Admiring Our Amish Community
While driving in the rural northeastern areas of Halifax County, you may meet a slow-moving, horse-drawn black buggy bearing bonneted women and girls and brimmed straw hat-wearing men and boys. You also may observe smiling, curious faces of children who are looking and waving from the back window. Before you make your way around them, you might wonder what their lives are like and how it compares to your own. Learn about Amish etiquette to make your visit more enjoyable.
It's like taking a step back in time, as the Old Order Amish do not connect to the secular world with telephones or electricity in their homes. They don't have television or radio and use horses and buggies for transportation. Family values are important to them. The Amish are a peace-loving group. Their faith requires very plain clothing and a plain way of life... thus they often are referred to as the 'plain people' or the 'gentle people.' Amish education is limited to Grades 1-8 in small wooden school houses where Amish children may be taught English for the first time. Their devout Christian lifestyle is governed by rules set by their church group. Amish worship in homes, rather than in church buildings. Amish religious services are conducted in High German, and they converse in English and a German dialect which is widely known as 'Pennsylvania Dutch.'
An Old Order Amish group from Dover, Delaware established the Nathalie area settlement in 2005. With between 150 and 200 Amish living nearby, the mystique of the Amish now is alive and well in Halifax County. They pay their taxes, volunteer at the fire department, visit with neighbors, and really contribute to the community. They meticulously care for the land and are skilled craftsmen and artisans in construction, baking and other crafts. They raise cattle and horses for their own use. Other agricultural activities may be established based on local needs.
The Amish don't like their faces to be photographed, but are very friendly and welcoming. It's a different lifestyle and a different culture, and it's something that people can see and respect. The Amish, as some might fear, don't scowl in judgement at the jewelry, makeup, or modern attire of visitors. The best time to visit is during daylight hours, any day. You may see gatherings of buggies on Sundays, which alternately are their days of worship or visitation, and some Thursdays when Amish weddings typically are celebrated.
The Amish community is growing and building rapidly and has based its livelihood around agricultural uses, several small businesses and shops open to the public. Detweiler's Nathalie Metal (Siding & Roofing) may be found on Doctor Merritt Road. Miller's Country Store (variety daily + Amish baked food on Friday and Saturday) and Coblentz's New Hickory Furniture are located on Hunting Creek Road. Yoder's Blue Ridge Accents greenhouse may be found on T.N. Snow Road. The Amish are remarkable builders, and several members such as the Bylers and the Gingerichs, perform building and construction trades. (The Amish use newspapers and mail but don't advertise widely. The Amish do have telephones outside the house for business uses and necessities with telephones listed in directories by names of the individual owners.)
Halifax County residents can help to promote its Amish neighbors by linking them with visitors eager to discover members of this highly conservative religious group and by buying their homemade goods, produce, flowers, and furniture. Local residents familiar with the Amish can give directions for visitors to the Amish settlements near Liberty, Lennig, Crystal Hill, and in the Nathalie area. A map may be needed to follow the 20-mile loop of the Amish destinations around Lower Liberty Road, Liberty Road, Lennig Road, Hunting Creek Road, TN Snow Road, and Crystal Hill (primarily along Virginia Route 603 between US Route 501 and US Route 360).
The Amish don't believe in owning or driving vehicles, but don't mind paying for rides to town and distant Amish locations with people who own vans. Amish ties are evident in Halifax and South Boston where the Amish visit Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Farmer's Foods and other local businesses.