The truth about the Amish


Rachel Gortney, Staff Writer

“Today we will be discussing the Amish communities,” my third-grade teacher said. 

All heads turned to look at me. That day in my third-grade class I was the center of attention.

My mother was the second oldest of eight children, and was raised Amish. Growing up I was surrounded by the Amish community and I have always been vocal about it. I have been asked numerous questions about the Amish, normally misconceptions and myths. So, here is the truth about the Amish. 

My family visits my grandma usually every Saturday, we pull into the long gravel driveway that leads to her house. My aunt Velma and uncle Wayne live right next door on the same property. 

They have two barns, one mainly for horses and sheep, the other for the chickens. There are fields behind the houses that are used to plant corn and oats. 

We sit and visit at my grandmother’s house having tea or cookies as we discuss what has been happening with each other. There is not any electricity in my grandmother’s house. But it varies between each community. Things such as refrigerators and ovens run on natural gas. There is a furnace, powered by natural gas, but no air conditioning besides the windows.

Amish people do not use electricity since they believe they are called by God to stand apart from the world.

Many Christians believe they are different from the world but the Amish go to the extent to ensure they are out of society. Which includes, not using electricity, simple lifestyles, and how they dress.

One typical sign that a woman is Amish in her bonnet. 

The, typically, white circular head covering is taken from 1 Corinthians 11:6, which states that a woman must cover her hair or cut it, but it is disgraceful for women to cut their hair. 

Different Christian ideologies take this verse in different ways, but the Amish take it to mean women should cover their hair.

When I am with my Amish family I’m not expected to cover my hair or wear the traditional dress, out of respect I always wear a dress or skirt that falls past my knees. 

Since I was not born or baptized into the Amish church I am not required to dress as they do. I do have old dresses and bonnets that belonged to my cousins but just for keepsakes. 

Plus I absolutely adore dresses, especially vintage ones and being able to wear the dresses on the farm makes me feel like I am in one of the Lousia May Alcott novels sitting on the shelf in the living room.

Since the Amish do not have television, the majority of entertainment is found in the newspapers and books, books are often the topic of conversation. Which was no different for my family. 

My grandpa passed away from COVID last year, but some of my earliest memories are the times he would tell me about the Civil War. He was an avid reader and history lover, two attributes I very clearly inherited from him. 

He loved helping people and when he was drafted in the Vietnam War instead of opting out of service completely, since the Amish are pacifists and do not believe in violence or war, he worked as a hospital orderly. 

The Amish community is built around just that, helping others. After my grandfather passed away I was sent cards and letters from people I have never met that knew my grandpa to share their condolences. 

My grandmother was sent food and flowers after his funeral, and many people visited her to ensure she was doing well under the circumstances. 

My grandparents were married for 50 years and had eight children. My grandma stayed home and took care of their children and home which is normal in Amish communities.

 My grandpa worked as a carpenter and when I was growing up he would often take my dad and I to his shop on their property to show us what he was working on. 

He started working, like most Amish kids, after school was done. Which was eighth grade. 

Some Amish go on to own businesses, which is where a lot of confusion starts with the idea of cell phones. Of course, this changes throughout communities, but one of my uncles owns his own business, so to ensure clients can reach him he has a cell phone. He has a phone out of necessity. 

Which is similar to the idea of drivers. Usually, they use a horse and buggy to travel, but some distances are too far for the horse. Drivers are often called if that is the case. An English, or Non-Amish, person would pick them up out of necessity.

Growing up in that environment gave me some of my most cherished memories. Running through the woods with my cousins, riding the pony cart on Christmas, playing ghost in the graveyard until midnight, and so many more moments that defined my childhood. That life has always been known to me, but to so many it is misunderstood. 

The Amish are a truly lovely and honorable people, and I am privileged to say I have experienced their way of life firsthand.