During our recent trip back from Missouri, David and I got to see quite a bit of interesting landscape. It took us a while to grasp that we were seeing cotton fields when we were driving through southeastern Missouri. I had never seen a cotton field before. Here is a photo taken from the window of our moving car:
Sometime after I left the Amish the final time, several families from my original community started a new Amish settlement in the Munfordville, Kentucky area. Many of my first cousins and their families were among those who moved. Later, the family I used to live with while I was teaching school, moved there also. I've always wanted to see the area, so that I can visualize the community. We drove through the community on our way back from Missouri. We stopped and visited the family I used to live with and gave them the surprise of their lives, they said. (They didn't say whether it was a pleasant or unpleasant one). They were sitting out in their field, roasting hot dogs and looking out over a breathtaking vista. They pointed to a farm where they said one of my cousins and his family lives. It did not look that far away as the crow flies, but they said it's nineteen miles to get there by road, for the Green River runs through the middle of the Amish community.
Here are a few photos we took in Munfordville area:
What a pretty farm!
And pretty horses…
So, it was great to get to see the setting where many of my cousins live in Kentucky. You may be wondering why I didn't visit them when I was there. So far I've not gotten the scuttlebutt on what affect my book has had on the Amish communities in general, but I don't imagine most Amish are thrilled that I broke the silence about the abuses in my childhood. The Amish way of dealing with these things is stoic; if you don't talk about them, they aren't really there. Because of this, having me in their midst could be quite uncomfortable.
After we left the Amish community, we visited my sister, Katherine, who lives at the Galilean Home in Liberty, Kentucky. We took her out to lunch, and then I took her to a sewing shop. Her pastime is embroidering. She bought herself enough materials to keep her busy through the winter. She was not very happy that day. Here is a photo of her and me at the Galilean Home:
We traveled to Ohio that night and stayed with David's sister and her husband overnight. The next morning, we met three of my nieces for breakfast. Our camera was not getting the colors very well in the setting we were in, so these pictures are technically not very good. But trust me, all three of them are drop-dead gorgeous. We had a wonderful time catching up with them. Not only are they beautiful physically, but they are very beautiful people. I am proud to be their aunt!
From left the right: Leanna, Me, Katy, and Sarah
Radiant, they are!
You will make my day if you tell me I look like her. Just ignore the gray hair and the sore on my nose from my fall in Indiana…
Their vibrance and zest for life is contagious, and I had to think of being that young again, when so many directions were open to me. Katy's heart is in California, which she is planning to move to (her enthusiasm was so contagious, she almost has me wanting to move there); Leanna is a nurse with the ability and the personality to go anywhere; and Sarah gets along with just about everyone, as far as I know. She works three jobs and hopes it's in the stars to have her own family.
Having this time with my nieces was a wonderful ending to our trip. I hope it won't be long before I get to see them again.
Do you have relatives who remind you of your younger self?
11 thoughts on “Family in Kentucky and Ohio”
I didn’t realize that your sister lived at the Galilean Home! Wow, small world. Members of our church have been there helping out on occasion (including my husband, who had his first taste of frog’s legs at their cafe:). I believe that it is about 2 hours or so from here. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!
I really wonder how your cousins would have acted had you visited with them, even just shown your face?
Hey Karen, what a small world! I think I may have passed up the frog legs when I was in the cafe… at least I hope so! Interesting connection.
Katie, would you have done it?
Thanks for your comments, Karen and Katie and have a good week.
My goodness… you were in the land of my people, too! Cub Run: I have a great-great-grandfather from there; Munfordville: There are several family members who remain there; Mammoth Cave Nat’l Park (because of iminent domain) owns what was around 1,000 acres of my family’s land. There’s lots of family history in them thar hills!
Glad you enjoyed your trip!
Wow, this is getting unbelievable! That’s amazing, SA! We stayed in Horse Cave overnight, which is not far from Mammoth Cave.
The drawl is pretty distinct in those hills, and I heard it coming through your writing… good job!
Thanks for letting me know…
Catching up with Saloma :-) Perhaps in due time you’ll hear what the cousins think of your book and you could be surprised… It makes me wonder why our local Amish families really moved so far away from their “home.” I’ve heard their reasons, but there could be more. Ohio to NY is a great distance when you’re leaving family behind.
Your pictures are great and you DO look wonderful! Can’t even see a sore nose, and so thankful you didn’t get hurt any worse. Why does it hurt more to fall now that we are no longer kids?
So glad you got to spend some time with your family and thank you for sharing them with us! Your nieces are indeed, beautiful…just like you!
Hello Peggy! Great to see you! I would love to have a conversation with you sometime about the reasons why people moved from Ohio to New York. Many Amish have “external” and “internal” reasons why they move out of one community to another. The external are for the public, the internal for themselves. As a group, they are asked to practice stoicism to such a degree that some Amish literally lose touch with their real feelings on many things, because they have for so long gone along with the thinking of the group. So in this way, even if my cousins were to agree with my book, they would never be able to tell me so. Thus, I think I would be putting them in an awkward position by showing up.
Thank you for your compliments. I was happy in these pictures — how could I not be when I was in such good company?
Thanks for stopping by, Peggy
There really, truly is a family resemblance, Saloma! You’re right – they are beautiful!
It sounds like you had such an awesome trip. I’m so happy for you!
Thank you Rhonda, for your comments. So glad you agree with me about my nieces. We did have an awesome trip. Meeting you during that time was wonderful. I hope to see you again when we travel that way again.
Many Blessings to you and your tribe!
Hello! I come by way of your very kind response to my comments on Amish-themed fiction on AmishAmerica.com. Your blog is a wonderful resource–great analysis! I’ve just ordered your book and can’t wait to read it.
Next summer I’ll be teaching a women’s studies course on popular representations of women in American fundamentalisms. Some of the groups we’ll discuss are the Amish and plain Mennonites. It’ll be a first to talk about my background in such a forthright way in the classroom. In my preparation, I’ve been surprised by how few memoirs have been written by women from our background. Finding resources like your book and blog definitely help! Thank you!
I wonder if you have written about how you balance your traditional and your academic identities? In an effort to “pass,” I have focused very hard on establishing myself as an academic and it feels awkward to begin talking about my background now whether on a blog (potentially very offensive to my family who are also online) or in an academic context (and out myself as an “impostor” or pigeonholing myself as “Amish”). I do find that time helps creates a comfortable distance (it’s been 14 years since I left), but even so it often feels as though talking about my past as openly as you (and others) do on your blog and in your book risks alienating me from both my past and my present. Any thoughts?
I had slated to answer your email tonight, but I just discovered this came as a comment on my blog. If you will email me at salomafurlong[at]email.com, then I will respond to your questions directly. You bring up many good questions here.
I look forward to hearing from you.