I stumbled into an interesting/funny story recently concerning a plain settlement in Kentucky. Karen, a Facebook friend and Amish Cook fan in Crofton, has often told me about the large Mennonite presence there. In doing research for my upcoming book, Amish Cooks Across America, I received some recipes and a letter from an Amish woman in Crofton, which surprised me. So I spoke to my Crofton contact and we tried to figure it out. Karen said she had been calling them Mennonites for over 40 years. I asked her if the married men had beards and she said "yes"....Hmmm, that's usually a quick tip-off that we're talking Amish, not Mennonite. Yet some other characteristics she described about them sounded Mennonite. So she volunteered to do a little bit more digging by talking to some of her plain friends in the area. Turns out we were both right...sort of. Apparently the group used to be Mennonite before turning into a New Order Amish church. It's far more common, in my experience, for Amish churches or individuals to turn Mennonite, but not nearly as common to go the other direction. Martin is a very common Mennonite last name but I did meet a man named Martin who changed from a Mennonite to Old Order Amish church years ago. So it does happen with both churches and invidiuals. There are two church districts in this "mystery church" and they do use horse and buggy. What makes this a little unusual is that most New Order Amish do worship in their homes just as Old Order Amish do, but this church has a meetinghouse where they hold services (see above). And Karen was able to get a couple of photos of their parochial school. See below:
Crofton is a tiny town with less than 1000 residents in the northern part of Christian County, Kentucky. Other areas of the county and adjacent parts of Kentucky have experienced a surge in their Amish population over the past decade or so.