The Pryor Times

Local News

February 16, 2012

Adair Chamber learns county Amish history

Bill Chupp presented the program at Adair’s Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday.

He talked about the history of the Amish community in Mayes County, and showed a documentary made by former local news personality Karen Keith.

Chupp said like all Amish children, his first language was Pennsylvania Dutch. He said when he was a little boy, he would run to the end of the driveway as someone passed yelling “I can’t English.”

The first German immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania in 1736, Chupp said. His family migrated to Kansas, but lost their farm in the dust bowl. In 1929, the family moved to Chouteau in wagons.

The hired hand spoke English, so he and Bill traded languages. “It’s the family joke that I’m who killed German,” Chupp said.

In 1937, Chupp’s grandfather deserted his family. Fifteen years later, Chupp’s father traced him to California where he had married another woman. At first Chupp’s grandfather denied knowing his son.

“He ended up a hermit in Arizona feeding a bunch of hogs,” Chupp said. “He made footprints in history for me because he was my grandfather.”

Keith interviewed Chupp’s uncle, John Henry Yoder. He said three families originally settled in Mayes County: Detweillers, Millers and Yoders, because it offered cheap farm land.

When electricity began being installed in every home, the Amish refused because they didn’t want to take part in anything that required someone to work Sundays.

When tractors began replacing teams used to plow, the Amish church elders decided to allow tractors, but they had to have steel wheels.

That is the reason Chupp’s father started going to the Mennonite Church, he wanted to put rubber tires on his tractor. Ironically, eight years later the Amish decided to allow rubber tires.

Mennonites use electricity and other modern conveniences. Chupp said another main difference between the two sects is the practice of shunning, which is strong in the Amish community. In fact, the use of shunning is what split the Mennonites from the Amish.

The Amish religion traces its roots to Switzerland in 1525 and the Anabaptists who practiced obedience, humility and simplicity.

In 1972, the federal government approved the Amish practice of eighth grade education. Their view of the world is that eighth grade is sufficient education from school.

The Amish dress in black for church which is held each Sunday at a different home. There are no instruments. The congregation all eat dinner together.

In fact, eating has spawned many Amish and Mennonite businesses. There are Amish bakeries and restaurants all over Oklahoma. Some of the restaurants are in homes.

Amish farmers receive no government subsidies, pay no social security and are eligible to receive none. They have no insurance. That dynamic is changing as many Amish now make more than 50 percent of their income away from the farm.

But, Yoder said most young people stay with the Amish or join the Mennonite Church. Amish young people join the church in their early 20s. Before that, they are encouraged to go out and experience the secular world.

The Amish and Mennonite communities continue to grow in Mayes County.

Adair Counselor Michelle Taylor presented the students of the month.

Courtney Hibbard is the daughter of Melissa and Clay Hibbard. Taylor called her the “queen of the color guard.” She plays clarinet and has been an all-district band member. She belongs to FCCLA, the academic team and the science club. She works at Reasor’s grocery in Langley. Her honors and awards include the Algebra II Award, Geometry Award, OSSAA superior rating for color guard ensemble, OSSAA excellent rating for color guard solo. She plans to attend the University of Tulsa and major in psychology.

Jonathan Neal is the son of Cindy Price. He is a member of the state track team, won a state track medal and has won numerous math awards. He is a member of FCCLA. He plans to attend Oral Roberts University with a major in music.

Donna Vickers reported the chamber’s bank account balance was $10,531.75 on Feb. 13.

Louise Osborn is organizing the Easter egg hunt which will be April 7, 11 a.m., at the football field. Over 2,000 eggs will be filled with candy and change. Candy donations should be handed in by next month’s meeting.

Vickers said the golf tournament will be

June 9 at Grand Cherokee Golf Course. The tournament is limited to 20 teams.

The chamber will have an ice cream social around the time school begins. The first one last year was a big success.

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