The Amish of Chouteau, Oklahoma (17 Photos)
Maybe more than any other Amish place name, I’ve never had a clue how to pronounce “Chouteau” (Chah-toe? Shoh-two? Choo-tee-ow? 🙂 ). Lucky for me, this is a blog, not a podcast.
Why am I pondering pronunciation quirks again? Well, our busy contributor Tom Geist checks in today with a visit to the Chouteau, Oklahoma Amish settlement. Tom, I should say, gets around pretty well.
Besides recent looks at Amish settlements in South Dakota and Nebraska, in the coming weeks you can expect to see more on Tom’s visits to Amish settlements in Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, and other parts of Oklahoma. No doubt Tom drives a sturdy vehicle.
The Chouteau settlement, lying in Mayes and Rogers Counties, is the oldest and largest of Oklahoma’s Amish communities. Founded in 1910, the settlement sits at 4 church districts in size today.
I’ll let Tom take it from here with the rest of the commentary, which supplements his trademark dash-cam photos.
Amish at Chouteau, OK
Chouteau has a large Amish presence. The town’s population is around 2,114 and there are around 100 Amish families. There are quite a few Amish businesses around, but very few buggies.
Chouteau morning countryside. Though not all roads leading to the Amish are paved like in the big Amish communities, here in Chouteau you don’t have to go far off of the beaten path much to get to the Amish.
I spy…I spy an Amish school!
First Amish farm.
All of the Amish places I saw in this area used tractors heavily. I was told that about the only time they use their buggies is on Sunday.
Second Amish farm. Again, unless you spot little things that tell you it might be an Amish place (buggy, buggy tracks, martin bird houses, phone shanty, a lack of American flag, power lines, TV/dish antenna, et cetera) you would think English lived there.
Creekside Sales LLC (address: 5387 W 620 Chouteau, OK).
Local Amish sometimes refer to this place as the “Amish Wal-mart” because of the variety of items that are sold inside.
Green Country Candy (8972 W 620 Inola, OK). The address says “Inola” but it is still part of the Chouteau Amish.
Floyd and Ruth Knepp took over the store from Floyd’s dad. The big candy item they had made the day I was there was “cashew crunch.”
I am not sure why they were somewhat surprised that I had heard of it or had any before, as a number of places I have been to before make it as well. But, what I have not had before was popcorn they make with crunch or something good on it. I just bought a single small bag of it and regretted it later. Two words to describe it…Yum-Me! (Yes, I know “yummy” is one word) 🙂
It looks a little like an optical illusion, but the Candy Store is not leaning, I probably was.
The Amish Cheese House and Nettie Ann’s Bakery. I didn’t get the address for it but it is in the city on a main road. Good food! Not 100% Amish but check it out anyway.
Third Amish farm. Most farms have more than one house on them for multiple family living.
Thank you Tom for this virtual visit to Chouteau. Anyone else ever been there?
Been there..., and didn't know it
Thank Tom. I’ve likely been through this place some 20 yrs ago (back before I had grown any interest in the Amish, I’m afraid). My dad pastored in Pryor, just north of there, for a few years, and my family no doubt past through Chouteau to go visit him.
Can’t speak for the cashew crunch — or cashew brittle (similar to peanut brittle) as I’ve also heard it called — there, but what I’ve picked up at other Amish communities is really good stuff.
So, if they need something in town or somewhere else that is too far to walk, they’ll take their tractor? Interesting.
Tractor Old Order
There are a few communities where this kind of tractor use is prominent. Stephen Scott called these “tractor Old Order”, though as he noted that term doesn’t describe an affiliation (just describes a common feature). Haven, Kansas would be another Steve included in this group.
Oh, okay. What I’m seeing in the pictures look fairly modern to me, so I guess I’m not seeing it right.
Would they happen to look like this:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ozarkinspirations/13160175005/in/set-72157642366506615 (forgive the blurriness) ?
If not, could you point me towards a picture of one? I’m just curious.
