Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Touring Holmes County, Ohio -- The Heart of Amish Country


By Debby Giusti

Join me on a research trip to the heart of Amish country! Ohio is home to more Amish than any other state. The majority of its 40,000 plain people -- ranging from the most conservative Swartzentruber to the liberal New Order Amish -- live in picturesque Holmes County. My husband and I toured the area after the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this summer, and I wanted to share some of what we saw and learned during our trip.

Our hotel.

We stayed in Berlin (pronounced Burr΄- lyn), at the Berlin Grande Hotel and were extremely pleased with the accommodations. Our room was spacious, modern, clean and comfortable. The Berlin Farmstead Restaurant and Bakery conveniently adjoins the hotel property. Like other restaurants in the Der Dutchman chain, the Farmstead offers a delicious assortment of Amish favorites, including homemade noodles, pies and baked goods.

My Ohio grandmother always made her own noddles and served
them with mashed potatoes and  gravy. I couldn't resist ordering
 noddles, mashed potatoes and gravy with turkey
the first night we ate at the Farmstead. Lots of
carbs but so delicious! 

Due to the rising cost of land and the growing population, only 8% of the Amish in Holmes County earn their livelihood by farming. Today, tourism is the leading industry, and the Amish work in many of the stores and restaurants.

Interesting to see an Amish man doing the
grocery shopping!

One of our first stops was Walnut Creek Cheese, that sells cheese but also a wide assortment of groceries. The main market is located in the neighboring town of Walnut Creek, but a smaller branch store was situated near our hotel. Both locations sold locally grown produce and fresh meat and sausages. Many of the dry products were sold in bulk, with spices, rice, flour and such packaged in plastic bags. I especially enjoyed seeing the buggies outside with the horses tied up to the hitching posts.

Flour, rice, cornmeal, tapioca and other dried products
are packaged in plastic bags.

Horses wait patiently as their masters shop.

We visited a number of cheese factories. Heini’s Cheese Chalet provided information on how they make their cheese as well as lots of samples. Other stores of interest were Keim Lumber Company, established in 1911, and Lehman’s that sells everything an Amish home might need from houseware to hardware. Dry goods stores and quilt shops abound in the area as well.

The ladies are wrapping the various brands of cheese for
sale.

Lots of yummy samples!

The countryside was dotted with lovely homes and picturesque farms nestled in the rolling hills. Many of the Amish build “case houses” on their property that provide storage and an area to hold gatherings, such as church services or funerals. The more liberal groups have phone booths near their driveways (but never in their homes) with solar panels that charge the batteries for their answering machines.


Such a lovely farm!
A group of neighbors often rent freezer space from a non-Amish person. The freezers are located in a small building close to the main road. The more conservative groups have ice houses on their property that are insulated with twenty-four-inch Styrofoam. Once nearby ponds freeze, the ice is cut into blocks and stored for up to eight months.

Well-insulated ice houses keep ice from December to August.

Thirty to thirty-five families form a church group or district. Within a year, each member hosts one of the services, held every other Sunday. The non-worship Sundays are spent visiting friends and family. To accommodate the congregation, furniture is removed from the home and folding benches are lined up for the women and men to sit on opposite sides of the room. The bishop presides over the three-hour service, followed by a lunch prepared and served by the hosting family.

Purple Martins make their nests in the tall birdhouses. The birds
arrive in April and fly to South America in the winter.
They eat mosquitoes and other bugs so the birdhouses
are frequently seen near Amish homes.
Ada's chick brooding house, behind the birdhouses, was where her family hosted church.

We visited Ada Yoder’s home. She and her eight children cleaned their chicken brooding house for the service her family hosted. She served meat, cheese, peanut butter and bread, pickles, beets and cookies to the congregation.

The bench wagon is filled with folding benches upon which
the Amish sit during their church services.

After the service, the benches are folded and loaded into a bench wagon that's transported to the next family holding church. Ada said a box of cookies are always included so the family has a snack to enjoy as they work on preparing their home.

A rather large schoolhouse near the main road.

