Swartzentruber Country, Ohio (22 Photos)

The photos below were taken by a reader over the weekend in the Holmes/Wayne County, OH Amish settlement, in areas populated by Swartzentruber Amish. There are also some photos from the Ashland County Swartzentruber community.

I’ve added a few comments here and there.  Special thanks to our contributor.


Looks like they’ve seen some snow lately.



This is the first time I’ve seen a sign like this.  I’m guessing they got tired of having to pull cars out of the drive.  Swartzentruber lanes generally have a very unimproved look to them and can get mucky when it’s wet.


What’s in the bags/crates?


Chopping or gathering?


It may be hard to get started in cold weather, but it can be nice to work in it.


No SMV emblem of course.  You’ll see four reflective strips along the sides though.  Looks like something has been scratching or jabbing at the rear canvas where the triangle would be on buggies of “higher” Amish.




They get dry eventually.


home-at-an angle

Front porches are handy.



A hunk of wood + two pieces of rope = happy kids.




This photo arrived under the heading “strange machine”.





Baa baa.

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    1. Andrea green

      Great pictures 🙂 think the bags hung up have carrots in them, good way to keep then handy and fresh, and i guess free from critters ?. The pictures look great with the snow, they look so calm and still and the fields all ready for the winter. Very nice to look at, thank you picture taker for sharing you weekend 🙂

    2. Andrea green

      Forgot to ask, what does the righting mean on the front porch of the house near end of picks? Thank you 🙂

      1. Andrea looks like that is an unfinished building; I’ve noticed that sometimes the homes are partially finished in Swartzentruber areas in particular. I don’t know my building materials but looks like this one says “Blockade”.

        1. Lance

          The ‘Blockade’ writing is on ‘house wrap’, a plastic that reduces wind drafts in the house. Even Swartzentruber Amish use very modern materials in building their houses, as long as it does not effect the look or give some special advantage, its probably okay. Being behind the siding means it is more likely to be okay, but one never knows with Swartzies.

          In Northern Indiana, the main group of Amish is installing electrical wiring in most new Amish homes. It is said this is in case the house is sold to english later on, but could it also be just getting ready for when the church allows it? I think so. None of the Swartzie built houses have such wiring!

    3. Adair

      Thanks – very nice photos!What is that big gray oval thing on the porch?

        1. OldKat

          It is a stock trough ...

          it appears to be the bottom side of a Rubbermade water trough. I use those in the 50 gallon size and mount them in a skid mounted frame, made of treated lumber, so I can move them around to where I want to use them. The bottom side of the ones I have look just like that.

          This one appears to be bigger than the size I use, but hard to tell since there isn’t anything nearby to use as as a rough scale.

      1. It looks like a galvanized tub to me.. probably what they use to carry their wet laundry from where its washed. Its turned upside down & hanging off the side of the porch, in effort to help drain the water..

      2. ShipshewanaIndiana

        We thought they were using it as a washtub.

        1. You’re probably right..

    4. City Slicker

      Swartzentruber Photos

      These are really outstanding photos! They depict wonderfully the austere lifestyle of the Swartzentruber Amish versus the more commonly encountered, photographed, and more “liberal” churches of Lancaster County PA or other communities.

      Many thanks for sharing them.

    5. Juanita Cook

      Enjoyed seeing all these great photo’s. Thanks for sharing them with all of us.

    6. Tom

      Great pictures. I really like the one with the 3 children following the man. Maybe father or brother.

    7. Anita Martin


      Do you think the appreciate having these photos taken?

      1. Catherine Wengerd Palmer

        per pictures taken

        Usually Amish do not at all mind buildings and land photographed. Just people, face on. The ones, here with people, were very tastefully done. Nothing he needs to be ashamed of showing to them.

    8. Duane Kurtz


      Something to be said about this life style. It’s A simple way of life. I think I would try it but don’t know if I would make it long term.

    9. Nancy

      Wonderful images — especially the girls with their black caps and capes. Just lovely. Thank you for sharing these Erik.

      1. Linda

        Amish Mandlie

        In the snapshot with the Blockade house wrap, the three little girls with black bonnets may be wearing a “MANDLIE” (Mantle) or Cloak instead of a coat. A “MANDLIE” is made in womens and girls sizes. It can be sewn with or without the short over-cape and with either buttons or a fly closing. The side arm openings are optional. per

    10. Katie Troyer

      Those bags hanging in the porch is popcorn. After harvesting the popcorn it needs to air dry before it pops. I remember testing the pop corn by taking one cob, shelling it and pop it to see who well it pops. If it popped okay we would shell the cobs and winnow the shelled corn and store the pop corn until we wanted to eat pop corn.

