An Amish Patchwork: Indiana's Old Orders in the Modern World

An Amish Patchwork: Indiana's Old Orders in the Modern World

An Amish Patchwork: Indiana's Old Orders in the Modern World

An Amish Patchwork: Indiana's Old Orders in the Modern World

Synopsis

Indiana is home to the world's third-largest Amish population. Indiana's 19 Old Order Amish and two Old Order Mennonite communities show a surprising diversity despite all that unites them as a distinct culture. This contemporary portrait of Indiana's Amish is the first book-length overview of Amish in the state. Thomas J. Meyers and Steven M. Nolt present an overview of the beliefs and values of the Amish, their migration history, and the differences between the state's two major Amish ethnic groups (Pennsylvania Dutch and Swiss). They also talk about Indiana's Old Order Mennonites, a group too often confused with the Amish. Meyers and Nolt situate the Amish in their Indiana context, noting an involvement with Indiana's industrial economy that may surprise some. They also treat Amish interaction with state government over private schooling and other matters, and the relationship of the Amish to their neighbors and the tourist industry. This valuable introduction to the Indiana Amish deserves a place on every Hoosier's bookshelf.

Excerpt

In late November 2002, Elkhart County, Indiana, officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a newly completed stretch of road. Following timeworn tradition, a county commissioner and the county sheriff joined other civic leaders in taking a symbolic first ride down the new road—only this time, they rode in an Amish buggy.

In fact, the new road was a half-mile gravel road accessible only to nonmotorized vehicles and designed to provide Amish travelers with a safer alternative to the busy highway nearby. The road, it turned out, was a joint public-private venture, and the Amish had contributed more than $13,000 toward county construction. The Amish were eager to see the road open since it allowed safer, easier access to one of their most frequent travel destinations: the local Wal-Mart shopping complex.

This story at once confirms and confounds popular stereotypes of the Amish. As expected, the Amish continue to cling to horse-and-buggy travel in the midst of a motorized world, even when preserving this practice demands expensive or in-

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