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The True Story of Yonie Kauffman

As tailored by Brad Igou

Lately, I got here throughout the story of Yonie Kauffman, an Amishman in the Huge Valley space of Pennsylvania. It is definitely one of probably the most uncommon stories to return out of Amish tradition, and it’s true. It was put into novel type by Joseph Stoll, an Amish author at Pathway Publishers, the Amish publishing home in Canada. The guide is known as The Wasted Years. The story is fascinating, and it additionally points out that a lot of our story of Jacob and the dialog seem to be rooted in actuality. If our story of Jacob’s Selection is just not exactly the norm, then definitely the story of Yonie Kauffman is even more unusual and bizarre. However, it did happen. It is reminiscent of the French film Return of Martin Guerre and the American model Sommersby. Following is my synopsis of the story, and a few precise passages from the e-book by Joseph Stoll, revealed in 1993.

In 1900, Yonie Kauffman was 20 years previous. Actually, he was virtually twenty-one. In two months, and he would have a birthday, and then he can be on his own. That was what Yonie was fascinated with as he rested towards the hoe handle. On his own—free to return and go as he happy, to decide on his personal work, to be his personal boss. Yonie heard a practice whistle echo down the valley. Trains had all the time fascinated Yonie. They have been a romantic image of the good past, of life outdoors this slender valley… Oh, the time would come when he would get out and see the world.

Yonie’s mother shouted at him, for he was clearly daydreaming. Yonie considered his state of affairs as he obtained again to his hoeing. The humiliation of all of it! Here his mom ordered him round as if he have been a young lad… Yonie resented having to stay at house to hoe. However carpenter work was scarce, and his dad had made the choice that morning—Yonie would keep residence and assist the womenfolk hoe the garden. Now Yonie’s mother questioned him.

“What makes you so quiet, son?” she requested. “Is something bothering you?”

Yonie shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, I don’t know,” he answered.

“Of course you know,” she insisted, not unkindly. What point was there in telling his mother how dissatisfied he was? She would never perceive. Why inform her how irked he turned when Dad gave him orders. Yonie couldn’t stand being bossed round, and his dad nonetheless used him like just a little boy, it seemed. Each time he labored together with his father, there was all the time rigidity and resentment build up inside him.

“Come, Yonie,” she coaxed. “Tell me what’s wrong. You’re not the happy young man you used to be. What has changed you?”

What has changed me? Yonie questioned. Why am I the best way I am? He wished he knew the trustworthy reply to Mom’s question. However he did not, so he was silent…. How might he clarify to his mother this restlessness that seized him and made him miserable? How might he make her understand when he did not understand himself?

There was a lot on this valley that was pricey to Yonie, and he knew his roots ought to have grown deep. That was what perplexed him. Why should he have this urgent longing to get out and see the world, the unusual locations he had read about in his geography books and elsewhere?

Yonie’s mom thought perhaps the sermon at the last church service, the communion, and ordination would have had a constructive effect on Yonie. Indeed, his uncle’s turning into a preacher had moved him, but his internal dissatisfaction remained.

Yonie reflected on his house and household, and the stories his mom informed him of the days when the Amish first got here to the Kishacoquillas Valley, tales informed to her by her mother and father. But Yonie’s ideas have been disrupted by cries, and Yonie noticed that the Zook’s barn was on hearth. Nothing might be completed to save lots of the barn, the hearth started by a toddler enjoying with matches. When it was all over, Yonie’s little cousin was lifeless. All of the sudden Yonie felt guilty for his dissatisfaction earlier in the afternoon. His issues have been minor in comparison with what his Aunt Rachel was struggling at this moment.

Yonie ended up getting employed by the crew that might rebuild the barn. He wasn’t actually too pleased, because he had heard the person in cost was a troublesome boss. “What’s wrong? Don’t you appreciate a good job when work is scarce?” requested Dad.

“I guess.” That was all Yonie would say. However inside he was rebelling… Dad had not even asked him his opinion, whether or not he wished to work for this man. On the job, as he expected, he was not very completely happy. But who or what was the primary object of his dissatisfaction, he could not say. Maybe it was Yonie Kauffman! Nicely, once he was twenty-one, he would discover out. Then issues can be totally different.

