|The General Store from Wikipedia|
|Amana Colonies from Wikipedia|
The Amana Colonies in Iowa were founded in 1854 by a closed sect of Christians who originally came from Germany. However, after many years of persecution in Europe, they emigrated first to New York, just outside Buffalo. They enjoyed a communal lifestyle, maintaining their commercial and provisional independence as much as possible. The tract of land they purchased in New York was owned by the Colony, and was originally called Ebenezer.
However, the city of Buffalo grew rapidly, and by the early 1850’s, the community was almost surrounded completely. They sent an advisory team west to find new land on which to settle. The decision was made to purchase land near Homestead, Iowa, and six communities were plotted out. A few years later, when the railroad came to Homestead, they purchased the entire town so they could have access to the rail for shipping goods in and out.
Each colony operated under similar rules, and each colony had its own board of elders called the Bruderrath. The Amanites kept themselves to themselves, but occasionally hired an outsider to live and work in their community as need arose. Sometimes this included a blacksmith, laborers, or folks with special skills. Housing was provided to these outsiders, who also ate in the communal kitchens in each colony.
Life was simple in the colonies. Each person had their job to do, and was expected to do it as the entire community relied on them. Laundry was dropped off at each colony’s wash room, where it was cleaned, ironed if need be, then picked up later. The kitchens were ruled by a Kȕchebaas and several helpers, and provided three meals and two snacks per day. There were no cooking facilities in the houses.
Under their original structure, marriage was frowned upon as a weakness of the flesh, but in time they came to understand the need to continue the community, and so permitted marriage. Families lived together until they, too, left home to wed.
They lived a true communal existence, in that nobody owned anything in their own name, including homes or equipment. Any monies earned by sales of products or labor to the outside world were pooled within the community. Each person was given an annual allotment of money, and was expected to spend it within the community store.
Church services were held Sunday morning and every evening, and men sat on one side, women and children on the other. Weddings were held as part of a regular service, and the couple didn’t send invitations. Instead, they traveled from colony to colony to invite folks to the wedding.
When a baby was born, the mother could stay home for two years, at which time the child was enrolled in a care program half days, and the mother returned to work half days. At the age of five, the child began attending school, at which time, the mother returned to work full time. The work and school weeks ran six days a week, with the Sabbath, or day of rest, being the only free day.
Marriage to an outsider was not permitted, and divorce was never an option. If one spouse had a problem with the other, they went to the Bruderrath for advice and counsel.
In 1932, The Great Change, as it is referred to, relaxed many of the rules regarding the way of life, and the communal life was ended. Colonists purchased houses, ran their own businesses, and kept their own profits or salaries. However, the Amana Colonies still exist with many of the original buildings now re-purposed for commercial use. The Great Change also ended the religious aspect of the colonies, propelling them into a secular form of government.
The current colonies enjoy a great tourist trade, and the museum is a treasure-trove of history. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by! It’s in the neighborhood of Highway 6 and 151, just north of Highway 80 near Iowa City.
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|Welcome sign from Amana Colony website|
About A Nurse for Caleb (releases September 3, 2020):
In 1868, Tessa, a Mennonite nurse graduates from nursing school and is assigned to the Amana Colonies in Iowa because of her expertise in treating asthma and other breathing problems. As a former student at a women's medical school, she knows more than most about respiratory diseases. She's also had her fair share of heartbreak when, upon her mentor's death, she was forced to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor. Will she be able to use her skills? Or will her gender keep her from helping those who truly need her?
Seth, a widower in Amana, is still nursing a broken heart from his sweetheart's passing two years before. Now raising their invalid son Seth on his own, he wonders why God didn't listen to his prayers for healing for his family. Caleb has been afflicted with the same form of asthma that killed Anna, and Seth stands by helplessly as his son fades away. Can he trust God and trust medicine, or is faith in one mutually exclusive of faith in the other?
Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com