Amish trip roundup and highlights

Two weeks, 5 states, 15 communities.

Five (plus) pounds.

It was a whirlwind trip as I packed a month of visiting into 2 weeks of time.  I spent the past weekend zonked out and resting up (3700 road miles will do that to you).

But I’ve recovered enough to put together a collection of highlights from my recent Amish trip:

  • Dessert at the home of the Amish Cook, Lovina Eicher.  Actually, three of them.  I asked Lovina if she didn’t feel a lot of pressure every time someone like me showed up for food, being that she was the Amish Cook and all.  She just laughed.  The three desserts were Sugar Cream Pie, Oatmeal Pie, and Cinnamon Sticky Buns.  All excellent.  The good Kevin Williams, Lovina’s editor, explained that Oatmeal Pie is like a poor-man’s pecan pie–it has the same type of gelatinous filling (which I love) minus the nuts.  Kevin and I also did a short (5 min) talk which Lovina’s daughter taped for us, in front of Lovina’s home.  Will let know when Kevin posts that.
nc amish shops
Amish shops at Union Grove, NC
  • Finally seeing my “home community” of Amish in North Carolina.   Over the past 8 years I’ve been all over the country to about 4 dozen Amish communities, some as far as 1000 miles away.  But never had I visited the little community at Union Grove, NC, just a bit over 2 hours from where I grew up in Raleigh (not quite 2 hours from Asheville, 45 min from Winston-Salem).  I had a great talk with the owner of the Windsor Country Store, and left with a couple bottles of Muscadine Cider (he had plied me with a free sample as I walked in the door, nice move!).  Those were destined to be gifts for Amish friends in Ohio I’d be seeing later that day.  The cider is completely non-alcoholic, but comes in wine bottles.  “I brought you something from my cellar,” I declared as I presented the bottle in the low light of the evening to my friend’s father.  Friend said his dad was speechless–New Order Amish don’t drink, and in the dark, seeing only the silhouette of the bottle, he assumed it was wine.  We got a chuckle;  they loved the cider.  Muscadine grapes are an NC classic.
  • Sitting down for a cup of java with Bruce Stambaugh, a Holmes County local who writes a blog called Roadkill Crossing, and other tales from Amish Country.  I didn’t realize that Bruce had been principal of the (heavily-Amish) East Holmes school district for over 2 decades, lending him a unique perspective on Amish education issues.  Bruce writes for a number of publications, and he did a nice piece based on our chat which you can read in a few places, including his blog.
  • Witnessing the once-a-year brewing of apple butter at a farm in Hardin County, Ohio.  This was the absolute best smell I experienced on the entire trip.  A heavenly roasted apple burning wood aroma.  I just had to take some shots of the process–they were at boiling-down stage–and the ladies happily obliged.  Of course I had to pick up a jar as well.  You read about companies, especially food companies (but not only), intentionally pumping out smells to tickle the senses and encourage buying.  Well it worked in my case, though I was lucky to catch the scent on the one day a year it’s available, and it was accidental rather than intentional.  I’ll have a post on that.
belleville oh amish
Amish farm near Belleville, Ohio
  • Visiting new communities–besides the above-mentioned Union Grove, others included Adams County, Indiana, Branch County, Michigan, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and Belleville, Ohio.  There are over 400 Amish settlements in America.  With Adams County I’ve been to all of the top 10 size-wise.
  • Paying a visit to the father of another Amish friend who’d recently been run over by a buggy.  He had jumped out to grab the reins which had slipped away.  You see Amish getting out of buggies sometimes;  in Indiana a driver in front of me jumped out to do what I would call a “kick start”–he got out, gave the horse a little shove to get it going, and then jumped back in.  It didn’t look too safe, but I guess you have to do it sometimes.  In this case my friend’s father slipped, fell, and two wheels ran over his thigh.  It didn’t break anything but he was laid up pretty good, and has been for a few weeks now.  Not a happy time for him but I hope we gave him something to do, as he can’t read much either right now.   “Don’t you get tired of visitors?” I asked him.  I always wonder this–Amish are visiting people, but it seems like it could get to be too much.  He admitted that sometimes, yes, it just depended on his mood and energy.
  • Sitting in on a sale in Adams County, Indiana.  Good food and a packed event.  And if you were in a bidding mood, deals were there to be had.  I felt bad for the home owner though.  Bidding started at $250,000, quickly dropped to $100,000, and had trouble finding any bidders even at that price.
steuben county in amish home
Laundry dries in front of an Amish home in Steuben County, Indiana
  • Discussing, with the owner of a bent ‘n’ dent in Steuben County, Indiana, everything from heart operations (he’s had two) to outsiders joining the Amish (he knew one or two; didn’t work out).  An older fellow with a good attitude to life, and a real appreciation for what he’s got.  Always good to have those doses of perspective scattered through your days.  Thank you, Bent ‘n’ Dent man.