Approximately 250 Amish schools are in the county. Parents pay tuition to cover the cost of educating their children through the eighth grade. The schools accept no state funding and are not required to administer state testing. The children receive report cards every six weeks, and the typical school year runs from mid-August to mid-April.

Notice the wedding tent between the barn (L) and the house (R).

Amish couples court for eighteen months. Six to eight weeks prior to their wedding, the bands are announced in church and serve as an invitation to the entire church community. Weddings are held in a neighbor’s home. Often two hundred to six hundred guests attend the wedding, and the cost of feeding the guests can be as high as $5,000.

The sign reads: Welcome to the wedding of Brian and Kathryn. Parking

The wedding took place under the white tent (L).The photo was taken later
in the day, when the bride's friends, wearing light blue dresses, chat under the
blue and white tent.

Two days are needed to prepare for the gathering with an equal number of days for cleanup. Since work is not done on Sunday, weddings are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The ceremony is performed at 8 AM. A meal follows and then the bride opens gifts. The guests leave by 4 PM. Two hours later, singles of courting age arrive for an evening supper and more gift opening.

A typical navy blue bridal dress handmade by
the bride.

The bridal attendants often wear chartreuse dresses.

If you’re planning at trip to Holmes County, consider taking “A Taste of the Backroads” tour. I learned so much from LaVonne as she drove us around the county. She was raised in the area, is friends with the Amish people and understands their way of life. Her tour included a number of stops at Amish homes where we were able to visit with lovely Amish families.

An Amish man and his young daughter.

The men gather at the flea market. The young boys join
the group as well.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Wednesday Flea Market and Cattle Auction held in Walnut Creek. The town was bustling with activity. Horses and buggies lined the streets and filled the parking areas. Amish families chatted with friends as they shopped or attended the nearby cattle auction.

The cattle auction was next to the flea market.

Whether you enjoy reading Amish stories or not, Holmes County is a charming vacation destination…a step back in time and a refreshing pause from the hectic pace of our normal daily lives.

Look-alike dresses handmade by this
Amish mother.
Have you visited any Amish communities? What do you find interesting about their way of life? Are there areas of the country you would like to visit for research?

The horses graze in the nearby pasture while the Amish
families enjoy the flea market and cattle auction.

Undercover Amish, the second book in my Amish Protectors series, releases in ten days. Leave a comment to be entered in two drawings for a copy of Undercover Amish and an additional surprise gift. The coffee's hot. Grab a cup, along with some of the baked goods I ordered from a Berlin bakery and let's chat about the Amish plain folks and their way of life.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Undercover Amish
By Debby Giusti

After Hannah Miller’s mother is murdered and her sisters go missing, someone comes after her. Now the only way she can survive is to entrench herself in an Amish community…and rely on Lucas Grant, a former police officer who is planning to join the Amish faith, for protection. But finding refuge for Hannah— disguised as Plain at a secluded inn—pulls Lucas back into his old life. And when Lucas discovers the criminals after them may be the people who killed his partner, the mission to take them down becomes personal. With the assailants closing in, though, can Lucas stop them…and finally put his past behind him to start an Amish life with Hannah?
Order here!!




















103 comments :

  1. The Amish Never Cease to Astonish!

    And you capture the magic so well. Can't wait to read "Undercover Amish".

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    1. I find their way of life quite interesting, Vince, and admire their hard work and commitment to living away from the world.

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  2. I always enjoy Amish reads. The simplicity of the lifestyle is something we could all learn from.

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    1. So true, Mary, about the simplicity of their lives. They don't covet or yearn for that which they don't have.

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  3. Great post, Debby! I enjoyed your photographs, too. When I was a child, we visit the Amish country in Pennsylvania. I remember begging my father for a horse and buggy. :)

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    1. Holmes County is similar to Lancaster. Both areas have such beautiful farms. Ethridge, TN, that I visited last year, appeared more rundown and not nearly as picturesque.

      I enjoyed watching the horses and buggies pass our hotel each day. The clip-clop of their hooves was enchanting. I got to ride in a buggy and found it very comfortable.

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  4. Happy Wednesday, Seekerville! These are amazing photos, Debby. Love the colors of the dresses!

