10 posts categorized "Nebraska Amish (ultraconservative group)"

August 14, 2009

Lancaster visit; Ohio Nebraska Amish


Just checking in having returned from Poland--feet planted firmly in the good old USA and enjoying the wonders of nacho cheese and air conditioning once again.  Other than that, am finishing up the final draft of the Amish business book among other things, which I'm afraid has made for slim pickings on the blog lately.  After that is squared away am looking forward to some (more regular) posting. 

And looking forward to a trip next week to Lancaster County.  More posts to come then.

In the meantime, another blurry photo I've attempted to salvage--this of a Nebraska Amish community located in Northeastern Ohio.

November 07, 2008

Nebraska Amish buggy

Nebraska Amish buggy
Nebraska Amish buggies are among the simplest.  In the photo you can notice the lack of a back window, the open front, and roll-up canvas sides.  The back canvas can also be opened and rolled up to let a nice breeze through.  The hook visible on the right holds a small lamp for night visibility.

October 24, 2008

Nebraska Amish schoolhouse

Nebraska Amish school house Big Valley

September 26, 2008

Comparing Big Valley buggy 'dashboards' of the Byler, Renno, and Nebraska Amish

Big Valley, Pennsylvania is home to three main Amish groups--the Byler Amish, Renno Amish, and Nebraska Amish

Big Valley buggy Byler Renno Amish
They're often known by the color of their buggies--yellow, black, and white, respectively.

Byler Amish buggy dashboard Big Valley
The somewhat fancy dash of a Byler Amish buggy.  Yes, those are keys hanging on the right.  You've got to start the horse somehow.

Byler Amish buggy cigarette lighter Big Valley
Some Amish smoke.  So this comes in handy.  Also for recharging the iPod.

Renno Amish buggy dashboard Big Valley
This Renno buggy has a plainer dashboard.  Switches operate battery-powered lighting.

Nebraska and Byler Amish buggies Big Valley Pennsylvania
Nebraska buggies really don't have a dash, or anything like the enclosed front that the other types do.  So bring a blankie if you catch a ride on a chilly day.

Also:  Brown buggies-read about the Amish of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, a group with roots in Big Valley.

September 10, 2008

Patiently waiting

Amish auction big valley

From today's auction in Belleville, Pennsylvania. 

December 16, 2007

Buggy-friendly America

Across America in places where the Amish have set up shop, local businesses and government authorities have had to adapt some practices to accomodate the preferred Amish mode of transportation. 


Traffic Jam off County Road 77 in Holmes County, Ohio

Sometimes an Amish group showing up in an area can lead to disputes with locals over horse mess or hoof damage on roads.  The smarter businesses, or at least those that hope to attract more Amish customers, usually get a hitching post up in front as soon as possible to make themselves buggy-friendly.


Wal-Mart in Millersburg, Ohio

Road signs warn drivers of the presence of buggies.  The designs of such signs are specific to state and even individual community.  Stephen Scott's Plain Buggies contains photographs outlining the differences in buggy warning-sign design in states such as Ohio, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.  Generally they all consist of black silhouettes on a yellow background, but with different artists' renditions of the vehicle.  Why the difference?  Perhaps due to the fact that they are maintained by state and local authorities rather than a federal body which might be expected to produce more uniform signage.


New Bedford, Ohio

In certain Amish communities, such as that of Allen County, Indiana, the buggy silhouette on local signs is a crude approximation of a topless carriage, as Allen County Amish use only this type.   


New Wilmington, Pennsylvania

Most Amish conform to law by utilizing some form of reflectorized material or lighting to warn drivers of their presence.  Most find this to be a sensible compromise--they allow their transportation to be adorned with a man-made symbol, yet benefit from increased safety, while promoting the safety of car-drivers as well. 


Swartzentruber Amish, Wayne County, Ohio

Interestingly, the Swartzentrubers are among the only groups which refuse to use the familiar slow-moving vehicle triangle, while the 'white-top buggy' Nebraska Amish, considered by some to be the most conservative of all Amish, choose to use the triangle.  The Swartzentrubers have been criticized for this not only by outsiders but by higher-order Amish as well. 


Nebraska Amish, Northeast Ohio

At night, bicycle riders will often trail directly behind buggies to benefit from the safety offered by the buggy's size and blinker system.  Some of these buggies are extremely well lit up.  Yet lights are not a foolproof measure of protection.


Holmes County, Ohio

I recall stopping my truck at dusk to offer help to an Allen County, Indiana family whose battery had gone out.  I had barely seen their darkened open carriage and suggested that I drive behind them to give them a little bit of protection until they reached home.  They kindly refused, as apparently they were already near their destination, and the road was just a secondary gravel road.  Good it wasn't a main one.


Near New Wilmington, Pennsylvania

Despite driver awareness, lighting and reflectors, buggies are still frequently involved in accidents with automobiles.  I've had a few close calls myself.  The trickiest thing is underestimating the speed at which they travel. 

Buggy lights appear quite similar to car lights--which is good and bad--good, as you realize that something is there, bad in that you often expect whatever it is to be traveling as fast as a car, until you realize that it's not a car at all.

September 28, 2007

Ohio's Nebraska Amish


Many people have seen photos of the fairly well-known 'white-top buggy' Amish.  This group is based mainly in Pennsylvania's diverse Big Valley region.  They are most commonly known as the Nebraska Amish, named after a Nebraska-based bishop who helped the group get started in the late 1800's .  Referred to by Steven Nolt as 'the most conservative of all Old Orders', they are also called the 'Old School Amish'.

Not everyone knows that there is a tiny community of Nebraska Amish separate from the main group, located just over the border in Ohio.