There were many more highlights, but that’s probably enough for now.  I’ll be sharing more, though, in the weeks and months to come, so stick around (Like this blog on Facebook or subscribe by email, and you won’t miss a thing).

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    1. Alice Aber


      Loved the pictures Erik. Sounds like you had a very busy trip. And I can agree that kind of traveling can be very exhausting but I would gladly trade that for the kind of exhausting time I have been having with this move. Every time I think I have just about got it nailed I find more things to be done. I really still have a couple more days of work to do but my days are shorter as I am totally out of strength. I only keep going by shear will power and God’s grace.

      Have a great day!
      Blessings, Alice

      PS. I am praying for all those affected by Hurricane Irene. My own hometown in NY state was hit with a lot of flooding. 🙁

      1. Stay strong Alice, I hate moves, but they’re like cough syrup, sometimes you’ve got to just take them and get them over with.

    2. Lee Ann

      Very interesting Erik. I envy that you were able to visit so many Amish communities in such a short time. Exhasusting yes, doing as much driving and all you did. I’ve really enjoyed the photos you have posted.

      Hopefully next year you will make it west and go to the Amish communties in CO. I hear there are 2 now. I believe they have 6 church districts there. Would like to know if they have any Bent N Dent stores and any homes selling fresh herbs and spices.

      1. Colorado would be a dream, but I think a little out of driving distance 🙂 Kevin Williams told me he is going out to Montana, that would also be a beautiful trip.

    3. Roberta Klooster

      Laundry drying, Stuben Co IN

      I love this picture.

      Rest up and thanks so much for sharing your wonderful trip with us. I am so looking forward to our visit to the Bird-In-Hand area next month, which your posting has encouraged.

      Lord, bless our Amish “friends”


      1. Have a great visit Roberta. I will be in the Bird in Hand area late September.

        1. Judy Duer

          Bird-in-hand visit

          Just back to Long Island from Lancaster,had a Great time! Stayed at an Amish guest house, it was so peaceful & beautiful. My husband & I go down every year. When will you be there in late September? We are thinking of going again around that time. We have become friendly with an Amish family, got to spend two days with them, so much fun playing games,having dinner & just talking. I know that you know so many Amish people in all of the areas that you visit but if we were down there at the same time, it might be fun for you to meet them. I so love your blog, pictures are lovely & I learn so much from you. I have one question, can Amish children be photographed? Looking forward to hearing from you. Try to rest up from your trip. My best, Judy

    4. Karen Pollard

      Quilt Auction

      If anyone is traveling through the Southern part of Indiana, there is a quilt auction there every year the Saturday before Labor Day; next Saturday. It’s in Cannelburg, IN at the Simon Graber Community building. Doors open at 8:00 for visiting Vendor, gazing at displayed quilts and wonderful home cooked food. The actual auction begins around noon. There are usually 150-200 quilts auctioned off. It’s my best inspiration for quilting! Gorgeous gorgeous things all hand made. The proceeds are to benefit the local Amish schools.

    5. Glad you all enjoyed it, I will be going to PA next month, but my next big trip I’d like to get out to southern Indiana/Illinois/Missouri. Especially the communty at Daviess Co Karen mentioned.

    6. Glad to read about your great whirlwind trip!

    7. Robert Gschwind

      Glad you made it back safely to NC. I hope you missed Irene’s big show. It is a mess out here on the Crystal Coast and Downeast. Finally, one of us made it to Union Grove. Every time I have tried to set someting up, something comes up. Are the any places to stay there that you know of?

