Tiny Houses, Loren Beachy’s Plain Side, and the Amish at Oakland, Maryland

It’s Friday, and I think we’re due for another roundup post.  Here we go:

The Plain Side

Loren Beachy writes a column for The Goshen News called “The Plain Side”. Loren is a school teacher and auctioneer living in the Elkhart-Lagrange Amish community.

I’ve been reading some of Loren’s archives lately, including one on preserving the PA Dutch dialect and a funny tale about his school’s end of year parent-student ballgame.  I quite liked the intro to that one, which is titled “Madness in Mudville with the ‘Mighty Casey’ up to bat”:

America loves an underdog.  This time, though, the underdog has a problem. The problem’s name is Lavern Lehman.  His moonshots are legendary and his muscular 280 pounds stand at the plate waving the bat with an ease born of formidable strength.

The rest is just as well written.  Loren’s writing is sharp, funny, and thought-provoking.  You can find Loren’s back columns by searching “Loren Beachy” at the Goshen News website.  In his latest, Loren expresses exasperation over over-using the weather as a conversation starter.

Ohio Chemo Case Ends Well?

News came over the past week that a judge would allow the state-appointed guardian for Sarah Hershberger to drop her attempt to force chemotherapy treatments for the leukemia-stricken girl.  The Hershberger family apparently returned to their home farm a few weeks ago.  They had sought alternative treatment for Sarah in Mexico, Canada, and Tennessee.

Amish made “Tiny Houses”

tiny-house-tumbleweedDid you know you could buy an Amish-made “tiny house”?   Did you know there was such a thing as a tiny house, and that tiny house owners also own their own movement?

The Fisher family of Colorado build these for a company called Tumbleweed.  The houses come in lengths of 18, 20, and 24 feet, and you can buy a tiny house “shell” at a base price of around $13,000.

The tiny house movement is about minimalism and simplicity.  I am for both of those, but I am also for legroom, so I may align with the “smallish house” movement instead.

More Breaking Amish Mafia…

There are more of these shows coming, with Amish Mafia Season 3 kicking off February 25th.  I’m not recommending you watch, just letting you know to get ready for the latest onslaught of “Amish reality TV” coverage.  Breaking Amish will also be returning with a “spinoff” with the tentative title “Return to Amish”.

In related news, Hot Snakes Media, the company behind both Amish Mafia and Breaking Amish, recently signed a 4-year sublease for a 22,000-square-foot space in lower Manhattan.

Plain Snowmen

These guys landed in my inbox earlier in the week, following up our look at snowy Shipshewana.  For the time being they live in northern Indiana.  The first two were taken at a ball field at an Amish school.  The last was taken at the photographer’s friend’s home on request. The snowman by the back stop in photo #2 is huge, notes the photo-taker.




Upcoming Book Interviews

We have two more author interviews/giveaways slated for the coming weeks, and more expected later in 2014.  By the way, if you’d like to read previous interviews, they’re all here.  You’ll find over 3 dozen interviews with authors, scholars and current and former members of Plain churches.

Amish Business Directory Update

Since we first announced the Amish Business Directory, we’ve been able to add a couple more categories: Amish Cabins (featuring businesses building and selling log cabins, hunting cabins, etc)  and Amish Barns (mini-barns, horse barns, and so on).  We continue to add businesses around North America as people alert me to them (so keep that coming).

The Amish at Oakland, Maryland (Garrett County)

The Amish settlement near Oakland in Garrett County, Maryland is unlike most.  It is the oldest New Order Amish settlement (founded around 1850) and in fact came about well before the New Order movement originated (1960s).  Furthermore, the community is one of the few “electric” New Order groups which permit public electricity in homes.  Adding to that, they also are one of the few Amish congregations to worship in a meetinghouse.

The video below, of the Oakland Amish congregation singing “City of Light” as attendees file in for a funeral service, was taken by a non-Amish relative in summer 2013.  It’s part of a larger compilation video which includes footage of an Amish minister preaching, buggies traveling to the cemetery, and burial.

The video taker, Simon Kinsinger, explains in his comments that recording wouldn’t be allowed at a normal service, but that this was a little different given the non-Amish relatives in attendance (Kinsinger previously uploaded a similar video taken at a funeral in the Guthrie, Kentucky Amish community).

You’re unlikely to ever see much footage of Amish church services, but if you do, it will probably come out of a New Order community, who tend to be more permissive about the camera.  In this video you can see the community’s meetinghouse complete with electric lighting, and hear some beautiful singing.

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    1. Mj

      Tiny houses

      I wish I could have one on my property. I love the look. In response to the Amish shows on th. Speaking to an old order Amish women on the ny trail. She said no such thing exist. It would be totally against Amish religious beliefs. And Amish in Ny once the young people left their community, wore English cloths, and had such vulgar language. They would no loner be Amish. Why is such trash out there about such lovely people. Who believe in Gods word and live it each day.

    2. Ed from NY

      I love tiny houses! I wish the town I want build in did not have a 600 sqaure foot minimum building code. I’m glad the Amish are in the tiny home business, I think the small house movement is a trend we will be hearing more about.

