So another memorable stop from my recent Holmes County trip was at a farm I had first visited a decade earlier. This is a Swartzentruber Amish farm, technically located in Wayne County.
They have a creaky signpost by the road displaying whatever it is they have for sale. At the time, the only items on offer were rag rugs.
We’ve seen glimpses of this place here before. I had been down this lane I think sometime in 2007 or 2008. I have a photo or two from that visit floating around the site somewhere.
More recently, Mike Sparks shared his 2018 summer Holmes County visit with us, featuring a shot of the same spot. At that time the produce signs were out. You could also get some bunnies:
The place looked about the same as I remember from that visit over a decade ago, which is not surprising for Swartzentruber farms. This is the view across the fields going down the lane:
The maker of the rugs is a warm grandmother-age lady named Fannie Miller. If I’m not mistaken I had spoken with her once already when I stopped in on that earlier visit. Something about her seemed familiar.
As I pulled in a man happened to be out maneuvering a couple of draft horses by the barn. I asked him where I’d find the rugs. He pointed to the second home, which appeared to be the dawdihaus (on the right in the photo below).
Fannie emerged after a couple of knocks and asked me in in to a sparsely furnished but warmly inviting room. After a little chit-chat she pulled out a box which had a stack of rugs folded up.
She began unpacking them one-by-one, displaying each in turn. Most were in the $20-30 range. Fannie also had a few quilt wall hangings, priced at around $35. Those were something like a 3′ x 3′ dimension.
After sorting through the rugs and narrowing down my choices, I settled on this one (displayed on the floor back home in NC):
I’ll be frank – it isn’t the highest-quality rug. But, it’s not supposed to be. It’s a rag rug. The colors are nice.
These are assembled from scraps leftover from making dresses. If need be, they add more material, Fannie explained.
I mentioned how it wasn’t the first time for me at her farm. Fannie seems like a people person and I think we both enjoyed the visit. No doubt in December they have fewer customers dropping by than they would in the summer.
I paid her, took my rug and said so long til next time. Next time I might pick up one of her quilt hangings, or maybe some produce if it’s the right season.
You can see I paid $23 for the rug, which looked like it had been marked down.
I got in my car and left, passing some chickens on the way out.
Heading back out down the lane.
Where is the farm?
I don’t have the address, but the place is located near the corner of 250 and Kidron Road.
Once you turn south on Kidron Road, you go maybe a minute or two down the road, and after passing a small Swartzentruber school with a bluish door on the right, you’ll see a long lane going off to the right.
The farm lane is like any other Swartzentruber lane – dirt not gravel, not in great condition, and potentially muddy in the right circumstances, so be aware of that.
Here’s a view of the place from the road:
Fannie’s rug business is just one of many little home enterprises dotting the countryside in the Holmes County community.
One of the best parts of visiting Amish settlements is coming across little places like this, stopping in, picking something up, and maybe making a new acquaintance or friend.
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Swartzentruber rag rugs are great! They soak up snow and water, so they’re good just as you come in the door (which is where you see them in Swartzentruber homes), and they wash well. Look for crocheted rugs as well.
Thanks for the context Karen – didn’t realize they were that absorbent! Makes sense.
Lovely rugs, they certainly are the most durable. Are they braided or crocheted?
We have a new community not far from me and we know several people from the other two here in Michigan. I enjoy the homespun look.
Thanks for the story. So neat. Do you know how much business these side road sales typically get each year?
Good question, I don’t have a specific answer but if we’re talking about these simple out-of-the-home sellers (rather than full-fledged stands), probably not a ton of money. The Swartzentruber Amish in general usually don’t charge a whole lot, and they are pretty small-scale – selling seasonal produce items from the garden for instance.
Amish rag rugs
I have found from visiting many Amish farms looking for various crafts, produce, baked goods, etc. that just as with civvies, there some Amish with talent and skills, and some with very little of either, trying to make a living. One Amish woman made good baskets, as did her children, and not so great quilts. Another Amish family sold baked goods. If I wanted my pies to have any fruit in them, I had to provide my own fruit or else the pie would be mainly dough with a lot of pie juice and an occasion piece of fruit. The Amish do tend to take short cuts in order to save money.
I have heard similar complaints about commercial Amish pies elsewhere but I don’t think that applies to Amish as a whole. But you make a good point that just because something is made by Amish it doesn’t automatically mean “quality”, though that’s often the perception.
