By Kevin Williams
There are a cluster of Amish settlements around Indian Lake in west-central Ohio. One is around Belle Center, the other is around Mount Victory, and a third one is around Degraff. I have been to Belle Center and Mount Victory. I had always heard that Degraff was the "less prosperous" community. In fact, one non-Amish person warned me that Degraff is where the "bad Amish go." I wasn't quite sure that meant and it was probably just hyperbole, so I went to Degraff gung ho to make some new friends and explore.
I will say, though, that upon arrival I quickly realized that this was a very conservative community. Ther
e seems to be some influence from Berne, Indiana's Amish settlement here (Berne is only an hour away by car) with the insular mindset and open buggies. There were many homes that seemed half finished, with no siding, for instance.
It put me to mind a little bit of Beeville, Texas's ultra-conservative Amish. Degraff is not a Swartzentruber community, but they are on the very conservative end of the Amish spectrum. More about my visit to Degraff tomorrow.