    What a fun trip!

    Praying for booming success for your LIS!

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    1. Thanks, Tina! The Amish don't mind being photographed from a distance or at a large gathering, like the flea market. However, they would have been opposed to being posed for a photograph. Plus, I was discreet. :)

      The Old Order Amish typically wear dark colors, but the more liberal groups wear pastels...especially the unmarried girls who work in the shops.

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  5. This is a nice post with great pictures. I have been to Holmes County several times, particularly to visit harness shops. I met a man who makes saddle parts for Olympian Tad Coffin. Then I spent months in Plain City near Columbus with ex Mennonite families, also ex Amish. It's a little different perspective when you listen to the views of those who have left the order. All very interesting.

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    1. Barbara, I used to go to Plain City often, but I recently learned that the Amish no longer live there, although as you mentioned, the Mennonites still do. You're so right about learning some of the less than favorable aspects of the Amish way of life. I'm on a number of blogs with people who have left their Amish roots. Often they have a less than positive view of the plain life.

      Were you doing research during your time in Plain City? I'm an OSU grad and still have relatives in Columbus. We always enjoyed the Der Dutchman restaurant in Plain City. Not sure if it's still open.

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    2. Hi Debby, I'm sorry not to have gotten back yesterday. Maybe you'll see my reply today. I was there for six months during 2011. Yes the Der Dutchman was still there! We were there on ministry. The folk we stayed with were ex Mennonite but the people we dealt with were from all over the area which is why we also knew some ex Amish. It's sad that there are so many bitter about their roots but then again it why they came out of the orders. When you meet mostly with those that have left you get an overdose of the ills. I have to say it was a little bit disillusioning for me but very educational.

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  6. My work browser didn't show all the pictures (just some) so I'll need to check out the post when I get home, but I do love the information you've shared Debby. I've been through Lancaster PA several times when traveling with hubby to visit his daughter from first marriage. We both LOVE the woodwork craft/skill of the Amish. My husband has a woodshop out back where he tinkers, so we often stopped to check out woodcraft things for him to get ideas on things to practice. Right now he mostly tinkers with creating pens, ice cream/coffee scoops and the like on his lathe.

    I love your books and hope this next one gets to all the readers it needs to reach. Yay.

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    1. How special that your hubby works with wood. My father loved to build things and my hubby loves to fix items. There's something very satisfying for a man about woodworking.

      I always thought Pennsylvania had a larger Amish population than Ohio until this trip. But, as I mentioned in the blog, more Amish live in Ohio than any other state.

      Thanks for your kind words about my books, Deb. You're in the drawing!

      Hugs!

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  7. Debby, how are the prices of the cheese and local produced items at the market?
    We have a place about 30 minutes from here in Oklahoma that sells Amish cheese and jellies and such. They're a little high, but the owner's are not Amish.

    I never knew the Amish worship every-other Sunday.

    Love learning about them.

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    1. Connie, the prices were about the same as the prices in my local grocery. However, the selection of specialty cheese was amazing! Heini's has bus tours that stop at their store and the tourists buy, buy, buy! :)

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    2. I've only been through Amish country once, but I didn't get to shop. I need to travel more!

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    3. You're busy with your family now, Connie. You'll be able to travel later. :)

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  8. Hi Debby,
    Thanks for sharing your trip. I've visited much smaller communities in KY. They have the most amazing produce. My home in KY was framed by Amish men, and it was interesting to see them come and go to frame other homes.

    Congratulations on the release of Undercover Amish. I'm always impressed how you weave stories together!

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    1. Jackie, I enjoyed chatting with the clerks in the various stores. They were friendly and helpful.

      I bought an Amish kapp and worried that the clerk might take offense, but she didn't. I guess a sale is a sale! :)

      Interesting that they didn't turn on the lights in a notions store near our hotel so it was quite dark inside.

      I found lots of interesting books about home remedies and such. Books I never would have found outside of an Amish area. Apple cider vinegar seems to be used for any ailment. :)

      Thanks for your kind words. Your support mean so much to me.

