Someone recently asked a question in one of my Amish-themed Facebook groups. “Why do you enjoy reading about the Amish?” This got me thinking of the Amish, how I came to know about them, and what led me to write about them. And that story begins back in the summer of 1986.
I grew up in a wonderful family and my parents (fortunately) loved to travel and visit new places. As far back as I can remember, we’d always owned a motorhome. I caught the travel bug and enjoyed visiting new and exciting destinations as much as my parents did. We lived in California and traveled across the United States on two separate occasions. Since I was the youngest of the family, my memories of our first excursion across the Land of the Free are pretty dim, as I was only about four or five years of age.
But our second trip – that was memorable! Like I stated earlier, it was 1986 and the summer before seventh grade. It was a very impressionable time for me and everything was a big deal. We visited so many historically significant destinations – Plymouth Rock, The Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, The Liberty Bell, Harpers Ferry, a Quaker village. We also visited Niagara Falls, Old Faithful… what a great trip it was! Out of all the places we visited, two were my favorite.
The first was Black Hills, South Dakota where we had the blessed opportunity to see the Passion Play. (These were the days before films like The Passion of the Christ, so you couldn’t just go to a theater or rent a VHS and watch it.) The glorious Gospel unfolded right before my eyes—that was so awesome! It was an experience I’ll never forget. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to add it to your bucket list.
The other place I fell in love with was Pennsylvania. I loved all the trees and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. We visited Gettysburg and Amish country. Since that summer, I always wanted to move to Pennsylvania.
That summer was the very first time I’d ever heard of or seen the Amish. Imagine my thoughts as my father described to me that there were people that still lived like they did back in the olden days. I was intrigued and I’d thought it was pretty cool.
Fast forward twenty or so years to my introduction to Amish fiction. I admit that, at first, it didn’t appeal to me. But I loved to read and I decided to give the books a try. After a couple of books, I was hooked and Amish fiction was my genre of choice.
Over the next couple of years, every time my in-laws would mention something from their past, I’d think ‘that sounds so much like the Amish.’ My husband grew up Mennonite in Brazil and there were many cultural similarities. At that time, I didn’t know how closely related the Amish and Mennonites were. When I began researching for my own books, it all made so much sense.
I guess you can say that I fell in love with this old-fashioned lifestyle, although I think I’m much too spoiled to ever live it myself. I never dreamed that I would someday purchase and live in a former Amish home in the heart of Amish country and own a horse and buggy! (We did add plumbing and electricity to the house, by the way.) Now, twenty-plus books later, it’s hard to believe there was a time in the not-so-distant past that I knew very little about this wonderful culture.
So, what’s your story? How and when did you come to learn about the Amish? Was your introduction to their lifestyle through books? Do you have Amish ancestors or perhaps grow up Amish yourself? Or, like me, did a trip to Amish country introduce you to this unique culture? I’d love to hear your story!
P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up one of my books yet, you’ll be able to find A Secret Encounter at Walmart by the end of the month. If you email me (jebspredemann (at) gmail (dot) com) with your name and mailing address, I’ll send you a free bookmark.
By the goodness and grace of GOD, Readers’ Favorite GOLD & SILVER Medal Book Award Winner J.E.B. Spredemann, Author of the beloved Amish by Accident and Amish Secrets series, was born and raised in California and now resides in beautiful southern Indiana Amish country. Amish by Accident (by J. Spredemann) was first released in November 2012, and the author held a steady spot in Amazon’s Top 100 Authors in Religion & Spirituality, topping out at #4. Find J.E.B. on Facebook or visit jebspredemann.com.