The Swiss Amish

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The Swiss Amish: I want to thank Jodi Click for sharing some scenes that definitely put me in a nostalgic mood. The Berne, Indiana Amish settlement is unique among Amish communities for its Swiss customs.  I’ve been visiting Adams County, Indiana for almost half my life and I’ve developed an appreciation for the traditions and way of life there that are different from almost anywhere else.  For a long time it was not one of my favorite communities to visit, but with the passage of time, and as I’ve visited more and more Amish churches, I’ve developed a grudging respect for the resolute steadfastness to which these Amish hold to tradition. Signatures of the Swiss Amish include open top buggies, a Swiss dialect, different clothing styles, and a very conservative ordnung (church rules).   The dialect spoken among the Amish here is so different that an Amish person visiting a non-Swiss Amish community would have difficulty understanding one another. Elsewhere there are Swiss “daughter settlements” that share the same traditions and customs; Seymour, Missouri is the largest.  Many Amish in Seymour maintain close ties with family back in Adams County, Indiana. Milroy, Indiana is another daughter community. The Adams County, Indiana community is sprawling with close to 50 church districts patchworked across the area.  The Amish population numbers over 7000.  The rapidly increasing numbers of Amish in Adams County has led to a scarcity of land.  Where Amish farmsteads once had plenty of room to “stretch out”, it isn’t uncommon to see multiple homes crammed onto the same piece of property.  People want to stay close to home and family but there is only so much land so it leads to scenes like this.

The Amish in northern Adams County, Indiana have to deal with the increasing encroachment of Fort Wayne’s southern suburbs.  The city of Decatur also keeps growing and US 27, the main thoroughfare in the area, has been widened to accommodate additional traffic.   The southern part of the county is more rural, home to the headwaters of the meandering Wabash River.  The area is very lush and green during summer.  Seeing Jodi’s photos makes me want to get in my car and spend a summer afternoon exploring the welcoming grid of roads that criss-cross the rural southern part of the county. Scenes you’ll see include road-side honor-system produce tables selling crisp cucumbers, plump tomatoes, and fresh beans; laundry freshly flapping on lines in vivid hues of blue, green and charcoal black, well-cared for horses munching lazily in pasture, and purple-martin houses creating condos hanging in the sky for these beautiful birds. Nothing like summer scenes in Adams County, Indiana!


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The Discussion

  1. The photo of the Amish family in the buggy is wonderful. I have similar photos that I have shot through my windshield. But I still feel dishonest about photographing Amish folks instead of Amish things. I have read many times Katie Toyer’s comments on photographing the Amish, but I still am not sure that it’s really the right thing to do.

    Tom the backroads traveller

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    • I think it’s a judgment call…the above photo of the buggy from the back…There is simply no way to identify the people. I’m not sure that even the people pictured would be able to tell its them from the angle this was shot. I didn’t take this photo, but I wouldn’t have posted it if I felt it crossed a line…but there’s no “right” answer in a situation like this, I think its an individual judgement call.
      Kevin recently posted..The AmishMy Profile

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