When Yonie discovered his good good friend Amos’s household was shifting to Ohio, he needed to go along and assist them transfer in, seeing slightly of the surface world along the best way. Yonie asked his father, who replied abruptly, “No, I can’t see any point in that. You’ve no business in Ohio, and besides, how would you ever get back” Yonie knew the topic was closed. When he realized the trip to Ohio was forbidden, it seemed all of the more fascinating. But his father had given him no consideration. It was the same previous story.

The summer time of 1900 wore on. Yonie Kauffman’s twenty-first birthday passed, and the cash he now earned was his own to keep or to spend. At residence, the tensions between father and son didn’t lessen, as Dad Kauffman continued to be curt with Yonie, ordering him round as before. Yonie, for his half, was decided to now to bear the injustice in silence. He nursed his resentful feelings and stored them to himself as much as attainable. And so the rift widened.

Then Yonie heard that there was work out in the Kansas Amish settlement. He had enough cash to take the practice, and announced his plans to go. His mom was upset. “But it’s dangerous. You never know what company you’ll get into. Why don’t you stay home, and join church?”

And quiet down once, and get married. Yonie might finish what he thought his mother was considering. However Yonie did not need to be tied down yet. What harm might there be in having a superb time first?

“Let him go” Dad Kauffman advised his wife. “maybe he’ll learn his lesson. My guess is he’ll come home broke, and then maybe he’ll appreciate what people have done for him here.”

Yonie left, and after the harvest, nonetheless did not return, or even write very often. His mother and father turned concerned. “Maybe I was too harsh with him while he was at home. I know I should have been more patient. But that doesn’t excuse Yonie. He knows better.”

“We’ll have to keep writing, and urge him to come back,” continued Mom. “We must pray for him, and trust that he will see his error.”

But letters quickly got here back noting that Yonie had moved on, with no tackle. And so the months handed with no word. Unknown to them, Yonie had tired of a nomad’s life and he was homesick for his household and his childhood residence. Of larger importance, the burden of his conscience had grown too heavy, and he was ready for a change. He needed to make peace together with his mother and father and God.

He returned to the Huge valley in 1903, resolved to make a brand new start, to proper his wrongs, to hitch the church, to stay a Christian life. He was prepared to humble himself and admit that he had erred. And he was aware that the more than two years he had spent out west had been wasted years—a time when his life had lacked path, and he had gone from one job to a different, without purpose and with out function.

Yonie was sick of such a life, and he knew now he might stay a greater one, if solely… If only he received a welcome from his household and former buddies. If solely he might be accepted by them, after which was worthy of their esteem. If only he might overcome the temptations that came to him, the durations of discouragement, the emotions of resentment and insurrection. If only…

Issues went fairly nicely for Yonie when he returned. He obtained a job in the sawmill, and even survived what might have been a deadly accident. Luckily, the blade would solely depart an enormous scar on his left shoulder.

As the summer time progressed, Yonie’s shoulder healed quickly. He attended the young people’ singing commonly, and joined heartily within the singing of the previous martyr hymns. He had an exceptional singing voice and loved utilizing it.

For some time Yonie had been giving critical thought to getting married and starting a household of his personal. However he was nonetheless not sure of himself. There was just one woman that was of interest to him, and that was Mary Stoltzfus… He was considering of how extremely respected Mary was, and of his personal report of the past — his disobedience in going out west, his moody spells of discouragement, his bouts together with his temper… Dad and Mother Kauffman have been happy with Yonie’s interest in Mary. If any woman might convey out the most effective in Yonie, Mary was the one.

However Yonie had a rival in in search of Mary’s affection, his distant cousin John Kauffman. Despite the fact that Mary would let Yonie take her residence from the singings, she by no means actually appeared to make a dedication to him.

Time handed, and someday Yonie discovered himself slicing stone up in the mountains. Deciding to return and end the subsequent day, he rigorously hid his decide and shovel in a crevice between two rocks where no passing hiker or tramp may find it. He needed to return residence and make sure to get to the younger individuals’s corn husking that night time, and see Mary again.

