Amish in New York’s Mohawk Valley

Reader Darlene paid a recent visit to Amish near Stone Arabia, New York (Montgomery County).  This is in the Mohawk Valley area of the state, near the Adirondack Mountains, and in the vicinity of the town of Fort Plain.

In New York Amish, Karen Johnson-Weiner writes that Amish migration to the area began in 1986, when Byler Amish (New Wilmington, PA roots) settled in the vicinity of Fort Plain.  There are 5 church districts there today. There is another, smaller settlement in Montgomery County, founded by Amish from Ohio.

Johnson-Weiner writes about English-Amish relations:

“Hoping the Amish could help revitalize the county but wary of turning their new neighbors into tourist attractions, Montgomery County residents have, for the most part, simply made the Amish feel welcome.   As a scribe from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania wrote about Montgomery County to Die Botschaft, “The English [non-Amish] people have really welcomed and accepted [the Amish].  They weren’t there long till different business places have put up hitching posts, and even installed public telephones for their convenience.” (New York Amish, p. 104)

It sounds like Darlene was made to feel welcome herself. She has quite a few interesting observations from her visit, which I’ve posted below.  The rest of this post is her commentary.  Thanks Darlene!

Stone Arabia NY

Stone Arabia and the surrounding areas are quite rural with rolling hills and beautiful vistas.  None of the Amish farm barns were painted.

Amish New York Ft Plain

I don’t have a single picture of a buggy even though we went by many buggies as well as wagons. Many times we were the only car on the road and every Amish person we drove by raised a hand in greeting.

Amish Mohawk Valley

We did see some young boys (probably 10 – 12 year olds) driving wagons and farm equipment down the road. My 12-year-old was quite interested in that whole thing! It reminded me of one of the discussions from May that centered around child buggy drivers. Maybe the fact the the roads aren’t heavily traveled plays a factor in the age of the drivers.

Mohawk Valley NY Amish Quilts

This family also sold quilts and rugs and I asked the girl if we could go up to the house to see the quilts. Let me start by saying that at 11:00 am it was already about 85 degrees and humid so when we pulled up 10 members of the family were enjoying the shade of the front porch.

Amish Farm Fort Plain NY

I had to laugh afterward because I have read about how people stare at the Amish (and that it is quite rude to stare!) but I must say that 20 eyes followed us to that shop! And 20 eyes followed us back to our car! And ten hands waved goodbye as we waved while we went past them on our way out! I felt like quite the oddity…that’s good…it keeps things in perspective.

Amish Quilt Mohawk Valley NY

The quilt shop was a shed set back in the yard and, as my husband pointed out later, was absolutely spotless. The quilts were beautiful and quite out of our price range, so we purchased the quilted wall hanging above. My husband felt like we got a real steal at $60. The quilting is beautiful with the tiniest stitches I’ve ever seen.

Amish NY Canned Goods

Most of the businesses in this area that we saw were home operated. Lots of shed builders, baked good sales (although we noticed that they seemed to stagger their days of business – one sign said baked goods sold Tues./Wed. and another was Fri./Sat. – I wondered if they did that on purpose) and the adirondack chair and hickory rocker builder (below). I ‘m sure if we had extended our drive further we may have come across others.

Amish Hickory Rockers Ft Plain NY

This farm was located next to the Stone Arabia Battlefield. The Battle of Stone Arabia took place during the Revolutionary War. A battalion led by Colonel John Brown of Pittsfield, MA were defeated by the British on October 19, 1780. The colonel is buried in the 18th century cemetery behind the historic Stone Arabia stone church that was built in1788.

Amish Farm Stone Arabia

The buggy that is in the picture is similar in shape and style to the Nebraska Amish but with a tan top and brown bottom. The buggies were “open” with no protective front.

It was clear by the farms that they were very conservative. The one farm we went to I could smell a wood stove (unless you’re camping that smell is odd on an 80+ degree day – at least in my neck of the woods) and wondered if it was coming from the kitchen stove?

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    28 Comments

    1. Valerie

      Thank you Darlene

      For the beautiful pictures and I really enjoyed your comments.
      I could relate to the one where those 20 eyes were following you as we experienced similar when we visited an Amish home that sold baskets, and the children were so interested in watching us.

      The rolling hilss look very similar to Holmes COunty OH

      1. OldKat

        It's human nature

        … to be curious.

