a shame that technology itself has broken our homes completely!! I think the way you live is very neat, and obviously you keep your families together because of the rules you live by and your strong faith!!!

    8. all men are great unless proven otherwise

      What you are doing is great