      Looking forward to more on your travels.

      1. Thanks Robert, we mostly missed the big show! Ack, I do not know any places in Union Grove, I am just a 2 or so hour drive from Raleigh. There is probably something in one of the larger towns, and I believe Statesville is not far.

    8. kristin jager

      Amish trip roundup and highlights

      It sounds like you had an amazing trip Erik. You certainly sound like you were always on the go!!! I loved the pictures…as always. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    9. Mary Ginn

      Allen County, Indiana

      Could you pleaser tell me if the Allen County Amish are mainly located in the area of Yoder?

      We will be going through there in about 2 weeks after stopping in at Shipshewana.

      We are also going to Daviess County for the first time, could you tell us anything about this area?


      Mary Ginn

    10. Al in Ky.

      Mary — Here’s some suggestions –When I visit an Amish community for the first time, I try to go to several Amish stores or farms that sell various items. In Daviess County, I would suggest traveling west on Hwy. 50/150, and turn right (north) on CR 900 E. at Cannelburg. All the way from Cannelburg to Odon on 900 E. (which is several miles) you will see signs advertising Amish stores such as Country Discount Grocery. When you go to the first store, just ask around about other stores in the settlement. If you’re there on a Friday in Sept or Oct, visit the Amish Produce Auction in the morning and then go to Dinky’s Auction Center in the evening (Dinky’s has auctions all year). There are several good restaurants in the area who have Amish cooks; my favorite is Stoll’s Lakeview Restaurant, about 3 miles north of Loogootee on Hwy. 231. (If you order the buffet from the menu, the “dessert room” is included which includes all the pie, cake, ice cream, etc. you care to eat!). I hope you enjoy your visit to the Indiana Amish communities you’ve mentioned.

      1. Allen County Amish at Grabill

        Mary, to Al’s good advice I’ll just add that the Allen County Amish are not at Yoder, but around the small town of Grabill on the northeast side of Fort Wayne (though I know Yoder seems like the logical choice!).

        You won’t find as many walk-in Amish businesses in Allen County as you will in northern Indiana (Shipshewana area) or Daviess Co. However it is a beautiful area. The settlement extends for miles in each direction with Grabill more or less at its center.

        If you’re interested in Indiana Amish I’ve here’s a guide I wrote, I don’t know if it will have all the info you need but might be a start:

    11. Mary Ginn

      Adams County, Indiana

      What about Adams County? I think in Berne, Indiana.

      Are there many Amish related things to see? Bulk stores,etc?

      We love visiting Amish areas and we have been to many, this would be a new area for us.

      Thanks so much for this site.
      It is so nice to chat with other people who have the sma interests.

      Mary Ginn

    12. Linda Smith

      Going to Ohio Amish Co

      I so much enjoyed your pictures & info from your trip. Me, my granddaughter and a friend will be visiting up there next week, Lord willing. We will be going to Mt. Hope, Charm, Baltic, New Bedford, Sugarcreek and the surrounding areas. We will be staying in Berlin. This will be my second time this year. Its such a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. Glad your trip went well.

    13. Wendy

      Union Grove, NC Amish

      I visited this area today and left the store with a few bottles of cider also along with some local honey. The young man running the store was very nice. I noticed that these Amish use tractors w/ the rubber tires and the folks I saw all appeared to be young (under 40). Maybe the older ones were just out of sight. Just curious if this was an observation of yours as well? Do you think this group branched out on their own so they could use electricity and tires on their farm equipments? I didn’t realize New Order Amish were so progressive. (Love your blog!)

      1. Lorraine

        this community

        i grew up with people that were southern baptist, and also people that were everyday Christians we r used to. union grove is most likely menonite. menonites use electricity for necessities. also use cars etc for necessities. similar to Amish, but different. menonites were the first then the bethren and Amish branched off from them and then the Amish branched off within themselves.

        1. No, the group at Union Grove is Amish. This is a New Order Amish group which permits electricity. Not common but there are a few Amish groups like that. They otherwise use the horse and buggy, plain clothes, etc.