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  9. I found the blog some what interesting in its content wise and easier to understand what they had said. I love if you publish the blogs often.
    By Kristina

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    1. Kristina, thanks for being with us today. Tell us a little about yourself and where you're from.

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  10. Fascinating, Debby! Thanks for sharing your travels. I am, though, shocked that only 8% still farm. I remember lots of Amish in Missouri and Iowa, but not that many in pretty much in a single county! Such a lovely trip to learn about Amish life and culture.

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    1. It's too bad about the farming, Glynna, but the people are adapting. There's no unemployment within the Amish. As our guide said, they all find a way to support their families.

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  11. Debby, thank you for sharing your research trip and photos. So interesting! I did not know so few of the Amish earn their livelihood by farming. I thought that's what they all did.

    You said 'Well-insulated ice houses keep ice from December to August.' What do they do from Sept-Nov?

    I need some Purple Martins around my house. Do they come to Virginia?

    I would love to visit Alaska. I hear there's snow there lol.

    What are some of the things ex-Amish say about Amish roots and plain life? We love to read books about it, but I guess it's a different perspective to live it?

    A few months ago I went to a bird sale with my father-in-law. He's in his 80s. One of his best friends is Amish and they were at this bird sale. They have a community near us. I just looked it up and Giles County has the oldest Amish community in Virginia, founded in 1993.

    Love your Amish books. Your research and love of Amish come through each one.

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    1. Sally, how interesting about the Virginia Amish community. Holmes County was settled in 1809 so it goes back a long time. The 8% farming stat applies to Ohio. Not sure about other areas of the country. Even though folks might work in shops or in construction, they still keep a large garden and some have livestock. It's just that their main income comes from those "other" jobs.

      Not sure where the Purple Martins flock but I would love to have some around my house! I saw the same birdhouses in Ethridge, TN.

      It seems that when folks leave the Amish community they sometimes carry a grudge about being shunned (if they were baptized) or cut-off from their families. Sometimes they mentioned the closed outlook that the Amish have. Some struggle with the religious aspects of the Amish faith as well.

      Like you, I wondered about ice during those other months. Perhaps they buy it at the store or have it delivered from professional ice-making companies. Good question. One I can't answer. :)

      Thank you, Sally, for your kind words about my stories. You're always so generous with your praise.

      Hugs!

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  12. Hi Debby!

    I'm so glad you got to visit Ohio's Amish country! I've been there once, doing research for "Mattie's Pledge," but I need to go back again, since my new trilogy for Revell is set near Walnut Creek. :)

    And you went to the sister-restaurant of my favorite place in Indiana's Amish Country - Das Dutchman Essenhaus. Same company, same delicious food! I love, love, love their pies! And who counts carbs when you're in Amish Country? LOL!

    I'm looking forward to reading your new book. :)

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    1. Jan, make sure you go to the WED flea market in Walnut Creek. We were fortunate to go the week before school started. Evidently, that WED draws a lot more folks.

      Do you remember a movie, perhaps Hallmark, about finding love in Charm, Ohio? That's a very small town in the area. The folks didn't allow the movie to be filmed there and one man we talked to said the movie had a train station, which the real Charm does not.

      Walnut Creek was lovely. I enjoy the Cheese/grocery store and wanted to buy all the beautiful produce and fresh baked products. Oh my, a dream come true!!! Plus, it was so fun to shop with the Amish. It's all one community...plain and fancy living and working together, which I enjoyed!

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    2. I miss that sense of the diverse community that we had while living in Northern Indiana. I'd often shop alongside Amish and Conservative Mennonite women in the grocery stores, and visit with them while waiting for our children at the dentist.

      And Shipshewana also has a flea market. It's such fun to go, but exhausting! I usually only make it half of the booths!

      Now you make me want to head to Amish Country. We usually make two trips a year, but this year we headed west on our fall trip instead of east. I do need to visit family soon, though... :)

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    3. An older Amish lady helped me with my shopping and pointed out a chicken stock that she liked. The folks were so friendly and outgoing, which I didn't find in Ethridge.

      I want to go to Shipshewana! Perhaps next year!

