Amish diaries up for auction

February 6, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno


Posted yesterday in The New York Times:


The Amish do not usually expose their feelings in their diaries. Instead they note down each day’s rounds of boiling pear butter, collecting duck eggs, cleaning stables, taking sleigh rides or attending church. Once in a while dramatic events are recorded, but sometimes not by the diarists themselves.

“Our Dear son Dannie died this morning at 10 minutes after 8 o’clock,” Samuel and Annie Esh wrote as the May 31, 1912, entry in their teenage son’s worn clothbound diary. The Eshes then filled out some of the rest of the year’s pages with dutiful notes on farm life in Pennsylvania.

A hundred examples of these dryly detailed, unintentionally revealing manuscripts came up for sale last week at Horst Auction Center in Ephrata, Pa., just north of Lancaster. A dozen bidders, mostly Amish, spent about $3,000 for all the lots, which ranged from 1850s daybooks and medicine and dessert recipes by one Christian Lantz Fisher ($130) to Sarah King’s 1930s-1990s annotations ($25) that the Horst catalog summarizes as “weather, company for supper, visiting, quilting, baking, household chores, stitching rose chair cushions, painting door stops.”


Read more.


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