Curiously, despite being considered by many to be even more conservative than the Swartzentrubers, this particular group uses the SMV (Slow-Moving Vehicle) signs on the backs of their buggies, something the 'Swartzies' (as my higher-order Amish friends call them) staunchly refuse to do. 

Bill Coleman's photos of Nebraskans in PA show that some use the SMV while others don't.  This particular bunch also has some fairly modern-looking signage, advertising their home businesses.  Swartzentruber signs, say those advertising baskets or produce for sale, are usually more primitive looking, scrawled out by hand.


John Hostetler says there are three different affiliations of Nebraska Amish in Mifflin County, PA.  Perhaps this is a slightly more progressive bunch.  Unfortunately, being a brief visit, late on a Sunday, I did not have a chance to talk to anyone here. 

I do have an acquaintance among the New Order Amish of Holmes County who used to live in this community.  He seems glad to be out of it.  The New Order's big sticking point with many lower-order affiliations is the focus on tradition over 'truth'.  The New Order criticizes lower orders for allowing things like tobacco and immoral dating practices.  They also believe strongly in assurance of salvation, a belief, truth be told, also showing up in some Old Order groups, but generally not. 

April 19, 2007

Amish technology and 'friendliness'


Diversity in the Amish world is a common theme in this blog.  Ever wonder how different Amish groups use technology?

Judging by the chart, it can be seen that the most conservative groups include the Swartzentruber Amish, Nebraska Amish, and the Amish of Buchanan County, Iowa (the three of which Amish historian Steven Nolt groups together under the ultraconservative label, referring to the Buchanan group in particular once being seen as 'almost a conservative conscience within the larger Old Order world), as well as certain segments of the Adams County, Indiana settlement.

Often within the same settlement, there will be differences in what is allowed.  For example, in the northern Indiana settlement, churches on the west side of the community allow gas-powered lawnmowers, while those on the east tend to stick with those old-time rotating-blade pushmowers.

Holmes County, Ohio is a very diverse Anabaptist area.  Donald Kraybill says that there are nine distinct Amish groups living in this, the largest of all Amish settlements.  The four most significant, in order of increasing conservatism, are the New Order, Old Order, Andy Weaver Church, and the Swartzentrubers. 

Speaking from experience, I have found that this gauge of openness to technology is also a fairly good gauge of how open the Amish groups are to contact with outsiders. 

For instance, in Holmes County, I generally found it much easier to approach members of the Old and New Order churches.  People from those churches were fairly open and talkative.  I got a slightly colder though not unpleasant reception from Andy Weaver members, but found it most difficult to connect with people from the Swartzentruber districts.  Members of 'lower churches', as they're called, just seemed a bit less open to outsiders, or at least to me.

The Amish in Arthur, Illinois, Nappanee, Indiana, or Kalona, Iowa, compare to the Holmes County Old and New Orders in my personal experience on the 'approachability scale'.  Of course it all comes down to the individual, but as you meet a lot of people in a specific settlement, general patterns seem to emerge.


The chart, by the way, is from this site, which takes it from Stephen Scott and Kenneth Pellman's book, Living Without Electricity.  Scott is a member of a group somewhat related to the Amish, the Old Order River Brethren, and has written a number of informative, concise works on the cultural practice of various Plain groups, including Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites, such as Plain Buggies, and Why Do They Dress That Way?  Highly recommended.

April 11, 2007

Randall Persing Amish Photos

Following up the great Amish photos from Bill Coleman last week, here is a new, no-less impressive batch from Randall Persing.

Randy says that he feels fortunate to have developed friendships with the Amish.  This also allows him to freely move about the community, attend events, and document Amish life. 

Like Bill Coleman, Randy has been able to photograph perhaps the most conservative of all Amish subgroups:  the Nebraska Amish, of 'Big Valley', Pennsylvania (click here to learn why Amish living in PA are called 'Nebraska').

Here's a shot of some Nebraska women at a wedding:


Nebraskans are unique in their use of white-top carriages: 


Like Swartzentruber Amish, Nebraska Amish forgo the orange triangle and lighting systems that most Amish use, opting instead for old-style lanterns.  This has been controversial, even among the Amish--some of the more mainstream buggy-driving Old Orders find it a bit odd.

Amish carriages come in other colors too.  Here are a couple of yellow-top Byler Church Amish buggies, also found in the very diverse 'Big Valley' region.

Thanks again to Randy for sharing his work with us.  See more of it here.

Bonusclick to view 'Amish in the jungle' and South America's Old Colony Mennonites, photos courtesy of our Spanish photographer friend Jordi Busque.

Bonus 2(!):  I couldn't resist:


March 08, 2007

The Old School

The Nebraska Amish find themselves on the ultraconservative edge of Amish society.

'Nebraska' is something of a misnomer, however.  This group is found mainly in Mifflin County, PA, in the diverse 'Big Valley' region. 

The Nebraska tag comes from the origin of the group's founding bishop, Yost H. Yoder.


John Hostetler's Amish Society describes some defining cultural characteristics for the Nebraska group.

Men wear 'William Penn'-style shoulder-length hair, no suspenders or belts, and brown denim pants and vests.

Women wear black head kerchiefs (bonnets are taboo), flat Alsatian-peasant-inspired hats for field work, and the longest dresses of all Amishwomen. 

Lawnmowers, window screens, carpets and curtains are off limits.

Hostetler explains that Nebraska barns go unpainted, as do most of the homes.

An old world practice followed by the Nebraskans, also known as the 'Old School' Amish, is the funeral custom of sweet bread, wine, and cheese. 

Finally, the most easily visible defining characteristic of the group is the transportation.  The Nebraska Amish drive the conspicuous 'white-top' buggies, a perennial favorite of Amish photographers.

View some great photos of a Nebraska wedding at Bill Coleman's site.   

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