Location: Wayne County, Indiana
Distance From Home: 48.3 Miles
This is another installment where I visit Plain communities within a 100 mile radius of my southwest Ohio home. Today: Wayne County, Indiana.
I've written before about Wayne County, Indiana's Amish community, but I've not explored it very much. After my visit Friday I feel like I have a better feel for the sprawling settlement which numbers eight church districts hopscotched across the northern half of the county. I-70 slices Wayne County in half and almost all the Amish are north of the interstate. Wayne County historically has been known as a stopping point between larger Dayton and Indianapolis and as the home to the Quaker-affiliated Earlham College. There also was a massive school bus factory in the city for much of the last half of the 20th century. The buses went belly-up during the recession of the early 1990s and the city has struggled since. But the Amish influence in the northern part of the county has pumped commerce and new life into once empty farmsteads.
We were exploring the rural swath of Wayne County from Fountain City to Williamsburg. One of the county's gems is the Cardinal Greenway a converted rails to trails bikepath which connects Richmond with Muncie. One of these days I'll bring my bike! It's a flat, wonderful trail with beautiful prairie vistas and plenty of amenities like ample parking at the trailheads and restrooms. But no buggies on the trail, a sign warns!
Elsewhere there are other signs of the Amish settlement. While the Wayne County community doesn't have a vast amount of home-based Amish businesses there are still enough to fill an afternoon of driving around. We picked up some fresh cantaloupe, yum, you can't beat it for 25 cents a melon!:)
A small box sat among the cantaloupes where you can drop your quarter or quarters in. With a whole field bursting with melons nearby, this Amish family should be collecting quite a few quarters over the weeks ahead!
Elsewhere the Amish have set up greenhouses and nurseries as home-based businesses. This photo could be entitled "martins and mums", because it had ample quantities of both. Look at those purple martin houses! Attracting these voracious insect eating birds is a popular pasttime among the Amish, especially those from Lancaster County. The local community maintains strong ties to the larger Amish settlement in Pennsylvania, using the common gray-topped buggies and the distinctive two-peaked white kapps worn by Amish women here. This is a sampling of some of the linen and clothing colors as seen flapping on a clothesline nearby.
Stay tuned for Part II of this segment tomorrow when we pay a visit to the Amish-run Wayne County Produce Auction.
That's the coolest,craziest martin house I've ever seen!
On my shortened e-mail notification ,it said "plain in my back"-haha
Mid-October, 2015 I live in Cincinnati, and am a social/cultural historian and writer. I used to live in Chambersburg, PA. I happened on Williamsburg this summer. I immediately spotted far too many Amish settlements, though I wasn't looking...to not see that they'd not been here since I was first born and knew Southern Indiana since the 1950's.
In October, I was fortunate enough to stop by Countryside Market which is 'home' to those martin birdhouses. Because it was the end of the season, and maybe they weren't selling much, or for whatever reason, I got to meet all 5 children sent out to greet and help me. I was alone. The oldest was around 14. They helped me pick out several pots of mums I liked, and in the meantime, I talked to them. The youngest was around 6 or 7. They were dressed more Old Order than anyone I'd seen in PA, living there in the 60's. We never approached the houses anyway back then. Never.
The younger girls this day in Williamsburg, huddled around their big brother while we were talking. I think we gave one another 'equal' stares....they were as amazed at me, as I of them. Their clothing was exceptionally Old World, apologies, I'm not an expert on Amish..I felt like I had fallen into a 19th century Charles Dickens story...or Laura Ingalls Wilder. I do not romanticize the Amish, Shakers or Quakers...at the same time, the visual was this strong of a description I'm giving.
I was short the amount I owed for the flowers. The fine young Amish entrepreneur said "You can have them anyway, we get along pretty well." I kept the receipt with their address at the top. I slipped a $5 bill into it. I trust it was the right thing to do, in the Amish way.
I asked the children that day about those gourd-shaped houses. The young boy told me they get them from a bird-house maker and then sell them. He had the Amish dutch-sounding dialect accent. He'd moved from Lancaster 10 years prior. He must have been maybe 4 years old.
I've met a lot of 'different' people in my life. But meeting the Amish up close has been a most profound experience. The thinnest of veils between them and myself was nearly palpable, standing right in the lot there in the photo of this post. Respecting one another's different 'ways'....I knew I could never be where they are, nor they with me. Standing in a region I grew up in, loving cornfields and undulating hills....the sky meeting the horizon every night...I knew, we'd only get to be 'so far' with each other.
A chance encounter I'll never forget.
Bonnie, thanks for stopping by and sharing that, very descriptive account of your encounter! And, Dawn, I somehow missed that comment when you first posted it..>Pain in my back:) Hope not!