Amish History

Amish Celebrate Old Christmas On January 6th

Amish Celebrate Old Christmas On January 6th

This updated post on the Amish & Old Christmas was originally published in 2011. If you missed it the first time, here’s another look at the story behind this tradition, observed on January 6 in Amish communities. What is Old Christmas? How do Amish celebrate Old Christmas? Not all Amish observe Old Christmas Old Christmas History Other Amish Holidays What is Old Christmas – and…

The story of the Anabaptists in 8 minutes

If you ever find yourself wondering just how the Amish, Mennonites, or Hutterites came to be, you might enjoy today’s video. Mike of Primitive Christianity has put together a short (8 min) and entertaining video detailing how each Anabaptist group ended up where they are today. I particularly like his use of maps to tell the story (on one map he has highlighted the precise…

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John Gingerich on History of the Bernese Anabaptists: Interview and book giveaway

About four years back, Geauga County, Ohio native John Gingerich undertook to translate a text very important to the history of the Amish and other Anabaptists. History of the Bernese Anabaptists was written by Ernst Müller and published in 1895.  Up until now it has never been available in English. In today’s interview, John explains how the translation came about while offering a fascinating look…

Lancaster County, 50 years ago (part 2)

Lancaster County, 50 years ago (part 2)

Back in January, I shared a few slides of Lancaster County, circa 1963.  Here are a few more: Would today’s Lancaster Amish women consider this overdressed? Lancaster County has the second-most covered bridges of any county in America.  The #1 county? Parke County, Indiana, where a group of Lancaster Amish moved in the 1990s.  Here’s one in Lancaster: For those that might think Amish styles…

Northkill Amish Massacre

Northkill was an Amish settlement existing in Berks County, Pennsylvania in the 1700s.  It was home to some of the earliest Amish settlers in the New World. It was also the site of a brutal massacre still recounted by Amish today. During the French and Indian war, Amishman Jacob Hochstetler’s home came under attack by Indians.  Hochstetler famously restrained his sons from retaliating with gunfire….

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Why do we treasure old books?

The Martyrs Mirror is revered by Amish and other Anabaptists.  It’s a 1,000+ page book recounting the stories of Christian martyrs.  In addition to Biblical-era martyrs, it includes tales of the many early Anabaptists persecuted in Europe. The Martyrs Mirror is in the news because a very old (1748) German-language edition is up for sale at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society auction (I’ve linked to…

The Amish of Juniata County, Pennsylvania

The Amish of Juniata County, Pennsylvania

Say the words “Pennsylvania Amish”, and Lancaster County inevitably comes to mind.  But Pennsylvania is a state covered with Amish settlements, with over 50 as of 2010 (see Young Center 2010). The Amish community in Juniata County is one of the Keystone State’s many lesser-known settlements.  I had a chance to visit Juniata County last week while returning to Lancaster County from Big Valley. Juniata…

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Abner the Bookbinder

Last week, an excerpt from The Amish Way mentioned a gentleman named Abner, a deceased Amish historian whose trade was bookbinding. Abner was apparently quite a remarkable person who touched a lot of people in his community.  Brad Igou (The Amish in Their Own Words) knew Abner well and has shared some remembrances which he recorded after Abner’s death in 2002: A good friend has…

History of Amish names: A ‘Smiley’ Amishman by way of the British Isles

David Luthy shares the history of Nathan Smiley, born in Ireland to a British mother in 1797. At age four, Nathan arrived in America with his mother, and for reasons unexplained was placed in a foster home in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  That home happened to belong to an Amish family. On coming of age, Nathan chose to join the Amish church, and later married.  Nathan Smiley…

Behold Behalt!
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Behold Behalt!

Behalt is the name of a pictorial history of the Anabaptists from the time of European beginnings through their existence in America.  Not only is it educational, it has been dubbed “the most exciting cyclorama in America”. Having only visited one cyclorama in America (the other – of the Battle of Raclawice in Poland being non-American and of a decidedly non-pacifist nature) I can’t say…