      I think the Swartzentruber are allowed to gravel their lanes if they are willing to do the backbreaking job of spreading the gravel by wheelbarrow and shovel. The rule is the gravel truck may not spread the gravel.

      1. Thanks Katie. It looked like some sort of corn but wasn’t sure for whose consumption 🙂

    11. Debbie H

      Picture number 14 has something on the left wall from the door. Anyone know what it is? My favorite picture is the first one. Thr house and the building in front of it are leaning down hill in two different directions. I hope the inside is level. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing.

      1. Alice Mary

        Debbie H., I had the same thought about those two crooked-looking buildings. I actually think that the (obviously) crooked building (shed?) in the foreground makes the house in back seem like it’s leaning in the opposite direction. I think it’s an optical illusion (I hope it is—who could live in a house that “caddy-whompus”? If I walked outside to level ground, I’d be off-balance all day!

        Interesting photos. Not often have I see Swartz. homesteads. I’m actually surprised by the use of “Blockade” insulation. I’d have thought it was too “fancy.”

        Thanks for this posting!

        Alice Mary

    12. Paul A. B.

      I wonder if most families there heat with wood, or coal?

      1. I do not know what is preferred here Paul though Swartzentruber Amish use both.

        Here’s another photo of a kitchen wood stove in Michigan, with a discussion of oil stoves in the comments: https://amishamerica.com/swartzentruber-amish-kitchen/

    13. Bernadette

      All of the above pictures

      I think these are all very nice pictures! But I feel so sorry for those 3 little girls. They look so cold! But I think that metal tub on the front porch is from their laundry.Even though they may not have much; they still live comfortable to their way of life. At least they have a roof over their head and food on the table, and clothes to wear. Which are the main things of life.

      Thanks to the photographer of these pictures! Great Job!

    14. Adair

      I suppose you all are right -that the gray oval is some sort of laundry tub. But it looks awfully shallow , to me, for laundry. Maybe that’s just an optical illusion from the straight-on angle of the photo. And it looks to me as though it’s made of something other that galvanized metal. I love the photo of the houses on the hillside with morning light on those sheaves.

    15. Tim

      Thing hanging on left side of door is a type of plastic stock tank. I would guess used for Saturday night baths. These Amish are very resourceful when it comes to using things for new purposes.
      Great pictures by the way, and thanks Erik for continuing this great site!

    16. Mary Yoder

      Swatzentruber County Ohio

      Hi, That tub is most definitely a bath tub, stored outside when not in use. The hanging bags have popcorn, drying before shelling. The carrots would freeze and are not good after they thaw.

      These people would most likely use a washing machine powered by a motor, I’d guess.

      Don’t worry about the little girls being cold, they have layers underneath, and Amish do dress warmly! Can you imagine how innocent these girls are, no electronic gadgets and modern toys, so so simple….

      1. Eli S.

        Having bathed in such a tub many a Saturday night, I totally agree with Mary.

    17. Kevin L.

      Thanks to the contributer for sharing their photos with us. I enjoyed looking at them

    18. Lattice

      I’m a big fan of how they collect the rain water for washing and such (See photo # 20). I wonder how they turn off the collection process during high rainfall. Does anybody know?

      1. Lance

        All rain water collection cisterns that I have seen have an overflow outlet of some kind. There is usually some sort of diversion valve on the last downspout before the cistern tank. In the above picture, there is not. If there was a malfunction, one can just knock off the downspout, seen that done in a heavy downpour. It is best to not secure the downspout too tightly.

    19. Kathy Rowe

      Great pictures, Erik. Thanks for sharing.
      Are spending Christmas in NC or Poland? Wherever, have a great one!

      1. Kathy, PL it is 🙂 I’ll be back in NC before too long though. Christmas still starts here around the end of December (in terms of the little merchant stands showing up on the main square, etc). This year in NC I think I saw Christmas decor in stores already in October.

        If such an important chunk of retail business comes in this shopping season, I can see why it would gradually expand over time. I wonder if there is a boundary for that though. I would have thought Halloween but I guess not. It was funny seeing pumpkins and Christmas trees side by side this year.

