The Amish of Pittsylvania County, VA (26 Photos)

Yesterday I visited the small Amish community in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. It was a crisp early spring day.

The people in this community, a Union Grove, NC daughter settlement, certainly chose a beautiful area to settle in.

It’s a area of rolling hills, with lovely valleys and spans of thickly-wooded land. The settlement itself lies near the town of Chatham.

The countryside has a lot of these log barns which look to me similar (though different construction) to the tobacco barns I’ve often seen in eastern NC:

I’m not sure exactly how many Amish families live here today, but it’s just a single church district in size.

One report from 2014 gave the community’s size at about 15 families at the time (the settlement was founded in 2013).

I probably saw about 8-10 places which I would identify visually as Amish. There weren’t many people out and about though.

Union Grove is an electric New Order Amish settlement, so I’d assume that is the case here as well. You see a fair share of tractors and skid loaders.

I did pass one Amishman in a carriage, however. He surprised me, popping up out of nowhere as I went down this windy backroad, in an area with several Amish homes.

The fifty-something, grey-bearded Amishman waved as he went by.

There were also a number of buggy warning signs. I spotted four in total:

Unfortunately there are not a lot of businesses to visit in this community. The best-known, and the one I had planned to see, was Heritage Hill Country Market (see this post from its opening in 2014).

Sadly, as I learned from Google as I was setting out yesterday morning, the place had closed last October, after about four years in business. Sure enough, the building sits empty:

Despite this, there are still several signs of the place, including this one up the road.

There is also an Adopt-a-Highway sign featuring the Heritage Hill name, which you can see in the background of this photo (blue sign).

I went to the home just behind Heritage Hill to see if anyone was in, and ask about what might have happened. Unfortunately no one was around. A lone skid loader sat in the drive.

I came across a couple of other businesses in the area which appeared to be Amish, including this largish shed building operation:

Firewood for sale:

That about wraps up this visit. But I had one other interesting stop on the way up.

Yoder’s Country Market in Yanceyville, NC

On the way journey from Raleigh to Pittsylvania County, I passed through Yanceyville, NC.

Some of you might know this as the location of a short-lived but unusual Amish community, present here in the mid-90s until 2001.

Yanceyville was known as a “seeker-friendly” settlement, with one atypical feature in particular. From the linked post:

What set Yanceyville apart was the fact that it was a bilingual community, and one inclined to accommodate those wishing to join the Amish. In fact, it was started by six families from Union Grove described as having “a desire to help some of the many seeking families.”

And such was the case, as a number of individuals of non-Plain background ended up joining this community, and even comprised half the member families at one point. Preaching at Yanceyville was in English, dress was plain, and the horse and buggy was used.  But apparently due to the influence of an outside church, this community soon ceased to exist as an Amish settlement, and was followed by a short-lived Beachy church.

Passing through Yanceyville, I was first alerted to something of interest by this old sign:

A short distance up the road I came across the market, and stopped in.

Is this a remnant of the long-gone Yanceyville Amish community? Going by the age of the building, signs, and the name of the business, that would be my guess.

There were no Amish people working there, and no one that I would peg visually as a member of a Mennonite or Anabaptist church, but the message board in the store had one or two pieces of material on a local Mennonite church.

It has the feel of a full-fledged “Amish-style” country store, with a bakery, ice cream, and lots of Amish or Amish Country-sourced products, like Troyer’s lineup of foods, or Yoder’s Homemade Applebutter.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting two more Virginia settlements – Halifax County, which I visited in December, and Charlotte County.

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    1. Andrea Leonard

      Re: Very Interesting Pictures!

      Good Evening,

      I just want to thank you with a heart full of God’s love, for so
      faithfully sending me your lovely newsletters and information about
      the Amish or Mennonites. I truly love them all and am greatly interested in hearing whatever you have pertaining to them. I think it is wonderful that you can go as much as you do and see all
      of the interesting Amish things. That is so nice of you to share them with so many of us who greatly appreciate everything you do for us. You are so kind to do this so that we may see how they live. I am so interested in the Amish and Mennonites. I have known some very special Mennonites who lived in Maine for a few years and we loved their baking. We used to buy it weekly as I was
      caring for my sick Mom. She loved it as well and as time went on ,
      we became acquainted with them and enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship quite often. They moved back to PA to be near their
      children but my friend calls me quite often so that we may always
      keep in touch which is so nice for us too.
      May God bless you as you share so much with us.
      Prayerfully in His Love,
      Your friends in Dexter, Maine,
      Andrea and Ray
      PS. WE look forward to hearing from you as we are elderly and we
      both have life threatening diseased. With God all things are
      possible and we know that He is in control. What a comfort to know
      that. We love Him with all our hearts.
      I Love to read the Amish books and stories, literature about them.
      Thank you so very much!!! Andrea

      1. Very kind of you Andrea, I’m glad you enjoyed it. We’ll have another post from a second Virginia community in the near future. All best to you!

    2. Aj

      Yanceyville is exactly why an open, more liberal seeker friendly Amish church can’t exist. No church can ultimately survive without rules. That goes for all churches. Not just the Amish. There is no single church that can rely forever on converts for growth, and if they do, it is a blimp before they too lose members to the next church fad.

      At onetime Southern Baptist’s were the epitome of conservative values and their congregations could grow naturally without trying to convert all around them. Of course they always did that, but as the church got more liberal the church started to rely solely on converts to grow their ranks. That worked until Jehovahs and evangelicals came along and became the new Christian fad pulling away their faithful. At some point those churches which today draw seekers from Catholic parishes and Southern Baptist congregations will face the same fate as what are essentially dying churches. Members will convert to whatever new fad is out there… and it may not be Christian at all. That is the danger of both relying strictly on proselytizing and also not having rules. Churches can still grow today, even liberal ones, but they mostly do it by cannibalizing other Christian churches. Churches today spend tons of money, have people preaching in subways, handing out pamphlets and knocking on doors. All this effort to convert the few, rather than enforce values and rules so that the next generation will remain in the church and have many children of their own.

      1. The Amish overall do a good job of passing on their faith and values to the next generation(s). Especially for a church with strict rules like the Amish where successful converts are unlikely to begin with, I’d agree this approach to natural growth is about the best use of their energy.

    3. Christine

      Pittsylvania County, VA

      As always, thank you for the article and pics — I live in WA state which isn’t a place to see Amish, although we have both Mennonite and Huetterite communities.

      1. Glad you enjoyed it Christine. Right, no Amish in Washington state (yet), I guess the closest to you might be some of the Montana communities. There is also a small Idaho settlement.

    4. Pat Thompson

      Our Amish

      Burkes Garden, VA has a sweet Amish settlement. I don’t know how well-known it is, but the Town of Tazewell interacts with them. Mattie’s Place is a restaurant and Amish store that attracts people. Many businesses in Tazewell have their pastries provided by the Amish. Lovely group. My daughter drives for them to work. I know some people have relocated here.

      1. Pat we had a nice guest post on Burke’s Garden several years ago. I’ll probably make a visit sometime soon, thanks for mentioning it: