Hard Work, Plain Living
the Amish in Crittenden County is like taking a step back
in time. They have no telephones or electricity and use
horses and buggies for transportation
you visit, you will see their meticulous care of the land,
their craftsmanship in cabinet and furniture making, along
with their artistry in handmade quilts and other crafts.
The Amish and Mennonites
were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe,
which took place at the time of the Reformation. The Anabaptists
(late baptizers) believed that only adults who had confessed
their faith should be baptized, and that they should remain
separate from the larger society. Both Catholics and Protestants
put many early Anabaptists to death as heretics, and many
others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern
Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of self-sufficient
farming and home-based worship services.
In 1536, a young Catholic
priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the
Anabaptist movement. His writings and leadership united
many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites."
In 1693, a Swiss bishop
named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church.
His followers were called the "Amish." Although
the two groups have split several times, the Amish and
Mennonite churches still share the same beliefs concerning
baptism, non-resistance, and basic Bible doctrines. They
differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form
of worship, and interpretation of the Bible.
The Amish and Mennonites
both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's
"holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The
first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County
in the 1720s. In 1824, they declared themselves separate
from the home church in Europe.
first Amish settlement in Crittenden County was established
in 1977. At present the Amish population has grown to
almost 400 residents.
click HERE for a map of
the local Amish area. [ requires Adobe Acrobat or Reader.]
here for a recent article in Kentucky Living
Amish people in Crittenden County have four local church
districts. A church district is a group of about 30
families usually living close together. Church services
are usually held every second Sunday in members' homes.
They take turns hosting the services. The host family
prepares lunch and supper for the entire group on Saturday,
since sabbath rules forbid cooking on Sunday.
Services are in German,
and may last three hours. No musical instruments are used.
The first floor rooms are usually separated by a divider
that can be opened when the family is hosting church for
their district, or is having a family wedding or funeral.
local community has four bishops and several ministers.
Church members select candidates to be ministers, deacons,
and bishops. These candidates select a book from a pile.
If the book has a sheet of paper in it, that person is
"chosen" and then ordained.
Amish follow the Ordnung, or "order" of discipline based on the Bible. Violation of the Ordnung
can lead to meidung, shunning or excommunication,
and introduced in 1897.(This is based on Matthew 18:15-17;
Romans 16:17; and 1 Corinthians 5:11.) Other Amish, including
spouse, children, or parents, will no longer speak to
an excommunicated member. As extreme as this sounds, the
shun is lifted as soon as the member makes a confession
of their wrongdoing.
community has six schools and uses Amish teachers. Presently,
they have five female and one male teacher. Students attend
school through the 8th grade. German is spoken in their
homes. Most children do not begin to learn English until
they start to school. People who speak English at home
are called "the English," but the term is also
applied to any non-Amish or non-Mennonite
men and boys wear dark suits, coats without lapels,
suspenders, black pants, white or plain colored pastel
shirts, black shoes, and black or straw-brimmed hats.
Their hair is worn full and cut at the collar line. Amish
men shave until baptism, then let their beards grow (marriage
usually follows shortly after baptism). Mustaches are
forbidden because of their historical association with
the military. As pacifists, the Amish do not believe in
taking part in war.
women and girls do not cut their hair, but wear it
parted in the middle and rolled severely back from the
face. It is then twisted into a bun at the nape of the
neck. A white organdy prayer veil called a "kapp" covers the back and top of the head. When going out the
women put on a large black bonnet and shawl. No one wears
Amish woman is a worker, a child bearer, and a companion
to her husband, family, and neighbors. She and her husband
eat three meals a day together. She has a family to tend,
but they share her responsibilities. Most farms are co-owned
by both husband and wife. The woman may make household
purchases, bid at auctions, and write checks to pay bills.
In church, although not given any leadership responsibilities,
she may vote and make nominations.
The Amish don't use middle
names, but with the increase in government paperwork,
they now use middle initials. Usually the the first initial
of the father's name is given as a middle initial for
their children's names. This is done out of respect for
the father. The Mennonites, on the other hand, use the
first letter of the mother's maiden name.
"Rumspringen" a time of "running around," encourages Amish youth to see a little of the 'English' world before making
an informed decision to join the church. During this time, a young man may decorate his carriage and harness with chrome or white ornaments, drawing attention from the young ladies.
Youth enter adulthood when they make a formal confession of their faith, receive baptism, and make a lifetime vow
of obedience to the Ordnung. At this time, young men stop shaving their beards to show they have accepted
is often postponed until just before marriage, since it's required for marriage. An Amish wedding service lasts
approximately 3 1/2 hours. After the ceremony, a huge feast is served for as many as 400 people.
Many Amish believe that, if the church is faithful to its calling, government programs
and commercial insurance are not needed. That conviction forced them to testify before Congress because they did
not want to receive Social Security benefits. They wanted the right to look after their own elderly. They were given
approval, if self-employed, to be exempt from paying the tax. They do not object to paying income tax, real estate,
county, and sales tax.
The Amish grow most of
their food. The women can vegetables, meat, and relishes.
Most make their own bread and noodles. Staples are purchased
from local grocery stores.
Though known today for buggies, the Amish originally didn't even use these. The first documented use of wheeled vehicles among the plain people was in the Lancaster, PA area when Mr. Christian Zimmerman was allowed the privilege of wheeled travel around 1800 because he
could not ride horseback with his excessive weight. It was considered too cruel to the horse!
vehicles at first did not have tops. The first buggies were documented as having white tops. They changed to black tops in the 1840's. One group in Pennsylvania
still using the white tops, others use gray, brown, or yellow. In Kentucky, however, all districts use black tops.
districts did not allow "storm fronts" (windshields)
until the 1900s.
Please do not take pictures of Amish people's faces. Please respect this request from the Amish people. They consider it an invasion of privacy.
Do not visit the Amish on Sunday, as it is their day of worship.
Items made by the Amish are sold in home shops. They do not participate in shows or fairs.
Questions? E-mail us, we'll be glad to answer! Amish@MarionKentucky.US
Sharing the Road with The Amish: Horse-Drawn Safety!