KBIA: Missouri Amish population expanding, moving

By Barbara Maningat, Nick Gass and Krysta Brown (Columbia, MO) | Posted Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 3:54pm | UPDATED: October 13, 2010 at 5:15pm

When the Amish decide to start a new settlement, it’s a community decision.  Learn more about the process and one man’s move from Clark to Brashear, Mo. CLICK HERE to view the full story

Audio Intro: In the past 20 years, Missouri has seen a sharp increase in the number of Amish settlements, from 15 in 1991 to 38 this year. As the population moves to traditionally non-Amish areas, businesses, both local and national, have worked to accommodate them. KBIA’s Nick Gass has more.

On a Tuesday afternoon, workers at Countryside Market fill and seal bags of curry seed to go on the shelves.  For the past two years, Nathan Byers and his family have been running a country supply store outside of Kirksville that caters to the farming community in the area. Byers says that he’s seen five or six different Amish groups come into the store, including Amish from the local settlements in Clark and Greentop.

When Clarence Miller and his wife moved from Clark, Mo., to Brashear, Mo., they moved to a place they hoped would allow them to have more farmland and build a better life. Their desires aren’t much different from anyone who chooses to relocate for their employment, but as the founding members of a new Amish settlement, their responsibility is far greater.

Like the westward pioneers before them, these present day Americans have left their home for unfamiliar territory. They’re not merely moving to a new settlement – they’re building it.

For the past 20 years, Amish Americans have been migrating westward and into Missouri, causing an increase in settlements, according to a study by The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. The study also reports an increase in Amish birth rates over the same time period. The result has been a movement of Amish families from areas where land has become scarce to less-populated areas of the country.

“Families who are seeking to maintain a farming and rural lifestyle are looking for reasonably priced land in more rural and secluded areas where they can continue to make a living with a family style farming,” said Donald Kraybill, a senior fellow at the Young Center at Elizabethtown College. “This enables them to preserve their culture more effectively and ward off some of the unwanted forces of modernization and high-tech living lifestyles.”

For Miller, the search for land meant a move of 75 miles north from an established Amish settlement in Clark, Mo. On a busy morning, he interrupted his work to describe the impact of the move after living in one place for nearly 50 years.

“It was hard to leave old friends and neighbors. Some of them visit and the neighbors we have now are real nice. You do get homesick,” Miller said.

Since 1991, Missouri’s Amish population has tripled to about 9,500 people according to the Elizabethtown study. (The U.S. Census does not collect information based on religious affiliation.) The study also reported Amish have started 23 new settlements in Missouri since 1991 for a total of 38. The only other state with as many new settlements is Wisconsin.

Miller has noticed the increased population, but said it isn’t because of an influx of new families.

“When [the Clark settlement] was established in 1953, there was a lot of land and opportunities, but as time went on, people married and land ran out,” Miller said. “In this day and age, it’s hard to tell when’s the right time [to move]. Opportunities are less than that time because land is so expensive and with the economy the way it is.”

Although Miller has found and developed this land in the past four months, a local business owner said that not every Amish family is able do the same. Sharon Marohl teaches riding lessons and runs a general store at her home in Clark, in the middle of mid-Missouri’s Amish country. For 16 years, she and her family have lived side-by-side with their Amish neighbors.

“I know that [Miller’s settlement] is working on—I’m not sure settling is the right word—reestablishing a settlement that some Amish from Pennsylvania tried to start in the Kirksville area,” Marohl said. “They worked very diligently at it, but Pennsylvania soil is very different than Missouri soil, and for two years in a row they had no crops.”

After the Pennsylvania settlement uprooted, they sold their land in Brashear and returned home. Word spread throughout the Amish communities in mid-Missouri that the land was available, so the overpopulated settlement in Clark took an immediate interest.

