Stories by and about Former Amish “Stars”

In a culture full of Amish novels and bogus reality television about Amish youth “breaking out,” it is often disheartening to those of us former Amish to see what “sells” in the media. Some of us have well-written stories to share with the world, yet we keep getting rejections from mainstream publishers. Meanwhile, writers of bonnet fiction have contracts for writing books for the next five to ten years. Perhaps we cannot get the big contracts, but that does not keep us from telling our stories.

There is a story that I am very happy and proud to see in print. The young woman who lives with us, who I’ve so far named “Rebecca” on my blog has decided to go public with her identity. Her real name is Anna Miller. Several weeks ago, Anna told her story to Cori Urban of the Springfield Republican. Today, it was printed on the front page of the Sunday paper. Cori did a beautiful job with both the story and the photos.


Anna Miller — photo courtesy of Cori Urban

This story came about because Cori Urban had bought a loaf of bread from Anna. Cori had written several stories about my book, and so she wrote to me and asked if I know about the Amish bakery in Sunderland, where she bought the bread. I wrote back, “You were at my house!” Cori asked if Anna would let her write a story for the Springfield Republican. After pondering it for a while, Anna decided to say yes. Cori and I had a phone conversation about it, during which she mentioned that she’d bought a basket in upstate New York, near where Anna was raised. I asked Cori to bring her basket (which is not signed) and see if Anna can tell her who made it. Sure enough, Anna identified the basket as one that was made by her neighbor. What a small world!

As I collect stories for the Amish Descendent Scholarship Fund blog, I am noticing a common thread in the education stories of those people who left the Amish and sought (or are seeking) higher education. That common thread that runs through all our stories is our dogged persistence in pursuing education. It was impossible to acquire a higher education in the culture in which we were raised. Now that we live in a culture in which that is possible, no obstacle is too big for us to find our way around, through, up over, down under. In some cases, we simply push those obstacles out of our way.

Today we have another one of those stories, this one from Laura Miller Burress called “My Dream of Being a Nurse.” Please click on over to the ADSFund blog to read her inspiring story.

So I hope the authentic stories continue to flow from those who’ve left the Amish and are finding their niche in a foreign culture.

Have fun reading the stories of Laura Miller Burress and Anna Miller. Please leave us your comments.

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13 thoughts on “Stories by and about Former Amish “Stars””

  1. I’m so happy that Anna has decided to sell her story. My boyfriend lives in Sunderland and would love to get some Amish bread if you can tell us how to purchase some! Thanks!

  2. Thank you for sharing Anna Miller’s story. It brought tears to my eyes… remembering how difficult it was trying to figure out how to assimilate into and navigate through a new culture without losing who I was. Culture shock was rough. Anna is blessed to have a safe haven in which to experience that.

  3. Hi Saloma, I live in the Mohawk Valley in upstate NY that has several communities of Amish. I bought a basket that has a turntable under it. It has different compartments that you can put your napkins and salt and pepper or whatever you want in it and place it on the table or counter. I bought it at a co-op store and they said that they are made by an Amish family and even the children make them. They are signed with their name, date and the age of the person that made the basket. I wouldn’t trade that basket for anything. Beautiful workmanship. Matter of fact maybe I will buy some for Christmas gifts.

  4. Hello Saloma, I posted a question to your initial 2009 blog but as I have read on I have already gained a better understanding of some of the issues. This particular blog being most helpful when it comes to the breaking out piece, the way the media and reality tv are portraying these Amish youth etc. You may have addressed it some where here but in terms of education…you mentioned that one of the reasons why people leave the community is to seek higher it just not acceptable within the community? and if not, do you believe that could ever change?
    What affect has the media attention had on the community so far?
    Thank you for all of your insightful thoughts. I can relate only in that I was raised in a small town in Mercer County, of German ancestry with strong religious beliefs. Having left there I had quite an adjustment and many of my family act as if I do not exist as I no longer live there! It is odd. I often have said that it feels like something out of the twilight zone, going back to Pa. especially in the 80’s and 90’s but like I decided to dwell on the positive aspects of my upbringing. Things have improved somewhat in recent years as technology has advanced, there are still many issues. Glad I found your blog and thank you again.

  5. Dear Saloma, what a lovely post. You do not have to be Amish to crave learning! I did it as a young wife also and finally went back to college in my 40’s! However, I do recognize that there were perhaps greater obstacles in your way and in her way. Good for you and all young people who want to feed their minds and spirits! Keep up the good work!

  6. I hope Anna is doing well, but I expect it’s harder than ever for her to be back home. Once you’ve tasted freedom and independence… I would have made a terrible Amish girl. My personality would have gotten me into a lot of trouble. Male dominated…pish. And the poor girl couldn’t even get the mail anymore? What’s that about?

    1. Hello Fran,

      I appreciate all the thoughtful comments you’ve been leaving on my blog. I especially liked the one about bed courtship!

      I looked for an email for you and I couldn’t find it, so I’ll ask this here. Did you family have a cottage on Lake Rangeley in Maine by any chance? My husband’s family did, and they had a Shultis family living next door on the south shore of the lake.

      Just curious… it would be a very small world if that were the case.


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