The Pinecraft Pauper

Florida Plain newspaper The Pinecraft Pauper gears up for season #2

The Pinecraft Pauper is a community newspaper of the Pinecraft neighborhood of Sarasota, Florida, home to a small but sturdy collection of Amish and Mennonites.

pinecraft pauper logo
The Pinecraft Pauper logo

The Pauper was founded by local writer Daniel Fisher, and features news, human interest stories, puzzles, cartoons, tips (“Make your own carryon luggage for pennies, by taping a cardboard handle to a cardboard box”) and a healthy dollop of humor.

Contributors include Daniel, Sherry Gore (Budget scribe and author of Taste of Pinecraft) and the mysterious nautical correspondents “Captain Ahab” and “Moby Dick” (who seem to spend more time on land than at sea, but we’ll cut them some slack).  Photos are by Katie Troyer.

Daniel has kindly passed along issues from the first edition, which ran last winter.  To give you a sense of the paper, here are a few excerpts which I felt captured it well:

From the 3rd issue, January 15, 2010:


If you live in Sarasota you may have seen iguanas diving out of trees.  When the temperature dips below 40, these cold-blooded lizards essentially go comatose, losing their grips and toppling from their perches.  Though they may appear dead while in this state, they will usually come back to life if it warms up soon enough.

pinecraft pauper amish newspaper
Inside the Pauper

From issue #7, March 15, 2010, a piece on gospel/country music favorite John Schmidt:

Schmidt came to Pinecraft for the first time in  ’68-’69.  Pinecraft used to be “a sand road with chicken coops.  It was pretty primitive.”  He used to come down for a month or so in the winter.  Folks asked him to play.  He said, “Pinecraft is one place where I really sharpened my skills.  I knew eight or ten songs, and played them over and over.”


These days he spends a lot of time in prisons, singing, encouraging, and ministering.  “I am well-suited for prison ministry,” said John.  “I look like a convict.”  There’s almost always a response in a prison chapel.  His message is pretty simple: Jesus Christ can change your life.

He has made 19 albums, the latest a tribute to Johnny Cash.  Schmidt said, “Not all of my songs are Christian, but they are all sanctified.”

He has written songs in Pa. Dutch, and sings them for his Pinecraft audience.  It’s funny, the Amish don’t have CD players, but he sees them mouthing along.  He said it must be magic.

sarasota florida beach
On the beach in full-color Sarasota, Florida

From “A Walk in the Sky”, issue 5, Feb 15, 2010:

On Thursday morning, the 4th, Nik Wallenda went for a little walk.  So did you, you say?  But were you 200 feet up, on a 5/8 in. cable? Nik was.  He walked on a tightrope streched taut between the roofs of the Ritz-Carlton and the Watergate Condominium Building, right downtown, north of Marina Jack’s.


Nik is a 7th generation Wallenda.  He lives in Sarasota.  The Flying Wallendas were German.  They used to tour Europe in the 1900s, performing highwire acts.  In their home country they were billed as Die Fliegenden Wallenda.  Nik’s greatgrandfather, Karl, was born in 1905.  He began performing at age six.  Some years later, John Ringling saw Karl perform in Cuba, and swiped him up at once, to be part of the Ringling Bros. Circus.

In 1978 Karl fell and was killed, performing a walk in Puerto Rico very like the one which this crowd in Sarasota was awaiting.  Thursday’s walk was to be a tribute from Nik to his greatgrandfather.  Moreover, it was held to promote Circus Sarasota, which is to show daily through the latter half of February, in the tent at 12th & Tuttle.


But they knew what they were doing.  And so did Nik.  He paused to rest, shaking his hand to alleviate fatigue.  He went on.  400 feet, 500 feet, 575 feet, 595 feet…and then he ran the last couple of steps.  He had done it!  How the crowd roared!  He turned and waved acknowledgement.

The walk took 12 minutes.

Moby Dick was there watching, too. When asked if he would consider undertaking such a feat he said he wouldn’t, unless he were allowed to do it on stilts, and on condition that the cable be covered with a fresh layer of thick grease, to make it challenging.

Other features from the first season include a review of Yoder’s Restaurant; “A Pinecraft Artisan”, on wheelchair-bound painter Barbara Zook; Birdbox, a series of articles by 15-year-old Steven Fisher, “avid birder from Newburg, Pa.”;  “Ed”, on 92-year-old local Ed Bender, “finalist for World’s Oldest Full-Time Active Mechanic”; “The Auction”, on the record-setting 13th Florida Haiti Benefit Auction;  and numerous health tips and recipes.

florida amish newspaper pinecraft pauper
The front page of issue 4 of the Pauper, from the inaugural season

The Pauper was temporarily retired after the 2009-10 winter season.  Sherry Gore has since taken over editorship, and under her guidance it has come roaring back for another season.

The first issue of the second run has just been released, and I can say it is continuing in the same vein.  Highlights in this issue include “Christmas, Florida” (on a small town near Orlando),  “Mischievous Logic Puzzles”, a recipe for squirrel stew, and a report on the Flying Dutchman’s hard landing (he’s pretty banged up, but sounds like he’ll survive).