The decision to leave his home in Clark was not an easy one, Miller said. Jeff Gingerich, an Amish businessman, said that the elders in Clark met to discuss who would be most capable of establishing a new settlement – but ultimately, it was “a community decision.”

“It’s a hard decision knowing if you’re the right person to do it,” Miller explained. “[It took] a few years. Thoughts would enter my mind that this should be done. The realization didn’t come until I bought land and made efforts to move up here.”

After the move, Miller’s first task was to get his farm started. He owns 238 acres to grow corn and raise cattle. Typically, a settlement will grow as other families also look for land. Miller’s settlement has nine families, with a new family due to arrive from Macomb, Ill., in less than a month.

Marohl said the settlement now has to figure out how to get the supplies they cannot make themselves and who can act as the liaison between the Amish and the non-Amish.

Miller glanced into the distance, surveying his farming property, as he enumerated the work he has yet to do before the seasons change and, in his words, “the snow flies.”

A big priority for Miller is building. He plans on finishing off a workshop where he will make oak rocking chairs for sale. Other projects include finishing a neighbor’s basement, but that’s not the biggest project ahead.

“I feel a lot of pressure,” said Miller, who has the added burden of building a new school for the new settlement.

Miller is unsure about how soon the community will multiply. He said he cannot focus so much on the future; he already feels blessed by the opportunity to start a new home.

“You just thank the good Lord that he’s given you the strength and the health to go on,” Miller said.

Defining Asian and Asian American

Too many times has the ethnicity of Asian been so generalized to cover all Asian nationalities that many cultures, especially that of the melting pot of the United States, have come to accept that all are one in the same. My hope is to educate the vast cultural differences for Asian nationalities and identify the contrasts to Asian Americans by: sharing my personal experiences, interviewing as many people who can provide helpful insight in the Columbia, Mo., area, as well as those already speaking out across the nation.

Blogs: My Asian American Outlook and What They Say


My views on the ever changing world of journalism.

Jan 21, 2010 @ 6:40

Backpack Journalists are ideal for the business model

While the “Mush of Mediocrity” article makes an understandable argument, it ignores the basic concept of the business aspect of journalism. Journalism is a profession meant to inform the public of relative, authentic news – but simultaneously, journalism is a business. In order for any publication or broadcast station to maintain profitable circulation, strategic business structures must be utilized. It is a simple concept; hiring one multi-faceted journalist who can accomplish the variety of work of four specially trained journalists. This method, as mentioned by Adrian Phillips in the article, allows journalists to produce more authentic pieces, exposing the story in a more complex, detailed, and varied method. The key to this backpack journalist is in his/her training. These multimedia reporters must be skillful and impeccably honorable to the quality and authenticity of every facet of their work, or their lack of knowledge in one area will taint their overall image.

Feb 1, 2010 @ 7:00

Photography = People Watching

The potential of a photographer’s work is measured by the persistence and passion behind every picture. This is the message I attained from David Snider’s introduction to his final photo gallery. What Snider emphasized by highlighting his career history was that photojournalists are first, people watchers who engage in the moments captured and second, lifetime learners. In order to improve my eye for finding ideal candid photos, I need to practice, and then learn how to expand my knowledge from there.

David LaBelle’s extensive, yet easy-read excerpt was extremely enlightening and intriguing – helping me to approach my photography assignment for the week. The events of my subject matter, the Student Union Programming Board, will not be occurring until mid-February, leaving the tedious planning meetings for me to shoot. This worries me; how will I find moments to capture if all of them are in a typically boring setting? After reading LaBelle’s tips on “hunting” for the right picture, ensuring that it be simple and though-provoking simultaneously, I feel more inspired to find several significant moments within this meeting setup. I am hoping that this predicament will actually work to my advantage because I intend on angling my feature on the SUPB on the planning that goes into their biggest events this semester. Planning is not what most focus on when it comes to events. The main attractions, suiting to its label, steal all the attention because that is what all the preparation comes down to – however, I want to flip the viewers’ eyes on the group who makes it all happen. LaBelle spoke of curiosity, instantly influencing the viewer to want to know more of the subject matter. I want people to be curious about the SUPB and be impressed by their work.