However on the husking, he fell in with a gaggle of boys who had brought some arduous apple cider alongside, they usually succeeded in getting Yonie to drink an excessive amount of. Quite than need to face Mary in such a state, he determined to easily go residence together with his sister. As he left, he saw Mary being taken house by his rival, John. T

he subsequent morning Yonie woke with a nasty headache. At that second life was hardly value dwelling. If he certainly lost Mary, what was the use of making an attempt? Yonie was dissatisfied, discouraged, despondent — more so than he had ever been in his life.

Mary Stoltzfus was genuinely sorry, however she had made up her thoughts that their friendship should end.

Thus, when Yonie discovered of a gaggle of young men planning to take a trip to the Amish settlement in Lancaster, he decided it will be good to get away for some time. His mother and father thought he may even discover a young lady there which may strike his fancy. However when the group returned every week later from Lancaster, Yonie was not with them. Mother and Dad Kauffman debated what to do. Mother needed Dad to go to Lancaster. Dad thought Yonie wouldn’t take heed to him, and that Mom would have the ability to speak to him higher. But earlier than they might do anything, a letter arrived from Lancaster from a pal saying Yonie had gone, and nobody knew where he went.

Six years handed, and although the Kauffman’s waited every single day for a letter from Yonie, none came. Now it was 1909, and Yonie’s sister was getting married, and wished her brother might be there. However by this time, Yonie had develop into a sailor, and was out on the oceans, visiting other lands. Nonetheless, he was typically sad together with his life, together with his companions, the card games, the consuming. So he resolved to return residence. Unable to put in writing to his mother and father, he wrote his sister…

“I should never have left home. I know it was a terrible thing to do, and no doubt Mom and Dad have long disowned me. Now I would like to come home, but I would like to know first if I am welcome. Please write and tell me the truth. I do not want to come back if nobody wants me back. But I would like to lead a different life.”

Yonie can be in New York for 2 weeks, and he had a publish workplace box, anxiously awaiting a reply. But he was shocked to obtain his personal letter back, unopened, and stamped “Refused.”

Yonie was crushed. This was so in contrast to Mary. or had Dad given her orders? The fact was evident to Yonie. His family had rejected him. He was not welcome.

So Yonie decided to return to the ship and his life on the sea. Unknown to Yonie, nevertheless, was the fact that his letter ended up accidentally on the house of an previous maid (named Mary like his sister) in the Huge Valley, who thought someone was enjoying a joke on her, and refused this supposed letter from the long gone Yonie Kauffman.

Then, in 1915, a pal of the Kauffmans ran right into a 35-year-old man in Ohio who he was positive was Yonie. In fact, a lot time had handed. It was determined that Dad Kauffman and a sister would go and see him. Dad had his doubts, much more so when he met the person in the lodge room. Sister was not fairly positive. They asked him to disclose his bare shoulder and see the scar, but none was there. The man provided no info, refused to say who he was, and didn’t converse the dialect. No response came when Dad stated all was forgiven if he would simply come house and be their son again.

Back residence Mom Kauffman was distraught. She needed so to consider her Yonie had been found. Because the household talked, it was discovered that the scarred shoulder was truly the left one. Might it’s it really was Yonie, and he had purposefully confirmed them his proper shoulder solely?

A number of months passed, and a tramp arrived on the Kauffman house. Mother noticed his face, and out of the blue her heart jumped. She asked if he was Yonie, and he stated that certainly he was. Thus, in 1916, the mysterious man from Ohio had come house, and admitted to being the long misplaced Yonie. Nevertheless, some individuals had their doubts, including Dad Kauffman. Apart from, Yonie’s way of life was lower than desirable. He came and went. He did odd jobs. He still had a consuming drawback. He nonetheless disliked interference and recommendation. Thus neither Dad, Mom, nor the ministers might persuade him to vary his life. Individuals continued to argue about whether this actually was Yonie. As time glided by, he joined a Mennonite Church, but then was expelled for his consuming drawback.