Modern-looking Amish tractors
Some of the Amish-owned tractors can be quite modern. There are photos on these two pages from a similar community in KY:
The one you posted, I don’t know where it’s from but a lot of Amish have tractors that they use in a more limited means than in these communities, for instance to power machinery near the barn or to haul material short distances (though most don’t use them in the fields or for road travel).
Okay…, I just misunderstood your ref. to them as “tractor Old Order” — thought it meant some kind of older-type tractor. My bad.
The tractor I linked to was from Kalona, IA. With the metal wheels as all I’m assuming it falls into the “more limited means” you referred to.
BTW, the tractors (and even leased Bobcats) that I saw in Holmes Co. are more like the modern ones that you pointed out.
Gotcha 🙂 Sometimes they will run those metal wheeled ones on the road, I don’t think for too long distances though. I remember seeing/hearing that when I was in Kalona (nearly 10 years ago now! Wow, doesn’t time pile up).
Ford Ferguson Tractors
Back before the Amish church in Stuarts Draft, Virginia split up (the more conservative contingent moved to Kentucky, my aunt and uncle among them)there were some Amish members who drove their small but speedy tractors to town, often with a flat bed trailer attachedl where the lady of the house was ensconced. These tractors could travel up to 35 mph, a far cry from the pace a horse could set, so one could scarcely blame them. For that matter, it should have been OK for it certainly wasn’t ‘worldly’; some people laughed at it anyway. Gently, of course. 🙂
My family moved from Kansas to Oklahoma 1953. We had a”John Deere “D” tractor with rubber tires. Rear rubber was not allowed at that time so we traded for an Oliver Row Crop with rear steel lug wheels although the front rubber was allowed. It was not long, maybe 2 years later the rear rubber was OK’d. When I was 14 our house burned and we moved to Mazie and Dad opened a repair shop here and we didn’t need a tractor. His motto was “we will fix anything but a broken heart”. When we moved and opened the repair shop there was another debate about a engine driven electric welder. With a small amount of dissent it was approved. My father built a welder with a model Ä” engine and transmission to drive a B29 generator. It was not an ideal machine but it worked after a fashion. Not much later we purchased a Lincoln pipeline special and I learned to weld with that. The little quonset hut is still standing in Mazie where we worked on many different things including mounting hard rubber tires on Buggy wheels.
I live in Vinita which is about 30 minutes away and the reason why tractors are so big around Chouteau is because the land us very rocky..the horses have to work twice as hard to get to the good soil so they got together as a church group and they all decided to use the tractors to dig up the land..I read this in another article about thus area
Great pic of the leaning candy shop 🙂
Love the pictures and finding out where there are more Amish people living. Very interesting article.
Yes, I’ve been there. Chouteau is pronounced SHOW-toe. I thought it was an Indian word, but Wikipedia says it was named for a French fur trader.
Pronunciation is correct & that “eau” (or “eaux”)would be French in origin.
I was a bit surprised there was no mention of my cousins restaurant across the tracks fro Highway 69. It’s been there for a long time. I had an adventure in the Chouteau elevator when I was a boy. I’ll NEVER forget that.
Thank you Linda, so one of my guesses was half right 🙂
Maybe I should make it clear that both syllables of Chouteau have a long “O” sound.
And I am glad to learn about Creekside Sales!
I learned that in school. It was Pierre Chouteau that gave the town the name. I lived about a mile south and across the tracks of the of the M K T Railroad from Creek side Sales in the little town of Mazie.
I live about 40 miles from this Old Order Amish settlement. The Dutch Pantry is actually owned by Mennonites now and has excellent “down-home” cooking. It is served buffet-style, but they provide/require everyone to wear gloves before touching serving utensils, and they have removed some tables to allow for social distancing. The town is indeed pronounced “Show-Toe” named for Jean Pierre Chouteau, a Frenchman. He was my husband’s Great-great uncle. Jean Pierre established the first trading post in Kansas City and KC took off from there!
This area was originally named Cody’s Creek.
Thanks for posting Tom’s photos.
My new series for Harvest House will be set in this area, and we are visiting there in early June. I’m really looking forward to it!
I would think the pronunciation would be “sho-toe” — kinda like “chateau.” I have a college friend who is from Poteau, OK — pronounced “po-toe.”