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  13. Thank you for the wonderful tour, Debby! I love the details and the pictures. The idea of a simpler life is more enticing the older I get. :) Within the last 18 months a Mennonite community has developed in a nearby town. It's been fun to see how the businesses in the town have responded. Many have installed hitching posts in front of their stores! Best wishes with the release of Undercover Amish!

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    1. How nice to have that Mennonite influence close at hand, Karen. I loved seeing the horses and buggies hitched outside all the various shops.

      Hubby and I had lunch in a local coffee shop and a table of young Amish girls were enjoying their time together. Lots of giggles just like Englischer girls.

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  14. Debby, it was such a pleasure to spend time with you in Ohio! Beth and I drove through an upper part of Ohio with a lot of Amish. We were in Middlefield, in Geauga County and I assumed I was in Holmes county until I looked at the map... and we were three counties Northeast. So that was a surprise... and now I must plan a trip to Holmes County to see all these things. Debby, your descriptions are beautiful and your Amish suspense books totally rock.

    Can't wait to read the next one... and thanks for the time you took to tour central Ohio and find all this information. Wonderful!

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    1. I'm glad you got to see some of the Ohio Amish, Ruthy! Plan a trip to Holmes County though. It's delightful. I'm hoping to return!

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  15. Debby,

    I always learn something from your Amish-related posts! Thanks so much for sharing about this humble, fascinating way of life and for all the great photos. I learn something each and every time!

    It's on my bucket list to visit an Amish community. We're about an hour or so away from Mansfield, MO where there are some smaller Amish groups, but nothing on the scale you've shared about. While there are indeed things I'd miss growing up Amish, I respect their values. OH, and I guess maybe they don't miss what things they've never had.

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    1. Let me know what you find in Mansfield, Cynthia.

      I subscribe to The Budget newspaper, published in Holmes County. It features news from Amish communities around the country and includes Canada. Their local reports are fun to read.

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    2. I should add that the Amish do experience some of the worldly ways during their teen Rumspringa. Evidently the parents don't worry too much and give their children freedom during that time. Most of the youth decide to remain within the Amish community.

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  16. Debby Thank you for the Amish Tour loved it. I want go visit Amish Community one day. Love reading Amish Books.

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    1. Kristina, you're in the drawing!!! Thanks for visiting Seekerville today!

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  17. What a wonderful representation of this beautiful Amish country! Need to schedule another visit to Berlin. Love to go there in the spring and fall.

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    1. Penny, I would love to see it in the fall with the colorful leaves! You must live in Ohio! :)

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  18. Oh my goodness, Debbie, talk about an incredibly fascinating and in-depth look into the Amish community -- this post is a MUST-READ for those who read or would like to write Amish fiction!!

    I learned more from your post today about the Amish than I have in all the Amish books I've read, which, admittedly, other than yours, is not a staggering amount given my penchant for romantic passion. BUT ... I have read a number of them from the very best of authors, so it's no small feat, my friend. ;) Excellent post!!

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour of Holmes County, Julie! :)

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  19. Oh dear, I think I deleted my first post! I'll try again! I loved your pictures and descriptions of your visit!. I was in Holmes County (Berlin) last year for the very first time and I loved it. The rolling hills are beautiful and the Amish were so nice. I really enjoyed learning some of the differences between the Ohio Amish and those here in Lancaster County, PA. I look forward to returning to Holmes County (Sugarcreek) next June to learn more about the various Amish groups. Can't wait to read your next book! Blessings to you, Debby!

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    1. Patti, is there a special event that you're attending next June? It's it the gathering Connie is planning? I would love to go back!

      You're in the drawing for Undercover Amish! Thanks for stopping by Seekerville today.

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    2. Yes Debby, it will be my second time at Girlfriend's Getaway. I had so much fun the first time I just had to go back. Booked my room as soon as Connie gave the info!

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    3. Did you stay in Sugarcreek that last time, as well?

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    4. No, I stayed in Berlin at the Inn on the Square. It was right in town and I was able to walk to the different stores. It was a very nice place too. Their complimentary breakfast was amazing and the room was lovely...very reasonable too.

