The Hicksville, Ohio Amish community
The area of Hicksville, Ohio (Defiance County, is home to an Amish community of just one congregation in size. What makes it interesting is that it is also quite old, being founded in 1914 (making it the 3rd or 4th-oldest Ohio Amish community).
Amish settlements come and go. There are over 400 Amish communities today. But there have probably been 150+ which were founded and disappeared again since Amish began arriving in America in the early-mid 1700s.
Some Amish communities grow rapidly, while others fail to launch and disappear again, even within a year or two. There can be many reasons affecting the growth of an Amish settlement, including economic factors, a lack of church leadership, and progressive religious movements.
Hicksville has apparently been holding on with one district for some years, not growing much, but not going anywhere. I don’t know why that is. Sadly, the person whom I’d ask (and would have a good chance of knowing), Stephen Scott, is no longer with us.
There are a few other Amish communities like this–old but small. Oakland, Maryland (1850) and Enon Valley, PA (1924) are each a single church district in size. Kokomo, Indiana (1848), Hutchinson, Kansas (1883), and Garnett, Kansas (1903) have 2 congregations each. By comparison the Berne, Indiana Amish community, founded 1850, is today around 50 church districts in size.
I actually met a number of people from the Hicksville community even before I visited last summer (people living in other Amish communities, having moved away). My generalization is that Amish people from the Hicksville area are even more friendly and warm than “the norm”. I remember a good long talk with an Amishman hailing from the Hicksville community when I was selling books in the Elkhart-Lagrange Indiana settlement (home to many kind folks itself). I can’t recall exactly, but something about his accent or manner clued me into the idea that he might not be from the area originally.
I was only in the Hicksville community briefly last summer (there’s not a lot there) but did visit a couple of businesses. One of them was run by a very hospitable woman whose family had recently moved to the area from Indiana. Her store features home and garden implements.
I bought one of those little pathway lights, with the mini solar panel on top, which you often see lining walkways in front of Amish homes. I don’t have a walkway, but hey, may come in handy someday.
The store is off Gingrich Road (yes, “Gingrich” not “Gingerich”), if you’re in the area look for the signs pointing to “BASIC FARM AND HOME STORE” off State Route 49.
There are, I’d guess, around a couple dozen Amish households in this community. Seems like a nice place to live, still “country”. You also might remember this community mentioned last summer in a post about “Amish Races“. I didn’t catch any of those while I was in the area, but enjoyed my visit nonetheless.
Another good post Erik, and it kind of reminds me of the time i was in the south at a place called “Red-neck-ville”. It was kind of funny because whenever a hurricane would come across its state a band of moon shiners would load-up their shot guns and attempt to shoot at the hurricane, while the woman folk would all laugh and cook Vittles for all the men folk ! Richard
Any more funny names?
Richard you are a PA resident but I think you have special dispensation to pick on us Southern folk b/c you lived here once, right? 🙂 If not, watch it buddy 😉
And now I have to mention my friend’s name for PA. He is a native New Yorker and according to him you now live in “Pennsyltucky”. Now I think that is just a gratuitous shot at 2 states at one time (I am a fan of the Blugrass State as well so I have to stick up here). Also some of my PA Amish friends say I drive a “North Cackalacky” pickup truck. So it comes from all sides.
I think Hicksville for that matter just got stuck with the name…I don’t think the natives have done anything to distinguish themselves in that department 😉 I do enjoy funny place names though.
Just having some fun.......
Your right Erik i lived in Florida for 22 years, so I’m having a little fun with that whole southern stereotype thing. And i actually like North Carolina, and i know of some folks who left Florida for one reason or another and moved there. At one point a few years ago more people were leaving the sunshine state than actually moving in, but i believe that’s been reversed now. Compared to your home state Erik South Carolina is more affordable i think to live and to start-up a business, so those folks south of you are pretty competitive. But i myself still really like NC. Richard
Very interesting Erik. You don’t hear of many single church districts like this. Are all of the Amish in this community related? Could it perhaps been settled by just one family originally?
Richard, you are way too funny, LOL.
Alice good question, in this case I don’t think so, I think they’re from different places, though surely some folks there are related. When you have the newer settlements, you often get one or two families moving en masse, so it ends up that a lot of residents are close relations.
