Amish vs. the English


Cold Case cold-cocks the Amish

I’m not a big television watcher but caught wind of the latest appearance of our friends the Amish in the media, this time propping up the plot of a CBS show called Cold Case. Admittedly, being involved in another task at the time I could spare just one ear and one eye on the show, but what I saw and heard seemed pretty dodgy… …from…


Fending off the city folk

Most Amish have a fairly healthy attitude toward tourism–and tourists can mean different things to different Amish–a slight annoyance for some, a significant profit source for others, a chance for an interesting conversation for another bunch. Lancaster Amish by far have the most to deal with when it comes to visitors, though if you get out of the heavily-trafficked areas such as Amish tourism capital…


A ‘puppy mill’ returns in sheep’s clothing?

The Virginia Amish dog breeder whose kennel burnt down in March may just get another crack at his trade, the Roanoke Times reports. Promising a new facility ‘with amenities that exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements for breeding operations’, the unlucky Amishman’s case for a ‘conditional use permit’ was passed on to the final-decision stage Monday by the Bland County planning comission. This despite activists,…


English in the Country

Amish tourism did not begin with Witness. That 1985 film just made it worse (or better, depending on how you look at it, I suppose). David Luthy, writing in The Amish Struggle with Modernity, tells us that the first Amish-themed novel came out in 1905 (wait a minute–back when many of us English were still riding around in buggies!), the first Amish postcards around 1915,…

Amish tax myths

‘The Amish don’t pay taxes.  They’re freeloaders.’ Ryan Robinson of the Lancaster New Era writes (no longer available) that myths such as these persist, apparently even among long-time neighbors of the Amish. Why the confusion? Amish are generally exempt from paying Social Security taxes, a privilege negotiated some years ago with the federal government.  But at the same time they also refrain from receiving benefits….

A Bumpy Buggy Ride on Wall Street

On the whole, I would definitely bet on Amish business. Just maybe not this one.  At least not right now, and definitely not with any of my Scottrade funds. Pasta-maker Amish Naturals, which we covered in January, undoubtedly has a good product, good intentions, and according to the analysts, good management behind it. But Chuck Jaffe at CBS Marketwatch claims the company may have fallen…


Why Eli Stutzman fascinates

The body of ex-Amishman Eli Stutzman–convicted of one murder, suspected in four others–lies in a Texas morgue, unclaimed by his former Ohio Amish community. Stutzman’s DNA may be the case-breaker in the 1985 deaths of two Colorado men. Gregg Olsen, author of Abandoned Prayers, commented on the case which has hounded him for the past 20 years. Olsen shares an interesting idea–if Ida (Stutzman’s wife…

Why do you keep calling me that? I’ve never even been to Britain!

‘English’ is what many Amish call non-Amish people. ‘Yankee’ is another term. The Amish also use phrases–‘your people’, ‘those kinds of people’–which may sound somewhat derogatory to our ears. But no harm intended. Identity matters in Amish America.  Customs, clothes, language make dividing lines clear. At the same time, many Amish are surprisingly open to the world, and even have good friends among the English….


Amish for Sale

‘Amish’ sells. Whether it’s an overpriced bag of trail mix or a six-figure kitchen cabinet installation, people gravitate towards the implicit quality of anything with the Amish label. Exactly what does that label mean anyway? Does tobacco grown in the general vicinity of Amish country count as ‘Amish’?  What about an RV produced at a factory with Amish workers?  Does an Amish person actually have…