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  20. We live about an hour and a half from Holmes county. We go down there often & we're down there yesterday getting apples & chees. I do have the book A Taste of the Backroads & have gone to most of the places in there. You need to go down there next month to see how beautiful it is in the fall. Of course, no matter what the season, it is beautiful

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    1. The trees were loaded with apples when we were there, TheBjwags, although we didn't buy any! I'm sure they're delicious!

      How nice to live close to the Amish area so you can visit often!

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  21. This is being posted by Christine Kilner. How interesting and educational! I could picture things as you described them. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Christine, I'm so glad you stopped by Seekerville today. You're in the drawing. We give away lots of books so be sure to come back again!

      Hugs!

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  22. Sounds really good! I love visiting thevAmish areas!
    Blessings
    Diana

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    1. I love visiting the various Amish areas too, Diana. Hoping to get to Indiana next year. Do you live in Ohio?

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  23. I actually lived in holmes county for a while. It is a simpler kind of life. I use to love going to Sugar Creek cheese. I have been to both of them,as well as many other places you mentioned. I would love to read your book. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. Jenny-Lynn, thanks for stopping by today. You're in the drawing! How special to have lived in Holmes County. The area is beautiful. What was it like in the winter? Lots of snow?

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  24. Looking forward to reading this book! We live near the Berlin/Holmes County area and go at least twice a year. You have pictured some of my favorite places! If you get a chance to visit the Amish/Mennonite Visitor Center and tour Behalt next time you are there I know you will find it very interesting and informative!

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    1. We ran out of time, Tracie. I'd love to return and tour both of the places you mentioned. There was so much to see and do!!!

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  25. All the pictures are awesome
    Thank you for sharing your adventure in Amish Country. Can wait to read Undercover Amish.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I hope you enjoy the story.

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  26. I found your article so interesting and informative. I didn't realize that many of the Amish work in tourist related trades now. I would love to visit Amish country someday.

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    1. Hi Deana! The Amish in Holmes Country work in the hotels and restaurants and shops. I'm not sure if you'd find them doing so in other areas of the country. Although furniture making and construction seem to be two professions in which they often work.

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  27. Living in Ohio, we don't exactly visit Amish communities for say, but we do live around them. We got our dog from Berlin, the guy who sold her to us was named like Vernon Yoder, yeah, he was Amish. I also see a lot of Amish people in Walmart believe it or not.

    But Ohio's got a lot more to offer than just the Amish population. It's a beautiful state. Did you happen to see Lake Eerie while you were visiting?

    I wouldn't mind visiting the Appalachians or the Rockies, but where I would truly love to visit (for research of course) is Europe so I can actually see with my own eyes those castles (again strictly for research).

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    1. Nicki, I didn't realize you lived in Ohio. Yes, the state is so beautiful. I love the flat farm area around Columbus. You can see for miles and miles. Big silos, fields that stretch forever.

      We didn't get to Lake Erie. Saving it for another trip!

      I love touring Europe! In fact, I just got back from a trip to the Holy Land, which was so very special. Now I'm trying to catch up on lost sleep. :)

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    2. Ohio is beautiful yes, we live further in the north where there are lots of rolling hills and trees, so many trees.

      But we've had many an opportunity to drive through the farmlands in the country. Our dad invented a game where we count the cows out our windows and whoever has the most cows by the end of the trip wins. But BEWARE if you pass a graveyard you lose all your cows. To this day whenever we see graveyards we say, "Oh, you lost all your cows."

      Lake Erie is definitely worth the trip. It's so beautiful (but then I'm partial to large bodies of water) once when we were driving through Cleveland I saw the sunset reflected on the lake. It was quite memorable.

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  28. I would like to visit the Amish in Ohio, and Lancaster PA.
    Your post was very interesting!

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    1. Annie, I hope you can visit both places in the not-too-distant future! Thanks for visiting Seekerville today! You're in the drawing!!!

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  29. This is a great post. I will read it again in more detail when I am not under a time crunch. I had a dentist appointment this morning and now I am trying to get all the visuals made, a newsletter for parents and the kids done for Master Clubs tonight. I love teaching and creating visuals for the preschoolers to better understand the lesson. I write a children's story that goes along with each unit to put in the newsletter which is a hit with the kids.