Hmmm…thinking of my high school French class (and teacher, Sister Nicetta, who spent WWII in France as a novice)), my guess would be “shoe-toe”…but so many foreign words are “Americanized”, I guess only those who’ve lived there or visited would know.
Once again, I’d love to visit the shops—especially that “Amish Walmart”—not as huge as the “English” store I shop in!
I enjoyed the photos, and the info about a “tractor Old Order” community. Thanks Tom, and Erik.
I’ve had Cashew Crunch! Mmmm-mmm! With popcorn, too? Catch me as I swoon!
So glad you highlighted the Oklahoma Amish. Since moving to Oklahoma 3 years ago, I’ve really missed many of the Amish made treats I use to get when living near Lancaster and Southern Maryland. I now know what I want for Mother’s Day…a trip to Chouteau, OK!
Another great place to check out would be the Dutch Pantry which I believe is right there by the Cheese Place..great people and great homemade Amish food. Plus it’s all you can eat! They make the best fried chicken and chicken and noodles and you can’t forget the warm homemade breads and cookies!
Well according to this translation… this is how its said.. Shoe-too http://www.forvo.com/word/chouteau/
however we’re talkin about Okies here… so I betcha money they say Sho-toe~~
lol.. from a native Texan. 😉
You are probably right KimH. As a trucker, I’ve been all over the midwest and south. I’ve certainly driven though Chouteau plenty of times though I did not know that there were Amish people living there. I’ve delivered loads to Miami, OK quite a few times. The locals pronounce the name of their town Miama.
I live in neighboring Missouri and I pronounce the name of my state like it is commonly pronounced, but some people say Mizura. Oh, and many of the towns with names that the locals pronounce differently than the outsiders. If you learned basic word history then you have heard about the treaty of Versailles, which is pronounced Versie. I live close to that town and everyone here including myself pronounces it just like it looks like it should be pronounced. Versales or Versails.
Names are Tricky
Like Pier, South Dakota, instead of Pierre. And Stanton, Virginia, instead of StaUnton. And Valdeez, Alaska, instead of Valdez. Loads of others.
Nice ones Elva. How about Ver-SALES, Indiana instead of Versailles? Or ChEYE-LIE, Ohio instead of Chili? 🙂
Any more out there?
Ligonier, Indiana, throws the non-locals for a loop. It could be pronounced as Lig-on-air, or Leg-gone-near, or Lig-uh-neer.
In Indiana we also have the town of Milan! I was stationed in Italy for 3 years and learned how to properly pronounce the name as Melawn they pronounce it as My-lan! I grew up in Independence,Mo and have family in Afton and Grove, OK but in the Kansas City area there is or was the Chouteau Bridge and we learned to pronounce it as Show tow! and I was always told if you lived east of Jefferson City it was pronounced Mizoura and if you lived east of Jeff City it was pronounced Mizouree!
Great photos – thanks for sharing.
Are the Knepps originally from Daviess County,Indiana? There are
lots of Amish Knepps in Daviess County. Come to think about it,
the scenery of the Choteau area reminds me some of the scenery
in Daviess County.
Knepp Amish surname
Daviess County seems to be ground zero for Knepps. The name is occasionally seen elsewhere as we see here in OK.
I don’t have the name origin info at hand or would otherwise be able to tell you more. Since Daviess Co. was partially settled by people from Allen County, IN, it’s possible the origin may be there, though IIRC there are few if any Knepps in Allen County today, and the bishop who originally came from Allen Co was a Graber.
Black Buggy Day
The next annual Black Buggy Day in Chouteau will be on Sept. 20, 2014.
Tom, did you try the Dutch Pantry Restaurant?
My Brother who left the Amish there in Chouteau and , now lives in Fairland , Oklahoma was the first teacher in the Chouteau Amish Community.
