Holmes County Preview & Amish in the News

I am working on a large Holmes County Amish post for later this week.  In the meantime a few preview photos and some recent news stories featuring Amish.

Holmes & Geauga

Holmes County as you probably know is the largest Amish community in Ohio, and along with Lancaster one of the two largest in America.

It’s interesting but not surprising that the Geauga County community (pronounced closer to “JAW-GA” than it is to “GEE-AH-OO-GAH”) to the north is not nearly as well-known as Holmes County, though it is now over 100 church districts in size. The Geauga settlement came about around 80 years after Holmes was founded, when Amish from Holmes County moved into the area.  The land was apparently considered poor for farming at the time.

When people visit Ohio and want to go to Amish Country, Geauga is overshadowed by Holmes County with its well-developed tourist industry.  Maybe the people in Geauga County are glad for Holmes County for this reason.  Or maybe some wouldn’t mind the tourist business 🙂

A few winter photos from Holmes County, courtesy of a reader who recently visited, with more to come soon.

baskets-maple-syrup

 

buggy-landscape-holmes

 

school-bell-amish-ohio

Amish Benefit Breakfasts

We’ve looked at the practice of Amish holding benefit breakfasts before, including in this post on an Amish benefit breakfast in New York.  A recent story in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune reports from a benefit breakfast in Milladore, Wisconsin.  It was started to “help fund education”, but now proceeds go to medical costs.  How much does a benefit breakfast earn?

“Each year, there’s about $600 profit,” said Joe Mast, who is Amish and has organized the Amish Benefit Breakfasts since they started about three years ago.

Members of the Amish community only seek professional medical care when they aren’t comfortable treating an injury or illness themselves, Mast said.

“We started the breakfasts to help with school costs, but the costs of hospital stays have increased,” Mast said.

Given the price of hospital treatment, $600 doesn’t seem like much, but I suppose every bit counts.

Saloma Miller Furlong & the new PBS Amish film

Saloma Miller Furlong, author of Why I Left the Amish and the forthcoming Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds, discusses her experience in an article for Mennonite World Review (no longer online).  Saloma grew up Amish in Geauga County and left the community as a young woman.

Saloma will also appear in the new PBS film on shunning.  Of the film, Saloma says “Not only do the Amish people talk about being left behind and the shunning … [but] there are those of us who talk about what you lose.”

Nickel Mines Families visit Newtown

Thirty-some Amish from the Nickel Mines area, including families of victims and teenage survivors, visited Newtown, Connecticut earlier this month, site of the Sandy Hook school shooting of late 2012.   From the Newtown Bee:

“We had different rooms at the church that were just set up for people who wanted private conversation, and others for larger groups [from Newtown] that met with a larger group from Nickel Mine,” said Rev Crebbin. “We just had the different rooms, and a loose schedule, to follow what people desired, and that’s just what they did.”

“I was very encouraged by it. I think we all were. It was a very good day,” said Rev Crebbin. “It was about two communities finding ways to support each other.”

In another story, a father whose daughter was killed in a December school shooting in Denver recently offered the shooter his forgiveness.

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    11 Comments

    1. Great photos.. As to the pronunciation of Geauga.. Maybe the Amish pronounce it the way you shared, but the English including news castors in this area pronounce it “Gee Aug uh”. We live 30 miles from Middlefield and Geauga County is one of my favorite places to visit..
      I also belong to a CSA (Community supported agriculture) group from Geauga & Trumbull counties that are predominately Amish.. Not sure if I’ve shared my photos of one of their homes/gardens in the past but here is a link to a blog I wrote about it last year.. Beautiful place.. great folks!
      http://acrossmypathtoday.blogspot.com/2013/08/an-amish-csa-farm-visit.html

      1. Thanks Kim, I guess I was trying to be funny there with my alternate pronunciation. I think I’ve heard the 3rd syllable of which you speak 🙂 For me when I’ve heard it it sounds more like the first 2 are sort of combined (“Geeau”) and more like 1.5 syllables. Anyway I love anything to do with pronunciation and local speech.

        When I first got acquainted with northern Lancaster County, I pronounced the large town there as Eff-FRATT-a 🙂 Incorrect!

