Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State. Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

One of the questions I was asked is “does Old Order Mennonite have rummsprings”?  No we do not practice Rumspringa  like the Amish, but again young folks will be young folks. The Old Order Mennonites have dinners where all the young folks between the ages of 16 and older attend.  They are usually games like soft ball and volley ball there.  Also, they do singing.  Once in a while they may go on day trips like to Niagara Falls, Corning Glass Works, and others.  Also they have maybe get a group together to go fishing.  

It use to be that just the boys went fishing, but now some girls go also.  During the winter they may go skiing or sledding.  What I have told you is just a few of the things the Old Order Mennonite have for their young folks.  They do this so the young folk will stay away from the ways of the world. Parents or newly married keep an eye on these activities. Many of the young folks meet their future spouse’s here and do not go out in the world.

Not all of them. Recently one of Martha and Joseph’s son’s, who had bought a car, took some of his friends to Niagara Falls to see the man walk the tight rope across the falls.  He told them where he was going, who was with him and when he would be back.  David was telling me he would never let David Jr. do that when he got older.  I couldn’t help but laugh as David owned a car and had his drivers license when I first met him.  We also smoked cigarettes, went to movies and friends parties that parents never knew about-or so we thought.  At one time or another we had at least one drink.  

When David and I started courting – he sold the car, and turned in his drivers license.  We stopped going to those places.  No smoking.  No movies.  No more parties without parents there and more.  The funny part is that after we were married, David’s parents told us they knew what we were doing including the car.  We had our time in the outside world.

What worries us is there are worse things in the world today.  Drugs were only in the big cities when we were young, now it is everywhere.  Violent people are also another we will have to watch when our children getting older.  We have guns for hunting, but that is the only time we use them.  We watch over Michael and Edward more because of these.  

Be With God,

Ground Cherry Pie

Ground cherries, also known as husk tomatoes, produce tiny tomato-like fruits in papery husks on low, lanky bushes. This is an old Mennonite recipe with a crumb topping.

2 1/2 cups pitted ground cherries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon water
1 (9-inch) pie shell
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash ground cherries and place in unbaked pie shell.

Mix brown sugar and 1 tablespoon flour and sprinkle over cherries. Sprinkle water over top.

Mix together the 3 tablespoons flour and 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut butter in until crumbly. Top cherry mixture with crumbs.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue to bake for 25 minutes. Recipe from

Old order Mennonite buggy owned by Amanda Graber

Click here to view story: Woman Injured in Horse and Buggy Accident – YNN, Your News Now

I read about a buggy accident where a lady and her grandson were riding in the buggy when the horse got spooked and took off. The grandson jumped off, but the carriage tipped over and the grandmother got dragged in it for several feet.  When the horse was stopped, the lady was taken to the hospital.  She is now recovering at home.  Her address was in the paper and as it was only three towns over from and where I did not know Amish and Mennonites live, I went over there and found her house.  

Her granddaughter was selling canned goods and vegetables in one of the barns and allowed me to take pictures of their buggy.  This is not the one that was in the accident-it was a total loss-but just like it.  Also, inside where I bought the canned beets and potatoes were the lovely rag rugs that they had for sale.   These rugs were made by the lady that was in the accident before she got hurt.  The family is selling them to help pay for her medical bills.  

I plan to go back there around the first of September to buy a rag rug for myself and see if we can’t work something about me obtaining some to put and sell on eBay.  All the money would go to their family to help pay the bills.  I asked if they still had the horse and the girl said-but they are selling it.

Like I said, I will check and see if I can work out something on the rag rugs.  I will also be putting some Amish/Mennonite magazines on my eBay plus I have some Amish/Mennonite dresses and prayer caps for sale.  Marilyn

Amanda Graber’s home 

A sign pointing to Amanda’s home

 Amanda Graber’s garage: And some of the rugs that she makes and sells.
Front view of her buggy

Birds in a farm field
A small market where some of the old order Mennonites and Amish sell their produce.