At some point Dad Kauffman didn’t come up from mattress. As Mother talked to him, she feared the worst. He spoke these words about Yonie as he lay dying…

“I see now we were too hard on Yonie when he was a young lad. Or at least I was. I meant it for his good, because I saw so many boys growing up without restraint, and I didn’t want to make that mistake. Yonie is natured a lot like I am, and I often wished my dad would have helped me overcome my temper when I was a boy. Now I see that I was too harsh with Yonie…. Sometimes I feel my life has been wasted if Yonie doesn’t repent.”

Yonie appeared affected by the dying of Dad in 1923 on the age of 78. He came over Mom extra, and did chores around the house. Then the day got here for the reading of dad’s will. When Yonie heard that each one dad was leaving him was $25, and that the remaining of the property can be divided equally among the many different youngsters, he was indignant, and heard to mutter, “Twenty-five dollars! Chicken feed!” He felt that his older brother Crist was accountable for his being shut out of Dad’s will. One night time a fireplace broke out in Crist’s barn, and it burned to the bottom. Yonie was suspected, but there was no option to know for positive.

Ten months later, Mother Kauffman handed away on the age of 70. Individuals thought this may lastly change Yonie, however he got here to the funeral with the odor of liquor on his breath.

As a while glided by, the relations talked amongst themselves, and determined to attempt to help Yonie buy a home of his personal, since it appeared Yonie was making an honest dwelling, and maybe could possibly be convinced to put some cash into a place of his personal. That is what happened, and Yonie acquired his place in a city far enough away that he wasn’t seen all that much anymore, though they heard he was getting married.

By now, most individuals had in all probability forgotten the controversy over whether or not this really was Yonie, however the actual Yonie was indeed elsewhere. He was nonetheless a sailor, and had now reached the conclusion that he had to return residence. He arrived on a Sunday, not likely eager to be seen. He managed to enter the home by means of an open window. It turned clear that one of his sisters lived her now, and that his mother and father have been both lifeless. He longed to return to the days when he was younger, sitting at the table, listening to Dad read from the German Bible. Yonie felt he had wasted his life. He was alone, no spouse, no household. He thought of what may need been. Yonie couldn’t determine what to do.

As night time came, he determined to look for a barn to sleep in, and perhaps for a meal. Tramps weren’t unusual visitors to the Amish in these Melancholy years. He went to the Levi Yoder farm, and made his request. However Levi stunned him by saying that he seemed for all the world like Yonie Kauffman. Yonie broke down, and admitted that indeed he was. When Yonie’s sister and others in the family heard the information, they might not consider it.

They went to satisfy the brand new Yonie, and Mary knew it was certainly her brother as soon as she noticed him, and in addition questioned how she might have been so fooled by the opposite. To place all doubters to rest, Yonie bared his left shoulder, the place the scar from the sawmill accident was still clearly evident. A number of days later, to additional prove his id, he took some individuals up into the mountains, and there situated that decide and shovel he had hidden in the rock crevice some thirty years ago.

Yonie was a changed man. He was repentant and very sorry for the pain and sorrow he had brought about his mother and father by his disobedience. However it was too late to make amends to them. What a waste his life had been. The most he might do now was to stay the remaining years of his life in a means that may have been acceptable to them. Only thus might he hope for God’s forgiveness, and for grace and mercy for his soul.

Who then was this different Yonie Kauffman? Yonie heard of the impostor, and on August 25, 1932, the native newspaper reported on the meeting of the two Yonies. The impostor, now married, had heard of the news of the actual Yonie’s return, and advised others how he had come to the Kauffmans, at the urging of associates, perhaps satisfied of receiving an inheritance. He seemed virtually relieved now that his worry of this occurring was over, and he might admit what was the truth is the reality. Because the newspaper famous when the two males met, the impostor showed “no reluctance to admit the imposition and he found the man he wronged just as ready to forgive and forget.” The imposter additionally admitted to having set hearth to Crist Kauffman’s barn after Dad Kauffman’s demise.

And thus ends one of the strangest stories in Amish history. It is a story of unhappiness and deceit, or dissatisfied mother and father and a disobedient son, of years wasted in sinful dwelling.

The solely glad portion of the story is the considerably brighter ending, but even this is tinted by regrets and sorrow over what may need been. The Finish.

Amish Nation Information Article by Brad Igou