I grew up in Chouteau and went away for nearly 40 years. After living and working over the US I moved back to the Chouteau area and once again enjoy living amongst my Amish friends. Chouteau started as the second oldest town in OK by a French fur trader named Jeane Piere Choteau. The Amish Cheese House. Nettke Anns Bakery and Dutch Pantry are located near the intersection of hiway 69 and main street. Troops bakery is now closed. Creekside sales is located about 5 miles South of Chouteau on hiway 69. Knepps Candy is SW of townnear the County line. A variety of goods is sold at these places and are very good eating. There are multiple private Amish eateries in our area for groups. Email me for info and if you would like a personal area tour contact me and I will show you the area free of charge
Thanks Roger for the update and info on local businesses. I hope any visitors find it useful, and appreciate your offer!
Also Erik the photo showing as an Amish school is incorrect. It is a Sunday School classroo for older Amish boys. Hope this helps.
Interestingly I only find one Amish school listed in the OK directory here (a bit dated, year 2000), which seems a bit low for a community with 4 church districts (although the churches listed here are on the small side). Do you know more on the schooling situation Roger? As in, do local children attend public school in significant numbers or is there just one Amish school in the Chouteau community?
Yes Erik. The Amish.Community.school is located about three quarters of a mile North of the Sunday School. Many Amish children attend there. It is staffed by Amish teachers only and goes to 8th grade. A few Amish children attend Chouteau Public Schools. A larger group attend Mazie School. Mazie is asml community about 6 miles South of Chouteau on hiway 69. Very few Amisb cbildren attend school beyond 8th grade. They are recipients of good education aftefwards by their family. They are truly wonderful people and take care of their own. You must attend an Amish benefit one day. Our Amish are always ready to help the non Amish neighbors too. I drive them all ovef the US or anywhere their tractors or Buggies cannot be taken. I’m in Tulsa right now picming up Amish neighbors at the bus station.
Erik German is the primary language spoken by the Amish. English is their secondary language. FYI
Yes, thanks Roger, here is an article we did on PA German aka PA Dutch dialect. The dialect spoken by “Swiss Amish” is different. I bet if you drive the Amish around you have been picking up some of the dialect 🙂 It probably makes the rides more interesting if everyone is speaking their native tongue. https://amishamerica.com/what-language-do-the-amish-speak/
I posted before I read much of the comments.
I see some discussion about the schools in the Chouteau area. In the 50’s there were 3 schools besides Mazie that were in use. Yhe one I was most acquainted with was Longview located south of town. There were 2 more west of town and I can’t recall the names but I believe the current school is in the location of one of them the other was north of there and I think the name was Highway. The Longview building was moved to another location and is now the building where they have Sunday School. I remember reading the Martin Luther translation German New Testament and participating in spelling contests there. There is a rather large Elm tree on the south side of the building and can recall when that tree was only about 6 feet tall. The reason I remember is I had a spooky horse and my buggy ran over that tree.
I’m visiting my children and grandchildren in DallasTX and we plan on visiting A Cousteau on Sat Mar 14th. Is there an original B&B we could stat at + Also could we have dinner at an Amish home+ Thanks for whatever info you can give me…. Grandmother Lorna
I learned in Mazie public school where I attended from partial 5th grade through 8th grade that Chouteau is a French name of an early explorer named Pierre Chouteau. I have never checked the validity of this but toke for granted the teacher was correct in teaching this. I was 11 years old when my family moved from Argonia KS. area in Sumner county to the Mazie area south of Chouteau. Creekside sales is only a mile north of Mazie. I worked as a young boy with my father when he added the west part of the feed mill
(elevator) in Chouteau. I left the area when I was 18 but returned from time to time. I have fond memories of growing up there.
Ah, the Dutch Pantry! I can’t get over there near often enough! I was raised Mennonite Brethren in Enid, OK, and am now retired in Oklahoma City, 3 blocks outside of Moore, and need to plan some excursions to enjoy the fantastic foods offered in The Dutch Pantry!
interested in quilts to sell in trading post
We were at the Dutch Pantry for breakfast this morning with the owner,and the former owner of the restaurant…
Very , very good food . Had supper at an Amish home last evening.
I always heard it pronounced as “Show-Toe” when I was growing up. My grandfather worked in the schools there, I believe, at some point. I did not live up there, but all my relatives did and we passed through there dozens of times when going up to visit.