    I have been to Pinecraft in Florida and would love to visit it again. Then when I lived in Ohio as a teenager we visited Holmes County. I would love to see it again as well. I love reading Amish stories and I am glad now to see more on the suspense and mysteries genres. Some Amish books use the same story line and plot with each book which people get tired of after awhile.

    Please put my name in the drawing.

    I'd better get back to all I need to finish for tonight.

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    1. Wilani, thanks for mentioning Amish Suspense. You know that's what I love to write!

      I hope to get to Pinecraft someday! I know you'd enjoy seeing Holmes County again. I'm ready to go back! :) So beautiful.

      I'm sure the children love your stories, Wilani. You are such a thoughtful and caring person!

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  30. I really enjoyed reading your post about the Holmes County Amish. I also enjoyed the photos that you posted with article. I am very familiar with the Amish in Lancaster County Pa and those who live around my community in Southern York County PA It is great to read about the Amish in other parts of the country. I would love to be able to visit an Amish community in Ohio to see for myself how they differ from those living in my area. thanks for a chance to win. I am looking forward to reading Undercover Amish, as I do all the rest of your great books.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia, for your kind words about my stories. You're in the drawing.

      Each Amish community is a bit different, isn't it? Always enjoy seeing someplace new. Holmes County stole my heart!!! :) But, then, I love Lancaster too!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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  31. This book sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it when I get enough in the budget. And thank you for sharing about your trip.

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    1. Thanks so much! Blogger didn't include your name. Leave another comment and let me know, okay?

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  32. Thank you for sharing. Loved the pictures. My husband and I went to Berlin last year and stayed at the same hotel. We didn't visit any Amish homes but enjoyed our time there. I look forward to reading your book.

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    1. Anne, it was so nice chatting with you at the CFRR! Didn't you enjoy the hotel in Berlin? The people were so friendly and the accommodations were lovely. They were building 24 more rooms while we were there and said they are usually at capacity in late summer and fall.

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  33. What a fun and interesting post today, sweet Debby! I'm so glad you were able to enjoy visiting that beautiful area and see so many sights.
    Looking forward to your newest LIS - - you are amazing! :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Hi Patti Jo! How's that sweet grand baby of yours! Adorable, of course!

      Holmes County was lovely. I hope you can visit one of these years!

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  34. Hi Debbie. We actually have Amish families in our community and several years ago my husband and I took one family to visit their family in Pennsylvania. I am been hoping to visit Holmes County and your tour has increased my longing. Thanks for sharing your trip and thanks for offering your new book as a giveaway. Please enter my name in the drawing.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Sorry Debby for misspelling your name.

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    2. Connie, you're in the drawing! Weren't you nice to take one of the Amish families to visit their relatives! I hope you can visit Holmes County.

      You're in the drawing!

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  35. Hi Debby! My critique partner and I are at the Berlin Grande right now looking out at the horses parked at the Cheese Factory. Such a breathtaking view!
    We are not doing research, just enjoying the countryside as we brainstorm and write.
    You really went in depth. I enjoyed learning about these interesting people!
    Cheers
    Sue

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    1. Sue, I've been thinking of you and wondering if you were there yet. Isn't it so picturesque! I loved seeing those buggies! There's a nice notions store behind the hotel. You'll see horses and buggies in the lot. It actually looks like a house. Lovely ladies work there! Enjoy your Holmes County getaway!

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  36. Thank you for the Amish tour, Debby! Not only did I enjoy it, but I sent the link to my mom too. She'll love it.

    We have an Amish market in driving distance. It's somewhere I like to take visitors.

    Please enter me in your drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis! I'm waving at your mom! How fun to have an Amish market within driving distance. Yummy produce and baked goods, no doubt! I'm envious. :)

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  37. You made me hungry with those oh-so-fattening noodles and potatoes in gravy. Thanks for that. Good thing I already brushed my teeth, or I might be tempted to snack.