Chocolate Cake

 Combine boiling water and cocoa; bring to a boil. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and soda. Add remaining ingredients. Bake at 350° F. 

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
2 t. soda
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
pinch salt
Fix up your favorite meal and enjoy the beauty of quilts at the same time with the new Amish Quilting Cookbook. Its 130 pages are packed with 316 favorite recipes from 58 of Lone Star Quilt Shop’s quilters. Twenty of their finest quilts are featured in color throughout the book.  The book is wrapped in a concealed spiral binding to help avoid spiral tangles while it keeps all the conveniences of traditional spiral.  Fourteen sections from Amish wedding foods to snacks.  136 pages.  Amish Quilting Cookbook . To purchase this book please go to

Click the link below to go to Marilyn’s eBay store to buy classic copies of the Amish/Mennonite publication Family Life, and gently used  Beverly Lewis novels.

Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State. Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

Jean would love to answer more of your questions folks, so please ask away any questions that you may have regarding her old order Mennonite lifestyle. Richard

Thought this time I would answer a couple of questions that were asked. Just remember questions are always welcome. What do I like to read?  With farming, bake sales, etc. this time of year I don’t usually read much, but because of my surgery I did get a lot of reading done. My first daily reading is the Bible.   In our home we read the Budget, Family Life, Young Companion and Blackboard Bulletin.  Also, we get the local daily paper Daily Messenger.  I did get a few novels in my Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter.  Also I read children’s stories to Susan and David. 

Do Old Mennonites divorce?  When we marry – we marry until death do us part.  That is why we are advised to pray especially when we were courting to make sure that we are doing what God wants-that we are the right ones for each other.  Not our will be done, but God’s will be done.  Which leads to answer the question, that divorces are very rare.  David and I have known couples who have separated from each other-but even that is a rare thing. 

What would happen if a couple did get divorced?  If a couple gets divorced they can not remarry until the spouse passes. In a situation where say a man divorces his wife for another woman –  neither his first wife or the man that left can remarry.  If he does remarry while his first wife is alive, he would be shunned from the church.  His first wife can not remarry unless he passes (dies).   It is not a fast decision made.  It goes before the Bishop, ministers and deacons first.  In that case where a husband leaves his wife and remarries-most of the time they move from the area and join another religion. 

The first wife stays among us, but does not remarry.  Of course a lot of things enter into whether say a person beats their spouse and children.  David and I know only of two couples that have divorced.  One a man left his wife to marry another woman.  He and his second wife moved away.  His first wife lives among us and has never remarried.  The second couple, as far as we know, neither have remarried.  Again, one moved away and the other still lives in our area and has never remarried. 

When we have shunning in our church, it is different from the Amish.  If someone is shunned, they can still come to meetings (church), we can still speak to them, do business with them and more.  They are not allowed to come to communion meetings that are held twice a year. 
Regarding a divorce among us, I am sure I have not given you everything in Old Order Mennonite views and handling.  It just is something that is very rare.
Be With God,

Wedding Cake Recipe: From Jean

1 lb. butter

1 lb. sugar

12 eggs separated                                   
1 1b. flour

2  tsp each of cinnamon and mace

1 tsp each of nutmeg and allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
2 lbs raisins
2 lbs currants                   
1 lb citron
1 lb almonds or finely chopped figs
1/4 cup brandy
2 tbsp lemon juice and rind of mone lemon

Citron should be cut in uniform pieces of about 1/8 inch thick.  If almonds are used, they should be balanced and chopped fine.  Mix the fruit and almonds or figs but not the citron and dust the fruit mixture with some of the flour.  Also the citron in a separate bowl.

In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar thoroughly and mix spices well into mixture.  Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored and blend into sugar and better mixture.  Mix in flour, lemon juice, rind and brandy.  Beat egg whites until stiff and dry and add to batter and fold in.  Next add the fruit mixture. 

