|Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher - An Amish Colonial novel|
CFPagels: We welcome our guest, Suzanne Woods Fisher today on Colonial Quills! Suzanne has a brand new release set during colonial times and we can't wait to read it!
The Old Order Amish: Surviving against All Odds
The story of the Amish is fascinating—mainly because their survival, right from the start, is so unlikely. To understand what I’m getting at, we need to make a quick trip back to 17th century Europe.
The Amish were the last branch on the Anabaptist family tree. A split among the Swiss Anabaptists developed in the 1690s, led by bishop Jacob Ammann, over his call for reforms. Tighter church discipline, he demanded (and he was the demanding type), and that included shunning. This little splintered-off group became known as Avoiders (for the social avoidance of shunning), Ammann’s followers, and eventually evolved into “Amish.”
Jacob Ammann was last heard of in 1712. Some scholars think he might have gone into hiding. Ponder this with me for a moment: this little young church, less than twenty years old, did not have central leadership or any kind of identity. It wasn’t an organized movement. It consisted of small groups of followers, probably families, who kept scattering around Switzerland, France, and Germany. As pacifists, they tried to avoid military consignment, but even if they were granted exemption by the governments where they lived, they were not allowed to own land. Land was, is, highly valued among the Amish. Their love of farming the land runs deep.
It was William Penn’s invitation to religiously oppressed Germans that brought the Amish to America. In Penn’s Woods (later known as Pennsylvania), they could own land. Unlimited amounts. The first group of Amish that had the ability to grow as a congregation (it had ordained leaders to allow for baptism and marriages, a critical necessity!) arrived in Port Philadelphia in 1737 on the Charming Nancy ship. And that is the story in “Anna’s Crossing.”
Let’s get back to the against-all-odds survival of the Amish. From 1737-1770, more Amish trickled into the New World—right up to the Revolutionary War. More came in the 19th century. Today, there are no Amish left in Europe. Not one.
And in America, in the late 1800s, there were about five thousand Amish. Sociologists assumed that they would assimilate into the culture as so many other small religious groups had done.
But…they assumed wrong. The Old Order Amish—those who use horse and buggies instead of cars and aren’t connected to the public utility grid—are the fastest growing population in North America. At last count, they are closing in on 300,000. By 2050, scholars have predicted they will pass the one million mark.
Now, that’s a lot of buggies.
|Author Suzanne Woods Fisher|
Bio: Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of 'The Stoney Ridge Seasons' and ‘The Lancaster County Secrets’ series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is a Christy award finalist and a Carol award winner. Her interest in the Anabaptist culture can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne hosts the blog Amish Wisdom, and has a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Penn Dutch proverb to your smart phone. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Suzanne on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. She loves to hear from readers!
Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of Suzanne's new novel to one commenter!