The Amish in Minnesota




tour bishop country (2)
govern order (3) conservative
allow look like refrigeration
crafts conform take pride
pride specialize convenience
rather harmony rather not
avoid separate graven image
vanity tractor recognizable
image plumbing Ten Commandments
bill (2) sink (2) permanent
wood iron (2) running water
sew sameness drying rack
yep upstairs bed frame
buggy catch up impressed
afford kerosene keep up with the Joneses
diesel preserve generations to come
county furniture craftsman
sew spot (2) stay away
shaft chore (2) modern conveniences
hectic sun sets I up to my neck
v-belt grow up horsepower
gather plain (2) one of a kind
oak socialize high quality
local dresser close a sale
get up sand (2) grade (2)
carry consume do the dishes
stuff yard (2) homemaker






The first light of a new day brings life to Amish country.

Rich Bishop, Amish Tours of Harmony: “The Amish in Harmony are what they consider Old Order Amish. They are very conservative, some of the most conservative in the United States: they do not have telephones; they do not have refrigeration; they are not allowed to work in town on a permanent basis.”

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “We’re trying to keep it simple. I guess we’re trying to just have a quieter life, and more of a family life.”

Dennis takes pride in being a good husband, father and craftsman.

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “It’s not hard work.”

He says his community knows they need to live in the world, but not conform to the English world.

Dennis: “Some of those conveniences bring other things into our lives that we would rather not have.”

Rich Bishop, Amish Tours of Harmony: “Because there’s unwritten rules called Ordnung that govern the Amish’s life so they follow those rules in order to keep the community separate from the outside world.”

To avoid vanity, the Amish believe they shouldn’t drive cars or tractors, have electricity or plumbing. And most don’t allow pictures with recognizable faces.

Rich Bishop, Amish Tours of Harmony: “That comes from the Ten Commandments, where it says “You shall have no graven image before me.”

And they feel that if we’re made in God’s image, having an image of us is the same as having an image of God, so they do not have any pictures; they don’t know what their grand, great-grandparents look like.”

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “It’s what I did all my life. That’s the way I grew up. And I don’t think of it as something special.”

Rich Bishop: “They do have a sink that has cold running water, but that is the only sink in the house. They do not of course have any other indoor plumbing.”

Journalist: “No electricity?”

Rich Bishop: “No electricity.”

Journalist: “So this is their stove and what they cook off. And what is different about their stove?”

Rich Bishop: “It’s all wood burning. All their heating and cooking is done with wood. It heats their irons for their ironing. It’s the center of not only their kitchen but their home.”

And after a long day’s work, the family will gather in the living room to relax, sew and socialize.

Rich Bishop: “Yep, all the Amish households will have a drying rack above their stoves. Some will have them in the kitchen, as well as in their living room.

The bedrooms are all upstairs — that’s the only thing that’s upstairs, the bedrooms. They’re usually four to six to seven bedrooms in the house, especially for the larger families, they want to be as plain and simple as they can.

Sameness is very important to the Amish, whether it’s the clothing whether it’s their buggies that they use, the houses that they build. They don’t believe that anyone should be better than anyone else.

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “Maybe that keeps us from wanting to be like the Joneses, and we can’t afford it. It won’t be trying to catch up with the other person. Maybe that helps that too.”

And when the sun sets, kerosene lanterns light the night. It’s a simple life that preserves tradition for generations to come.

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The Amish came to the Harmony area in 1973. They came out of Wayne County, Ohio. When they first came to Harmony, they were mostly farmers. Today fewer and fewer are farming; and more and more are doing their crafts.

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “Dennis is my name. I was born in Ohio, and I specialize in making bedroom furniture.”

Journalist: “You’re doing a good job sanding — but I see a spot right there. Look at that spot.”

Dennis: “Yeah, you made a spot, yeah I see that.”

Dennis works from home. It’s kind of nice to get up in the morning, and do your little chores and eat breakfast and you’re right here; you don’t have to go very far for work.”

And for him, farming is a hobby, while woodworking pays the bills.

Dennis: “We try to stay away from the electric or modern conveniences to have a quieter life. It is not all that quiet sometimes, like right now, it’s pretty hectic.

I have a lot of furniture orders. I’m up to my neck in work right now.”

This is his woodworking shop — all of the machines run without electricity.

Dennis: “You know I run it with a diesel engine. It’s about forty horsepower.”

Dennis says it’s like a tractor without the shell. It connects to the v-belts and a shaft and powers the entire shop.

And this is the final product.

Every chair, dresser, bed frame, all one of a kind.

Kathy Buckley, Customer from Elma, Iowa: “I feel like it’s all high-quality furniture. I don’t even go to furniture stores now because I like the oak Amish furniture, and this is the place I get it.

And I am just very impressed with the quality of work that he does.”

As Dennis closes another sale, he isn’t the only one working to put food on the table.

Rich Bishop, Amish Tours of Harmony: “Eight to ten is the normal family. I mean, they have anywhere up to fourteen.”

Rich Bishop is a local Amish tour guide. He says that women are the homemakers.

Rich Bishop: “Women get up early in the morning. They’ll start the fire in the stoves. They’ll get the meal going for breakfast.

And it’s very important for young ladies. They have to get out of the eighth grade and learn how to bake and quilt and sew; how to garden . . . things that are going to be very important when they start their own families.

It’s also important for them to teach them how to garden because they grow about 85% of the food that they consume, that they grow on the farm.”

Dennis, Old Order Amish Craftsman: “An eight year old can do the dishes. There’s a boy that is six; he’ll help with the dishes too, and carry wood while the girls are doing the kitchen chores, and they gather the eggs and feed the chickens and even help out in the yard, and stuff like that.

And Dennis says simple traditions will continue. And home will always be Harmony.

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Door. In terms of lifestyle, are the Amish a radical, liberal, moderate, conservative or very conservative people? How does their lifestyle differ from others?

Kitchen Counter. Did Dennis, the Old Order Amish craftsman reveal his face to the camera? Why didn’t he allow himself to be filmed? Do the Amish know what their ancestors look like?

Cupboard. Did he choose this lifestyle or was he born into it?

Dining Table. When they have finished work, the Amish watch TV, listen to music on the radio, and read newspapers and magazines. Is this right or wrong?

Chairs, Armchair. Do they aspire to have a luxurious lifestyle? Do they believe in egalitarianism, conformity and equality, or individualism?

Sofa, Couch. “I have a lot of furniture orders. I’m up to my neck in work right now.” What does this imply? What can you infer from this?

Coffee Table. What might women’s rights advocates or feminists think about the Amish lifestyle?

Bookcase, Bookshelf. The Amish go shopping at supermarkets once a week. What do you think?

Curtains. Do Amish children mostly play games, sports, watch TV and read comics?


Carpet, Rug. Are there Amish communities or groups who live like the Amish in your region or country or neighboring countries?

Stairs. What are the “positive” aspects of Amish life?

Bed, Bed Frame, Bunk Bed. Are there any “negative” aspects of the Amish way of life?

Closet, Wardrobe. My friends and I would like to live like the Amish. Yes, no, maybe?

Bedside Table, Nightstand. What will happen in the future? Will the Amish preserve their way of life? Will outsiders adopt Amish traditions?

Chest of Drawers, Drawers, Dresser. Could outsiders learn something from the Amish? Should outsiders adopt certain aspects of the Amish lifestyle? Or should the Amish adapt to modern life and assimilate into mainstream society?


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