I have a lot of memories in Somerset County, Pennsylvania over the years.
For travelers, you'll recognize Somerset as a beacon and oasis on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. If you're traveling east, Somerset is sort of the last major services stop for quite some time (Breezewood, anyone?). If you are traveling west, it's the final stop after a grueling grind on the seeming never-ending turnpike. There's a miasma of chain motels clinging to the highway and a few eateries in Somerset. I remember one particularly harrowing journey on a snow-covered turnpike as I was heading home from Lancaster County, I clawed and crawled my way into the Knights Inn there and bunked down for the night. Knights Inn is now on my list of one of the few chain motels I'll never stay at again for reasons I won't get into here.
There's also a bucolic, peaceful Amish settlement in the beautiful hills south of Somerset. I'll write more about this area tomorrow, but reader Susan shared some photos with us that I thought I'd share with you today and tomorrow. Thanks for sharing these with us, Susan!
One of the fascinating aspects of this Old Order settlement is that they actually have church meetinghouses. The vast majority of Old Order (and New Order) Amish worship in their homes. In Maine, the settlement of Unity has a church meetinghouse as does Oakland, Maryland. Author Suzanne Fisher relates the reasoning for the meetinghouses this way: " Here’s the story, the way I heard it: Years ago, coal miners would appear on Sunday at homes that were hosting church, eager for a free meal. The Amish grew tired of feeding the coal miners. By building a meeting house, that somehow discouraged the free loading coal miners." That's a fascinating tidbit. Look how weathered this meetinghouse looks and rather tiny. The windows are shuttered but they come off on church Sundays. I'll share some more scenes from Somerset County below, stay tuned tomorrow for more!
My Grandparents attended that church, my Grandpa was baptized there. That church district used to have two churches, the other is in Springs PA, only about 15 mins away from there. When the Old Order/Beachy Amish church split in the 1920's they decided to share church houses, and would alternate which group met at which church. I don't know exactly when that stopped, but now both churches are only Old Order churches. Wonderful, wonderful group of Amish in that area!