        Beautiful photos in that CSA post, thanks for sharing it. Makes me miss fresh veggies and green scenes.

        1. Oh you’re funny alrighty, Eric. 😉 Glad you enjoyed the photos. I miss the fresh veggies too.. soon.. its coming soon! 😉

    2. Michelle

      Question

      Hi Eric:

      Love the articles!
      Can you give me some direction to finding Michigan Amish and info or links on Amish penpals?

      Thank You.

      Michelle

      1. Hi Michelle, thanks a bunch. I’d suggest these links:

        Michigan Amish
        http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/57700/JAPAS_Donnermeyer_Luthy_vol1-issue2_pp107-129.pdf?sequence=1 (nationwide listing of Amish settlements)

        https://amishamerica.com/michigan-amish/

        Pen Pals
        https://amishamerica.com/how-can-i-find-an-amish-pen-pal/

    3. Al in Ky

      I enjoy these postings with several topics and links to news articles about the various topics. Am looking forward to your more extensive post about Holmes County. Your comments on the pronunciation of Geauga brought back memories. I learned how to pronounce it a few years ago when I visited the Hart County, Ky.,
      Amish settlement. I had heard that one of the Amish stores sold some good maple syrup from Geau ga County, so one day I stopped at the store to buy some. I asked the Amish clerk if they had some “Gee-ow-gah” maple syrup. She said, “No, but we have some good ‘Jow-gay’ syrup.” We both had a good laugh about that. She
      also said that some people pronounce it “Jaw-ga” like you mentioned above.

      Your comments about benefit breakfasts also brought back memories.
      When I was in the Elkhart-LaGrange, Ind., settlement a couple of years ago in Nov., I saw an ad for the “2nd Annual Haystack Breakfast Benefit” at the Spring Valley (Amish) School south of Middlebury. It was a very enjoyable experience. I went early (at 7 a.m.) and was the only non-Amish person there, but was warmly welcomed. It was served cafeteria style, with the men and older boys serving the different foods that made up the haystacks, and the women and older girls serving the sweet rolls, mixed fruit, beverages, etc. I’d been to several Amish benefit meals in the evening where regular haystacks (rice, hamburger, cheese sauce, etc.) were served, but this was my first benefit breakfast where
      breakfast haystacks were served. There was no set charge for this breakfast, but they had a big box at the beginning of the line where everyone put a “freewill donation”.

      Thanks also for sharing about the Nickel Mines/Newtown families gathering. Very interesting.

      1. garrett

        Nice to hear you visited Middlebury

        Hi, my name is garrett and I was happy to see someone mention Middlebury, that is where I’m moving to soon.

      2. Glad you enjoyed it Al. The Holmes post should be up tomorrow. And I’ll take a haystack any day of the week.

        On the Newtown/Nickel Mines, it’s disturbing that school shootings are a regular enough occurrence that you can even miss them. I don’t know if I ever even caught news of that Denver shooting when it happened. I don’t follow the news like I once did, but still.

      3. Very nice letter. I love the benefit meals also. The first one I ever when to was so memorable. I had to walk to my car because I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that only 13 miles from my house peoole lived such a pure life. I’m now friends with 63 families and bought each family a fire extinguisher after a terrible fire that killed two children. A little Amish boy came up to me and said ” ich liebe dich” They are in my will. Each week I buy 3 lotto tickets which if a winner the funds would all go to three different communities.

    4. Eli S.

      An acquaintance I knew a few years ago, native to Germany said it is common to all German speakers to pronounce the “J” sound as “ch”. Well, guess what! Geauga was always pronounced as “Choggy” in the Holmes area. My uncle lived close to “Choggy Mose.”
      Iowa is also known as “I-away”. I might have said “Aunt Matilda got married and moved to I-away.” That too helps to make Holmes the unique place it is.

      1. lol thats awesome & a new one on me.. Choggy.. Im gonna start calling geauga Choggy.. haha.. cracks me up. My grandmother called Iowa I-way and Missouri Mazurrah.. Her ancestors were the ones descended from PA Dutch.. maybe she got it from them. 🙂