My new book, Change of Heart takes place in 1899 in Berlin, Ohio. The idea for the story came from my fascination with and admiration for the Amish. I love to visit Amish communities. This month my husband and I went to Holmes County, Ohio. We ate fresh baked bread, fried chicken, perch, and the best corn pudding and butterscotch pie at Charm’s Family Restaurant where the Amish/Mennonite waitresses were welcoming and friendly.
In the heart of Charm are all types of patterned quilt, fabric, and gift stores full of handmade Amish wall hangings, potholders, and quilted cases for eyeglasses, curling irons, scissors and more. Their talent and attention to detail is very evident in all of their creations.
The handcrafted furniture, treadle sewing machine, wood burning stove, and quilts were unique and full of history.
The guide did a wonderful job explaining the Amish lifestyle and traditions. He said they make and use lye soap for many things. One way they use the soap is to soothe and help heal poison ivy and other skin irritations.
Leah, a young Amish woman, was mixing flour and butter, oatmeal, peanut butter and ginger cookies arranged on a table. It filled the room with the sweetest sugary smell. Of course, we bought and ate one of each. They were delicious. I confess, I ate more of the cookies than Ed, my husband!
Rachael showed us the schoolhouse. It was cozy with desks and chairs lined in rows. The teacher’s desk was off to the side, and a table at the front of the room was lined with their school books and materials. I loved it. She said she liked going to school with her friends and was content to go to school only through the eighth grade.
I never get tired of seeing the horses pulling the buggies through town. While I enjoyed a buggy ride, the Amish driver told us his horse was nine years old and still in training but was doing okay. He said in the colder months, he covers with a blanket and pulls the sides down to keep warm.
In Millersburg, we stopped at The Amish/Mennonite “Behalt”. It’s a painting filling the walls in a beautiful, large, carpeted round room showing the history of the Amish and Mennonites. An Amish guide explained each scene and walked us through the story. It was amazing and you don’t want to miss it! A video followed showing more about every day Amish life. My husband and I talked about it for a long time on the drive home.
I liked the crowded streets of Berlin with numerous buggies. They had all just attended the weekly auction of used machinery. The horses are so well behaved and it’s amazing how they prance right along with the heavy traffic through town, never bothered by the noise.
The stores are more commercial here, but fun. Ed bought cupcakes and we watched them making fudge and, of course, we bought some!
Mt. Hope was a small quaint town featuring Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, where we ate on Saturday. The food was very good, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the place. They had a wonderful quilt and gift shop where they sold Amish clothing and bonnets. I loved looking at the detail and exquisite quality put into each one.
Most everything was booked, so we stayed at the Comfort Inn in Berlin. The room was very clean and comfortable. We had a freezer, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. The staff were great, and I would recommend it. You won’t run out of things to do or places to eat! We never tire of Berlin, Charm, Millersburg and Mt. Hope!
Molly Jebber is the author of Change of Heart, and the novella, The Amish Christmas Sleigh. Fascinated by the Amish history, culture, Molly perused her passion to write about the Amish people. She also has three more titles debuting with Kensington Publishers in 2015 and 2016. Publisher’s Weekly listed Change of Heart as number three in their best ten review list for 2015. Romantic Times gave Change of Heart 4.5 stars. Molly enjoys time with her family, friends, traveling, swimming and golf.
Purchase Molly’s books here.
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