Delving Into Amish Country

Tuesday, October 3- Trip Day 60

I’ve no clue as to why the Dundee designation for Evergreen RV Park as it’s located a quarter mile from the village of Mt. Eaton. This park is really nice. Whoever designed this park was an RV’er! Nice large sites are located on a hill. Some leveling is needed front to back but side to side is pretty level.

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Huge grass dog run with a corn field behind our rig.

Grass grows between sites. Picnic tables and fire rings at every site. The office has a lot of RV supplies, a few staples and some gifts. The attached laundry room is huge with 20 washing machines and 20 dryers. There’s a large grassy field towards the rear- the dog walk. It’s got to be at least 5 acres in size. At the edge of the grassy field is a corn field, and to the east is a horse and donkey farm.

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The beautiful rolling hills and an extension of the dreaded (by Megan) fence!

Ah, the horse farm…….. we walked Megan this evening along the fence line. The horses that were in view earlier were no longer there. Megan stuck her nose down along the fence, yelped and started hauling arse away from that fence! Gosh, we hadn’t seen the electric wire between ground level and about a foot up! We didn’t know what had happened until we spotted the “wire”. I don’t know why that hot wire was mounted down so low other than to keep smaller animals out of the pasture. Megan’s had a few “Megan moments” lately. She didn’t like the ferry ride to Mackinac Island, she hated the ferry ride to Put-In-Bay, she deplored the golf cart ride at the same place. Now she get she gets zapped at our current location……….. no pun intended on the “current”.

We’ve literally driven over hill and dale admiring this beautiful portion of Ohio. We’ve gone to Brewster (2100 souls), Beach City, Dundee, Sugar Creek, Walnut Creek, Berlin, Mt. Hope, Winesburg, Wilmot, and of course Mt. Eaton. Most of these towns are not touristy, which we loved, with the exceptions of Walnut Creek, Berlin and Sugar Creek.

Brewster is the location of the corporate headquarters and shops of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway, both the historic company and the current regional railroad. The WLE began producing locomotives at its Brewster shops in 1910, and boasted one of the finest steam locomotive producing facilities in the country. It’s also the headquarters for the largest swiss cheese plant in the U.S.

We didn’t expect to see this beautiful Amish Door Inn, Wilmot

We drove through Beach City (pop. 1000) and the village of Dundee, then stopped in Sugar Creek (2100 souls). Sugar Creek is known as the “Little Switzerland of Ohio”. A local fella thought it would be for good tourism to recreate the architecture of a Swiss village on the town’s buildings. I guess he was right as we just missed the Swiss Festival by a week. My mom was born in Switzerland so I was curious. The town is cute. Nevertheless it’s a tourist trap with little to do with the country it represents. It does have one of the world’s largest cuckoo clocks however.

Downtown Sugar Creek

We drove a short distance (seem’s like all towns are just a short distance apart) to Walnut Creek. Holy Smokes, we found the motherload- of tourism! Big Big shopping centers that cater to tourists, a huge farm that does the same.

We drive past those places and enter the village. What the……. there is no downtown to speak of,  just a restaurant that serves Amish style food family style. We continue on to the Yoder’s Amish Home. It’s another place that caters to visitors but is different. Hardly any visitors are here. There is a farm tour, a house tour and a parochial school tour. We learned a lot about the Amish way of life taking the school tour.

 

We visited Kidron this morning. Kidron was founded in 1819 by Swiss Mennonites who wished to escape persecution and poor farming conditions in their homeland. They were referred to as “Die Stillen im Lande”- the quiet people in the country”. 

From vintage hand tools, to wood burning stoves to a gasoline powered

clothes washer to an $8100 modern electric replica stove!

We heard about a huge hardware store located there, one that caters to the likes of the Amish. Lehman’s Hardware is huge. At least 4 buildings have been incorporated into just one. The store displays many items of farm life from the past and some from the present. It has a huge store of kerosene type lamps, health items, soaps, candy, kids toys, a food court, interior design items……….. and a couple of small sections dedicated to some actual items that one would find in a hardware store. Another tourist trap……. but interesting due to all the antique farm items and retro kitchen appliances on display.

Wood Carvings by Paul Weaver

Also on display at Lehman’s are several wood carvings by an Amish furniture maker by the name of Paul Weaver. As of this date he doesn’t carve for profit, just pleasure. He laminates butternut wood to a maximum of 7″ of depth then starts carving that big block of wood. He doesn’t consider himself an artist. I hope he reconsiders as his work is wonderful.

So we type in “Berlin, OH” into the truck’s onboard navigator. It takes us over hill and dale right through the heart of Amish farms. The road is narrow and not unlike a roller coaster heading up and down some pretty steep hills. One has to be careful cresting these limited visibility hills so as not to run smack dab into a slow-er moving horse and buggy. Slower but not slow- I clocked a couple of those black buggies at 15 mph. But there are slower horse drawn implements that use these country roads….. like a four horse team drawing a hay baler! We had to reroute once due to a road closure, then to Berlin.

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Berlin is another touristy town. We are not interested in walking the streets here nor going into the shops, but we did find a big park to let Megan run.

Amish and Mennonite clothing is easily distinguishable from English- us non Amish or Mennonites. Here’s how to do it:

Conservative Mennonites:

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Wear prints (solids considered to be fancy), wear cape dresses that button up the back, head coverings are small, often transparent. Little girls don’t wear head coverings until school age and wear their hair in long braids. No wedding bands allowed. Women rarely go barefoot. Men are clean shaven or neatly trimmed beards with or without mustaches. Men wear store bought clothes and button up shirts.

Amish:

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Women wear solid color clothes (consider prints to be fancy), wear cape dresses that fasten in the front, head coverings are larger (solid white or black) and are tied under the chin. Little girls wear their hair up. Girls wear black caps until married then wear white. No jewelry of any kind is worn. Both men and women love to go barefoot- some communities will be dressed up in their Sunday best yet go to the meeting barefoot. Men wear beards when they get married and may wear store-bought solid color button up shirts. Shirts may be homemade but pants are all homemade broadfall pants. They are more likely to work off of the farm.

So we’ve found that the Amish and Mennonites are anabaptists (adult baptism). The Amish are offshoots from a larger group that split off in the late 1600’s as a reaction to what one faction saw as liberalized trends. Both believe in values of non- resistance and in some cases plain clothing. Old Order Mennonites or closest to the Amish culturally and also rely on horse and buggy for transportation. They both maintain small labor intensive farms although Amish are more likely to work off of the farm. They both practice social shunning.

The Yoder Name is Everywhere!

The differences come in technology. Old Order Mennonites now allow electricity in the home as well as telephones. They make greater use of tractors as well. Old Order Mennonites worship in meetinghouses while Amish have retained home worship. An offshoot of Amish are the Beachy Amish, a group more like Mennonites as they accept certain technologies, notably the car and computer. “Modern” Mennonites wear modern dress, accept cars, use of the internet and to on to higher education.

So there it is, our visit to Amish country is complete. Tomorrow we will be back on the road.

 

 

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