Visiting An Old Order Mennonite Horse Auction – And Casket Shop (22 Photos)

Jim Halverson shares a visit he made back in the fall to the Wakarusa area of northern Indiana. This town lying north of Nappanee is in the vicinity of a small Old Order Mennonite community. Jim made two interesting stops while in the area, as you’ll see below.


Instead of trick-or-treating on Halloween, I attended the Wakarusa Driving Horse Auction.

Wakarusa is about 15 miles southwest of Goshen and 30 miles west of Shipshewana. Despite the cold day the auction was well-attended.

I enjoyed watching people arrive and tend to their horses.

I talked with a friendly gentleman who arrived as I was looking at some of the parked buggies. He explained that the auction was primarily an Old Order Mennonite event and that many of the attendees are horse and buggy Mennonites from the Groffdale Conference. He said that they rotate the location of their church services to 3 area meetinghouses including Yellow Creek, which is approximately 1 mile east of the auction site.

I then wandered around the auction.

Heading east on CR 38 after leaving the auction, I saw this sign.

Being the son of a funeral director, I had to investigate. I saw this notice taped to the door….

…and this is the shop.

I was met by Rhoda Martin and had a wonderful conversation with her. She explained that her husband Elon started the shop in the mid-1960’s and she then showed me around the shop.

The Martins attend the Yellow Creek Meetinghouse. On my way home I stopped at the Menno-Hof Cultural Center in Shipshewana and purchased the book Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups by Stephen Scott.

Information about the Yellow Creek area is found in Chapter 2 of the book.

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    10 Comments

    1. Abner Schlabach, PhD Virologist

      No safety here

      No masks, no social distancing.
      No wonder we have an ongoing pandemic and lots of deaths.

      1. Elam Peachey

        No Safety Here

        Lots of grumbling, complaining and negative talk. No wonder we’re having so many problems in our nation.
        Have a bit of tolerance brother.
        What’s right for you, may not be right for everyone else.
        These people work hard, and their lungs need a lot of oxygen. 🙂

      2. Lydia Good

        Masks

        Well Mr Schlabach PhD…..Virologist
        Since Mr. Biden…oh wait, it’s now President Biden, signed an executive order today that all people must wear masks on federal property. Federal property would include all the national forests. So you don’t want to take a hike in the high country of the Rocky Mountains without your mask.

        It’s only a matter of time until masks will be mandatory everywhere, any time, inside and outside of your house. Then we’ll see if all these plain types, who so blatantly disregard all the official health edicts, keep getting away with not wearing a mask.

        Yes, they need to be PUNISHED. Take their farms, bankrupt them, take their children away, close their schools. That should wake them up to the dire consequences of their negligence. ///

    2. Maxine Balliet

      Love the photos

      I love Amish Mennonite history and the photos are fantastic!

      1. Jim takes excellent photos. I enjoyed learning a bit more about this area and the Mennonites there. I’ve been through there and visited a few homes, but don’t know a whole lot about that community.

        And the historical sign is great – I just noticed in small print at the bottom it was just put up in 2020 “By Michiana Anabaptist Historians and Yellow Creek Mennonite, Wisler Mennonite and Old Order Mennonite Churches for 175th Anniversary”.

    3. Lydia Good

      Mennonites

      Those girls sure wear colorful dresses. Love that horse hitched to the sulky. Beautiful horse. And I do believe that’s an Amishman. I also love the sign at the door of the coffin maker. If no one here… help yourself. LOL
      So could a person just walk out of there with a coffin balanced on his head?

      1. Jeff Baker

        Trust and Honesty in most Amish communities

        Lydia – Here in Wisconsin many Amish sell eggs and baked goods usually from a back room/mudroom attached to the house on honor. Even the farmers around my home leave their produce and eggs out, usually on an open or closed cart. If no one is there you leave your money in the container left out and take your goods. As for Caskets I imagine you would want to find the owner or family member.

    4. C.J.

      Horse sale

      Oh what fun that would be ~ to sit at that horse auction!
      Wonder if the photographer could give us some idea what the midrange, high and low winning bids are? It appears that some on the list are registered animals, and must have some well known ancestry or sellers wouldn’t bother to list that?
      As I have asked before, I wonder when there are car/buggy accidents, If driver of vehicle is found guilty, are they required by law, and held responsible, to pay compensation for buggy, horse and hospital costs?
      I understand that the Amish do not press charges, but wonder how that works?
      Erik? Anyone know what the laws are?
      Thank you ~

      1. C.J.

        Hand made caskets?

        Now, I wonder what the “going” price is on one of those? How many hours/ how long to make one?

    5. Jim Halverson

      Horse and casket prices

      A couple of comments on the comments to my photographs. I attended the horse auction only as an opportunity to learn more about the Amish/Mennonite culture and to take a few photos. I know absolutely nothing about driving horses and did not hear what any were selling for. That said, I subscribe to a publication called the Peoples Exchange. It is published twice a month out of Shipshewana and it is primarily an advertising venue for area businesses and residents. It lists garage sales, auctions, appliances, livestock, buggies and horses (among a host of other items). The prices of the horses listed in the Exchange are typically $1200 on the low end and $6000 on the high end.

      At the casket shop, oak caskets with “plain interiors” were listed for $1500 and pine caskets with “plain interiors” were in the $1100 to $1200 range. I never thought to ask how long it takes to make a casket. I’ve realized that when I go to some of these events I need to start talking more to the folks!