(SEP 2012 UPDATE: to the best of our knowledge the Pinecraft Pauper is not currently being published).The Pinecraft Pauper is published twice per month, and sells for $1.  It is black-and-white, with photos and illustrations.  There are 10 issues, beginning December 15th and running through April 6th, 2011. For subcriptions send $12 to Pinecraft Village Publishers, P.O. Box 50231 Sarasota, FL 34232 (single issues are $1.50).

And: Richard Stevick has already paid homage, much better than I can, to the Pauper here: Richard Stevick on the Pinecraft Pauper.

Read more on Florida Amish communities.

Read an interview about Pinecraft with editor Sherry Gore.

Find Amish furniture in Florida.
Photo credit: Sarasota beach-Fabio

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    1. E Stearns

      Oh, how I miss Pinecraft! Would sincerely love to read the paper.

    2. Patti Acklin Benson

      I am so happy they have a Amish settlement in Florida…now if I could just get down that way….I live in N. Fl We go up North several times in the Summer and always stop in Holmes Co Ohio on the way home to stock up on goodies…..Such wonderful peaceful loving people….We could all take lessons from them…

    3. Katie Troyer

      I don’t know how to say Merry Christmas in German, for we always said it in English. Maybe someone else knows.

    4. Lori

      I love your blog Erik, it is one of my favorites. I would so love to win the subscription to the Pinecraft Pauper.

    5. Why thank you Lori, very kind of you.

    6. Brooke Fuller

      I would love love love to open my mailbox every month to find this newspaper full of wonderful news in it!

    7. Fröhliche Weihnachten is Merry Christmas in High German.

      Looks like a really neat publication.

    8. Monica

      Entering to win the subscription! And Merry Christmas everyone.

    9. Theresa

      I would love to win a subscription. We live in North Florida.

    10. Karen Gervais

      Thanks for another great contest. Would love to win a subscription to the Pincraft Pauper. Merry CHRISTmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

    11. Susan Bowen

      Would love to win a subscription. My husband grew up in Sarsota. He lived there for 50 years. Last winter we visted and I was able to see the Pinecraft community. It is very unique. It is like stepping into small city right in the middle of a very large city.

    12. Hopie

      I would love to win the pinecraft pauper for a year.

    13. Gisa

      Thanks for this contest! I would love to win the Pinecraft Pauper for next year.

    14. Marcus Yoder

      I enjoy Amish America.I would love to win A subscription to the Pinecraft Pauper. Keep up the great blog Erik. Thank you Maecus Yoder

    15. Marti

      Fascinating. Always love the Amish sense of humor!

    16. Brenda Powers

      I would love to get the Pinecraft Pauper. I do enjoy what I read about the Amish.

    17. Kate

      looks so nice and I would love to win!

    18. Daniel Endy

      Would love a subscription. I was going to order it after the holiday but hey a gift subscription would be nice. I’ll pay for the next year. Erik, I didn’t forget to fill you in on the new order church experience. Loved it. I’ll be back.

      Dan Endy

    19. Jennifer Pederson

      That would be my favorite Christmas present.

    20. MaryEtta

      Love your website(and Kevin William’s also). I live a couple hours from the Amish community in Arthur IL. Love going there and shopping. We also usedto go to the horse auctions they hold one Sat. a month. Am hoping to visit pinecraft when we visit relatives in Sarasota in during February.
      Keep up the good work!!

    21. Hey Dan, appreciate that. And sounds like the PP might make a good Xmas gift here Jennifer, I guess we will see what happens Thursday!

    22. Hey thanks MaryEtta, that is very kind of you to say. And Kevin has a very nice site, I enjoyed finally speaking to him ‘live’ a couple months ago after knowing him strictly online for a couple of years.

      We’ve been doing some posts on the Amish in Illinois this month, now that you mention it.

      Don’t know if you caught these, Alice from the site here posted some photos from an Amish coffee shop: https://amishamerica.com/roselens-amish-coffee-shop-at-arthur-illinois/

      And we recently had a state guide entry on Illinois Amish as well: https://amishamerica.com/illinois-amish/

    23. Gail Dawson

      What a treat to learn more about the Pinecraft Amish. I would enjoy a subscription to the Pinecraft Pauper!

    24. Mary Essary

      Would love to win a subscription to the Pinecraft Pauper!

    25. Carolyn Shrock

      I would like it if it would come to my mailbox!!

    26. Carolyn Shrock

      I would like it if it would come to my mailbox!! 🙂

    27. Carolyn Shrock

      If I don’t win Can I just suscribe to it?

    28. Pinecraft Pauper subscription info

      Definitely, Carolyn. The subscription instructions are in the post above, and I’ll go ahead and throw them up here too:

      The Pinecraft Pauper is published twice per month, and sells for $1. It is black-and-white, with photos and illustrations. There are 10 issues, beginning December 15th and running through April 6th, 2011. For subcriptions send $12 to Pinecraft Village Publishers, P.O. Box 50231 Sarasota, FL 34232 (single issues are $1.50).

