Manton, Michigan is a sleepy burg along US 131 about 45 minutes south of Traverse City. I've passed the town numerous times over the years as I've gone to and from Traverse City for various events. There's not much notable about Manton that would persuade one to stop. A small hardware store, a mom and pop motel, a Subway sandwich shop and a farmer's market is about all that beckons from Manton. But push beyond the little town to the west into the surrounding countryside and you'll find a small but sprawling Amish community. The Manton Amish community isn't typical.
While the Amish here consider themselves Old Order they worship not in homes but in churches (they call them meetinghouses) and have a bit more of an evangelical streak, which has made Manton a destination for Seekers (outsiders who wish to join the Amish) over the years. The community is currently home to one Seeker and some Mennonites who made the rare step of joining the Amish (often it's the reverse). The settlement is loosely affiliated with similar Amish churches in Smyrna, Maine; Unity,Maine, and some Canadian Amish communities. While most Old Order Amish don't want their photos taken for religious reasons, there's more openness here. One Amish man explained to me that it was left up to the individual here to decide how they feel about photography. This is a photo of an Amish woman working at the Fruitful Hill Farm Market on 16 ½ Mile Road. She was completely fine with this photo being taken and her husband even asked me to send them a print if I could. The community does not use electricity and they travel by horse-drawn buggy. The produce sold at Fruitful Hill is grown on site in gardens and greenhouses like the one pictured here. Fruitful hill also sells a selection of bulk foods and home-baked goods made fresh on Tuesdays and Fridays for sale.
If you have a bit of time, here's a long but fascinating article about Bill and Tricia Moser, a Seeker family from Detroit who made their way to Manton on their journey to join the Amish. I actually tried to find the Mosers last week because I think they have such a fascinating story. But I learned that they no longer live in Manton. I was told they moved a couple of years ago to a small Amish community near Marion about 45 minutes away, so I went there to look for them but the trail grew cold The address I had for them seemed abandoned and I could not find anyone who knew them.
This laundry was on the line of one of the Mennonite families who joined the Amish and now lives in Manton. They said the term Seekers is not usually applied to Plain people who switch to another Plain church like they did. The pants on the line, by the way, are denim with the tops sort of turned inside out to dry. Nearby was an outbuilding where an Amish man was constructing sheds. The first Amish began arriving in Manton in 1993. Amish in the community have come from all over: Tennessee, Maryland, Illinois, Maine, and other places attracted to the church's "independent streak."
Very interesting to hear that some Amish are more evangelical and independent. I wonder if other Amish groups who are not would refuse to associate with them.
I so enjoy reading these stories and getting a little glimpse into Amish life in different areas. It's so interesting to see the differences in the different communities.
Sounds like the Lapp family featured on BBC Amish; A Secret Life would fit in nicely or perhaps they will start a community along these lines. Thanks I always enjoy learning about different Amish groups.
Interesting!! This article made me wonder,what became of Gusluke? Does anyone have an idea?
I, too, have wondered about Gusluke. Felt he gave a lot of "color" to this website, as well as being a wealth of info.
Barb, I keep in touch occasionally with Gusluke and just heard from him today. I visited him in May when we were up in his area, camping at the lake. He is doing fine, just not on the Internet anymore. Sure miss his presence and input on the web site!
Read the entire story,Kevin..Never knew the term seekers before-was very intriguing to hear just how people go about becoming Amish.Have wondered about that.
I do like that phrase about not being overly concerned with distant problems.Rather,one should focus on their own personal goals for improvement.
I'm late seeing this but enjoyed this read Kevin. Thanks for the look at this community, the photo info was particularly interesting. I feel like the "individual left to decide" approach to photography may actually be true in more places than I might have thought (though perhaps not so openly stated).
We used to visit the Marion MI community frequently. We were friends with a family who joined the Amish in 1990 and moved to Marion about 1997. They pretty much left a couple of years ago. It was a very nice community when it started but developed more problems as time went on. I think the "counseling center" in Evart may have attracted a number of less stable families to the area which didn't help. I no longer have any contacts there.