Amish Acres Historic Farm
Amish history in Indiana

Nappanee, IN.

May 22, 2002

In the little town of Nappanee, in the northern center of Indiana is an 80 acre farm filled with all sorts of interesting things.  We had been visiting friends in the area when Suzi, our host, suggested that we run up and tour the place.  Although there are admittedly no Amish presently working on the farm, it is as authentic as it can be.  The lack of Amish did assist in one area.  They have an aversion to having their pictures taken, and one must be conscious in which direction the camera is pointed to avoid becoming offensive.  There was no problem finding the place, as the center of attraction is a gigantic round red barn, built in 1911, which has been turned into a theater.  It seats around 400 and several musicals are performed here each year. The first stop was at the greeting barn, where proper tickets were acquired and we were told that a guided tour would start in a short while.  We wandered around in the barn for a while examining the many handmade things that the Amish are so famous for. The Amish are very strict on the selection and type of clothing they wear.  The gift shop had an ample supply of hats and other items, and of course Laura and Suzi had to try them on.  One particularly notable item were the dolls.  They came without faces. This followed the same rules that did not allow the Amish to have their pictures taken. They believe that the bible does not allow them to have graven images before God.  Having completed our tour of the gift shop we stepped outside to await the ringing of the large dinner bell that would signal the start of the guided tour.  The day had turned out to be gorgeous with a steady breeze blowing over lush green lawns and manicured bushes. We sat for a while as Laura and Suzi caught up on all the gossip. With the ringing of the bell, we proceeded to the carriage hitch to meet our guide, Sherry.  Sherry was a wonderfully energetic person, filled with all sorts of tidbits and facts about the Amish and their life style.  We would spend the next hour or so with her as we wandered through the various building and stopped along the paths to examine items of everyday use to this reserved and seemingly withdrawn group of people.  She explained that the Amish are a progression through several beliefs starting with the Anabaptists of old Europe.  Anabaptists were those who believed in a second baptism, and a more strict adherence to the ways of God. They appeared in Switzerland and Germany in the early 16th century, these followers found it increasingly difficult to follow their own ideas while surrounded with non-believers, and subsequently began a more withdrawn and somewhat secretive lifestyle.  They abandoned the formal church building and adopted a method of worship at meetings in their homes.  This and many other practices remain today.