Green en­ergy long used by Old Or­der Men­non­ites in Kutz­town

To pump wa­ter for farm, large wind­mills were erected or un­der­ground wa­ter-wheels

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - Richard L.T. Orth A Look Back In His­tory

Per­haps his­toric Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch farm­steads are more ap­pre­ci­ated by Kutz­town Men­non­ites than their mo­dem Worldly Dutch neigh­bors, who seek to tear them down in mod­ern­iz­ing farms. It is with­out doubt that Dr. Shoe­maker’s “Penn­syl­va­nia news­pa­perKutz­town Plain­his to where mag­a­zineaided fol­low Dutch Dutch­man”in he him beck­on­ing Men­non­ites pub­lished and to its Kutz­town suc­ces­sor,Folk­life.” area Here, “Penn­syl­va­ni­ais wherein thehe em­pha­sizedand we have in seen his over jour­nal the decades a of won­der­ful gen­uine ac­cul­tur­a­tionPlain and modern Dutch cit­i­zens con­tinue our Penn­syl­va­nia folk­life iden­tity into the 21st Cen­tury.

Rarely in modern civ­i­liza­tion do re­li­gion and sci­ence mix, es­pe­cially as our use of fos­sil fuels in the world has be­come an is­sue to­wards en­dan­ger­ment, and cur­rent events such as oil spills off the Gulf of Mex­ico and Alaska in re­cent times have caused en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists to re­view na­tive and nat­u­ral ways in which our na­tion can pro­duce en­ergy in a more de­sir­able method. Wind tur­bines, for ex­am­ple, ad­vo­cated by cap­i­tal­ist, Boone Pick­en­sits ru­ral fol­low­er­sand Old phi­los­o­phyal­ways Amish. Or­der among­did Their Men­non­itesto have ournot re­li­gious let run au­to­mat­i­c­away with one’s ma­chi­nes­life is the core prin­ci­ple of Plain Peo­ple in our area, who en­cour­age the use of nat­u­ral forces on earth, in­stead thatof man-made in­ven­tions that man-made may not of be hu­man­ the best So, when the Old Or­der Men­non­ites con­verted Berks in­ter­ests County farms con­vert­edto be op­er­ated wind­millby th­ese der­ricks,old fash­ioned­few peo­ple sav­ing ap­plauded tra­di­tion. their en­ergy Whether it was pump­ing well wa­ter or wa­ter wheels har­ness­ing eter­nal mo­tion of our streams, th­ese early Amer­i­can tech­niques have al­ways had their place in our agrar­ian so­ci­ety, and one need not change one’s re­li­gion to en­gage in th­ese en­ergy sav­ing tech­niques. But they do work, as well as har­ness­ing a driv­ing horse to a wagon or buggy to meet oc­cu­pa­tional needs, which I’m not sug­gest­ing the in­ex­pe­ri­enced do. But per­haps the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic Amer­i­can, who de­sires faster and con­ve­nient in many facets of life, es­pe­cially on the high­way, may not truly know what hu­man sac­ri­fice, prin­ci­ple, and med­i­cal cost he has forced upon na­tion to en­dure; and worst of all sense­less, tragic deaths on our roads. That first gen­er­a­tion of Men­non­ites that made the re­lo­ca­tion in 1949 at first re­placed the elec­tri­cal fix­tures in the homes with gas and gaso­line lamps since elec­tric­ity was a bi-prod­uct of the modern world, but since nat­u­ral gas comes from the earth it could be used by the Men­non­ites. There­fore, from the 1950s up un­til the 1980s, many farm homes of the Men­non­ites here in and around Kutz­town used bot­tled gas for light­ing the house, cook­ing ranges, and re­frig­er­a­tion be­fore farms were re­verted back to use elec­tric­ity again. Those nat­u­ral gas lamps gave a bright glow, al­most equal to elec­tric­ity, but not of the same con­ve­nience. Fur­ther­more, in not sac­ri­fic­ing to­wards sec­u­lar ways, if a Mennonite woman had a gas range, whether new or old, it was black and not fancy porce­lain white. Plain women that had both a gas stove and an old-fash­ioned coal range of­ten used both with no ac­tual pref­er­ence, as was the case with Pi­o­neer Ezra’s (Burkholder) wife.

But in or­der to pump wa­ter for the farm­stead, large wind­mills were erected or un­der­ground wa­ter-wheels in set­tling in at Kutz­town. Un­fa­mil­iar with the Plain Peo­ple at first, many Worldly Dutch peo­ple could not un­der­stand how their Plain Dutch cousins lived with­out cer­tain do­mes­tic con­ve­niences. Nonethe­less, there was ei­ther a wa­ter­wheel or wind­mill on the farm since they were ini­tially with­out elec­tric­ity, and through the power pro­duced by one of th­ese ma­chines, wa­ter was pumped from a well to a stor­age rank. Most farms, if not all with per­haps one as con­firmed re­cently have run­ning wa­ter now.

Sub­mit­ted photo

In this 1974 photo cap­tured by staff pho­tog­ra­pher, Robert Walch, a wa­ter pump used for drink­ing, can be seen in the fore­ground on an early snow cov­ered morn­ing out­side of Fleet­wood in our East Penn Val­ley.

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