    29. Granny Sandy

      I would love to be included in this giveaway although I live in New Zealand so not sure I qualify, but am hoping anyway. a very blessed Christmas to you all at Amish America. Your blog is wonderful and I love receiving your updates.
      blessings Granny Sandy NZ

    30. Beverly Towne

      I have learned so much from your site. Thank you!! I would love to learn more about the northern IN Amish

    31. Granny Sandy, warm wishes to you in NZ, am honored you take the time to visit. Merry Xmas!

      And Beverly, thank you just the same–and I ought to have something more comprehensive on Indiana Amish in the Amish state guide sometime in the next couple months. meanwhile you’ll find all the blog posts tagged “indiana amish” here, there are definitely some on n. indiana: https://amishamerica.com/tag/indiana-amish/

    32. Marilyn

      I would really enjoy receiving Pinecraft Pauper. I wish you all at Amish America a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Years.

    33. Sure, sign me in on the free subscription.
      Mike Atnip

    34. Mary Stahl

      Tonight saw the documentary “Out of the Order” about the Amish who “jump the fence” and leave the Amish way of life. Very interesting that so many of the things that the “English” love about the Amish and their way of life, the Amish also love about their way of life and miss terribly when they leave it. Too bad they can’t go back to visit with their families, especially since the family is so integral to their way of life (which should be the case for us all). I understand though that things are the way they are with the Amish to keep them cohesive and free of influences that can corrupt them and their way of life. Since they have an 85% to 90% retention rate for their religion, most of the Amish are willing to take the bad with the good regarding their way of life, which is part of their charm and what fascinates us “Yankees” about them. Saw a spell-binding documentary about some Amish going through “Rumshpringa” (spelled phonetically since Pennsylvania Dutch is not a written language) where a number of real Amish teens were followed and recorded by camera for the course of several months that was similar to “Out of the Order”. In this second film some of the Amish stayed Amish after a taste of the outside world, some left altogether and some got in trouble with the law for the things they got involved in during their “running around” after leaving. If you liked the National Geographic documentary, you’ll like this second video “The Devil’s Playground” documentary about Rumshpringa.

    35. MaryEtta

      Erik, I have been following the posts on Illinois, the IL state guide and posts about Arthur IL. We moved back to my hometown ~2yrs ago, but prior to that we lived in Woodford County and there was a group there that were called Linn Amish, however they drove cars, etc., but dressed more plainly with head coverings, etc. I presume they were with the groups from there that you spoke of in the state guide.

    36. Karen Scearce

      Merry Christmas to all !

    37. Rosemary Foley

      What a wonderful gift to give !!! Thank you so very much, you are very kind..
      Merry Christmas !!! Rosemary

    38. One aspect I like best about putting this paper together is the diversity of its readers. Among our subscribers are several New York Times best selling authors, professors, truck drivers, a Kentucky Derby race horse owner, Old Order Amish farmers, homemakers, Amish Mennonite bishops, a nanny, a historical library in Ontario, a publisher in Brooklyn, NY, and at least one Amish parochial school teacher. You get the picture. It would be safe to say approximately ninety-eight percent of our local readers are Old Order Amish.

    39. glenda dean

      I have read alot of Wanda Brunstetters books about the Amish and I really enjoy them and would love to be entered in the giveaway I really enjoy reading and learning about the Amish people.Where I used to live there was Amish and I would take my 11yr old out to there houses to talk to them so he could learn about them and there ways he Loved it.

    40. I think this is very interesting that you publish this for the Amish and Mennonite community. We have dear friends 45 minutes from here who are New Order Amish. If I win this subscription I am going to pass it on to them when I’m finished. I know they would love it.

    41. Cheryl Yates

      would love to have a copy, we are getting nothing for Christmas money is tight.

    42. Bridget Garriga

      I would love to win a subscription! Especially since I can’t really afford to get one anyway. It would make me very happy.

    43. Cherie Kreutziger

      I would love to win a subscription…I love to read about all things Amish! Merry Christmas



    45. Wendy Bailey

      I learned about Pinecraft via facebook. It looks interesting. Would love to win the subscription. I love reading about the Amish. Thanks for the opportunity.

    46. What a beautiful holiday gift sharing all the simple and wonderful things in a lifestyle so many of us could learn so much from.

    47. Plain lady

      I think this would be great to have at our house. My children would really get kick out of it.

    48. Virginia

      would love a copy of the pinecraft pauper!!!!!!!!! gotta go share this on FB.

    49. Janet Rader

      I would love to have a subscription to the Pinecraft Newspaper. Thank you so much.

    50. Janice Cage

      Having been born & raised in the heart of Amish/Mennonite country in the Somerset, Everett & Bedford Pa areas & now living in Florida I would love to recieve the Pinecraft Pauper. The names Esh, Miller, Yoder, Beachy, Maust…& many more are stamped in my memory. My husband & I visited the Sarasota area 2 montha ago & I was overwelmed to find the pinecraft community. It brought tears to my eyes. My family life growing up intertwined with the ‘plain’ folks in many different ways. While my family was not Amish or Mennonite we lived a simple life. Canned everything from our own garden & raised our own chickens, pigs & cows. I guess as I get older I wish more for that simple uncluttered life!