From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Order Amish Tractor and Wagon

Family transportation



I suppose I've posted a dozen photographs of Mennonite buggies on this blog, but this is my very first photo of a New Order Amish tractor and wagon. We see these rigs around Guthrie and Crofton, Kentucky, where we have thriving New Order Amish communities.

I saw the tractor and wagon above at a restaurant in Hopkinsville. The owners probably drove in from Crofton to pick up farm supplies and to shop at WalMart (which is just a short distance from this restaurant.)

The man of the family drives the tractor, and the passengers ride in the wagon along with any freight. The wagon is always made from the back-end of an old pickup truck.

Around Guthrie and Elkton in Todd County, I've occasionally seen tractors with a man and woman riding together in the cab. I've even seen a woman driving a tractor down the road, with a couple of small children in the cab. However, I've never seen a woman driving a tractor that was pulling a wagon.

The use of the tractor, the use of normal tires on the tractor, and the use of the tractor on the road are some of the practices that distinguish New Order Amish from other Amish groups. The New Order Amish around this area have gone a step farther in permitting the use of the tractor to make short trips.

The basis for the various restrictions on tractor use is explained by Donald Kraybill and Marc Alan Olshan in The Amish Struggle with Modernity.  In The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill relates the history of the New Order split from the Old Order. Tractor use is just one of many differences between the major Amish groups, but with the New Order Amish, it's one of the most visible differences.

Related:
Cultural Change and Survival in Amish Society, a paper by Brian Lande for his class, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.

2 comments:

Elaine said...

This is also an area of struggle for Ohio Amish communities. Some of the immigrants into KY are from mid-Ohio groups who needed places to expand. Large families mean fewer ways to pass on livable homesteads to offspring. We hired Amish workers for projects on our acreage, but it was a little silly when they had voice-mail and drivers...following the letter but not the spirit of the original 'rule.' I am glad for advancement.

Edwin said...

Very interesting!

I came across your blog after a google search for pictures of Todd County Kentucky.

I grew up in the New Order Amish community near Guthrie.The Amish is my uncle's,just down the road from where I grew up.My brother in law has the tack shop at Penchem.

We moved out of Todd County about four years ago,I still miss it.

Thanks for posting your pictures,I enjoyed them very much!

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