Anyone who has ever visited an Amish community has probably struggled to understand why these people choose to live without electricity, vehicles, or modern technology.
Rebecca Mabry’s book, “The Amish of Illinois’ Heartland,” provides a fresh perspective of this sometimes mysterious culture. The book, illustrated with tasteful and respectful photography by Vanda Bidwell, paints a portrait of a community with a deep commitment to its Christian faith and to keeping their families strong and close.
Mabry had a long history with the Amish communities of Central Illinois. In 1989, as a reporter for The News-Gazette, she spent three months researching the Amish, which culminated in a three-part newspaper series called “Be Ye Separate.”
Her ties to the Amish remained strong, and in 2005, she spent 15 months traveling to the Arthur-Arcola-Sullivan areas, conducting hundreds of interviews and attending scores of events in the Amish community. She also visited Amish families in the winter community at Sarasota, Florida.
The book was first published in 2007 by The News-Gazette. Sadly, not two years after that, and just before it sold out of its original press run in December 2009, Ms. Mabry succumbed to a long and courageous battle with cancer.