    20. Wm Justice

      First let me say how much I enjoyed the photos and my thanks to the contributor. Based on my association with the Swartzentruber community I visit, they would definitely not want these photos taken. But as one of my friends stated they really can’t stop a person from taking photos from a public road.
      When I take someone over for their first visit I issue the following instructions. First, this is not a sightseeing excursion but rather a shopping trip so take plenty of cash and no cameras as my friends do not appreciate or approve of Kodak moments. And second, wear sensible shoes as there are lots and lots of horses in the community. No further explanation about proper footwear is necessary.
      I have always been struck by the difference in appearance between the neat, picture postcard communities in Lancaster County, PA and those of my Swartzentruber friends. The latter being bereft of the need to appear tidy. For instance, the comment Erik made about the unfinished siding on one of the houses caught my attention. Many of my friends’ homes are livable but remained unfinished for extensive periods with the exterior siding installed only when funds become available. Likewise, newcomers to the community first build a shop, which have spartan living accommodations, then next a barn and last of all a house.
      The wagon mounted engine is most likely a diesel or gas powered multipurpose device with a power take off on the opposite side. I have seen such contraptions used for many, many purposes including powering the scariest table saws in the history of the universe. Gas powered washing machines are one thing but table saws powered in such a way are downright terrorizing? I have done a lot of table saw work in my day and have yet to prune any digits but their saws even when not running give me the chills.

      1. Lance

        It’s wonderful that you teach the visitors to not take cameras with them. First and foremost, Amish of all kinds, when people visit them, want those visitors to be dressed modestly. Both women and men should be modestly dressed so as to make the Amish more comfortable with you being in their presence. No one really needs to be told what modestly is, you already know it in your heart. The Amish do not expect outsiders to be dress in Amish clothes, but they do greatly appreciate people being dressed modestly. 2Cor 7:1

        1. Anita Martin

          I agree and try to dress in dark colors when visiting.

    21. Ann Whitaker

      a note of thanks

      Erik, thank you for posting these lovely pictures. During the stress of this busy season, I will turn to these as part of my Advent journey to remind me of the simplier things in life.
      Best to you,

    22. George

      Great to see the pictures; I always enjoy looking at them.
      Especially so, because I don’t reside anywhere near the Amish.
      Thanks so much for sharing them!
      Hope to see more!

    23. Anita Martin


      Sorry folks, you may enjoy, but you I cannot believe any person with the slightest respect for these beautiful people would do this. I think it is so insulting! They are not a bunch of things to be gawked at for your pleasure. My God, how would you feel if someone was sneaking around taking photos of your property and family, esp if it was against you religious beliefs.

      1. I can understand why you would feel this way, .. however, none of these photos with the exception of the two that have the Amish themselves in them are intrusive in any way. Its not any different than taking pictures of groupings of plants, scenery photos, houses or any other single subject, place, or people.

        The Old Order Amish I know must answer that they dont wish you to take their photos if you ask, because its a part of their Ordnung, but some dont really care. They also dont care if you take a picture of them as long as their faces arent captured. They are quite happy when we take photos of their farms and invite us to do so. I have quite a few beautiful photos taken with their invitation & blessings.

        1. Kathy Rowe

          I agree with you Kim H.

        2. Anita Martin

          Sorry, if you know they don’t really like any photos taken because it is against their beliefs…I don’t believe you should ask.

          1. OldKat

            I think ...

            the issue is that “most” Amish groups are against photography because it can be prideful, if there is such a word. It is the POSING for pictures that is against their ordnung.

            Or so I understand from numerous readings on the subject. Still it would make me uncomfortable shooting pictures in their communities if it involved a PERSON … whether their face was visible or not. Taking pictures of barns, houses, animals on pasture wouldn’t bother me. Then again we are pretty use to people pausing to take pictures of our house when it is dolled up for Cristmas or whatever. I generally see no harm in that, but I have had people come up IN OUR YARD to shoot photos, including one that involved a guy that wanted to walk down the drive and shoot photos from the backyard. Ahhh … no that is not going ot fly.

            1. Adair

              That is my understanding as well – that it is posing for the photos that is offensive to them. I have sent photos, of farmland around my own house, to a Schwarzentruber Amishman from Ethridge, TN, and got a nice and cheerful reply full of observations about the soil and crops and tools shown in the photos, so I don’t think photos per se are absolutely forbidden. That being said, I’m sure that no one on this blog wants to be intrusive like the obnoxious woman tourist in “Witness” who was so surprised at Harrison Ford’s answer to her!I am quite sure that the photos here of people were taken from quite a distance, either with a good zoom lens or cropped and zoomed later on the computer, at any rate, not at all camera-in-your-face. I have traveled several times around the Ethridge area with my camera on the car seat and have always tried to take photos when no one was close by to feel as though their space were invaded. A friend and I asked an Amish furniture-maker if we could take a photo of his work; he was sort of willing but not very, so we didn’t do it. Of course you need to be considerate and sensitive and discrete (which, yes, sometimes is a nice way of saying “sneaky”). And it’s important to put away the camera and just observe and interact, too. And yes, people stop frequently at our gate and photograph our trees; I am glad they like the trees and happy for them to take pictures there, but don’t want them to be intrusive enough to come into the yard, which they rarely, but sometimes, do.

