Amish Social Networking - The Budget Newspaper
4/15/2013

In almost every Amish fiction book I've read, and on many of my visits to the Dalton and Kingston Amish area, there is always mention of The Budget. During my last visit to Kingston area, Leroy Miller of Miller's Bent & Dent (more to come on that soon), showed me a copy of The Budget - a nationwide Amish-Mennonite weekly paper.

The Amish may not use Facebook, Twitter, or even email, but they do have The Budget. It's their connection to family, friends, and loved ones from all over the country. If the Amish in Pardeeville, WI want to know what is going on in  Goshen, IN, they pick up their copy of the The Budget. You could call it the Amish version of social networking, except they have been doing it the same way for over 120 years.

It's not your typical newspaper with reporters, sports editors, and advertising directors. The Budget is mostly made up of letters sent in every single week by scribes all across the country, and even other countries like Nicaragua. These scribes inform the their fellow Amish about the weather, births, deaths, marriages, visitors, who held church, and much more.

Mrs. Melvin Schrock of Markesan, WI writes in a recent issue:

March 25 -- Looks like a nice sunny day. The air has a chill in it at 20° this morning. Melvin is going through a 'gout bout'. He had it in both feet over last Sun. Now his knees and legs are sort of showing signs, but not nearly as severe. They tell him to eat sour cheeries. We've tried a lot of things but raw potato slices seemed to make a differnce. I slid them into his socks.

Our Church was at Floyd M. Bontragers' yesterday in their new log house. Had lots of room. They had  lived in a shop house a number of years. Our visiting ministers were Samuel W. Masts, Wilbur A. Bontragers, Daniel P. Ottos and Clarence Schlabachs.

Born to to Devon and Laura Schlabach, a daughter Joetta Kay on Saturday, March 16th. Grands are Lynn Millers and Richard Schlabachs. 

Mrs. Maynard Mast was taken to the hospital twice since she came home from surgery in Mexico a couple weeks ago due to complications from her surgery. We sure hope things are healing by now. She was a very sick woman. 

March 18th Ervin G. Miller, our neighbor, who teaches school a couple miles southwest  of here, was on the way to school on Hwy. 73 when a car rammed into him and totaled the doubled buggy. He for some reason decided to use it instead of the cart and must be God was watching out for him. 

I really enjoy reading my copy of the The Budget because it gives me a glimpse of what is happening in their lives - just like Facebook does for us. There are no photos of people but there are advertising photos for items such as muck boots and battery powered generators. There is an obituary section and even a "Cookin' With Maudie" recipe section. Children submit their drawings and poems, and there is the conventional crossword puzzle. 

The paper is run by Englischers (what the Amish call non-Amish), and the current editor, Keith Rathburn, who is also an Englischer, brought the paper some mainstream media attention by giving it an official website.

Anyone can subscribe to The Budget, which goes to print weekly, for as little as $32 for a 6-month National subscription. I called my subscription in by phone and had it the following week. 

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