So many different aspects of Amish life fascinate me, but nothing does more than Amish buggies. Like any other Englischer I thought all the buggies were alike until I started researching them. To the Amish they are as different as our automobiles. The differences in the buggies are calling cards to other Amish to tell them which order and/or district the owner is from. For example, a Swartzentruber Amish (the strictest group) may only have a lantern on his buggy to guide the driver by night while a New Order Amish buggy may have battery-operated headlights and taillights.
Like everything in the Amish culture, the district’s religious leaders, the bishop, deacon, and preachers, determine the rules for the buggies
Some Buggy Types
- Family Wagon—These are the buggies you see most commonly in Ohio and have the recognizable box shape. In Ohio, the box shape is tapered in at the wheels.
- Courting Buggy—a two-seater open to the air meant for a couple considering marriage
- Market Wagon—a two-or-more-seater with an open back to haul items to and from market
- Black (most popular color and the one found most often in Ohio)
- Brown (found in Pennsylvania and some places in New York)
- Gray (found in Lancaster County, PA)
- White (found in Nebraska)
- Yellow (It is now my life goal to get a photo of a yellow buggy! Pennsylvania Byler Amish drive these.)
Why do the Amish Drive Buggies?
Despite all of the forms of transportation possible today, the Amish continue to travel by buggy because buggies limit how far the Amish can go. The Amish strongly believe in community and feel that if their district members had access to automobiles, the members would be more likely to move away from their homes districts.
Also because the buggies limit travel it makes Amish neighbors more reliant on each other. Instead of driving a few miles into town for cup of sugar or a tool, the Amish are more likely to borrow the items from a close neighbor.
Finally, they continue to drive buggies to display their separateness from the modern world. Just as the differences in the Amish buggies are calling cards to different Amish orders about the type of Amish the driver is, the fact the Amish drive buggies is a calling card to us, the English, that they actively chose to live differently.
I’ll be traveling to Amish Country again later this month and look forward to many more buggy sightings. I’ll let you know if I see that yellow one!