Amish in the News
New York's Amish Population Growing Rapidly
Whitehall, New York - While it may seem surprising Whitehall has become a microcosm of the growing Amish population in New York and America, it’s really just a matter of geography.
Whitehall, which Supervisor George Armstrong estimates is home to more than 100 Amish, is the latest town in the state to host an influx of Amish and is seeing that rise as a result of growing populations to the west, both in New York and the more traditional Amish states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Amish Population by State (2014)
Settlement and district statistics were updated as of May 1, 2014. Population figures (which include adults and children) are estimates calculated by using state-sensitive averages of the estimated number of people per church district. The number of adults and children per district varies by region, community, affiliation, and age of the district; therefore, the actual number of people in a specific district or state may be higher or lower than the estimates in these tables. The national composite average per district is 136.9. The figures include all Amish groups that use horse-and-buggy transportation, but exclude car-driving groups such as the Beachy Amish and Amish Mennonites.
Facebook Tip Leads to Arrest in Hit-and-Run Crash that Injured 3 Amish in Horse-Drawn Buggy
Ischua, New York - Authorities say a tip called in by a Facebook follower led to the arrest of the motorist who was involved in a hit-and-run accident with an Amish horse-drawn buggy on a western New York road.
State police say they posted information on the July 7 crash in Cattaraugus County on Facebook and Twitter. Troopers say a Facebook user called them with information on the vehicle and driver.
That led to the arrest of a 31-year-old woman from Cuba, New York.
Man Admits to Targeting Amish and Old Order Mennonite Homes in Burglary Spree
East Earl, Pennsylvania - An East Earl man admitted to burglarizing more than a dozen local homes, most of the targets being Plain-sect properties.
Lewis B. Knight, 29, pleaded guilty to 14 burglaries in at least four eastern Lancaster County jurisdictions while supporting a drug habit earlier this year.
Most of the victims were Amish or Old Order Mennonite, according to police.
Knight pleaded to numerous felonies and misdemeanors regarding the spree that ended when his car got stuck in a victim’s driveway.
Police: Woodhull Woman Stole from Amish Residents, Church
Woodhull, New York - Police say a Woodhull woman used her position as a bank employee to defraud money from Amish individuals, businesses and the Old Order Amish Church.
Stacy L. Zeh, 42, has been charged with two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, an E felony, and one count of second-degree scheme to defraud, a misdemeanor.
Painted Post-based New York State Police say Zeh was an employee at Woodhull branch of Community Bank.
An investigation began when Amish community members noticed discrepancies in their accounts. The bank’s branch manager had begun an internal investigation into discrepancies in their own records.
Remembering my Amish Baptism
Stuarts Draft, Virginia - I was baptized at the above Stuarts Draft, Va., Amish meetinghouse on a warm Sunday morning in June, 1954 — 60 years ago. At just under 15, I was the youngest member of a baptismal class of about a half-dozen teens who gave a public witness to their faith and joined the church that day. It was a memorable experience for a 14-year-old who had always experienced church as a central part of his life and who was now received as a full-fledged fellow member of it.
I’ll never forget kneeling at the front of the congregation and having our good Bishop Simon Yoder cup water in his hands from a bowl and gently pour this sacramental sign of cleansing and commissioning on my head — “im Namen des Vaters and des Sohnes und des heiligen Geistes” — and then taking me by the hand and having me stand as a new born and newly welcomed adult member of God’s family.
Nebraskan Pleads Guilty in Buggy Crash Death Case
Pawnee City, Nebraska - A 57-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to a fatal collision with a horse-drawn buggy in southeast Nebraska.
Online court records say Vivian Cockrell, of Pawnee City, made her pleas Monday in Pawnee County District Court. She was convicted of motor vehicle homicide and misdemeanor misuse of a learner's permit.
Geauga County Amish Attacks Underscore Community's Relationship with Sheriff's Office
Middlefield, Ohio - Sheriff's deputies in Geauga County spent decades trying to form a better relationship with a segment of its community not known for its openness with law enforcement — a group who didn't readily pass information along about criminal activity and crimes committed against its members.
