On Saturday night I headed down to Troyer’s, located in a beautiful setting at the Doughty Valley Creek, to the 19th annual “Down Home Gospel Sing”. It’s the first time I’ve been there and it proved to be a very popular event in Ohio’s Amish Country. Troyer’s Hollow is aptly name because it really is a hollow. The only entrance into the hollow by vehicles is down a long, steep, and winding road with a dense growth of trees on either side. Way down in there’s this beautiful open area with the Doughty Creek running along the south side of the hollow. [Read more…]
The last few weeks have been perfect, weatherwise, and today was no exception. My favorite part of Charm Days are the equestrian events. Early this morning, I headed down to Charm, at about 7am, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
About six weeks ago I discovered that the horse events were cancelled for this year. Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago I learned, thanks to Mr. Eli Miller of the Maysville area, who offered to take the leadership role, they were back on the schedule. This year’s events included the water relay race, scoop shovel race, a children’s stick horse race, the 100 and 200 yard dash, an obstacle course, and, new this year, a girl’s drill team. I must say the girl’s drill team looked splendid, mounted on their steeds, with their blue and pink colored dresses. Their horses even had matching leggings.
I took a whole bunch of pictures and was fortunate to get the scoop on the drill team. The Saddle-Up Cowgirls consist of eight girls, plus one backup. I was surprised to learn that the girls are only ages 13-15. Many of them have been riding since they were quite young. They all love to ride so a couple of years ago they started their own private riding club. They decided it would be a good idea to have somebody a little older lead them, so they asked Emily Yoder, who consented to do so. They are from the Mt. Hope, Ohio area and usually meet every Thursday to practice. They do it mostly for the fun of it, but this year they got to show some of their horsemanship skills to the crowd at Charm Days.
Their last names are what one might expect for a group of Amish girls. They are Elaine Weaver, Mary Yoder, Mary Troyer, Kayla Troyer, Kaitlyn Hershberger, Marie Yoder, Lisa Hershberger, Emily Miller, and Lisa Hershberger is the backup person in case someone is absent.
During the exercises I noticed that, while performing their routines, Kayla Troyer kept the team in sync by using a whistle to keep things on track. In addition to their drills, some of the girls participated in the pole events, and the dashes. I heard the announcer say that Elaine Weaver took first place in one of her events and Kaitlyn Hershberger took second in one of her events.
My wife owned a horse when she was younger and we love to ride horses. As a teenager, she would have loved participating in a group like this. I’m sure these Amish girls know how to work hard, but they also know how to have fun. I could see that they were in their element today; and having a ball. Today all the horse events were just plain fun to watch! Thank you Eli Miller for stepping up to the plate so that hundreds of people were able to have a great time this morning.
For more information about Charm Days visit the website at CHARM DAYS.
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. [Read more…]
There are still a few places where laundry is dried on the line, fresh with the scent of whatever is wafting by on the breeze. Pinecraft, Florida, a place filled with rows and rows of tiny, white clapboard houses is one such place. What was once a quiet little community on the edge of Sarasota is now surrounded with four-lane highways; as the city expanded it eventually completely surrounded it. But Pinecraft remains a distinct entity even so. Like a timeless bubble of nostalgia.
The residents of Pinecraft are mainly Amish and Mennonite, or are descended from those unique people groups. Cars and trucks whizz by on the busy thoroughfares surrounding the quiet little lanes that crisscross the community [Read more…]
Today was a busy day in Ohio Amish Country. The twice annual big horse auction is going on in Mt. Hope Ohio. It was a beautiful day but a bit muddy as you can see from this photo. The sale runs almost the whole week and ends on Saturday. I picked up an Amish man this morning about 7am and drove him up to the auction barn. He is from Canastota, New York, from a single church district Amish community, consisting of about 12 Amish families. All the familes living their are originally from the Holmes County Ohio area, but there is one family from Indiana that is going to be moving to Canastota. He came here to see if he could find a better deal on a pair of Belgian work horses. Where he lives in New York, about thirty miles from Syracuse, there are not very many horses for sale at auction. [Read more…]
I frequently open the gymnasium at the Berlin Christian Fellowship for teams that come to play basketball. The teams that play on Monday and Tuesday nights are made up of young Amish boys. Yesterday, Saturday, there was an all day tournament. One of the teams was a group of Amish boys who love to play basketball. I asked several of them if I could take their pic and they said they were fine with that. In this pic are Ray Yoder, Paul Troyer, and Paul Yoder. After I took their pic they asked me if I would take their team picture since they had been wanting a pic of the team with their blue and yellow jerseys. I did so and also printed out a copy for each of them. [Read more…]
Unser Leit…The Story of the Amish. Volumes I and II. By Leroy Beachy. Millersburg, Oh: Goodly Heritage Books, 2011.
In April 2011, I published a short article about Leroy Beachy’s just released book, Unser Leit. Gerald J. Mast, a Professor of Communication at Bluffton University, recently wrote an excellent, detailed review of Leroy’s book, which I have published here. Gerald is the author of Go to Church, Change the World: Christian Community as Calling. He grew up in Holmes County Ohio and received degrees from Malone University and the University of Pittsburgh.
This review by Gerald first appeared in The Mennonite Quarterly Review 86 (April, 2012), 265-269 and is reprinted here with permission. This MQR journal was founded by Harold S. Bender and the Mennonite Historical Society and has been published continually since 1927. The website for the journal is: www.goshen.edu/mqr
This two-volume history of the Amish by Leroy Beachy, a genealogist from Holmes County, Ohio is a remarkable achievement, generously fulfilling a vision for family history as church history described by Ernst Correll in the January 1928 issue of this journal. Correll called for genealogical research that goes beyond names and dates to recall the “immediate setting of the generations in their cultural backgrounds.” Correll believed that “Mennonite families were the crux and core of the history of the Mennonite Church,” a view clearly shared by Leroy Beachy. In Unser Leit…The Story of the Amish, Beachy provides an account of Amish families that places their traumas and triumphs at the center of Amish-Mennonite history. In so doing, Beachy’s work contributes significantly to Amish and Anabaptist studies in at least five distinctive ways, although some of these contributions will no doubt be contested.
Today I attended the 12th annual Doughty Valley Steam Days. This annual event is held between Berlin and Charm, Ohio next to the Guggisberg Swiss Inn. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the various power machinery demonstrations. When I was younger I remember my grandpa Erb had a great interest in these machines. At one time he owned an old Rumely steam tractor which he was very proud of. He also had a fascination with, and worked on, other heavy equipment including draglines and bulldozers. [Read more…]