Off The Beaten Path: A Friendly Amish Store in Iowa
From the “Off-the-Amish-Beaten-Path Files” (not really a thing, but maybe it should be a thing): Reader Denise sends in a nice little account of an Amish store in a corner of Iowa. The community is Chariton, in Lucas County. I know little about it beyond what Denise shares, and what clues I can gather here and there.
The Amish settlement list tells me this settlement started in the early 90s (1992) and is just one church district in size, with around 190 people (which is on the larger end for a single congregation). Interestingly, I also found a comment here on the site from 2014 from a reader named Craig:
Also, the Amish south of Chariton in Lucas County seem to have been leaving in droves the last few years. Anyone know why? Where are they going?
We didn’t get any response to Craig’s question, but it seems that seven years ago Amish were exiting this area in significant numbers. It could be that this community had more than one church district at one point. So that mystery remains, but whatever compelled Amish to leave then, there is still a decent-sized community here.
Denise shares a few photos from Schmuckers’ Bulk Foods & Discount Grocery, an Amish store in the community:
This store has developed within the last 10 years. I like to stop in as they are very friendly. They have donuts on Saturday mornings!! One lady is almost always singing while she works; German, and I assume they are hymns.
I’m sorry I don’t know much about them. I asked an English farmer several years ago, the first time I stopped, and I think he said they came from Wisconsin and ? a state more east of Iowa. Maybe a reader can help or you may know, as the colors the women were wearing were both lighter and dark brown, a wine color and a deep green.
They have a little deli area with seating, too.
She adds a couple photos of a pie and canned goods by Mrs. Miller’s (an Ohio brand you’ll see carried in a lot of Amish stores):
I also noted this little detail on the receipt: “God loves you”.
That kind of message – while common in some Christian denominations, is less-seen among Amish, both in printed material and spoken words. But when you do see it, it tends to be more common in more progressive churches and the New Order churches in particular. That, and the German singing are interesting details to me. If anyone knows more about this settlement, happy to hear about it.
A few answers
There are two Old Order Amish communities around Chariton. The older one (and from which many people move out of in recent years) is aligned with the Andy Weaver churches. I don’t know details but as I understand they have ended up with a number of practices that are quite “progressive” technologically such as Buchanan County Amish. And it’s not just battery drills that have shaken things up.
The owner of the store featured in this article is a minister in the other congregation, identified with the village of Williamson. He moved into the Chariton area with several other families that were moving out of the Pearisburg (VA) community maybe ten years ago or so. A number of these families have roots in the Hillsboro (WI) settlement. The Williamson settlement is basically a “Michigan circle” church but are not fully aligned with that affiliation, mostly for reasons of distance. They emphasize Christian faith without neglecting the particulars of their tradition, and share the goodness of God with others. As noted in this article, nice folks.
Thanks Jeremiah for this additional info. I saw there was another settlement in Lucas County and should have checked closer – now I see Williamson is very close to Chariton. So this store would actually be in the “Williamson” community as you note which I see is the smaller one (2011, about 70 people). So I think the Pearisburg connection and Michigan circle comparison kind of explains the “God loves you” receipt detail. Again really interesting to learn this extra info and thanks for taking the time to share.
I know this family!
A young Amish friend of mine who lives in Shipshewana, Indiana, is one of the sons of this family. (Three of the 8 grown children live here in Shipshewana, the other 5 in the Chariton, Iowa area.) I will try to get some more details about this settlement.
How neat that two people here are familiar with this little out-of-the-way community. I thought we might get one but not two 🙂 Would be very happy to hear more if you find out Susan, and then maybe even update this post.