        My wife and I once went to check on my mares when they were being trained by a young Amish man. When we didn’t find him at home we drove back out of his driveway and had to stop at the highway as two Amish women, in the front seat of an open buggy, drove past. They had three little boys in the back seat and possibly a toddler in the front seat, but only the woman that was the passenger in the front seat waved. At that, she did not turn to look at us; rather only raising her hand in acknowledgement.

        We turned the opposite direction and I told my wife to look back and watch what they did. As soon as we were out on the highway all three of the little boys spun their heads around to watch us. When they saw my wife watching them they just as suddenly spun back around to face forward.

        My wife wanted to know how I knew what they would do. I told her that the Amish children (and the women) would be far too polite to stare at us as they passed by, but as soon as we were headed away curiosity would take over and they would want to sneak a peek. The only safe way for them to get a look at us, without being obvious, was if we turned and went the same way they were headed. However since we headed away from them instead, they probably felt comfortable turning to watch us; they just didn’t count on my wife doing the same thing! I was watching them in the mirror and it was amusing to see those little guys twisting their heads back and forth like that.

    2. Valerie

      Edit

      Make that “hills” above, rush rush, never pays off! 🙂

    3. Randy A

      Nice Photos and Quilt

      I always appreciate photos of the Amish areas. I am not surprised the quilt has unexpectedly fine stitching. It’s the Amish attention to detail.

    4. Kevin L.

      Thanks for forwarding the pictures and commentary Darlene. I quite enjoyed them!

    5. Lance

      Amish staring is universal

      I found that I just had to get used to being stared at. The Amish are not taught that it is rude, and telling the parents that it bothered me had no effect of any kind on the children. It took a long time, but most did stop staring, especially after I looked like all the rest. Still, it was an additional level of pressure I did not need.

      As you note, they were quite friendly and did not want to offend by staring, but it is just something the Amish don’t see as harmful so that is how we need to see when we are with them and to behave accordingly.

      1. Under Amish eyes

        I’ve never lived Amish in the way Lance has, but I can remember experiencing the same on many occasions. I found it funny and a little distracting. Of course, I still experience it when visiting and going to big events like a singing or cook-out when you are the only non-Amish person. But I can imagine it would be a little disconcerting, as a reminder that you were different, were you attempting to join or fit in to a community.

    6. Melissa H

      Thanks so much for sharing Darlene! I appreciated the pictures and your comments.

    7. George H.

      Does any one know of an Amish quilt shop that has catalogs or a web site of the quilts they sell?
      Thanks!

      1. Linda

        Quilt websites

        George,

        http://www.weaverviewfarms.com/gallery.html
        in Penn Yan, NY has photos of samples of what may be available. Prices and sizes are subject to change.

        One online place in Franklin County, Pennsylvania is http://www.amishquilter.com/
        According to the website, they have Mennonite and Amish quilters. “The quilt has been on a quilt frame in the quilter’s home for between 2-5 months, and has been witness to Amish home life, while it was being created. The light pencil markings you see on a quilt are a sign that your quilt is truly hand-quilted, as the quilting pattern is lightly traced before the quilt is placed in the quilting frame so the quilter can see the pattern for quilting. These pencil or chalk tracings add value to an antique quilt, as they are the evidence of authenticity in handquilting, and are the beginnings of the work of art cherished by all.”

    8. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Beautiful post, today, I didn’t know there was a community there.

      Ontario has a historic connection to the Mohawk Valley, many early citizens immigrated here from there directly after the American Revolution. One infamous figure from the war was from that area, and had influence between the Grand River and bordering on Hamilton; Brantford and Burlington, I mean the infamous (to the Americans) Joseph Brant, a native.

      I think pretty well anyone has seen little kids peering out of little square windows in their parents buggies at the English traffic driving past, and as mentioned, they are as a curious about us as we are about them sometimes.

    9. Alice Mary

      Intrigued...

      I’m intrigued at the name, “Stone Arabia” and wonder if anyone can explain how it got that name in the first place…from whom, how long ago, etc.

      Darlene, thanks for sharing your pictures & story! Here I go again—making a mental “shopping list” from the signs in the photos—

      ONE HICKORY ROCKER
      A QUILT (if I can afford it!)
      SOME PRESERVES (a few jars)

      Sigh! (I guess I’ll have to dream on!)

      Alice Mary

      1. Darlene

        Hi Alice Mary!
        We wanted to stop to see about those Adirondack chairs but decided that we would probably like them (or the rockers) and wouldn’t be able to get them home! Sadly, we just kept driving.