Fostering a mutual relationship with the Amish community in this region about 45 miles east of Cleveland took time, persuasion and anti-drug program called D.A.R.E.
"It gave us a reason to sit down with them and talk," Geauga County Sheriff's Office Lt. John Hiscox said. "Other than if you have any concerns give us a call."
Authorities Investigate Armed Robberies of Amish Buggies
Gladwin and Clare Counties, Michigan - Michigan State Police troopers from the West Branch Post, along with Gladwin and Clare county sheriff’s deputies, are investigating several armed robberies of Amish buggies.
The armed robberies and attempted armed robberies occurred in Gladwin and Clare counties between May 22 and June 4, a media release from troopers states.
Troopers first began investigating the case after the June 4 attempted robbery, which occurred about 10 p.m. along Bard Road in Gladwin County. The victim of the robbery attempt turned his buggy around and drove away when the suspect approached him. No property was stolen and no one was hurt.
Deputies Break Up Large Amish Kegger
Lisbon, Ohio - The Columbiana County sheriff's office broke up an Amish keg party in a wooded area off Myers Road Saturday night.
According to sheriff's reports, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office had contacted the department in this county at 10:17 p.m. about the party, which was reportedly in West Township. Deputies arrived and saw two Amish wagons parked over a hill and two people attempting to hide horses in the woods.
Deputies could also hear music coming from the woods and began walking toward the source. They met several people walking out toward the road and learned there were at least 80 people in the woods.
Four Arrested in Attacks Against Amish
Chardon, Ohio - The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office has arrested four people in connection with a string of attacks against the Amish.
Deputies said the masked men tried to rob two buggies along Bundysburg Road in Middlefield Township in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 22, attacking the buggies with baseball bats.
The passengers in one of the buggies suffered some minor injuries.
Shielding the Amish from Exploitation
Years ago, state police reported that a tourist visiting Lancaster County had complained because Amish farmers working a field wouldn’t pose for photos. Apparently the tourist thought the Amish were akin to the costumed interpreters of Colonial Williamsburg.
So are you surprised that millions of TV viewers apparently think “Amish Mafia” is real? Or “Breaking Amish?” Or, more recently, “Return to Amish?”
Amish culture is having a moment in the national consciousness. A bad moment, measured by standards of truth and authenticity. And local filmmaker Mary Haverstick has had enough. She’s organizing opposition among the Amish community’s English neighbors to what she calls “Amish-sploitation.”
Man Admits to Smoking Meth before Transporting Amish Passengers
Buffalo, Wisconsin - One man is in Buffalo County Jail after admitting to a Sheriff's Deputy that he smoked meth before driving a group of Amish passengers to Iowa.
The Buffalo County Sheriff's Department says 36-year-old Trenton Alan Anderson was driving a passenger van carrying 16 people from an Amish community to Cresco, Iowa when the van was pulled over for not having a functioning headlight.
Once the van was pulled over, the Deputy determined that Anderson may be impaired and contacted the K9 unit for assistance. The K9 detected the presence of a controlled substance in the van, and after a search, a baggy of methamphetamine and three meth pipes were found in Anderson's backpack.
Mondovi Man Found Guilty of Sexual Assault of a Child
Pepin County, Wisconsin - A Mondovi man pleaded no contest and was found guilty of two counts of 1st degree sexual assault of a child.
52-year-old Herman Nissley made the plea Monday in Pepin County court.
Investigators say in January, Nissley stood up in church and told the congregation he inappropriately touched a girl and exposed himself.
Lumber Industry has Deep Roots in Holmes County, and Ohio
Berlin, Ohio - When people drive through the rural communities of Holmes County, Ohio, they typically notice the farms, the Amish, the tourist shops, and the restaurants.
But, there’s another cluster of activity that’s growing and maturing, and it’s taking place out in the woods — inside nearly one-third of the county that is forested, and inside hundreds of sawmills and wood shops, retail and manufacturing centers.
That cluster, in its broadest form, is the lumber and timber industry. And in it’s narrowest form, it’s the three main products made from timber: lumber, furniture and wood pulp.
Mumps Outbreak Prompts Governor's Executive Order
Columbus, Ohio - A statewide measles and mumps outbreak leads the governor to issue an executive order. Local pharmacists can now give the MMR vaccine to anyone 18 years or older without a prescription.