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    1. Boo, most folks think I'm crazy when I mention mashed potatoes, gravy AND noodles! You must be from Ohio! :)

      I brought a couple packages of Amish noodles home with me. Hmmm? Perhaps I'll have mashed potatoes tomorrow...along with the noodles. Would you like to join me. :)

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  38. I live in Ohio not so far from the Amish. I love to go as often as I can. So fascinating!

    Linda Ortiz

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    1. Hi Linda! Enjoy your trips to Amish country! I'm ready for a return visit!

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  39. Thanks for sharing your tour, Debby! So much fun! I've never heard of the noodles with mashed potatoes and gravy, but I gotta admit it sounds pretty good to me :-)

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    1. It's yummy, Laura! My grandmother's parents were of German descent, although I lived in Germany and never saw anything like that served there...so maybe it came from the Amish population.

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  40. Debby, I'm sorry I'm just now getting by. I've been on the go literally all day. Just got home from church.

    What an information-packed post! Love those photos. So fascinating! But I'm with Laura. Never heard of mashed potatoes and noodles together in a dish. :)

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    1. I took so many pictures. The folks were so open and friendly. Lovely people!

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  41. Debby, I loved reading about your tour. My husband's family is from Ohio, and I have enjoyed visiting that area as well as the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania. Heini's cheese and store is a great favorite of my husband's family, and we always congregate around my in-laws when they return from Ohio in hopes of getting a big chunk of their cheese wheel. Thanks for the information. I enjoyed your pictures. (And the Amish make the best apple dumplings!)

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    1. Isn't Holmes County beautiful, Tanya! And Heini's cheese was delicious. I should have tried the apple dumplings!

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  42. Hi Debby, What a fun post. I feel like I just went on a trip. I loved our trip through Amish country but I'll admit that driving the large motorhome around the horse and buggies was a little tense. The roads in Amish country are built for horse and buggy and not very large.
    I love doing research for my novels. Sounds like you do also. Thanks for sharing all the fun.

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    1. You're right about narrow back roads, Sandra. Not the best for a large RV!

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  43. Debby, thank you so much for sharing your trip. I enjoy traveling, even if it's vicariously. Of course, your novels do the same thing with even more exciting twists and turns.

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    1. Thank you, Carroll! You're so affirming! Hugs!

      PS: Shall we plan a trip to Amish Country?

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  44. There a few mennonites here in western nebraska but no amish.

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    1. Do the Mennonites in your area drive cars, Kim, or do they use horse and buggies?

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  45. Debby, what an awesome post! I had hoped to get online yesterday, but had other priorities.

    I grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, so know the Amish well. Loved the picture of the mashed potatoes, gravy and noodles. Ate a lot of those as my family is of German descent.

    Thanks so much for sharing all the pictures and thoughts of your trip. Ohio is a beautiful state, especially in the fall. I live in the desert now and long for those awesome colored leaves.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. So glad to find someone else who enjoys mashed potatoes, gravy and noodles, Marcia! :)

      I lived in the Mojave Desert for two years and missed the trees...so I totally relate! The desert has its own beautiful but I'm more of a water/tree person!

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  46. Debby thank you for sharing your adventures with the Amish! Most of what you posted I knew already by just gleaning information from all the Amish fiction I've read. I didn't realize, however, that Amish couples courted for 18 months! I thought it was much shorter than that maybe more like a year. I knew they announced their wedding a few weeks before in the bands. Now, I've read in fiction where the family of the bride (the mom) plants lots of celery in preparation for the wedding feast. Is that true or does each community have their own traditions? I've always been curious about that. :-)
    What I admire most about the Amish is their simplistic lifestyle. They don't have a lot of "clutter"; things that we think we need but really don't! I think we could really learn a lesson about that for ourselves :-)

    I'd also love to sample the food! I've never had mashed potatoes, noodles, gravy and turkey but it sure does looks delicious. Love gravy myself so I'd probably indulge in a little too much of that, lol! Someday I'd really love to take a tour of Amish country and get to know them a little more.

    I lived vicariously through your pictures, really enjoyed seeing them. I think the cattle auction would be interesting to watch! Never been to any kind of auction myself. Thank you for tossing my name in the pot for "Undercover Amish", I have the first one.

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