        Here is the address for an article on Stone Arabia:

        http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2001/11/refugees-time

        I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures!

    10. rick

      nice posting

      Very well done – both commentary and pix.

    11. Naomi

      Wood smoke

      Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing. I wonder if the wood smoke smell was from a canner. I’ve noticed that in both of the Amish settlements I visit, that there are outdoor canners that look like a big metal box, with lower and an upper compartments. The lower is for a wood fire, and the upper reservoir is where you put your jars to be canned. I’ve seen these both in yards and in indoors in a portion of the house that is separate from the main living area. This is the only way I can imagine canning being bearable in the summer months!

    12. Leanna

      Wood Smoke

      If you happened to drive by on Laundry Day – the wood smoke smell may have come from the fire used to heat the water for laundry.

    13. ramblinjodie

      Thank you for the pictures and commentary. Beautiful country.

    14. Alice Mary

      What's in a name?

      Thanks, Darlene, for the link. It was a nice article, and I now know a lot more about the area. But it still doesn’t answer the question about how it got that name in the first place(the article states “…a name whose origins are lost…”).

      Perhaps someone else knows?

      Alice Mary

      1. Stone Arabia

        My curiosity is also piqued. It really isn’t much but a crossroads on the map, but there must be a story to that name.

        1. Linda

          Stone Arabia

          Hi,
          We had some workers for Greene County, NY doing road construction and one of the men said he lived among the Amish in Stone Arabia. Said they are great neighbors.
          So, since I am about 1 1/2 hours from there, I decided to take a drive there with my husband to do some research for an Amish novel I was writing.
          The buggies there are brown. We saw one outside a house. And the girls seem to go barefoot in the summer. We saw a young Amish girl standing in the fields barefoot.(What about ticks?)
          Couldn’t find an Amish store in sight. I wanted to meet an actual Amish person to hear the particular accent in that community, but none to be found.
          We also saw some Amish children let out of a school bus with their lunch pails(small coolers with handles.)My husband took a photo very discreetly. The girls wear brown bonnets there.
          As we were leaving, we saw a buggy pulled by two horses pass us and the driver tipped his hat in greeting.
          We hope to take a drive there again during the summer hoping there might be fruit or vegetable stands.

    15. Matt from CT

      Oh my oh my oh…I’m going to have to go on a day-trip the next nice Saturday I can — never knew about this settlement!

      And it’s the closest one I know of to me, I could make it in a bit over three hours if I stick to the Interstates versus places like Lancaster County or the Finger Lakes region which would take easily six hours.

    16. Darlene

      Erik, you’re right about it being a crossroads. It quite literally is!

      I found an article online by an Andrew Dillenbeck written in 1931 (a speech, I guess it was) attempting to address the naming of the hamlet but I really don’t think anybody actually knows the origin of the name. The name is somehow wrapped up with the Palatines who originally settled the area and who the town of Palatine is named after.

      That’s all I’ve got. I like the name, though. Sounds exotic.

    17. Ed

      What a beautiful post. I love upstate NY. So lush and green. Yes, curious town name — how very different the place is from the deserts of Saudi Arabia!

    18. Dave

      Nice shots, thank you for sharing

    19. George

      Quilts web site

      HI Linda,
      Thanks for the website, I will check it out!

      1. Linda

        Amish quilts

        If you browse through the list at
        https://amishamerica.com/amish-quilts/
        maybe you will find some websites in the directory of Amish quilt sellers.

    20. John cahill

      Amish in stone Arabia

      I am in the process of purchasing home in the neighbor of stone Arabia ( fort plain ). I have witnessed a few buggies in my travels and I waved back but first did not but may have missed my wave because they do go at a nice clip on a paved straightaway. If u would like to meet Amish my first experience was on my drive up from Long Island to little falls I stopped at the rest area on thruway around fort plain and the first thing I see getting out of my car was an Amish dressed woman selling tomatoes ( a nice small crate with about 5 nice size and color for $5 ? ) Looked good to me ! And they had honey lots of honey in the biggest jar that I ever saw . Don’t know the price but I’m sure it’s a lot but worth it . I was in a rush little did I know that my search would lead next to them in fort plain . I’m hoping if everything goes well I will be trying to get work driving them plus I will buy some of their food and other products. I will guarantee that the crime rate is very low and they seem like good hardworking people that I will be proud to be nieghbors with .

    21. Nicole Oliver

      Looking for Amish Shed dealer

      We are interested in finding purchasing an shed in or near NY and were hoping you could help us.

      Thanks