If the cake is to be maked only line the pan  with two thickness of brown paper and butter the one coming in contact with the batter.  Alternate layers of butter and a layer of citron, beginning and ending with the batter.

If steaming butter pan well and layer as above.  Steam for 3 hours and then bake one and one half hours in a slow oven of 275 degrees.  If baking solely bake three hours in a preheated oven set at 325 degrees, if several small pans used baking time will be less.                 Jean
1971 Coca Cola original vintage advertisement. Sponsoring a rare television special featuring Paul Newman in “Once Upon a Wheel”. The top names in racing, television and motion pictures in thrilling competition.   Image courtesy of

Chili with Corn Dumplings

Makes: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 can (15.25 ounces) Green Giant whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (16 ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1 1/3 cups Original Bisquick mix
2/3 cup cornmeal                          
2/3 cup
milk2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, if desired

1. Cook beef and onion in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn. Stir remaining corn with liquid, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and pepper sauce into beef mixture. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Mix Bisquick mix and cornmeal. Stir in milk, cilantro and reserved 1/2 cup corn just until moistened.

3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonsful onto simmering chili. Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or until dumplings are dry. Recipe from

           Breakfast Casserole      

  Mix all together and pour into a greased 9×12 pan. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator and top with Velveeta cheese slices. Bake in oven at 350° F. for 30 minutes. 6 eggs, beaten
ham, bacon, or sausage, browned
chopped onion
1 t. dry mustard
2 c. milk
6 pieces bread, cubed

From mouth-watering Amish-style main dishes to kitchen dream desserts, this on has it all. Over 600 from-scratch recipes that please the appetite and are easy on the food budget.  You’ll get a whole section on canning and food preparation. The Amish, long known for their originality in the kitchen, share their favorites with you. This 275 page spiral bound cookbook has over 600 recipes . Cooking with the Horse & Buggy People. To buy this book go to
Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State. Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

Please keep your questions for Jean coming folks, she really enjoys answering them!  Richard 

Time has sure flown by this summer.  It hardly seems that Susan will be back to school on August 13th.  She just had her birthday and she is 7 and going into second grade.  My she is growing so fast.  Michael and Edward are in the public school and don’t go back until September 5th. They will be grade 10 or sophomores.  The Mennonite School that Susan goes too starts earlier than the public school, but it ends earlier like the end of April next year. 

Michael and Edward feel sorry that Susan starts so soon, but then again she only has to go to the eighth grade and they have to go until 12-or at least that’s how it stands now.  Maybe when Michael’s adoption goes through that might change. As like most farmers in our area, we took a bad loss in the crops and fruit this year.  It was a combination of early blooming do to early warm temperatures and the loss of crops due to the little rain and hot temperatures.  Because of this, we have decided not to build a new house.  

David believes that we can complete our attic and that will give us another two or three bedrooms.  That is a winter project from David, Michael and Edward. Michael and Edward would like the attic for their bedrooms-we will see.  David says with the fire, my surgery and the crop loss-it would be best to wait on the house-unless I really wanted it.  I told him another year or two doesn’t matter.  We did make enough crops for what we sell to the government to help feed the armed forces.  

Also, we have enough for my canning for the winter.  I have some canned goods that I am sending to Farmers Market, but not like we have had sent in previous years. Also, not as good as previous years. We thank the Lord that we have enough to meet our needs. We also thank the Lord, that we made out better than many others did.  David is hoping that maybe he can find a job for this winter-that would help.

Edward and Michael enjoyed the work they did down state helping repair houses that were damaged by Hurricane Irene.  This was Edward’s first time on anything like that.  He really enjoyed it.  They worked Monday Thru Friday and on Saturday there was a picnic for all the work they did.  Recently there was a wind and rain storm here that David, Michael, Edward, and myself went just east of here. We did not get damaged but an area near by did. The men cut trees, and did emergency work on the houses.  

