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Amish, Kishacoquillas Valley, Henry F. James, photography, cameras, Mennonites, Belleville, railroad


Handwritten notes on the Amish in Kishacoquillas Valley, Pennsylvania, written by Alfred L. Shoemaker circa 1950. From Volume 28 of the Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia, Shoemaker notes a story about the Amish aversion to cameras and photography. From the New York Times of June 29, 1929, Shoemaker notes information about the history of the Amish and the ethnic populations of Belleville.

Corresponds to:

Packet 33-5 and 33-5a


Belleville, Pennsylvania


Their aversion to mechanisms of all sorts is well illustrated by the experience of their number. The Amish children are trained to flee at the sight of a camera. The author, therefore, decided upon the strategy of making a courteous, earnest request of some Amish parent to take a child’s picture. Accordingly, when he chanced upon a particularly appealing three-year-old girl at the corner of the general store in Belleville, he asked this favor. The young mother smiled, but hesitated. The rotund, ruddy grandmother, one of those rare souls, apparently, who increase in breath of mind with their breadth of beam - gave a friendly nudge of the elbow. “You just go ahead”, she said. At that moment the father joined the group. The photographer's heart quailed before his imposing long red beard and deacon-like garb, but rose again as he saw parental pride softening the very youthful face. He took this occasion to dart out of the door to get his camera.

Returning in less than 2 minutes he found to his dismay that the scene had changed. A stern, gruff old grandfather, militant custodian of the status quo, had loomed up out of nowhere, and hoisting his imperiled granddaughter to his shoulders, he was on his way toward the family buggies, muttering imprecations. Repentant, his wayward family trooped at his heels" - [page] 234

The Kishacoquillas Valley

Henry F. James, University of Pennsylvania

Vol. 28 of the Bulletin of Geographical Society of Philadelphia 1930

Amish were a conservative branch of the Mennonites, dissenters of the 17th century, who fled from the religious persecution of Europe, and with the financial aid of the Eng. Quakers, began to take up land in this country about 1662.

The Mennonite landlady of a tourist's lodge in Belleville was asked whether there were any Scotch-Irish left in Belleville. “No”, she replied, “the only foreigners in Belleville are one family of Italians”.

One railroad, the Kishacoquillas Valley, facetiously called the “Hook and Eye” [illegible]

The Amish proper have no church

New York Times June 29, 1929


The handwritten notes on the New York Times article are included as a supplemental file.



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33-5a.pdf (308 kB)
New York Times article notes

Amish Notes From the Kishacoquillas Valley



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