26 responses to The Atypical Amish Community at Unity, Maine
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    Katie Troyer
    Comment on The Atypical Amish Community at Unity, Maine (July 6th, 2015 at 06:39)

    Caleb Stoll is Elmo’s oldest son.

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    Comment on Unity and Smyrna (July 6th, 2015 at 08:43)

    Unity and Smyrna

    Erik, I met several folks from the Unity and Smyrna settlements at the 2015 Anabaptist Identity Conference in Nappanee. Actually, the first person I met when I entered the building was a man, of English background, from Maine. I didn’t think he was Amish, due to his mustache, and was confused when he didn’t salute me (I am a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference and we generally use the Holy Kiss with other groups that would do the same). He informed me that most Maine Amish wear mustaches.

    During the conference, I learned that these two settlements are very seeker-friendly, and I believe it is Smyrna that even uses English in worship services. I did meet an Amish family from Northern Indiana that planned to move there in part due to the use of English. There is a definite connection to the now-defunct Christian Communities and Aaron Stoll’s continuation of their vision at Caneyville (I think in Kentucky). Aaron is a son to Elmo, and cousin to Ira Wagler, author of “Growing Up Amish.” Ira’s blog has three entries about Elmo Stoll and the Christian Communities.

    Given that I am most acquainted with the Amish of Allen County, IN and Northern Indiana, where I have friends, this group did seem very atypical to me. They seem to have a solid vision and dedication to this expression of Christianity. What I found very encouraging is the willingness to accommodate seekers. A minister friend from our area did get to visit with one of the members from Maine, and would probably know more about it than I do. If there are any questions for him, I would be happy to ask.
    Peace and blessings.

    • Thanks for this interesting background info, Nicholas. You reminded me of a video of Kenneth Copp of Living Grains demonstrating a horse-powered flour grinder, and in the video he does have a mustache.


      Sounds like if that’s standard there then it’s another unusual-for-Amish practice to add to the list. I believe I’ve read one or two of Ira’s posts on Elmo Stoll. Ira’s a great writer. I’ve found Elmo Stoll’s writings in Family Life and elsewhere interesting as well. Any other info you come across and feel like sharing here is certainly welcome.

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        Joan Sheldon
        Comment on Elmo Stoll (July 6th, 2015 at 15:01)

        Elmo Stoll

        The Elizabeth that I have mentioned elsewhere in this post is Elizabeth Stoll, widow of Elmo. I see her and several of her married children at least once a week. At her granddaughter’s wedding in May, I got to meet Elmo’s brother and his wife.

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    Debbie H
    Comment on Seeker Friendly (July 6th, 2015 at 09:35)

    Seeker Friendly

    This was a very interesting article. I would love to visit the area, in the Summer. LOL. I am a Florida girl and do not do well in the cold. I wish there were more Amish settlements in the South but land prices are what probably keeps them North of the Mason Dixon.

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      Amish girl – Rebecca
      Comment on The Atypical Amish Community at Unity, Maine (July 6th, 2015 at 14:32)

      I know many people stay North, because of the high heat in summer and not having AC. I know it would get to me. There is a community of very-conservative Amish in Mississippi.

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    Joan Sheldon
    Comment on Unity Community (July 6th, 2015 at 10:29)

    Unity Community

    I am one of the drivers for the Unity Community, and have been since 2009. I value their friendship. This recent article in the Bangor News is very good. I will make copies of it for them. If anyone has questions about Unity, I can probably answer most of them.

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      Comment on Technology in the Unity settlement? (July 6th, 2015 at 12:18)

      Technology in the Unity settlement?

      Neat that you commented here Joan, I recognized your name from the comments in the previous Unity post.

      Since you mentioned it, I was wondering if you could generally describe what sort of technology is used here. From some things I’ve heard it seems it might be quite plain in that regard, but I also read about an air-powered mixer in the article we linked here.

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        Joan Sheldon
        Comment on reply to Erik- Use of Technology (July 6th, 2015 at 14:34)

        reply to Erik- Use of Technology

        Erik- This Old Order Community is rather plain that way. The telephones are in sheds quite a distance from the houses, even at the Community Market/store.
        The lighting in the Community is propane or battery. They do use air power to run the generator to run the milking equipment on the dairies and generators for their washing machines, the old wringer type. I am not very up on the generators and how they work, but heard air being released the other night when it was powering a mixer.
        No radio, TV or computers at all, tho’ occasionally someone will call me to look up something on my computer, like the date of an auction. I have also once or twice ordered books from Amazon for them because Amazon will not take phone orders. Weird that Amazon will not take phone orders.
        They use bicycles and buggies to get around the local area, and drives to go more than 8 or 9 miles, to shopping or the doctors in Bangor or Waterville. The Community is 2 to 3 miles from the shops in Unity, so they use bikes and buggies to get there. Hope this helps.

