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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