By Kevin Williams
Butler County, Ohio is a fast-growing northern exurb of Cincinnati, or a far southern suburb of Dayton. However you spin it the county is where two metropolises meet along the busy I-75 corridor.
So it is here, some 30 miles north of downtown Cincinnati, that you'll find an unlikely connection to the Amish. In the unincorporated crossroads known as Woodsdale, there was once a thriving Amish settlement. The first Amish arrived in Holmes County, Ohio in 1809 and that community thrives to this day. But 10 years late the first Amish settlers led by Christian Augspurger arrived at a bend in the Great Miami River near present day Woodsdale. By the early 1820s, nine families had settled in Woodsdale and it became an important "jumping off point" for Amish heading westward.
The history of the community was impeccably researched and presented in a a book entitled The Amish Mennonite Settlement of Butler County, Ohio by Doris Page and Marie Johns.
Today, the original farmstead of founder Christian Augspurger is preserved as part of the Butler County, Ohio MetroParks system. Friends of Chrisholm in cooperation with MetroParks of Butler County preserve, restore and maintain the Chrisholm Historical Farmstead. Visiting Chrisholm in the spring is a wonderful experience, the surrounding lush riverbottom land has awoken from it winter slumber in an explosion of greenery and color. And as you walk the grounds you can easily imagine the area as it once was: a thriving Amish community with working mills and horse-drawn carriages clattering down the roads.
I'm honored to be invited as a speaker for this Saturday's 99th Augspurger and Chrisholm Friends and Family Reunion. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I'll be giving a talk at 11 a.m. I'll share with you some of my Amish experiences over the years and insights into the now-extinct Amish Mennonite settlement of Butler County, Ohio. The event is open to the public. RSVP to Rhonda Smith at [email protected] or 513-863-3272 and make your reservation. Cost is $10 for members and $15 for non-members of Friends of Chrisholm and includes a buffet style farmstead lunch!