WTHI-TV in Terre Haute aired a two-part series this week that sort of raises more questions than answers. Finding Amish people willing to appear on camera is a rarity – not an impossibility – but a rarity. So the media often end up focusing on ex-Amish or people sort of on the edges (think TLC’s “Breaking Amish”) and I think that is probably what happened in this case. The Terre Haute TV station probably wanted to do a story about the Amish, but couldn’t find any takers, so they focused on this ex-Amish family. It still provides an interesting story, but probably somewhat skewed.
The reporter says that “a few Amish families” live in Parke County, Indiana. Actually, there are more than a few, there are dozens – scores – that now call Parke County, Indiana home. The community started in the mid-90s by Amish who came from SE Pennsylvania seeking cheaper land and more room. The settlement has thrived since then with many businesses and even a produce auction. Not a lot of information is given in the story about the Fisher family, but it seems as if they wanted to take a more evangelical direction than the more subdued mainstream Amish and they’ve paid a price. But since we don’t know, it’s just a guess. The piece does mention that the family spent time in the “mountains of Virginia” before coming to Indiana, which I take to mean Pearisburg, Virginia. Pearisburg is a unique, intriguing Amish settlement. I really like it there, but there have been divisions and splits within that group, perhaps the Fishers got caught up in that?