However I believe that if we look at everything the Amish make overall – including furniture, homes, quilts and crafts in larger, more commercially-oriented communities, and so on – the association with quality holds water.
I met a Swartzentruber family very near Kidron many years ago. We were drawn in by their sign advertising hand made baskets. We much enjoyed our time with them, talking with the mother and daughter about the baskets, and then going to the barn to watch the father and sons put up hay in the barn. We return every year, and we make sure and take them a few goodies that the kids really enjoy, though they are not kids now. They are simple, kind people, just trying to make it in a hard world, not much different that myself. I always enjoy seeing them again, but I must say, I have far too many baskets in my house!!
Your basket comment gave me a chuckle. Great story and nice that you were able to make that connection, Jeffrey.
Thanks for sharing
We’ve driven by this place probably a hundred times and never stopped. Thanks for sharing….next time we might swing in and pick up a rug!
I think you’ll be glad if you stop in Leeann!
Erik, thanks for sharing. When I saw the first picture you took, before reading the post, I said to myself, “this looks really familiar”. Thanks for the reference to my last trip there. I have been by this farm more times than I can remember. I have never been to the houses, but after reading this…I just may. According to Google Maps, the farm is like 7401 Kidron Road Apple Creek, OH. If readers go there in the late spring and summer months, I would encourage them to continue south on Kidron Road and just after they cross Hackett Road, visit Raber’s Produce on the left. I also featured this stand in my post. Wonderful display of Amish grown, Non GMO vegetables and they also have other items like baked goods. Very friendly staff (Amish family) and great pries.
Glad you saw that Mike, and thanks for the extra info!
My knowledge on Swartzentruber Amish is limited and I’m wondering if they are similar to the Nebraska order. The colors used in the rug are typical of the “Blue Door Amish” from Central PA.
Are there photos of Swartzentruber buggies floating around anywhere? I’d like to compare that element as well.
Thanks for the posting. Quite interesting.
Nebraska vs. Swartzentruber Amish buggies
Sure thing Jerry, visually the buggies will be rather different from the Nebraska Amish – no SMV triangles and black color are probably the two most obvious differences. But like the Nebraska buggies, they also have open fronts and roll up sides. They use lanterns as well (no electric lighting, just some strips of reflective tape on the back), but a little differently – in some cases just one lantern, in other cases two lanterns but one is positioned higher than the other, versus the two evenly-positioned lanterns the Nebraska Amish use.
There are quite a few photos where you can compare, here on the site and online.
The first buggy photo on this page was actually taken by me at the farm this post is about, in ’07 or ’08: https://amishamerica.com/do-all-amish-use-the-slow-moving-vehicle-triangle/
There are several good examples of buggies in this post from the Swartzentruber community at Ethridge, TN: https://amishamerica.com/visit-amish-ethridge-tennessee-29-photos/
Fannie Miller's rag rugs
I read your article a few weeks ago, and today my husband found Fannie’s farm! I was so excited! She invited me in and we had a wonderful conversation. I bought a rug and a small crib blanket. She and part of her family are moving out of state soon. I’m so glad I found her!
Neat that you got to visit Fannie, Suzanne:) Did she happen to mention where they are moving?
I too was in the area March 19, 20, 21 and 22. I put the address in my GPS that Mike Sparks gave in his comments and it took us pretty much to the farm. We had to go a bit farther down the road but we found it. I too really enjoyed a visit with Mrs. Miller. She was so nice and said I should come back and we could sit down and have a nice chat some time. I was sad to read in the above post that they are leaving the state because I would have definitely gone back to see her. Thanks so much for letting me know about her and her family.
Great that you were able to visit Theresa!
Staying with a Swartzentruber Amish Family
Some very nice stories over here.
I’m Saskia and I live in Belgium (Germany is our neighbour country)
IN 2021 we want to visit the Amish County and especially wa want to stay 2 days with a Swartzentruber Amish Family.
Can anyone help us to get in contact with a family?
We would like to help on the field or other activities
Why staying ?
Well if we travel we want to feel the real lives and values
and as my grandparents both had farms where i grew up this is for me very emotional. Especially as the Amish people use the Belgian draft horse.
My grandparents used also a plow to work on the land.
Childhood is for me milking cows by hand, smell the fresh digged up earth 🙂
Can anyone help us?