404 I'll Take You There: Visit Hardin County, Ohio

I’ll Take You There: Visit Hardin County, Ohio

Hardin-Co-Buggy-1

In 1996, we lived near the highest point in Ohio—Campbell Hill, elevation 1535 feet. We bought a Logan County spec home built by Amishman-turned-Mennonite Sam Eicher. Mr. Eicher had a Bobcat excavator; painted on it in dark blue script was “Grandpa’s Toy.” He’d left his Amish ways far behind, but occasionally we’d see Amish buggies in Bellefontaine.

The way I remembered it, Hardin County Amish country and Mary’s Amish Bakery were just north of our old house, but the drive took an hour. Fortunately, the weather that day in early February was great, with sunshine, temperatures in the 50s, and no snow in the forecast.

We took US-33 west to Marysville, where we picked up US-31 north to Mt. Victory, setting our destination for Pfeiffer Station General Store, 19950 County Road 144, Kenton, OH 43326. Once before, our Garmin had gotten us as far as this old-timey grocery/knick-knack store that offers everything from dried peas to Ohio State Buckeye memorabilia. When we failed to find Mary’s Amish Bakery that time, we’d asked for help at this store. The cashier said she’d never heard of it. Disappointed, we bought some of her stock and found out later we’d been less than five minutes from Mary’s Bakery.

This time, I had a map of Hardin County with Amish shops marked and camera at the ready. We headed west out of Mt. Victory on Ohio 273 and north on 179, where several shops selling Amish goods seemed to be located. Alas, all the merchandise mentioned on that road was sold by one family, and no one was outside except a boy sledding alone. After a couple of similar results, we decided to refer to the map only when we came to a crossroads and to enjoy the snowy views as we wended our way to Mary’s. Occasionally we did see people. Friendly people! Many waved vigorously, but I couldn’t wave and take pictures at the same time. Maybe that was the plan.

Door-Number-Eight-1

We saw signs advertising swings, gliders, picnic tables, indoor furniture, maple syrup (we saw people tending a huge kettle), hand-woven baskets, harness shops, and brown eggs. The shoe repair sign in the photo below was the best one of all.

Shoe-Repair

When I’d taken lots of pictures, we drove to Mary’s Market, an unassuming Amish Bakery sign marking the faded red outbuilding. The street address is 12813 Co. Rd. 265, Kenton, OH 43326. If you take the slight fork right from Pfeiffer’s Station General Store onto Co Rd 265 at the Wheeler’s Tavern sign, you’ll soon see Mary’s on your left.

Inside, Mary and her assistant worked lickety-split as several English cars arrived at once, the customers having but one goal: cinnamon rolls. The place smelled amazing. While I took pictures, my husband boldly struck up a conversation with Mary.

“Do you have any cinnamon rolls?”

“Yes.”

Long pause. “Can I buy some?”

“Yes.”

Mary whisked to the huge black wood-burning oven, snatched an aluminum pan of six rolls from the warmer, frosted them, and whacked the pan in a white cardboard box. She handed it to my husband and he paid less than five bucks. A lady customer confided in us about the pie prices—crazy low!—while Mary chatted with her assistant in Deitsh, probably about the crazy English who paid too much for everything.

I asked Mary if I could take a photo of her oven, fascinated by the ash bucket. “Yes, I will go over there,” she said, making it very plain she did not wish to be in the picture.

Marys-Stove

Would I drive to visit Mary’s Bakery again? Probably not. But it is fascinating to see how she turns out her baked goods as fast as the customers demand them on a Saturday morning. Her house on the other side of the driveway was as neat as a pin, with braided rag rugs hanging on the front porch in the winter sunshine.

Hardin-Co-2b

On the way to Mary’s and back we saw lots of pretty sights, but what we heard was best of all. When you see a buggy approaching, lower your window. The clop of horse hooves echoes for miles in the quiet. A drive to Hardin County is a peaceful way to spend a Saturday!

