I realize many of you already know about the Amish who live around Lancaster, but for those who may not, I'll tell you a little about them and share some of the pictures that I took.
They are a conservative, reclusive, religious group of people who drive horses and buggies rather than cars.
Some 200,000 Amish people live in more than 20 US states and in the Canadian province of Ontario. The oldest group of Old Order Amish, about 16,000-18,000 people, live in Lancaster County, which is a rural, farming area where Amish first settled in the 1720s - many fleeing religious persecution in Europe.Amish women wear modest dresses with long sleeves and a full skirt, a cape and an apron. They never cut their hair, and wear it in a braid or bun on the back of the head concealed with a small white cap or black bonnet. Clothing is fastened with straight pins or snaps, stockings are black cotton and shoes are also black.
Men and boys wear dark-colored pants that never have creases or cuffs and are worn with suspenders. Belts are forbidden, as are sweaters, neckties and gloves. Men's shirts fasten with traditional buttons in most orders, while suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. Young men are clean shaven prior to marriage, while married men are required to let their beards grow. (The picture below is not one that I took). Homes do not have electricity, but do have running water and use gas stoves.
My friend Sid said that since a shooting at an Amish school a few years ago, fences have been put up around many of them. While many Amish own firearms, used to hunt, their communities until that time were (and typically are) largely free of violent gun crime.
They eschew technology and preach isolation from the modern world. They do not join the military or accept assistance from the government.
The Amish experience many of the same problems as other communities, but keep them private. They are divided into dozens of separate fellowships, broken down into districts or congregations. Each district is fully independent and lives by its own set of unwritten rules, or Ordnung. They observe strict regulations on dress, behaviour, and the use of technology, which they believe encourages humility and separation from the world.