A newspaper mailed to Amish families across the country is so old-fashioned that it doesn’t even run photos with the stories.

For 116 years, The Budget has compiled simple dispatches written by scribes in Amish communities. Most of the pieces still arrive at the newspaper’s northeast Ohio office in handwritten form because some Amish shun electricity, and thus word processors.

So it might seem odd that The Budget recently established a Web site and plans to begin posting stories online sometime next year.

“I’m very surprised,” said Ada Troyer, an Amish resident of Crawford County’s Spring Township when she learned from The Meadville Tribune of The Budget’s Internet plans.

The New Order Amish woman is one of the weekly writers who still handwrites community updates, then faxes them to the Sugarcreek, Ohio-based paper. She has been writing for The Budget for more than six years.

Troyer said that the New Order Amish will continue to get The Budget through the mail, given that they don’t own computers.

But, as publisher Keith Rathbun explains, the conversational pieces like Troyer’s that chronicle births, deaths, weather and farm developments have attracted readers outside the Amish and Mennonite communities the paper has traditionally served.

“The purpose of the Web site would be more as a research tool. There’s a lot of people interested in the Amish and want to know more about them,” he said. “There’s ag people. Ohio State Extension regularly gets our papers for their classes. They study crop progress and the effect of drought.”

Readers also include historians who study the Amish.

Rathbun prints about 20,000 copies of each edition of the weekly newspaper, 10,000 of which are mailed outside the state. Each one includes about 40 pages of news from Amish and Mennonite communities around the world.

Bill Hostetler, a Mennonite from Sandy Lake in Mercer, said that the Internet version may be utilized by some of the area’s Mennonites.

“I like paper instead, don’t own a computer,” said Hostetler. However, his son does own a computer, as do many Mennonites.

Typically entries in the newspaper start out with a description of the weather. They discuss local events and agricultural activities and include births and ailments.

“Last Sunday afternoon Mrs. John Schmucker ventured over to the neighbors and took a sled ride. The sled overturned hurting her back and she needed to be hauled home. I think she has decided to let the sledding for the younger generation,” reads an entry from Hicksville, Ohio, in the Dec. 21 edition.

In Sugarcreek, Rathbun also publishes an expanded version of The Budget that features between 10 and 20 pages of articles about the non-Amish.

Associate Press writer Jonathan Drew and Meadville Tribune writer Eric Reinagel contributed to this story. Reinagel can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 283 or by e-mail at ereinagel@meadvilletribune.com

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