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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Visiting the Amish - in Delhi, IA area

A few days ago a friend and I went on a little drive - about an hour north of Cedar Rapids to find the Amish stores that had been written about in the Cedar Rapids Gazette a few weeks ago.  The article at tells of the 17 families that have moved into the area in recent months.  To get to the community from Cedar Rapids we headed over to Highway 13 and turned North to go through Central City, Coggon, and then Ryan.  Shortly after passing through Ryan we came to County Highway D5X (turn at the Delhi Marina building).  We turned EAST and traveled for a bit (maybe a mile) to 220th Avenue, where we turned North again and traveled over the Hartwick bridge and past the once vibrant Hartwick Marina.   Just before we arrived at a "T" intersection we saw the first "sign" of the Amish Community.

On this farm Edna Bontreger (mother) and Mary Bontreger (daughter) sell their baked goods on every Friday and Saturday.  We were there on a Tuesday so did not stop.  Joe Bontreger raises a flock of 5000 hens and sells organic eggs produced those hens.
The barn at the Bontreger Farm. 
Continuing North on 220th Avenue we reached a "T" intersection.  At the "T" we turned East again and passed the Delhi Cemetery on the right.  At the corner is a large Civil War statue (financed by Tom Simons - a Civil War veteran, and the great-great-great uncle of my children).  Right past the cemetery is another "T" intersection.  If we turn North we can go on into the town of Delhi proper.  South takes us on the road that will lead to the Delhi bridge (which is closed due to the flooding a few years back - plans are being made to rebuild).  Down the road a bit we come to the "bulk food" store.
My friend (shown here) and I were not sure of what door to approach.  A young Amish boy stuck his head out of the door and told us that the "store door is the first door down there."  (It is the closest door to the road).

We entered the store - which is really reminiscent of the porch grocery stores that were common place even in Cedar Rapids during the 1960s-1970s.  The front porch held a variety of bulk foods: popcorn, spices of all types, rolled oats (oatmeal), milk chocolate chips, jelly, tubes of fruit filling (I immediately thought of kolaches but not sure how the Amish might use the apricot, blackberry, raspberry, or lemon pudding tubes of filling.)  I got some milk chocolate chips - $4.90 for 2 pounds.  In hind-sight, the chips would have been cheaper at Aldi's but not at Hy-Vee, and some yellow popcorn for my sister.

After leaving the store we turned around and went back to the cemetery, turned West to the "T", past the Bontreger farm (notice the signs that were in several places in the area), and on down the road.
We travel back over the Hartwick Bridge (and this is where we see one of the several "telephone" stations along the road side -- the Amish are encouraged not to have telephones in their homes but these roadside phones do not provide the distraction within the home but are available for emergencies) and onto County Highway D5X (another "T" intersection).  Only instead of turning back West to go to Highway 13, we turned East, just a bit, until we turn to the south onto the southern leg of  220th Avenue. 
A new school has been built on the farm of one of the three ministers serving the Amish Community, Amos Christner.  The structure shown here, resembling a football goal post, is actually the frame from which several wooden and rope swings hang.  The two white poles in front hold birdhouses.
The building is quite long with an entryway (provides for closing off the main part of the school to prevent the cold from coming in, as children arrive from the out-of-doors).  The bell in the bell structure appeared to have been rescued from a previous structure.
In 2012, the school accommodated 28 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.  There are two teachers at the school, one of which is Rosanna Helmuth.

On past the school about two miles is the Helmuth farm which is the location of the Wood's Edge County Store.  The store had operated in the Edgewood Community before the family moved to the Delhi Iowa.  The sign (and the farm) will be on the left side of the road as you travel south.  There are no "woods" in sight so it is not at "wood's edge" but seems obviously to be a play on the former location/community of the store.
This newly built building is the store.  Inside are many goods that appeal to the Amish customers.  Although Lori Helmuth (daughter), who often is in charge of the store, and her mother, Emma Helmuth indicate that most of their business does come from the "English" - the non-Amish in the area.  They had bolts of cloth - all blue, black, or white. 

Hats galore!
Kitchen goods!
Redwing Shoes!
I purchased some large spools of thread (white and black) - $1.79 - usually at least $3.50 in the Cedar Rapids fabric stores.  Found some "trouser socks - black" that I love wearing with "trousers" - they were less than $2.00 -- I have paid between $4 -$5 a pair in local big box stores.

Leaving the Wood's Edge  store took us back north up 200th Avenue, back to County Highway D5X (another "T" intersection).  Lori Helmuth told us that soon there would be another store further down County Highway D5X to the East of the "T" intersection. It had been hoped that the store would open by Labor Day, but that was not going to happen but it would be open soon (2012).  So this time we turned West to return to Highway 13, turned South through Ryan, Coggon, and into Central City where we enjoyed a sandwich and pie at the StoveHouse Family Restraurant, right along the highway (on the East side).  Good food, good service.  After that we headed back to Cedar Rapids.
An interesting day.

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