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Stephanie Reed (17 Posts)

Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio. Her previous books are "Across the Wide River" and "The Light Across the River." Her Amish novels include "The Bargain" (Plain City Peace, Book One) and "The Bachelor" (Plain City Peace, Book Two), available October 2014


Comments

  1. Such a sweet story. We have stayed in bed and breakfasts in several Amish communities and we too, love the clip-clop as the horse and buggy go by. It is the most peaceful sound. Thank you for sharing. Sweetest Blessings ♥ Teri

    • Thank you, Teri! I’m glad you knew what I meant by the clip-clop. It’s kind of like a clock tick-tocking. Remember when the advice was to put a ticking clock in a new puppy’s bed? The sound was supposed to resemble the mother dog’s heartbeat. Must work for people, too!

  2. I love to go to those types of Amish stores. I have lived in Brown County Ohio for almost 32 years. I had always heard there was an Amish Community just off 32 the other side of Mt. Orab Ohio. Just a year and a half ago we stuck out to find and visit those communities. We found a combination of three Amish shops together. Like an Amish shopping center. There was a furniture store with all kinds of Amish built things like outdoor swings for your porch or yard. Well built. There was so much more than furniture. Then there’s a bakery stocked with every kind of baked goods imaginable. Their fresh baked white bread is delicious ! Plus it’s a gift shop too. And you can get coffee and a sandwich or cold drink for lunch. Outside they have picnic tables set up under a shelter and you can go sit down and eat your lunch you just bought. Also you will find a bulk goods store. Everything from soup base mixes, cappuccino mixes , candies and home made fudge , handmade soaps and lotions , cheeses and everything imaginable there under that roof.
    I believe it’s in Adams County Ohio.
    Also along 32 there’s another large Amish shop almost directly off the highway. Outside the shop there are so many wind chimes that saranade you as you enter the shop. You’ll find a combination of everything inside that shop. These two places employee a lot of the local Amish and they are always most polite and accommodating to the customer. Glad we took the time to go and visit these two places. Living here for almost 31 years and we never had made the effort to visit these places!

    Have a lovely spring
    Shirley

    • Hello, Shirley! You are so faithful to visit my posts and I really appreciate you. I’m going to have to find the places you’ve mentioned! 32 is the Appalachian highway, right? I’ve been to Keim Family Market in Adams Co, also to Murphin Ridge Inn in West Union. And I know exactly where Mt. Orab is from my Rankin family research and also we used to drive through Mt Orab when I was very little on the way to my grandma’s house. Keep sharing what you do! I like to catch up with your travels. :-)

  3. I really loved hearing your perspective on this area! I am from Columbus, Ohio but I spent part of my childhood visiting my close aunt in Hardin County. Then I spent close to four years of my adult life living in Mt Victory, helping my uncle care for his young children when my aunt passed away from cancer. Hardin county will always be close to my heart! Even though we live in Tennessee now because my husband is in the military, I often reminisce about our time spent there. Great memories!! Mary’s bakery is amazing and so is the entire culture of the Old Order Amish community! We lived in the outskirts of town, on a piece of property right next to another large Amish family. I will never forget the long summer walks, spent catching fireflies, picking blackberries, and living a slower pace of life! As surely as I craved living in the city, today I crave this relaxed way of life and realize that living there was a once in a lifetime experience that I will always treasure.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Meghan! I’m glad this brought happy memories back for you. If you visit my Facebook page, I can post some more photos of my visit, including a Mt Victory landmark I’m sure you remember. I wish I could have caught fireflies and picked blackberries with you. Here’s my page: https://www.facebook.com/StefReedBooks

  5. I’m always interested in hearing about other Amish communities. I lived in Webster County, Missouri, and there’s a pretty good Amish population, but it’s interesting to me because it’s a pretty strict Ordnung. They are only allowed to drive open buggies, and they don’t paint their houses or outbuildings. I’ve had a couple dealings with them (once when I was in Walmart and an Amish man started talking to me – he was under the impression that all the English teenagers went out partying on Friday nights, and he was astonished to find me in Walmart instead!). I’ve often thought that it would be really interesting to make friends with some and get to learn more about their life, especially as Webster County Amish are so strict. Maybe someday…I wouldn’t know how to begin to approach them!

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