The Amish, by A.M. Aurand, , at sacred-texts.com
The Amish and Mennonites are generally agriculturalists, which include grain, vegetables and that "horrible weed" tobacco! They are adepts at all they undertake and when drying season for tobacco is on their barns are testimony in this direction, at least.
Plow Deep.—If God has not been entirely responsible for the success of these people, the answer must lie in the fact that when they plowed, they plowed deeper, to keep the soil mellow; and when they cleared
away forest land they went to work on the hardiest of the trees as well as the smaller growth.
They didn't merely scratch the surface like the "despised Yankee," or "scotch" the larger trees like the Scotch-Irish and wait a few years for the tree to die!
Hard work and little play has made them at least some "jack," and working mostly in the soil they can more easily commune with their Creator.
They spurn hired help, perhaps for two or more reasons. One, they do not like to be masters of men; they would rather serve; two, servants are likely to lag and loaf, and not keep up with men interested in life and salvation—hence, no laborers, no labor difficulties.
Their Barns.—The barn is one of the most important spots on a plain man's property, if he be a farmer. Here he must store all his crops, and if the latter be bountiful as they usually are, the barns may be too small.
Depending as to what sect he adheres to, the barn may be the "meeting place" for all of his neighbors of the same "meeting." This may well be crowded, for the loads brought by fifty to sixty buggies would naturally make some con-course of people—and they generally are regular attendants.
The barn may be kept even better than the house, for the latter is only a place in which to eat and sleep, say the usual daily prayers, and occasionally have the meeting there instead of the barn.
The Moon plays a great part in the planting of the crops, placing of fence-posts, shingling of barns and houses, etc. It is a recognized fact among scientists that there may be more to the lore relative to the moon, than they have yet found out. Certainly the crops and general results of moon observance among these and other Pennsylvania Germans is too well-known to get worked-up over.
The almanac, with all the signs of the zodiac, and all the special days of the year, has an important place in the home.
Buggies.—One visitor tells about a meeting at one of the Amish homes. In the barn-yard stood some sixty-five yellow canvas-covered wagons or buggies, as nearly alike as two peas in a pod. The sight was suggestive of a wagon-factory—all models of the same pattern.
On inquiring from several of the owners, just how they distinguished one from another so nearly alike,
one fellow replied: "Oh, we joost look at ’em; we know ’em!"
One said he could tell his wagon because the back of it was peppered full of shot-holes, a souvenir of a shooting-match his boys had one day at home—too near the barn. Another had a block nailed to the floor of his wagon for the comfort of his short-legged wife.
And so on and on, until the whole sixty-five were distinctly different one from the other. They carried no whips, other than hickory switches which were kept more or less hidden from sight.
Freeholders.—There is probably more property owned outright, among the plain peoples in the southern and sect-populated counties per capita, than perhaps among any others of like character in the State.
They generally do not borrow money, or, if they do, it is loaned without interest, for among them they have no desire to obtain interest thereon. It is rare that money is withheld if one needs it, and inquires from one who has it to spare.
Plain people have numerous notions in common. It appears that they have little time for either Negroes, lawyers or rum. They also believe that bad fences (poorly kept) cause trouble between neighbors.