        • Thanks for this info Joan and picture of technology use in the area. And I know what you mean about helping out with Amazon orders, I recently did one myself for some friends in Lancaster–Bible story books 🙂 I did not know they don’t do anything over the phone.

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on The Atypical Amish Community at Unity, Maine (July 6th, 2015 at 11:54)

    This posting left me with a smile 🙂 on my face!

    This sounds like a place I’d enjoy visiting, if only because English translators are used—I’d love to know what an Amish sermon sounds like—in both languages. The meetinghouse concept is unusual, but I could see how well it would fit into a budding community. It’s also unusual to hear how they welcome “seekers”—not the usual in Amish communities in general, as I understand.

    Donuts! Sigh!

    Love the potato washing machine! (With my limited use of one hand, I could use a potato PEELING machine.)

    Thanks for this virtual visit to an unusual Amish community!

    Alice Mary

    • Those potatoes really come out shiny and clean, don’t they. That was neat to see.

      I’d appreciate a translation as well. Live translation is a challenging job though probably made easier by familiarity with the subject matter. Rich Stevick has described the community at Pearisburg, VA also doing this for outsiders.

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      Joan Sheldon
      Comment on reply to Alice Mary and Erik- (July 6th, 2015 at 14:53)

      reply to Alice Mary and Erik-

      The update on the sermons in Unity and Hodgdon is that they are now all in English except for very rare occassions because so many in those communities do not speak PA Dutch or German. Even the most recent wedding was all in English, partly because some of the groom’s family was English. I am not sure about the sermons in Smyrna, tho’ I can ask Elizabeth. The hymns are still in German in Unity for the church Sundays and weddings, and there are Engl;ish translations for those that need them, like me. There are some very skilled translators available when English is not used. One wedding we had a few years ago, the translators were in teams that switched every 1/2 hour or so. When a lot of the service is in German, the non German people sit in a group at the back and the translators talk softly so as to not disturb the service.
      The reason Unity has a meetinghouse as opposed to meeting in homes is that most of the houses are not big enough for lots of people, and the barns and sheds are not heated except when necessary, tho’ we did have the most recent wedding in May in a very large building that they normally make minibsrns in. There were 430 people there.
      The youth Sunday evening singings are in peoples’ homes.

      • Wow, very interesting info Joan. There must be a lot of converts in the community to do things mostly in English. Any idea how many of the 15-20 families they mention might be in the convert category?

        And do you have any more info on Hodgdon–it is a daughter community of Unity? I assume a bit smaller? Thanks!

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          Joan Sheldon
          Comment on reply to Erik-Hodgdon and converts (July 7th, 2015 at 10:29)

          reply to Erik-Hodgdon and converts

          Erik- One of the families that moved to Unity about a year ago was a Mennonite family from Newport that has 8 children and does not speak PA Dutch or German. A large family that moved to Hodgdon several years ago also did not. There are maybe 3 families in Unity that do not speak or understand much except English but only 2 are converts from Mennonite. Most of the families in Unity still teach their children PA Dutch/ German before English. It is quite a challenge for me to converse with their small children.
          There are maybe 8 or 10 families now in Hodgdon, and it is an offshoot of both Smyrna and Unity. It is 17 miles from Smyrna. No idea how many families there besides that one only use English.
          When there are visiting ministers that are not comfortable with doing services in English, then they use German and translators.

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        Erica Stoltzfus
        Comment on WHAT TIME ARE SUNDAYS CHURCH SERVICES IN UNITY (July 23rd, 2018 at 12:40)


        My Great Grandmother married outside the Amish Church and moved to California a long time before I was born. My Grandmother married a Pentecostal Minister and they were our legal guardians and raised us most of our growing up years. We visited my Great Grandmother very often and watched her live the Amish Culture and Religion. She taught us well and I am now living the culture in my older years and would be very interested in attending service there on Sundays. I live in Columbia Falls which is about 2 hours away from Unity but do have a driver that can bring me so I am interested in learning the time for service. My Pennsylvania Dutch and German are somewhat limited and am so happy to learn they welcome seekers and have service in English.