The ladies provided the meals for the workers and people whose houses were damaged.  It was hard work, but we really enjoyed it. Michael and Edward are getting their main birthday present a little early.  David and I told them that David was taking them to a Yankees game in New York City.  They were both shocked and happy.  Michael tried to tell David we couldn’t afford it, but David insisted.  This was separate money that David and I had set aside for this.  

Also, this is the one and only Yankee’s trip they will make as it is not something Old Order Mennonite usually do.  David got permission from our Bishop.  As they are foster children we are allowed to do this on this one time basis.  David has the trip all booked.  They will be going before the boys go back to school.

Edward is doing much better reading do to our retired teacher helping this summer.  At prayer time now, David rotates the Bible between Edward, Michael and himself for the readings of the day.  That also has helped to improve Edward’s reading.  He will continue to go to our retired teacher even when school starts. 
My letter is a long this week, so I will end now.  I plan on answering more of your questions in my next post. Be with God.         Jean

Banana Milk Shake
1 1/2 cups milk                              
2 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 teaspoons honey                                 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in container of an electric blender; blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Recipe from

To order the signs of Lancaster poster please go to 


The Amish and Commerce

by Tana Reiff

I last wrote for this blog about the experience of creating the Signs of Lancaster County poster. It continues as a fundraiser for The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon ( And I continue to cruise around taking more signs pictures. I’m also now working on a photo collection with a bird theme …

                                                 Images provided by  Tana Reiff         

Back to the topic … 

I thought readers might be interested in some information about Amish commerce.
A PBS American Experience show called “The Amish” aired a few months ago. The cinematography was gorgeous. The cameras went all over the countryside to showcase the beauty of Amish farms. But I was surprised to see not one single scene including a handmade (or any) sign along a road. Charming signs are all over the place, and these signs make a statement about Amish commerce that the documentary didn’t even mention.
While the Amish are philosophically cut off from the “English” world, they still need ways to trade goods and services. You see Amish families buying in bulk at Costco or even at the supermarket, with the horse and buggy tied to the shelter in the parking lot, or with their English van driver waiting outside. Our Amish neighbor takes turns asking us for rides. 

At Christmas he asked a guy to drive his wife to Walmart to buy a whole lot of Chex cereal because their kids love Chex Mix around the holidays. But the Amish also patronize Amish-run stores and visit each other’s farms to get or trade for things they don’t produce themselves or can’t get elsewhere.

And so, many of the hand-lettered signs, especially those off the beaten path, are aimed at attracting fellow Amish or Mennonites. Like Moses, the hat man, a farm might have a specialty — shoe repair, horseshoeing, layer hens, wringer washers, or other goods and services particular to the Amish. They might also go to someone else’s farm that specializes in growing onions or sweet potatoes, as not everyone grows everything, at least not in large amounts.

However, many of the signs are invitations to tourists, not just other Amish or Mennonites. When I am out photographing, I find many catchy signs on the very same roads where I get stuck behind one of those big tourist buggies or a slow-moving car full of tourists. No coincidence!

You see, the Plain people have struck up a bargain with tourists. They did not invite the curious and the foreign to rubberneck at them and their homes and land. But if that’s the way it is, then why not sell stuff to them? With a smile, too. Tourists get a charge out of driving up a farm lane and meeting “real Amish” or respecting the honor system by leaving money in a container by the road. Unless you’re being downright rude, the people who have invited you onto their property through their signs are very friendly. It’s a good deal for the Plain and the English alike.                             Tana Reiff

Pennsylvania Dutch Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached regular flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon 
baking powder
1/2 cup soft margarine  
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
2 cups mashed ripe 
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Cream sugar and margarine; add eggs and mix well. Stir in baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add oil and stir again. Add bananas and mix. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir well after each addition.

Grease and flour 4 to 5 bread tins. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Test for doneness with wooden pick until it comes out clean. When cool, wrap in plastic. Loaves may be frozen. Recipe from