              1. Anita Martin

                I really enjoy this site and have been visiting for only a few weeks or so. We have a community of 20 or so families not far and have been visiting them for about 6 months now and have been attempting to build a friendship with them. I actually suspected the were Schwartz…..based on the info on this site, but finally did ask and the reply was no! Ooops. They are old order and very plain and seemingly poor. It has been fascinating watching the build from nothing, with just about nothing. They are friendly and funny! We buy chickens, eggs, baked goods and worms from them and also brought them lots of ice during the summer hot spells, as they had not yet had an ice or wash house. They really appreciated it. We have also given them some furniture and school supplies. I always ask if it is “ok” as I don’t want to appear too pushy. The 11 kids enjoyed popsicles and cold lemonade treats to them too. We see very young boys driving wagons and buggys. They have just completed there new school. I was able to visit the Amish Bookstore out in Gordonville, Pa this fall and brought them home some English workbooks which they appreciated.

                I lived in a Amish/Mennonite community 40 years ago, after highschool for one year, and feel in love with the Amish. I believe I base my opinions related to photo taking, based on my very personal experience there. I would just cringe at the tourists going right up into their faces, without even speaking with them and photographing them like they were baboons in a zoo. The Amish were not happy I tell ya. This was in the heart of Lancaster County tourism, so the rudeness was rampant.

                1. OldKat

                  Good feedback

                  Anita Martin: In which US state do you reside, if you don’t mind my asking?

                  1. Anita Martin

                    To Old Kat- I live in MN on the WI border.
                    To Lance- I agree with you.

              2. Dave

                You do have a point… Erik, how do you weigh photos with Amish wish for exclusion of their images? As a matter of respect should the faces be filtered out, or maybe portraits excluded.

                1. I don’t think the issue of Amish and photos is as clear-cut as often presented. It’s true that customarily the Amish do not seek the camera, and more traditional Amish, usually even less so. But I’ve just seen too many shades of grey and even flaunting of the conventional wisdom on photos, by Amish themselves. It’s often a judgement call but I generally avoid recognizable face photos.

            2. Lance

              Swartzentrubers are not like most other Amish, which is why they get their own category. None I have met can understand why anyone has a camera at all. They do not want anyone taking pictures of any part of their property nor themselves. They do understand that there is nothing they can do about the public using them. I have seen them run to hide from them. I have seen one cry when she learned that a picture of herself was on the internet.

              Other, higher Amish may not even flinch if a camera is pointed at them. Some may even own cameras themselves if they are of a especially progressive sort.

              Since I left the Amish, my picture has only been taken a few times, and it makes me very nervous, like I want to run too. I have taken many pictures, but never one of human.

              Conservative Amish do not like nor understand your camera, so please do not point it at them.

              1. Beverly

                Lance- How can they not like it, if they do not understand it to begin with?

                1. Lance

                  The lack of understanding is that they cannot understand how someone can disobey God in what the Swartzie’s and other conservative Amish see as a clear statement in scripture. Make no graven images. The Amish see the camera as a maker of such images. The conservatives see it as saying make no images of anything on earth, but most especially people. Then people come to them saying they admire them and the next thing they do is pull out a camera and try to take their picture. They simply do not understand the disobedience to God.

          2. Anita Martin.. if your comment was in response to my post, I’ve never asked if I might take their picture.. but they have always invited me to photograph their places if I wished to.
            I have a lot of respect for their lifestyle, community & religion and I too think that asking for something you know is against their religious teachings is not respectful..

      2. It’s an interesting recurring discussion. I’d estimate you get around a dozen different stances and nuances from the Amish on photos, depending on things like posed vs. unposed, children vs. adults, group, who will see it, whether their business will benefit from a photo, etc.

        The above are landscapes, buildings and inanimate objects, and a few unidentifiable people. They were taken from public locations at a distance using a telephoto lens. To illustrate the range of ways Amish respond to photography, compare the above to another set of photos, also taken in a Swartzentruber Amish community: http://www.fotovisura.com/user/MDvorak/view/amish

        I hope those who are curious about why the most traditional Amish live as they do will follow the links included in the post.

        1. Very beautiful photos.. I love black & white photography.. It just evokes such emotion from me, anyways.
          And it proves your point and mine too for sure.. it really depends upon the person what they think. I’ve seen it time & time again between the Amish I know and the opinions I had of them before and after I got to know them. Thanks so much for sharing all of these photos as well as proving a kind place for us to share them.

