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Amish tradition is alive and well in the growing Amish community of Daviess County, Indiana. Theirs is a story of tradition and faith; of family and time-honored values, with roots running deep into the very soil that sustains them.
Many Amish might consider themselves to be of the Anabaptist religion, a group which participated in the Christian reformation. Originating from the teachings of Menno Simmons of the Mennonite faith, the Amish parted ways with the Mennonites in the 17th century.
Eli Wagler, an Amish preacher in Daviess County, holds fast to his Amish roots and is considered a kind of historian of this community. “The Amish grew out of the Anabaptist religion,” said Wagler. “We believe in a simple life; we have little use for the modern technology and conveniences used outside of our community.” He added that the Amish school of thought also promotes the separation of church and state, and dictates standards regarding clothing and method of worship.
According to Wagler, ancestors of Daviess County’s original Amish settlers came from Canada to settle in Northern Indiana in the early 19th century. “About 50 people made the trip in 1869 to settle just north of Montgomery,” said Wagler. A 20 square mile area is now home to some 7,000 Amish people living a mostly Old Order Amish life. Names like Stoll, Graber and Wagler are common in the community and they can trace their ancestors back to France, Switzerland and other areas of Europe in the 19th century and earlier.
Family is the bedrock of Amish life, and traditional skills are passed from one generation to another, everything from quilting to farming to woodworking. An example of what many “English” would consider a dead art is alive and well at Raber’s Wheel Works. Raber’s can build a brand new buggy, as well as repair a wagon that’s as old as the community itself. Employees range from old men to up-and-comers, each a gifted craftsman skilled in the use of tools and materials uncommon in modern society.
Amish families observe a strict adherence to not conducting business on Sunday. Church services are held in different Amish homes twice monthly and use a liturgy that is centuries old. Along with churches and businesses, Amish schools are scattered about the community to serve its educational needs. Students study in private Amish schools through the eighth grade. The Amish of Daviess County treasure their German heritage, with German often the first language learned by many Amish children.
In 2005, a series of tornadoes swept through the community leaving many families homeless and causing millions of dollars in damage. So strong is the fabric of this community that hundreds of fellow Amish families and craftsmen travelled from several states to swiftly rebuild.
Gasthof Amish Village is proud to play an important role in preserving and honoring this area’s Amish heritage, with a bold commitment to keep the surrounding community strong and vibrant as it moves forward into the 21st century.