Frugal Confessions

1.      What did tithing look like or what were the tithing rules in the Swartzentruber sect? How old did you have to be to start tithing, or did tithing begin when someone joined the church?

A: Actually we did not tithe, and I am not sure if my parents ever did, but the first I heard of it was after I left.

The Amish do however give, and I was just talking about this to a friend last night, when there is a hospital emergency, they would take up a collection to help pay for it.


Some higher orders also have groups like the Amish Helping Fund, although, that group was in trouble with the SEC – see

And it’s treasurer:

2.      Did you have an apprenticeship(s)? At what age? What was the job? How much are people generally paid who do apprenticeships (or is it free since you are learning)? How did you find the apprenticeship, and how are apprenticeships normally found in your sect?

A: By law (Wis V Yoder), the Amish are allowed to only send their kids through 8th grade, so, at that point a lot would either work at home, on the farm, if the family owned one, or they would get a job with another Amish family, and the parents would keep the money till they are 21.

Personally, my uncle owned a sawmill, and my aunts a bakery on the same property, so I, at a vary young age, I assume about 3-5, would take the pies and other baked goods to the firewood buyers, and after a while, I learned the art of markup, and charged 3.25 for the pies, instead of 3.00, as not everyone was giving me the tips, which, the tips were mine, and the 3 was for my aunts. I also got tips for loading the wood, and some for the wood, which would go to my uncle Sam.
3.      How did people in your sect make money? If you could list specific jobs, services, etc. that would be helpful

A: My Dad worked in a sawmill most of his life, till he was paralyzed in 1997. There is farming, and living off the land, but that only gets you so far, as far as money goes, so some have furniture shops, carpentry, Etc. I was in Ohio a while back and a guy was selling baskets, and also made leather items, like dog collars, and horse harnesses. Some Amish are more modern then others, and one I worked for was a crew that build houses, and they owned a truck, with the title being in the neighbor’s name. They could not drive it, so they hired me as their driver.
4.      Was there bartering in your sect? If so, can you give some examples of common items you and your family bartered for, and/or how you negotiated this?

A: I think there is some, if you needed one thing, and another neighbor had it, they would help you out, and vice versa. It was mainly good neighbors.
5.      In Lancaster County there is something called Amish Aid/Amish Helping Hands for health insurance. Did your sect have a type of health insurance for everyone? If so, can you tell me what it was called and explain how it worked? 

A: As I said above, they generally would raise the money from donations to pay off hospital bills that a family could not afford. The higher order ones would put a fund together before hand, and then have it for the future, but as the Monroe Beachy case shows, that can have some disastrous results. Or it could be a good thing, if it is invested properly.
6.      Do you have a recipe or two that your family used to cook that you wouldn’t mind sharing?


1 lb. noodles, cooked in salt water 3 lb. hamburger & 1 onion, fried together Salt & pepper 2 cans mushroom soup 1 can celery soup 1 pt. peas 1 c. sour cream

Mix the soups and cream together; pour over noodles and hamburger in a large roaster and mix in peas. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

I have more at my growing group on Facebook (My Amish Recipes), and I am actually planning on releasing a cookbook that my family submitted recipes to, onto Amazon once the editing is done. A part of the proceeds go to my cousin to help her with the removal of her tumor.
7.      At what holidays do the Amish give gifts to one another during the year? What are some typical gifts, and/or what kind of gifts did you receive/give?

A: I spoke to my sister about this, and she said mostly we would give oranges or pens/pencils at Christmas. Other items might be a tablet, or other useful stuff that a kid could use in school.



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