Hicksville, just a nice little corner of Ohio. This was just a great day to do a little traveling. There was another business near BASIC that I forgot to mention, Kuntry Bake Shop. Not Amish, but very nice monster cookies. I think they had a couple of Amish employees.
Erik, I just wanted to thank you for your daily articles regarding the Amish world, their communities, beliefs, practices, etc. I so appreciate you sharing with us your information and beautiful pictures. It’s like a ray of sunshine every day to open up my email and read your posts. I don’t know if you realize what an impact you have on those of us who have such a love and respect for the Amish.Thank you!!!
Nancee that was beyond kind. What a lovely comment. Thank you 🙂
My wife grew up on Gingrich Rd. in Hicksville. We got married at her parents’ home there. Kind of weird to see this come across my news feed today.
I agree with you Alice, Richard is too funny. And this from a real live redneck in Mississippi.
BTW Richard, Florida is not a southern state to true southerners regardless of the hurricane shooting moonshiners. They were likely New Yorkers who just moved to Florida. A true southerner knows you can’t kill a hurricane with a shotgun, you can only scare them off with a broom.
And only temporarily.
Erik… I was just wondering, if the church district is only one, then how do the young people meet their future intended? Wouldn’t they eventually all be related in some sort if they only marry within their district? Or are they (towns)close enough to another district up there. But either way, one of the 2 would have to move to another district, or am I missing something?
Do Amish marry relatives?
Wanda good question, with a lot of these smaller one-district Amish settlements the young people almost have to visit and learn to know young folks in other communities. First cousin marriages have happened but not encouraged. However it’s not unusual for a married couple to be more distantly related. And moving away when you get married is a reality.
Even if you marry someone in the same community, if it’s a large settlement it can still mean not seeing your biological family so much anymore. For instance the wife of a friend in Lancaster is from about 15 miles away, which you can imagine cuts down on visits–it’s a long buggy ride or an expensive Amish taxi. It can theoretically be a lot further than that even within one community in places like Lancaster and Holmes County OH.
I really enjoy the post. I agree with Nance, that the post are something wonderful to look for in my email each day.
I would assume the young people must travel far in order to find others to date and marry.
Keep up the wonderful post Erik! What a joy to open my mail and learn more each day about the Amish. I do hope you one day visit the Amish in CO. I would love to hear about their community.
The humor here is so fun to read as well. Your a good sport Erik to let others tease you on the southern redneck stuff.
Thanks Lee Ann, the young folk have both Indiana and Ohio communities within range. I would love to go out to Colorado to see what’s happening out there. Kind of a long drive compared to my usual trips though 🙂
On the southern stuff, I guess I’m a good sport because I can always fall back on “hey, my family’s Polish, I have nothing to do with chewing tobacco or NASCAR”. Kind of a cheap bail-out, I know 😉
I gets weirder. The woman you spoke with bought my in-laws home when they retired. The store is constructed in the field where we had our ceremony. Small, small world.
Wow Jason! She was really a lovely person and got a good joke or two in before I left. Hicksville seems like a nice place to live.
Another good write-up, Erik. Enjoyed it!!
I grew up in Ohio in a town close to Hicksville and always saw the Amish buggies parked at the local store in Hicksville with the horses tied to the long wood posts they had for them, like what you’d see in the old cowboy movies. Years ago my dad hired the Amish and their horses to pull a bunch of really big logs out of the woods behind my dads house. He was making some trails and clearing an area to build a small cabin. To pay the Amish they agreed to a trade, for them pulling the big logs out the Amish could have all the logs for their woodworking business and fireplaces. They had big Clydesdale horses and tied thick rope to the logs and the horses pulled the logs out of the woods through the trails my dad was making. I think my dad payed for the semi to help haul all the wood to their home. It was pretty cool. The Amish were very nice people.
Long years ago I visited a Hicksville store called Foodland with a hitching rail for horse parking. Buggies often parked there and occasionally a farm tractor. Local Amish farmed with tractors and I recall some conflict in their community about using the high speed road gear in those tractors for trips to town. The (then) community leader proposed the road gears might need to be disabled to stop the un-acceptable speeding. This was not well received by some members who threatened to leave the community over it. I never heard how it ended. An update on the great Hicksville road gear controversy would be interesting.