About the Amish in Ethridge, Tennessee!
Just north of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee located on the east and west sides of Highway 43 North, Amish seekers will find the largest Amish community in the Southern United States. With a total of fourteen Amish church districts in its incredible Amish community the Amish families of Ethridge, Tennessee can truly boast that their traditions and heritage have not only grown in size and popularity in past years, but have been an example for new Amish communities springing up throughout the United States. The Amish people call everyone who is not Amish an "English" person and those in Ethridge are no different.
The Amish in Ethridge, Tennessee are of the Swartzentruber lineage. These families live just like any other family and have a normal home setup. The mail brings bills to pay, newspapers, flyers and advertisements, and letters from family members. There is still gossip, squabbles, family issues, jealousy, and other human problems that we English have, but the Amish have unique ways of dealing with these issues. These Amish people have proven that with a simple dedication to hard work, family values, and religion: great struggles can be settled while using very primitive tools, technology, and travel in keeping with their old world ideas and values. Some of the finest Amish farms, families, and craftsmanship can be seen with just a simple weekend trip to see the Amish of Ethridge, Tennessee!
The Amish buggies and wagons are varied in their use. The common black buggy is seen all over Lawrence County, but the open top wagon is usually reserved for work and to carry a larger group of people to a singing or Amish gathering at another members home. The Amish have certain times of year and holidays they meet at one another’s homes for certain services. The English are not allowed in during these special times, and the Amish are a bit shy in revealing their times and locations to keep photographers and onlookers away.
The Amish here in Ethridge understand that without the wagon tours, there may not be as much traffic to their homes to buy their produce and furniture. Most Amish people do not generally like being the spectacle of onlookers although some will put on a show for you. The verbal law of the Ordnung does not allow for posing or drawing attention to one's self, but to live in humility and by humble means. The old world order of Amish in Ethridge do not use electricity, computers, cell phones/home phones, cars, or modern farm equipment. Also, the old order Amish in Ethridge would prefer that you don't take pictures of them and refrain from speaking to their younger children in English. These ideas all stem from their deep religious roots, and their Dutch ancestry, in which they speak to their younger children using only Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.
Amish schools are one room buildings. Once a school house is full they build one somewhere closer to the children who live farther away. You may be asking how large is the Amish community in Ethridge? The last recorded number was in excess of 300 families that live in this primitive way. In 1944, five Amish families moved all of their belongings to Ethridge to start what has now become the largest old order Amish community in the Southern United States. The community began with very modest farms that averaged 20 acres or less and small five person families. The normal Amish farm today in Ethridge will usually have close to 100 acres, filled with any kind of livestock or crop imaginable. A normal family size of Amish now will range from 6 to 10 children, and include many older generations of the same family under one roof.
The excellent craftsmanship of the Amish comes from passing down the knowledge of older Amish to younger generations. The Amish offer many different specialty handmade soaps, candles, wooden indoor/outdoor furniture, harness and tack repair, molasses, hand woven quilts, and rugs. These items and many more are for sale to the public. Most in the Amish community are friendly and willing to help you find what you are looking for. You will see many hand made signs at the end of the driveways that show what each Amish home and business has to offer.
Amish kids do the work their parents give them to do. It is not uncommon to see a young boy working with a team of horses and a plow. Amish girls do gardening and collect crops during the growing season. It is common to find an Amish child throwing seeds out to the chickens and gathering eggs in a basket. Boys and girls are treated equally in the Amish community there isn't much work that is made specifically for boys over girls.
Many Amish families keep two different gardens. One very large garden for sale to the English and one smaller garden for their own use. Seeds saved from the previous year that proved to be plant producing are normally used in the personal garden. The English gardens are usually sowed with bought seeds. So the next time you see an Amish garden, you'll know why the small garden next to their house looks great and the big field gardens look like they need weeds pulled around the plants. Either way, you're getting good decent produce when you buy their crops during the growing season.
The Amish do no work on Sundays. This is also why the Amish tours and Welcome Centers are closed on Sundays. The other stores on Highway 43 are usually open on Sundays if you need to shop at the Amish Country Flea Market or Vintage Shoppe while in peak season. The Amish people care for their animals and go to a barn or home church on Sundays. Occasionally you'll see a couple who are courting in a buggy going for a stroll. Sundays are the day of rest so no work is to be done according to the Bible and the Amish in Ethridge certainly take this to heart!
The future of Amish life and what we don't talk about.
The Amish in Ethridge, Tennessee don't have much of a "rumspringa" or period that they can live without the supervision of the authorities over them for a while to see if they want to continue in the Amish tradition or find a mate. The Amish around Ethridge can only choose to be baptized into the church or not. Being baptized into the church makes them accountable to follow the Anabaptist tradition for the rest of their lives. The Amish people are worried about the younger Amish children leaving the Amish tradition for the conveniences of the English lifestyle. The Amish here in Ethridge are aware of the technology and new advancements that make our lives better and more enjoyable. Healthcare and dental the English have is usually covered by insurance and is something the Amish have to pay out of pocket for and may be prohibited to take part in their care. Amish youth have cell phones in some parts of the community for business reasons and the cell phone is considered a travesty by most bishops. There is still a desire to continue in the Amish tradition by most youth today. Very few leave the church for the English life, but those who do are usually shunned by their friends and family. Please understand the controversy as you read this page that it is our intention and hope that the Amish people can live as they would like to and that the tours and other tourist activity can help them with their goal to live in the manner they see fit for their way of life.
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