|Amish tour guide Carol Lorenc (on right) stands next to an Amish quilt in Mattie Hostetler’s quilt and gift shop in Cherry Creek.|
CHERRY CREEK - The interest in the Amish may stem from the curiosity of a people seemingly frozen in time. Or perhaps it’s the fascination with a simpler, self-sufficient lifestyle that is based in community and connectedness – in many ways, so foreign to our modern lifestyle.
For others, the interest is in Amish goods, which like the community itself, seems to be ever-growing.
Going places off the beaten path, with Amish map in hand is an adventure – a treasure hunt if you will- with the benefit of finding that one-of-kind, handmade product for a great price, be it a quilt, unique furniture piece, leather or other product.
A visit to Cherry Creek late last May finds the old order Amish of Cherry Creek preparing for their ninth annual Amish benefit auction. The area is bustling with activity as Amish and “English” combine forces to make the event a success.
The next day auctioneers will be selling furniture, quilts and other wares, and there will be plenty of food – a pig roast, barbequed chicken, and Amish baked goods. The monies raised are dedicated to an emergency medical fund for the community.
Weekend with the Amish
The public will have a chance to catch a glimpse of Amish life in the Cherry Creek/Leon area, during “A Weekend with the Amish,” June 15-17. The event is part of Chautauqua in June’s history and heritage learning series.
|A "Weekend with the Amish," June 15-17 will include an Amish-style luncheon at the Cherry Creek Inn.|
Carol Lorenc, who has been a principal in the Amish Flair Tours for the past eight years, will provide participants a chance to meet members of the Amish community with stopovers at an Amish blacksmith, quilt shop, toy factory, and bake stand. Participants return to the Cherry Creek Inn for an Amish style luncheon with baked chicken, salads, homemade bread and pies.
“An Entrepreneurial Spirit”
According to Lorenc, the Amish first came to the Cherry Creek/Leon area in 1948 owning just six farms. And at the time, they were the ones buying the building materials, but now the community is nearly self-sufficient with its own tin shops, saw mills, window makers and roofers.
And while the Amish have what might be called an entrepreneurial spirit, Lorenc explains, “there’s a little bit of a tug.”
“There isn’t a business that doesn’t also rely on non-Amish customers (English). They (the old order) have seen communities in other areas, like Lancaster PA, that they feel have become too commercial.” Some outside business is a necessity, she explains because the Amish also pay school, sales, property and income tax.
The day before the auction, Lorenc is helping one of her Amish friends, Mattie Hostetler, load dozens of donated quilts from her farm and transport them to the auction site using her van. While the Amish shun automobiles for themselves, they will take a ride when offered to them, but Lorenc says, they will always repay whatever favor they receive, which as Lorenc remembers fondly, has once come her way in the form of a hot plate of buckwheat pancakes with fresh strawberries.
The Hostetler farm is 100 acres, and contains Herford cattle and goats, a stocked pond and horses. Mattie’s quilt and gift shop is a popular stop on the trail and the farm also has a sawmill, selling rough-cut lumber.
Her quilt and gift shop is a favorite among visitors from Chautauqua and features Barceló and double wedding ring among its many designs, as well as loomed carpets. Lorenc said a family as far away as Australia has been among the many on her tour that have visited the shop, purchasing quilts to take back home.
“The Amish specialize in all these cottage industries- lawn furniture, cabinet furniture, cedar, plastic, hanging swings, trellises.” The tours also stop at a greenhouses and a bakery operated by Amish families.
Although “amazingly entrepreneurial,” as Lorenc puts it, the Amish work with equipment from the 1800’s, using horses, heating their homes with wood stoves while using a gasoline or diesel engine to pump their water. On laundry day, which is once a week, the old order is known for making their own detergent with lye and lard and use told-fashioned tabulator washers.
Love and Marriage
Mattie is the mother of 15 children and grandmother to 50. Lorenc said most Amish marry between the ages of 18-22 and have children right away. Once an engagement is announced in the church, the wedding usually takes place within a few weeks. Divorce is unknown.
The Amish attend school until eight-grade and will come together as a community to build or repair their schools. In addition, there are 23 different congregations in the area, but children aren’t considered members until adulthood when they choose to join.
Sunday is a day for worship, rest, family and visiting. “They can’t hunt or fish,” Lorenc says. For others, it’s a day to read—they will finish a book in one whole day, they are avid readers and also like hunting magazines and magazines like Newsweek.”
Their spirit of faith carries to everyday chores as well. Mattie has been known to say that whether she’s quilting, or taking care of a baby, “It’s all God’s work, everything is God’s work.” A nearby Amish cemetery also mirrors their simple lifestyle displaying, small plain headstones.
While Amish speak English, a remnant of their primary language, German is still detectable. Lorenc points out that the Amish German is an archaic form; something that has not changed much since the 1800’s when they first arrived in the United States, after being invited by William Penn, in an effort to break away from religious persecution in Europe.
When it comes to helping their neighbors and supporting the community- whether Amish or English, the “plain people” as they refer to themselves, have strong values
Lorenc, adds, “They have extremely solid lines of what they can and can’t do; it’s more black and white than our society. In some ways it’s a much more comfortable way to live. But they can accept our society. “
Lorenc adds, “the kids all have their chores; even two year olds will have animals to take care of and as they get older they are expected to take care of their younger brothers and sisters.
“I do admire the deep faith they have, which is amazing- and their hard work, the agriculture and the family values. It’s an amazing lifestyle.”
For more information on a Weekend with the Amish go to www.fredoni.edu/lifelong. For a complete listing of Chautauqua in June events, visit www.tourchautauqua.com.