For four years, an Amish family lived in our chicken house.
That’s a true statement. They lived there from about 1958 to 1962 while the Amish man helped on my parents' farm.
The chicken house was maybe 20 feet by 80 feet. Dad removed the chicken roosts, put in a partition so there was a separate bedroom (there was a third space for a washing machine and storage) and painted the walls gray -- but not before kiddingly suggesting red, which the couple, Nevin and Emma, vetoed. They got water from our back porch, heated their home with kerosene, had an outhouse, and I never saw them wear colors other than black and midnight blue.
Nevin and Emma moved to our farm with their toddler, Lizzie, and had two more babies while they were with us. I remember Dad taking Emma to the hospital in our car when she had one of her babies because, of course, Amish don’t own or drive cars, but will ride in one if needed. I’m guessing this was one of those times.
I also recall their beautiful horse, May, who pulled the buggy. Mom remembers that before going somewhere in the winter, Nevin and Emma would put a heated stone in the buggy to help keep them keep warm.
Emma had a brother, Moses, who went by “Mose.” Mom said if Emma came in the house and the TV was on, she would keep her back to it. Mose, however, loved TV, especially “I Love Lucy.” He also liked to take me, my brothers and sometimes my Mom for really fast buggy rides. After one that was more of a buggy hurtle, he asked us if we’d known there were Amish hot rodders. Mose was a good finish carpenter who built a closet in my parent’s bedroom that my mom designed.
I also remember playing “button, button, whose got the button” with Emma, roasting marshmallows over her kerosene lamp (they must have tasted awful) and playing with Emma’s sister, who was my age and spent several weeks with Emma every summer.
One thing neither Mom or nor I remember is why Nevin and Emma left -- probably for many reasons, including not living in a chicken house -- but they left on good terms. We later heard they had a farm in Tennessee.
There are still lots of Amish in Ohio and, in fact, an Amish family now lives in the farmhouse on the original Burge homestead near Ashland, Ohio.
Jim took this photo of an Amish buggy on a country road. Many Amish live in the Ohio towns of Homerville, Spencer, Millersburg, Apple Creek and Sugar Creek.