An Amish community in central Ohio is thought to have started the outbreak of measles after two members of the community came back from a mission trip to the Philippines and got sick. Health officials believe they spread the disease throughout Knox County. That, on top of an ongoing mumps outbreak at the Ohio State University, lead to the governor's decision.
The current measles outbreak is the largest outbreak of the disease in the U.S. since 1994.
When Good People Disagree: The Case of the Amish and State Building Codes
Eau Claire County, Wisconsin - “We want to protect our religious convictions against modern technology and preserve the Heritage our Forefathers handed down on us and our children,” the man from Springfield Township recently wrote me.
“We live a humble life, therefore we also want humble houses to live in,” he wrote.
He explained he didn’t hire contractors, install electrical wiring, bathrooms, septic mounds, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. He asked me to exempt his Amish community members from the state building codes.
“Our Desire is to be good neighbors and live in Peace with our non-Amish neighbors.”
In the summer of 1963, David Wagler and Joseph Stoll, two Amish farmers, were threshing oats in a field close to Aylmer, Ont. They reflected on the need for more literature that spoke to the interests and concerns of their Old Order community. So in January 1964, the two men joined with Jacob Eicher to establish Pathway Publishers. Now, 50 years later, Pathway has become one of the most successful publishing houses in the Anabaptist-Mennonite world.
In its early years, Pathway focused on developing readers for use in Amish grade schools. Pathway continues to sell thousands of copies of its readers — along with a host of other titles — not only to the Amish, but to a growing number of homeschool associations and others interested in a plain lifestyle.
8th-grade Ceremony is End of Schooling for Amish
Emma, Indiana - Westview Junior/Senior High School held its eighth grade completion ceremony Tuesday.
Two hundred thirteen students received their completion certificate in the gymnasium during a recognition program in front of friends, fellow junior high students and family.
According to junior high Principal Randy Miller, approximately half of the students who completed eighth grade will not attend high school.
"Around 100 kids will leave this building," he told The Goshen News.
Many of those students are of the Amish faith, who do not usually continue schooling past eighth grade.
Optimists, Community Rally to Support Amish Families
Norwich Township, Ontario - Two recent tragedies left the Amish community in Norwich Township mourning the loss of two of their own.
The deaths of 3-year-old Alvin Miller to cancer just a few weeks ago and 15-year-old John Miller to a horse accident last Thursday have left their families in need of support, and thanks to the Norwich Optimists and the people of the township, that’s exactly what they’re getting.
The Optimist Club held its annual plant and bake sale Saturday morning, but this year they made the decision to donate the proceeds from the event to the family of the Alvin Miller to help offset the cost of the boy’s treatments.
Young Amish Sample Drugs Along with the Rest of 'English' Life
Dundee, Ohio - In the spring, this small village of 300 more than quadruples in size when nearly 1,500 young adults and teenagers — many of them Amish — arrive to participate in a series of parties at which children as young as 14 abuse drugs, according to local law enforcement.
Many of the youth are taking part in Rumspringa, a period in which young Amish experience “the English way” before deciding whether or not they will join the church, said Tuscarawas County Chief Deputy Sheriff Orvis Campbell.
About a dozen sheriff’s deputies joined Campbell recently in a targeted-enforcement effort, which resulted in three arrests, including charges of possession of and trafficking in cocaine.
Sheriff: Man Drowned while Fishing
Dundee, Ohio - A 22-year-old Dalton-area man apparently drowned while fishing Saturday in the backwaters of Beach City Dam, about three miles north of Dundee.
Tuscarawas County Sheriff Walt Wilson identified the victim as Benny Zook, who would have turned 23 today. “There were no signs of foul play,” Wilson said. “He had a history of seizures and was on medication for them.”
Zook and his three brothers were among a large group of Amish men who arrived by horse-drawn buggies at about 8 a.m. Saturday at the site off Kaylor Road NW, Beach City, Wilson said.
Man Who Promised Cures For Amish Heads To Prison
Urbana, Illinois - A man who told Illinois Amish families he could cure ailments by applying what he called a “wellness vibrator” to their necks is headed to prison.