Feb 18, 2010 @ 4:05

Ingenious Photography: If this doesn’t convince you to save the environment, I don’t know what would

Ingenious. The “Airsick” multimedia package of Lucas Oleniuk for the Toronto Star spoke to me on a deeper level than most other single media programs. Several messages were artfully delivered throughout the story and deserve recognition individually.
Take Oleniuk’s execution of the finished piece for example; Twenty thousand frames taken in twenty days is worth mentioning within in the caption because it exemplifies how extensive the air pollution matter has become. Most media packages created on a day-to-day basis are assigned, shot, produced and edited within a single working day. The expenditure of nearly a month’s worth of this man’s time and resources (let alone the x-amount of days it took for him to compile the work into his finished product) worked effectively.
I particularly respected his depiction of cosmopolitan society, setting environmentally destructive scenes that we bypass everyday. The simplest details of a daily panorama told individual stories: A shriveling flower personified as breathing gave life to the environment; an oilrig pumping from dawn to dusk showed man’s constant greed for more from Earth. Established structures that typically promote an optimistic view on innovation flipped moods with the other scenes: a sardined subdivision, twinkling skyline and barricaded park amidst concrete development.

Feb 23, 2010 @ 11:18

Pace… is… essential…

I listened to – and followed along – the KBIA “Jefferson City Citizens Debate New Recycling Plan” story by Tara Grimes. The content and flow of Grimes’s story was great. It was very informational and included the opposing sides of the conflict, as well as an authority figure so to encapsulate a well-rounded idea. Before listening to this, I had no knowledge of Jefferson City’s ordinances on recycling and was able to develop my own opinion on what I would support if I were a local resident.
 As far as the delivery of the report, I found myself reading ahead of the reporter’s VO with the script posted online along with the audio. Grimes was quite well-versed and had enunciation that allowed me to clearly understand her, however she spoke slightly too slow for my taste. The dragging pace was probably enhanced by the availablility of the copy on the same page as the audio link. Once I hit play, my eyes latched onto the script and I found myself only reading and not paying attention to the broadcast aspect of the story. With this realization, I minimized the page so to only listen to the story and was still bothered by the pace. Livening up her verbage would have also cut the 3:11 minute story by a large margin. Like many other radio pieces I have analyzed, including NPR stories, Grimes narrated for a large portion of the package. Now because of this practice in addition to her pace, the overall project lost my attention toward the last minute or so.
When I read through the script once more after the audio finished playing, I almost felt like this would have been a better print story than radio. There was no nat sound except for the ambience sound during the soundbites – then again, what good nat sound could be acquired with such a topic?
I don’t mean to criticize Grimes in the least bit, especially because I have such little experience. Kudos to Grimes for intriguing me about Jefferson City’s mandatory recycling pickup and the deliberation on its prices. Next time, just for my sake, pick up the pace.

Mar 2, 2010 @ 6:51

Ethics and Staging: Common Sense or Saving Graces

At first review of the staging and ethics articles, it seemed like the journalistic tips were nothing more than common sense. “Do not add,” be obvious when using musical effects, do not ask a source to recreate a scene – such rules of thumb are almost unneeded to put in writing if one has taken a basic principles of American journalism or ethics course. Fabricating any information in a story is forbidden, except for unique situations, however blatant notification of this “staging” is essential for the audience. This tip by Dave Wertheimer was helpful, though, because many amateur journalists like myself would not consider staging as an option. Period. It is my understanding that the role of the journalist is to present the information in the most authentic light at all costs. I suppose it never crossed my mind to ask sources to stage a situation, or even to pretend to attend to something in their workplaces.
Upon the second round of reviewing both pieces, I began to understand that such regulations of proper journalistic methods are necessary because as reporters, we are human. We are prone to making mistakes, not seeing the implied idea behind a newly altered photograph or interpret the addition of music to a segment in the same way as an audience. It is up to us to remain aware of these rules throughout the production of a story so to avoid misinterpretation and reviewing such rules before publication can save a reporter’s behind. While it may seem like simply common sense, such knowledge can be lost or forgotten when a reporter works under deadline or is forced to multitask. This is when the written ethical guidelines come into play. Essentially, stating and consistently reiterating these rules is crucial in the constant practice of journalism.

