Sunday, May 29, 2011

Southern Indiana Amish

Southern Indiana Amish

Southern Indiana has some of the most beautiful farmland in the country. And where there are good farms you will usually find the Amish. While visiting in this area we visited the Gasthof Amish Village for a remarkable lunch. Their 92 acres include a hotel, a restaurant, antiques and craft shops, and access to a 25 acre lake.

When we arrived it was sprinkling, and first stopped at a building with things from yesteryears. Because of our hunger, we viewed this building but for a short few minutes and moved over to where the restaurant was.

The large buffet with the authentic Amish recipes prepared by Amish women was fantastic and worth the trip. The meal is served in a rustic building, constructed by Amish carpenters in traditional mortise-tenon joints and pegs style, using Indiana oak and poplar timber. Their bakery had fresh homemade pies, bread, noodles, cookies and cakes every day.

The gift shop has locally produced Amish crafts and food. And the lodging and meeting facilities offered a distinctive banquet and retreat space for most any kind of group.

A visit here will give you the experience of a blend of Amish history and heritage found only at Gasthof Amish Village.

Amish tradition is alive and well in the growing Amish community of Daviess County, Indiana. Theirs is a story of tradition and faith; of family and time-honored values, with roots running deep into the very soil that sustains them.

The young Amish girl who waited on us told us that just north of the village were at many Amish homes, farms and businesses. She gave us a map of many in the area. After leaving we decided that we would drive into this area and to our amazement saw many buggies and men working in the fields.

We also found a store owned by an old order Amish family with many Amish coming in to buy. This was a very interesting experience as we assimilated it with people of another culture.

Many Amish consider themselves to be of the Anabaptist religion, a group which participated in the Christian reformation. Originating from the teachings of Menno Simmons of the Mennonite faith, the Amish parted ways with the Mennonites in the 17th century.

The history of the Amish in this area is very interesting and I will share some of the things I learned. An Amish gentleman at the store and I struck up a conversation, whose his name was Wagler, which is a common name in this area. History reveals that Eli Wagler, an Amish preacher in Daviess County, holds fast to his Amish roots and is considered a kind of historian of this community. “The Amish grew out of the Anabaptist religion,” said Wagler. “We believe in a simple life; we have little use for the modern technology and conveniences used outside of our community.” He added that the Amish school of thought also promotes the separation of church and state, and dictates standards regarding clothing and method of worship.

According to Wagler, ancestors of Daviess County’s original Amish settlers came from Canada to settle in Northern Indiana in the early 19th century. In this 20 square mile area is now home to some 7,000 Amish people living a mostly Old Order Amish life. Names like Stoll, Graber and Wagler are common in the community and they can trace their ancestors back to France, Switzerland and other areas of Europe in the 19th century and earlier. However, another lady of whom I conversed said she was Mennonite and not Old Order. Only the color of her dress and prayer covering was different.

Amish families observe a strict adherence to not conducting business on Sunday. Church services are held in different Amish homes twice monthly and use a liturgy that is centuries old. Along with churches and businesses, Amish schools are scattered about the community to serve its educational needs. Students study in private Amish schools through the eighth grade. The Amish of Daviess County treasure their German heritage, with German often the first language learned by many Amish children.

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” -Isaiah 58:12 (KJV)