by Kathy Kuderer
Visiting Cashton Wisconsin’s Amish Community
The Cashton area is home to Wisconsin’s largest Old Order Amish Community. A day trip to Amish Country can be fun and interesting, but sometimes it helps to know a bit more about the culture.
Hi! My name is Kathy Kuderer and I along with my husband Chuck are the owners of “The Village Shops at Down A Country Road” in the heart of Cashton’s Amish country.
I was 6 years old when the Amish began moving into our community in 1966. I became friends with many Amish families and ultimately opened my business in 1994. Since then I have given over 2500 tours to people from around the world and authored two books about the Amish. In my blog I will share some of the information that will make it helpful as you explore Amish country.
The Amish began settling in the Cashton area in February of 1966 and has grown to be the largest Amish Community in Wisconsin. There are approximately 300 Amish families in the Cashton Amish Community. The Amish who call the Cashton area home are an Old Order group who came to the area primarily from Holmes County, Ohio. In search of a place where they could raise their families in a quiet rural community, farm with horses and be left to live the simple life of their forefathers, Cashton, Wisconsin held their interest. It is this, along with the abundance of farms for sale and the very low cost of real estate, which drew the Amish to the Cashton area in the 1960’s.
The Old Order Amish are a group of people who shun the ways of the modern world. They do not use electricity, do not have telephones in their homes, have very limited indoor plumbing, use the horse and buggy as their primary source of transportation and use horse drawn field equipment. Although these are just some of the things which set the Amish apart, it is so much more which I have seen that make these people who they are. It is their very strong conviction of this way of life that they have held onto for many generations which has drawn my interest and respect.
Beyond the images of the horse and buggy and plain clothing lies a rich and complex way of life. The Amish have established a way of life based on their concept of Christian humility. Their communities are both prosperous and lively, rooted in faith in God, family, tradition and hard work. One room schools, barn raisings, quilting bees and Sunday services in the home are just a few of the ways the Amish keep the family unit strong.
Separate from the World
The Amish base their separation from the world on the biblical verses. In I John 2:15 -17 (1) it says; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” They believe the Bible teaches them to be in this world but not of the world.
It is this belief in separation from the world, along with self denial and sacrifice that lead them to live this very plain and simple life. This belief is manifested not only in their style of clothing, but their mode of transportation and the simplistic lifestyle, void of many modern conveniences.
Throughout the history of the Amish there have been many splits and separations of Amish Communities. The Old Order Amish are just that, the Old Order, one of the most strict and conservative of the Amish Communities.
Each family in an Amish Community is a member of a specific church district. Each church district is typically led and governed by a Bishop, two Ministers and a Deacon. The Bishops in a settlement, or community, will often get together to discuss the Ordnung. Ordnung is the unwritten rules and regulations, a set of guidelines that the members of the Old Order Amish Church follow to help everyone conform to the same standards of dress and much more.
Graven Images Images
The View of the Amish about Photographs
The Amish believe that the Bible teaches them to not make a graven image. In Exodus 20:4 (5) it reads; “Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” The Amish take that very literally and choose not to pose for photographs or to be photographed without their permission. Many Amish believe that a photograph in which they can be recognized violates the second commandment.
There have been many myths and misunderstandings about this issue over the years. The Amish are against photographs of themselves and yet they are probably one of the most photographed cultures in the world. Although they do not want to pose for a photograph or look into the camera to make that graven image, most are not opposed to the occasional photograph of them at a distance, perhaps as they are working in the field. That image is not so much about them as a person, but rather the scene of which the photograph is taken.
Tourists often try to take pictures of the Amish and I find in most cases it is not that they are trying to be disrespectful, but because they do not understand the beliefs of the Amish about photographs. The Amish are a very interesting and unique culture and it is fascinating for many people to get a glimpse of their way of life. If you travel through Amish Country, a scenery picture or two may be okay, but please make sure that you respect their desire not to be
I will be sharing much more in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned as I share the History, Traditions and Customs of the Amish.
We invite you to stop in at The Village Shops at Down A Country Road” which is located 2 miles east of Cashton along State Hwy 33. From there you can begin your day exploring this unique culture. You may want to pick up a copy of my book, or a map to guide you. Check out our website at www.downacountryroad.com. Have fun as you explore!