Mar 10, 2010 @ 6:29

Context: Video vs. Print

I reviewed a KCTV-5 package that focused on Kansas City basketball fans who attended an open session at the Sprint Center to watch Big 12 teams practice. This package interviewed several sources, one high school student who is friends with a current Red Raiders player, conveniently pictured in the piece. The reporter then proceeded to interview a middle school-aged MU fan, then an elderly KU fan, touching base on the border war game that was still yet to come. If this were a text story, the ages of these sources would not have been relevant to include in their references. Their supers in the broadcast package were simply “MU Fan” and “KU Fan” because their college basketball loyalties were the pertinent references needed for this story angle. If the reporter were to include the ages of these sources in a text piece, the reader may be distracted and lead to unrelated thoughts with the inclusion of the ages. Maybe the MU fan would not have been credible to certain readers because they would think he was too young to understand a college sport. The reporter could even have lost credibility by interviewing a “young” source as an MU fan, giving the impression that the KU fan is older and wiser. This would make it seem like the reporter was taking sides on this story. I’m not sure if the reporter was allowed to interview any of the players or staff at the Sprint Center, but I think it would have added more depth to the piece if she got an SOT of an organizer who established this opportunity for fans to watch these practices.

Mar 17, 2010 @ 5:03

Write to Your Video

This is the biggest difference between writing any kind of print story versus writing for print. Fred Shook’s outline of how to write for a video package was a very nice, detailed explanation of how to tackle this assignment, however this is just the basic skeleton of the general practice. Define the focus of the story, open with your best video shot, followed by the reporter’s VO and the conclusion with a summarizing video shot. I have also heard such tips from fellow students, who have had much more broadcast experience than me, along with professional reporters and anchors at KOMU and KCTV5. They emphasize on this structure, however put added stress on the working knowledge that each story is different. Maybe, they tell me, you can start with a great soundbite you get from a woman describing a robber fleeing the scene, then cut to your best opening shot. Your VO could follow, describing exactly what happened with the video taking the viewer along, step by step. As I mentioned before and as I have heard before, writing your VO to your video is key. Like showing the viewer the sequence of events when describing a robbery, a journalist must use this practice with every package. The order of media presented may change depending on the situation, but guiding the public with what they see and hear is indispensable.

Apr 13, 2010 @ 3:41

Flash Journalism on the Web

There is a power in flash journalism that most have not discovered yet. It’s a simple concept that can enhance the significance of a moment or give an otherwise uninteresting situation, profound relevance to a viewer. The basics of photography – capturing single moments, a clip of life as it happens – can tell a story alone. Such journalism allows the viewer to observe and pick out details of that scene, profile, detail shot as they see it. They can focus on the anguish in the eyes of a profiled woman or the wrinkles along her brow. Meaning to that photograph, however, may not shine through with just the image. Flash journalism truly takes flight with the addition and incorporation of audio and text with a series of related photographs. This is an innovation for the world of Web because it tends to take the reporter out of the story – without actually doing so. The reporter has an angle and hones in on it as he captures moments during an event, acquires audio from interviews of the key characters shown in the pictures, includes natural sound that brings the viewer to the scene, and covers all the relevant facts that are left unsaid in captions. It’s an ingenious method of storytelling that is bound to catch on, especially with the Web movement and its efficiency of mass communication.

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