Saturday morning I headed up to the Berlin Community Park, in Berlin, Ohio, to set up our Amish Country Pics booth at the Berlin Bluegrass and Arts/Crafts festival. After I finished setting up, I proceeded over to the German Village IGA to pick up a gift card at The Gospel Bookstore. As soon as I got inside, I ran into the “mayor of Berlin”, Eli (Small) Hochstetler, also the owner of The Gospel Bookstore. Small was having another one of his book signings at the store. Lester Beachy was on hand to sign his just-released book, “Our Amish Values – Who we are and what we believe”. Small introduced me to Lester and we started “sharing stories”. Lester grew up in “Limpytown”, a place near Walnut Creek, barely large enough to be called a town. My mom, Marie Erb (Schrock), lived in Limpytown for a while when she was a young Amish girl. Lester knew my Grandpa Erb and had at one time rented an apartment in Berlin from my Uncle Dan Erb. We also discovered we had a cousin in common, Floyd Mullet, of Sugarcreek. I was related to Floyd on “one side” of the family and Lester was related on the “other side”. Learning these family and community connections happens all the time in Holmes County. There are so many connections, you just keep “learning” new ones.
I still had a lot on my agenda for the day so I told Lester I would be back to get some more information about his book. From the book store, I went over to go get the mail. As soon as I walked in the post office, I saw a friend of mine, Paul Schoonover. Paul is an attorney whom I met a couple of years ago when I was looking for a map to sell on this website. His “Amish Highways and Byways Map” is still the best map there is of Ohio Amish country. Paul and I have similar interests so we chatted for a while and “shared stories”. I told Paul about my meeting with Lester Beachy, so he decided he would also like to meet Lester. Paul left, and I headed for home with a copy of Lester’s book and the mail. After a bit I went back to the Gospel Bookstore and caught up with both Paul and Lester, who were engaged in a friendly chat, “sharing stories”.
Later I talked more with Lester. He’s a member of the new order Amish church and is from Sugarcreek, Ohio. I really like his little book. It’s very well done; it’s got lots of excellent pics of Amish country and answers a lot of questions that people have about the Amish and the “Amish ways”. When I asked Lester why he wrote the book, he told me that he’s a tour guide for a couple of area tour companies and people are always asking him all kinds of questions about the Amish, so he decided he would put those questions and answers into a book. The book covers topics such as Amish origins, church, dating, footwashing, gardening, holidays, jewelry, non-resistance, rumshpringa, school, excommunication, tradition, and more. If you are interested in the book, check out our local gospel bookstores at: Ohio Amish Country Bookstores.
P.S. Small Hochstetler is not really the mayor of Berlin. I just call him that because he is the closest thing to a mayor that we have in Berlin. Small is currently the president of the Berlin Main Street Merchants. 🙂