    24. SharonR

      Swartzentruber Country, Ohio Photos

      Thank you Erik for sharing. Great Scenery!

    25. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing the pictures. They are very similar to scenery in the Swartz. communities in Ind., Ky., and Minnesota that I have visited. The Swartz. community I often visit in Ind. seems to use much more gravel than is seen in these pictures. It may due to differences in their Ordnungs.

    26. Alice Mary

      English or Amish, like it or not, most of us are being photographed (quite likely against our will) daily. From security & surveillance cameras in banks, grocery, dept., hardware, discount (etc.) stores to “red light cameras” in big cities, as well as Google Earth and multiple satellites in space (more than just a few being the “spy” type put there by multiple “foreign” countries), if you live on this earth today, you’re likely to e photographed anywhere and everywhere, so we’ll just have to deal with it one way or another. Do conservative Amish use banks or shop in stores where security cameras are in use? Even my library has several. How do they avoid being photographed…I doubt an English business would pull the plug when a horse & buggy drives up!

      As I said, Amish or English, we all have to deal & cope with it, like it or not. It’s pretty much unavoidable in this day and age.

      Alice Mary

      1. Interesting thought

        Alice Mary on reading your response I realized I’d never heard anyone Amish comment on this.

        Amish of all stripes certainly use local banks, and even the most traditional Amish find themselves in towns and cities on occasion (i.e., Greyhound bus terminal or on the buses themselves), where CCTV is in operation.

        I’m not sure they would even be aware of this, or maybe they are just not concerned about it–that the issue is more about willing participation in photos, and displaying pride by doing so.

      2. Beverly

        I spy with my little eye

        Good point Alice! You forgot Walmarts! They have security cameras also!
        I have read where Amish utilize Targets and Walmart stores! So..there ya go!

    27. Valerie

      Simply Swartzentruber

      In Medina County OH where I reside, we have the Swartzentruber community and they are extremely nice pleasant people to talk with. Before I learned about Swartzentrubers I assumed them to be poor-as their homesteads are quite different-than other Amish communities-no flower gardens for show, only to sell their flowers it seems. Somewhat unkept in comparison. Buildings needing repair.
      It does seem they have a harder time making a living than others.
      Thankfully, the produce auction has been a God send for them I believe.

      Also, I am not sure what age the children start learning English but I have tried speaking with ones I assumed old enough to know English, and their papa explained they did not know English so they must really put off learning it.

      Photos-obviously not wanting to upset them I didn’t realize they didn’t want ANY pictures of even their produce auction which I have taken-sorry! I was a little surprised when visiting an Amish woman I drove to store one day, and she brought out a photo album to show me all her children’s pictures. I bit my lip about asking her why she had a photo album. Had already been caught off guard when she pulled out her cell phone. Old Order Amish in that case.
      Hard to understand it all.

      1. Valerie, Did they open up the new produce auction or are they still using the one in Homerville?
        I live in Lake Co.. and have been to the Homerville Auction.. then I heard about the new one and the issues they encountered.. but never heard of any resolution.

        1. Valerie

          Homerville Produce Auction

          Hi Kim,
          Yes they did open the new one. It is just down the street from the original one. We went in the spring to the new one. When we arrived we assumed the old one was in operation because of the legal issue-when we pulled up there were a handful of folks at the old one and a woman very ‘discreetly’ told us to go down the street about a mile and we’d find the new one. They must have resolved the issue & I had heard the old one still operated on the off days of the new one, but did not confirm that.

          1. Homerville Produce Auction

            Great! I’ll be heading that way next summer. I didnt go at all this year because I wasnt sure if the issues were resolved or where the new one was if they were.
            Thank you so much Valerie.. I appreciate your reply! Have a great day!

    28. Valerie

      Homerville Produce Auction

      You’re welcome, Kim! would be nice to meet a fellow AA participant there!

      I found their website, here you go, save it for next May-I hope to get there at 4:30 for the small table sales, just 2 of us in our house have a hard time with those large bidding situations


      God Bless you and hopefully will bless the farming season there next year!

    29. Thanks so much!! Having their website helps tremendously! I’d love to meet you there sometime. We’ll have to figure out a way to do that.
      Looking forward to next years produce season.. for them & us!! 🙂

    30. Valerie

      Save this Kim

      vjesusnme@aol.com save it together with the link to their site-

      That way we can meet up!

      It’s COLD in our area today, not?

      We are headed for Holmes County-today is the “Journey to Bethlehem”
      in Walnut Creek.

      Worth the drive-carefully, that is!

      God Bless!