    3. Wondercat

      “Ohio chemo case ends well?”

      Nowhere near, matey. Follow your own link. Well or ill, the controversy is not ended, not at all.

      1. ?

        Matey, hence the question mark. The original guardian has been allowed to drop out and no sign of a new one being appointed. I’m assuming they wouldn’t be back home and planning to see a conventional doctor now if they expected another guardian to be appointed. It’s true that it sounds like the initial appeals court ruling now will be challenged to prevent it being used as precedent in future cases. However they are back home and her health continues to be portrayed positively by spokespeople from the family’s side.

        I can’t help but be skeptical about the approach the family has taken however hope the picture being painted is reality for her sake. The story also states that they haven’t ruled out chemo if her condition worsens (however from what I’ve read relapsed cancer is harder to treat the second go-around). Ending well really entails a healthy Sarah Hershberger which is a longer term question.

    4. Kevin L.

      Tiny Houses

      Im with you! Ive been aware of the tiny house movement for a while. And while I’m for minimalism and simplicity, I would feel I need more space then that. But more power to those who can live there!

      1. I could see living in a tiny house in the 200-300 square foot range, but much smaller than that seems tough sledding. I’m assuming ceilings are close to normal height, or if not hope they’re padded 🙂

    5. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      the song

      I enjoy the song. Its nice to hear a longer version than the funeral edition, at least I think it is longer.
      I for one find myself humming this song when I need a bit of inspiration.
      Is it possible to find a full version of the song “performed” by any group, plain or not?

      1. Linda

        The City of Light song

        Hello, Shom, here’s something you might be interested in:


        Look in the second column for a bit different title, “There is a City of God.” It’s an audio of “The City of Light” song, three verses sung a cappella, probably congregational singing.

    6. jodie


      A few years ago I read about the tiny houses being made in VA. I suggested we needed two of them. His and hers! But we are still in our ‘big’ house.

    7. Tiny Houses

      I would to have a Tiny House only if the bed room would be on the first floor so we would not have to go stairs or a ladder. And for the singing of City Lights that is the way my mother’s relatives used sing and it was always wonderful.

    8. Alice Mary

      If I had the room (enough land) + money, I’d love my own small town of tiny houses. I’d choose which to live in (or rent out) daily. My husband has his man cave—I’d have my own “tiny town”.

      So interesting about these Amish, with electricity and a meetinghouse. Beautiful hymn-singing. I’ll have to look up the words–I hope I can find them.

      I know there were English among the Amish in this video, but it seems that even the Amish men here (bearded, no moustache, Amish-looking clothing) seem to have shorter than usual haircuts. Is that part of their liberal culture?

      Thanks for so much more to explore, Erik—when I finally retire, I’ll have my hands full, trying to read as much as I want to!

      Alice Mary

    9. Carolyn B

      Tiny house mention

      I am one who follows the tiny house movement as well. I was so pleased to see an Amish connection to the Tumbleweed company, the first tiny house people as far as I know. My idea is not tiny but small which means 400 sq feet minimally usually. It can increase in square footage as the number of family members increase and still be called small for the family up to 1000 sq ft I believe.

    10. Al in Ky

      I enjoyed all of the topics in this post, but especially Loren Beachy’s Plain Side, which I was not aware of. I read several of Beachy’s articles, including the most recent one, which was both interesting and inspirational. I copied his thought “If it’s evil, show them God. Nobody ever knows how good it can get.” That is really something to ponder, and put into action.

    11. Amish Business Practices

      We do business with the Amish. They’re good hard working people in our experience. A bit different, but certainly in a good way. Overall, this society would be a whole lot better off if we all had the faith, work ethic, and self-reliant accountability of the average Amish adult. Are there bad ones in the bunch? Sure, because they’re humans. But in our experience we’d trust the average Amish at their word more than we would the average “English”. The more this society slips downward, the more we respect the Amish, http://www.amishcabincompany.com

    12. Katrina


      I was thrilled to see mention of the Goshen paper!! I had 2 aunts that lived in Goshen for over 60 years. My siblings and I would play on the railroad tracks across the street from my aunts’ house, and we have many happy memories of doing so. Goshen is a charming small town, with a thriving and usually crowded downtown made of diverse small businesses. One of my favorite places is the Goshen Antique Mall.

      On the tiny houses, is it my imagination or does the house pictured actually have a second floor or loft area?

    13. Linda

      Amish writers

      In addition to Loren Beachy writing for The Goshen News, there are a few other Amish that also write regularly.

      -Our Iowa magazine has a column, Amish Farm Wife’s Diary. Our Iowa publishes 6 issues per year.

      -Lovina Eicher writes a weekly national newspaper column titled “The Amish Cook.” Her editor, Kevin Williams of Oasis Newsfeatures, recently changed his website name to http://www.amish365.com/

      -Millie Otto, a Budget scribe of Arthur, Illinois, writes a weekly local newspaper column, “My Amish Home.” It is in two newspapers:

      •Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, Mattoon, Illinois

      •News-Gazette, Champaign, IL