Marlene C. Miller is one of fewer than 100 outsiders who joined the Old Order Amish since 1950. She has been Amish for 46 years. Here Marlene shares some of the places she likes to take visitors when they come to visit her and her husband in the Holmes County area of Ohio.
Everybody has to visit Berlin, Ohio. It is the hub of Amish country in Holmes County.
One mile east of Berlin is the Amish Mennonite Heritage Center, or Behalt, as it is also known, on County Road 77. It has a painted cyclorama—a mural—that is 10 feet high by 265 feet long and that accurately informs visitors about our culture, our faith, and the lifestyle of the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterite people. It’s a must-see. All of our young people who are ready to join church are encouraged to go tour the Amish Mennonite Heritage Center so that they better understand their heritage.
About twenty miles north of Berlin is a little town called Kidron. They have the most unique family-owned hardware store since 1955 called Lehman Hardware Store. They have simple products for a simpler life. It’s your portal to the past. They have the most coal and wood heating cooking stoves that I have ever seen. Their store is so big I haven’t seen all of their products in my 51 years of marriage! They also have cookbooks galore. The Mennonite Community Cookbook from Herald Press that I have used for years is available there. If you like to browse, you might as well make Lehman Hardware a day-long adventure.
South of Berlin, in the town of Charm, is the Keim Lumber Company. It’s the largest family-owned lumber, hardware, and showroom store east of the Mississippi. It’s been in business since 1911. We got most of the lumber for remodeling our house and barn there.
Another town east of Berlin is Sugarcreek, home to the world’s largest cuckoo clock, which sits right on the square. They have a Swiss festival, which is held the last weekend in September, and all the stores are of a Swiss style.
All these towns are within a radius of 20–25 miles. There are many Amish furniture shops, stores, antique malls, B&Bs, and hotels. Clean and pristine Amish farms are dotted all over the countryside. And last but not least, Amish dining is available everywhere. Holmes County is part of the largest Amish settlement in the U.S., and we thank God every day that we have had the privilege to live this quiet and peaceful life.
Marlene C. Miller is pictured to the left as a senior in high school, not long before she became Amish. Marlene tells her story of joining the Old Order Amish in the book Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order, due out in February. In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, and how she fell in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helped her lace her ice skates one day. Follow her on this unusual journey to find out how God’s love called her out of bitterness and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.