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      Emily J
      Comment on Peel Potatoes in one minute! (July 6th, 2015 at 17:18)

      Peel Potatoes in one minute!

      Alice Mary,

      I guess you haven’t yet seen the videos on YouTube of people peeling literally an entire bag of potatoes in less than a minute–all you need is a power drill with a new toilet brush head for the “bit”, a bucket, a hose, and the potatoes. I wasn’t sure if linking directly was okay, but if you go to youtube.com and search for “man peeling potatoes with drill”, all the videos that come up are exactly this sort of thing. I think it’s such a hoot. 🙂 The “Denmark style” one is my favorite.

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    Joan Sheldon
    Comment on more accuracy on types of power (July 6th, 2015 at 19:47)

    more accuracy on types of power

    Erik- I took one of the farmers to deliver some strawberries this afternoon, and asked him about how things work, and said I was a bit numb about how things run. Hopefully what he said will clarify my earlier post on this. I am posting from his notes so apologize if there is any confusion. I told him he may get another phone call from me if this is not clear.
    Water is pumped by compressed air to the pump in the well. The air is compressed by a gasoline driven compressor and stored in an old propane tank. Water is on demand at the tap in the house until air pressure is low, then the pressure is built up again.
    Household appliances are run by hand crank or sometimes a bread mixer or blender is converted to air and run with an adapter.
    Solar panels charge batteries in some houses.
    Batteries run electric fences for livestock.
    The washing machine I mentioned earlier is run by a gas motor like one from a lawnmower.
    Caleb’s milking machine is run by vacuum. A vacuum pump can also be driven by a gasoline or diesel engine.
    The cow barn gutter cleaner is run by hydraulics which is run by the same engine that powers the vacuum pump.
    Hope this helps.

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    Joan Sheldon
    Comment on driver for Amish (July 6th, 2015 at 19:52)

    driver for Amish

    It just dawned on me that what I just posted might look odd to some people. The only reason I am driving a man is with his wife’s knowledge and permission. We have been good friends since 2009. I am in my 70s so am no threat to anyone. Mostly men hire men drivers, and women drive women and especially young ones.

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    Shirley Chapel
    Comment on The Atypical Amish Community at Unity, Maine (July 7th, 2015 at 18:58)

    In a community this small I’m wondering what is done about young people marrying and starting families. Do they marry cousins, which would lead to the possibility of children being born with genetic disorders ? Do they marry someone from another Amish community nearby in the hopes that the couple would take up residence in Unity? I wondered about this as I read this post so thought I would ask.

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    Joan Sheldon
    Comment on reply to Shirley (July 7th, 2015 at 20:51)

    reply to Shirley

    Between Unity, Smyrna, and Hodgdon, there are plenty of families that are not related. They are not marrying cousins. There are also like minded communities in several other states that these Amish visit and sometimes marry into. The new couple often chooses to live in the groom’s community because often he has already established a business or farm before the wedding.

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    Joan Sheldon
    Comment on facebook page (July 8th, 2015 at 13:40)

    facebook page

    for those on facebook, the Unity store has a page. It is at
    This FB page, originally started by me at Katie Copp’s request for her bakery. She was Mennonite and has gone back to being Mennonite. She moved back to PA, and the bakery moved into the Community market. The Unity ministry knows I maintain this page, and it does help promote their various items.

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    Doug Fox
    Comment on Wind Technology (July 9th, 2015 at 17:50)

    Wind Technology

    I’m a neighbor of Ervin and Esther Hochstedtler. Ervin has a business called WindPressor. He builds wind turbines that compress air. I also see lots of solar photovoltaics and windpower for charging rechargeable tools in the community. Our students at Unity College call it Amish Engineering. Ervin and Esther have hosted two pig roasts for all their English neighbors. One commented: I could live the Amish lifestyle if I could still watch sports on ESPN. An ESPN-order Amish? By the way, the Boston Globe did an article on Unity’s Amish a few years ago, front page, above the fold. http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2009/11/29/maine_town_quickly_embraces_new_amish_neighbors

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      Joan Sheldon
      Comment on reply to Doug (July 9th, 2015 at 20:02)

      reply to Doug

      Many thanks for the details on Ervin’s WindPressor business. I should have included that in my earlier post on technology. And thanks for the link to the previous Bangor News article. I’ll toss in that Ervin’s oldest son Joas has a bicycle repair business, too.

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