The Decatur Herald & Review reports that Lonnie Lynch Jr. of Florida will serve a one-year sentence for tax evasion and operating a medical device not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
U.S. Attorney Ronda Coleman says patients told her the electric-powered device felt like a jack hammer hitting their backs and necks.
Amish Man Arrested for Allegedly Molesting 8 Children
WasWashington Township, Pennsylvania - An Amish man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after State Police said he allegedly molested eight children.
Troopers arrested John Beiler, 47, from Allenwood in Union County.
Authorities said Beiler molested five girls and three boys in Washington over a 15-year period ending in 2012.
The victims ranged in age from an infant to children in their teens.hington Township, PennsylvaniaMore
'English-Amish Conflict' Flares up in Pequea Township
A property owner knowingly violated several ordinances and ignored a written notice on April 3, according to Pequea Township's zoning officer.
And when the board of supervisors decided to give Elam Stoltzfus one more chance on May 21, several neighbors on Stoney Lane protested the decision, saying the township was showing favoritism based on his Amish heritage.
Stoltzfus violated the township's horse-boarding requirements, zoning officer Mark Deimler explained. The ordinance dictates the size and location of a stable or other outbuilding based on factors such as lot size.
At some point, Stoltzfus also installed a bridge over a stream without a permit — another violation.
Midsized Farms Getting Squeezed Out in Northeast Indiana
Indiana - It's an industry with shrinking participation but growing revenue of more than a half-billion dollars in northeast Indiana.
Welcome to the big business of farming. And going big may be the best bet of surviving — unless you can find a niche.
It's an industry with a shifting size range, according to the latest farm census data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The number of midsized farms, those that range from 180 to 499 acres, has shrunk dramatically over the last 25 years. In 1987, farm census data reported a combined 680 such farms in DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties. In 2012, that number had shrunk to 318, a decrease of 53.2 percent.
Amish Leave Pa. in Search of Greener, Less Touristy Pastures
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - Rolling pastures dotted with grazing cows, fields of corn and classic buggies driven by Amish in hats and bonnets — these are the images that attract visitors to Lancaster County, home to more than 30,000 of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Visitors who also bring big money to the state — to the tune of nearly $1.8 billion a year. Which explains why the winning bumper sticker in a contest sponsored by Pennsylvania's Tourism Office didn't feature the Liberty Bell or the battlefield in Gettysburg — but rather, "I Break for Shoofly Pie," an ode to the traditional Amish dessert.
But pictures can be deceiving, and the office of tourism — indeed the entire state — has reason to worry. The Amish, with their emphasis on family, hard work and simplicity, have drawn hordes of tourists but also an influx of residents, malls, roads and housing developments. The upshot? Swaths of farmland have been lost, and many Amish are now choosing to give up farming or are leaving the state to pursue quieter surrounding and cheaper land.
JUDGE: “Amish Mafia” Character Jailed 3 Months for 10th Driving-Under-Suspension Charge
A character from the hit television series “Amish Mafia” will serve three months in prison for his 10th driving-under-suspension charge.
John Schmucker, a leading character on the Discovery Channel series, will report to Lancaster County Prison on June 27, according to his attorney.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely ordered the prison sentence Wednesday morning, three months after Schmucker, 29, appealed a district judge’s sentence.
Cell Phones, Computers More and More Part of Lancaster County Amish's Real World
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - Aaron, an Amish small business owner in Lancaster County, uses computer software for his bookkeeping and exchanges e-mails with customers to nail down jobs.
He uses a digital camera to keep photos of job sites on file. He and his foremen, also Amish, stay in touch on their cell phones.
“You want to do business with the modern world, you’re going to have to run behind them to a certain extent,” he says.
3-year-old Boy Run Over by Amish Buggy in Middlefield Injured
Middlefield, Ohio - The Geauga County Sheriff's Office has confirmed a 3-year-old boy was run over by an Amish buggy Wednesday afternoon in Middlefield.
The boy sustained injuries from the accident and is being transported by life flight from University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. It is unknown, at this time, where the boy is being taken to.
No further details were given on this story.