Two days ago, reader Mike Sparks visited the Amish settlement at Fredericktown/Bellville, in Knox County, Ohio. He shares his visit and photos with us today. You might remember Mike’s previous trips to Ashland County and Holmes County.
This is far from the only Amish community in Knox County. In fact the county has proven quite attractive to the Amish, with all or parts of 7 settlements lying within its angular frame.
This particular settlement also extends into Morrow and Richland Counties. It’s the state’s fourth largest, at 13 church districts (h/t Joe Donnermeyer). I visited this place briefly back in 2011, but didn’t get around nearly as much as it seems Mike did. I’ll let him take it from here. He did a great job with this post.
I decided to take advantage of a beautiful mid-May Saturday afternoon and visit an Amish community that I have really never spent much time in. The Knox County, Ohio community which surrounds the small town of Fredericktown is only about 45 minutes from my town in Bucyrus, Ohio. To put it in perspective, Fredericktown is 50 miles Northeast of Columbus, 20 miles south of Mansfield and 45 miles Southwest of Berlin, Ohio.
Because I was relatively unfamiliar with this community, I relied on my resources. I went to my 2019 edition of “Raber’s Almanac”. This booklet lists the names and addresses of every minister in every church district in the country. Once I identified the roads the ministers lived on, I plotted them on Google Maps and had a “general” idea where to land. My research and method worked!
This community is not commercialized like Wayne and Holmes counties in Ohio. In many ways, it reminds me of the Ashland County, Ohio community from a lack of commercialization. I did see one Amish run store that was selling meat, cheese and bulk goods and there were also greenhouses. I did not get the sense that this was a Swartzentruber (the plainest/most conservative) Amish sect community, but very much so an Old Order community.
The day was cloudy early but the sun eventually came out with temperatures in the 70’s, so a great day to put clean laundry out to dry.
I passed a few pastures where I saw relatively newborn colts grazing with their mother close by.
A look at a “community” phone shack, where local Amish can go to make phone calls.
A nice Amish home with kids out playing.
These young Amish girls were picking something in their yard. They would squat down and pick at something then put it in a container.
I was extremely shocked as I drove down a dirt & gravel road to find these horses out roaming free, even though there were a couple inside the fence. Not sure if they got out on accident or this is just the way it is. I can assure you; this road sees very little car traffic.
A home based business selling Purple Martin houses. Many of the homesteads I saw in the area had Martin houses on poles. The Martin loves to dine on mosquitoes, beetles, flies, dragonflies and moths, which is why, I suspect, the Amish like to have them around.
As I was driving down a main road, a homemade sign for a bakery caught my eye and lead me down a backroad. I finally found the drive going to an Amish house and walked inside the outbuilding next to the house. The array and aroma of fresh baked goods stirred my senses. This place had it all, fry pies, donuts, cookies, cinnamon rolls, bread and noodles.
No dialogue needed.
The room had no lights; the large windows provided the only light needed. It was very plain, no cash register with just one glass showcase and a couple of tables and dry erase boards hanging. I spoke with the young lady that helped me. Linda told me that she and her family were up at 5:00 am that morning baking all these goodies.
Arguably, the most delightful Long John donut I have had in my 56 years of existence. These are “must have”!
The prices are so reasonable. I got 4 donuts, 2 fry pies and paid $9.50
No preservatives in this fry pie!
This is a business card with the name and address for the bakery.
This is the actual house with the bakery in the outbuilding to the left of the frame.
A very popular Amish name on the mail box.
Amish schools in Ohio pretty much ended when the governor called for it in mid-to-late March due to the Covid outbreak
This was an Amish run greenhouse that was quite busy selling flowers, vegetables and hanging baskets. Just down the road, I passed a young girl in a buggy. I asked her name and Elsie told me she was on her way to the greenhouse to pick up flowers and planting soil.
As I left the greenhouse, the house had the beautiful blue quilt hanging to dry. Blue is my favorite color, so I had to take a picture of it.
Some field prep had been done recently.
More laundry out hanging. I always enjoy the colored dresses and how the young people’s clothing is simply miniature versions of their parent’s garments.
While travelling down a backroad, my eye caught an “Amish church bench wagon” sitting on a property. I also could see the benches lined up through an open door in the outbuilding. This wasn’t an opportunity I could pass up. I pulled in the drive and the owner of the house got off the manure spreader that was being pulled by two draft horses.
The young man’s name was Roman Yoder. We had a very pleasant conversation for about 15 minutes. I explained to him how I share my photos with people all over the world through the internet. I chuckled to myself when he responded, “ya, we don’t have that.” Roman was very intrigued looking through the photos I had already taken, trying to figure out where they were and who lived there. Roman gave me permission to take photos of the inside of the outbuilding where they would host church Sunday.
A picture of Roman Yoder’s manure spreader and draft horses.
Perhaps a rare glimpse of the setting for an Amish church service. Benches are owned by the community and are shared for events like this. Imagine sitting on backless wooden benches for nearly 3 hours every other Sunday.
The community also has shared hymnals known as The Ausbund. I find it interesting that The Ausbund plays a big role in the selection of a new minister(s) for the district. With no formal training, the male candidates who have been chosen to be put in the “lot” are brought before the congregation. Each one is handed a copy of the Ausbund.
In one (or more if selecting more than one candidate), a slip of paper has been placed on page 770 of the book. Whichever candidate has the book with the slip of paper, he is now a minister for life. It’s a luck of the draw, totally random and willed by God. Page 770 is significant because that is where you will find the hymn “Das loblied” (hymn #131), which traditionally is the second song sung at every service.
I own a copy of The Ausbund. This is page 770.
I asked Roman and his wife how many they expected on Sunday. She thought around 25 families. I calculated probably around 150 people. The Yoders would also be expected to serve lunch after the service. I asked Roman if his district had cancelled church due to the Coronavirus. He responded, “they “hat” cancelled it, but now it’s back on”. I find it interesting when talking with the Amish, words that end with “d” are pronounced as if it were a “t”. So “dad” is pronounced “dat”.
A beautiful “multi-generational” Amish farm. Likely two to three generations of the same family live on this farm. The oldest living in the “dawdy” house on the left of the picture. Notice the Martin houses on the poles in front.
I really enjoyed my visit to this Knox County community and will certainly return to explore it further. If you are looking for an experience similar to Berlin, Mt. Hope, etc., this is NOT the community for you. If you are looking for a pleasant drive with beautiful surroundings, this is a great community to explore.
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Many thanks to Mike for putting together a lovely and interesting article, and to Eric for posting it! I appreciate being able to read about Mike’s trip, and enjoyed his photos, more than I can say.
I enjoyed Mike’s story of meeting Roman Yoder. Ya we don’t have that.
Also I think it might be the paint color/lighting, but the church wagon photo looks like it is completely crafted from metal. I doubt that is the case, but at least in this photo, that is one tough-looking wagon!
A visit to Knox County
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am really glad you enjoyed the photos and narrative.
Photos are no longer appearing with the texts as was done previously.
Is this a new format or a malfunction?
Ah that’s a functionality issue. It should work now. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
Now you let the cat out of the bag! We do enjoy the stores in the Area.
Have you been to any of the Amish Bent and Dents? There are 3 outside of Johnsville Ohio plus a great Amish store on Cty Rd 19 off of Rt 314. It’s so much fun to go and find good things! I live in Richland County Ohio.
Love reading your articles! ~ Ellen
Hi Erik, Have you ever considered putting a book out of every STATE and counties within that you have visited? This would make it so much easier for readers to pick a state then county and area to visit. Just a thought because you have been to so many areas.