Don Burke is back with a collection of wonderful photos from a visit to an off-the-main-drag Amish community. This one is located in Oregon County in southern Missouri. Don shares the story of his visit below. You can find more of Don’s photos here.
Being a freelance photographer, when I recently discovered I had two-and-a-half spring days free, I quickly made plans for a visit in the beautiful Ozark region of southern Missouri – specifically in the Alton and Eminence area. The region is scattered with active springs, many with historic mills or mill sites that I hoped to capture in a spring setting.
As I started mapping out my trip, I realized that my route would take me near a couple of Amish settlements (Hartshorn and Licking, MO). So I planned a passing visit to these two communities on the final leg of my journey.
As I arrived in Alton the first evening on the road I was more than a bit surprised to see a familiar road sign.
So the next morning I carved out a block of time to go see what I could find of the Amish in this place.
Armed with nothing more than an assumption that wherever there are horse-and-buggy road signs there are presumably horse-and-buggy Amish, I set off on my search. Fortunately I did find a small bulk-food store, and went in for a visit.
The store was actually only a small area in a metal building beside the family house.
But it had various bulk ingredients for cooking, a few ready-to-eat baked goods (bread, cookies), some cereals, etc.
The woman tending the store looked to be a relatively young mother or possibly older sister in the family. She didn’t seem at ease, possibly because it was just the two of us there, and this didn’t allow much of an opportunity to learn more about the community.
I did find out that the settlement first started two years ago, that there are currently eight Amish families living there, and that at least this one family moved to Alton from Kentucky.
And with that I left with the loaf of homemade bread that I purchased.
Down the highway a short ways I was able to locate – or more accurately, to track down – another of the Amish homes.
Seeing this sign I followed the buggy tracks a mile or so down the gravel road until I got to a low-water bridge.
Recent rains had water levels up, and with advisories out about flash flooding (and the erosion it can cause), I decided to end my pursuit at this point and not attempt to cross.
The third and final home place I discovered had a red barn/shed which apparently had been first built to house the family until a more proper home could be constructed.
The shed now had what seemed to be beehive materials stacked up on the front porch.
The place now also sported a new home (not yet fully completed), a garden area, a modest-sized greenhouse, a few farm animals, and was scattered with a few implements common in the Amish world.
I spoke with a couple of the local English about the new Amish community, and was told there was some initial uncertainty about the new group moving in, but things had gone quite smoothly and the Amish and English get along well. With a chuckle a local motel owner added, “They even just recently put up a hitching post for them down at the local grocery store,” seeming to suggest that that was a sure sign that the Amish had been fully accepted.