Monday, April 30, 2018

Revisiting Amish Country

It's deadline time for me - I have a book due on Tuesday, and I still have several thousand words to write. So I'm sharing this post from almost five years ago when I took a trip to Indiana's Amish Country.

One interesting thing about that trip was that I was beginning to work on "Hannah's Choice" and I knew I wanted to make a series out of the three books I was planning. I didn't have the series name yet, but after visiting Pretty Prairie, I knew I was on the right track. So The Journey to Pleasant Prairie was born. :-)

Another fun thing about this post is that I'll be making another trip to Amish Country next week, and yes, I have a list for E & S Sales. I can hardly wait!

Meanwhile, enjoy your trip to Amish Country!

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Hi everyone!

Jan here, finally back from my week-long trip east to visit parents and in-laws.

And yes, I did squeeze in a couple days of research, too!

This is the headstone of my 4th great-grandfather, Christian Plank. He was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1793 and died in LaGrange County, Indiana in 1881. It was important to find his grave because he's the one whose story I'm basing my next book series on.
This is the area where he lived and raised his family. It's called Pretty Prairie. Isn't that the greatest name?

One of the fun things about looking for Christian Plank was that my Dad came along - the family historian - and he got to learn a few things he didn't know, either!

(How many times do you get to teach your Dad something?)

In all that driving around in northern Indiana, I still managed to fit in a visit to my favorite store: E & S Sales in Shipshewana, Indiana. 

Notice the buggy parking on the left side of the building!

Shipshewana rivals Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Holmes County, Ohio as an Amish tourist destination…

(By the way, that’s a destination where tourists go to see Amish, not a destination for Amish people who want to be tourists. They go to all the same tourist places the rest of us do.)

…except that Shipshewana is smaller. More manageable. And there are still stores at the edge of town where the locals shop. 

 (We managed to find some pie, and some Chicken 'N' Noodles...)

Since my Dad is a local, he told me about E & S Sales several years ago, and now it’s a regular stop whenever we’re in the area.

The Shipshewana area - in fact most of eastern Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in northern Indiana – has been home to the Amish since 1841, when the first four families from Somerset County, Pennsylvania came to the area to establish a new community. Other Amish families followed (Christian Plank and his family arrived around 1850), and now the area is the third largest Amish settlement in the world, after Holmes County and Lancaster County.

The Amish prefer to be farmers, but when families grow and there are a limited number of acres of farmland, people either have to leave the community to go where land is available, or find another kind of work. That’s what the Eash family did a generation or so ago.

They started selling goods in their front yard along State Road 5, a half mile south of Shipshewana. They were in a good location, and people liked the furniture and other things they made, so they were doing pretty well. They’re still there at that location: Eash Sales.

But as the next generation came along, someone decided to get into the bulk food business, and E & S Sales was born. They built a pole barn next to the original location and started selling re-packaged bulk foods. They take the huge amounts of flour, sugar, salt, spices, candy, cereal, noodles, etc. and break it down into family sized packages and re-sell the goods at a phenomenal price. 

As the business grew, they started carrying seconds, overstocks and Amish-made foods – still at rock bottom prices. 

On my first visit there, I bought 150 pounds of wheat, and now I’m addicted.

It’s my stock-up store. And I live 1000 miles away :(

We go every six months or so – whenever we’re in the area. This time I focused on spices. Because the owners of E & S buy in bulk, they sell at those prices. I bought all these spices for what I would have spent on a few small containers at the grocery store. 

I’ll put them in my freezer and replenish my smaller containers when I need to.

I’m not sure I’ll ever have to buy spices again…

And, by the way, the next generation of Eash’s has started another business right next to E & S – Ben’s Bakery. Don’t get me started on that one!

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One fun thing about this post is that I'm still using that stash of spices almost five years later!

Enjoy your week!

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Happy deadlining, Jan!!!! The perfect time to revisit Amish country and I'm still envious of that store! And those spices! I needed smoked paprika recently and they were selling it for $10 at the grocery store. I got the same amount at Bulk Barn for $6.00 -- which is still pricey. Bet it would have been cheaper at your Amish store!

    1. The big question is whether they would have smoked paprika in stock. As with most store like this, you never know what you're going to find!

      And yes, I'm looking forward to visiting there next week, now that winter finally seems to be over!

  2. Jan, I'm envious of your trip!! I'm so glad you get to go back.

    Hope the end of your book flies for you!

  3. Chicken and noodles... and pie... oh be still my heart, I am so hungry right now!

    And deadline time, I'm right here with you!!! Best wishes on a wonderful day of writing.... I'm sending you cyber hugs!

    1. Thanks, Ruthy! And I'm looking forward to a piece of that pie next week!

  4. I'm thinking most of us here at the Yankee-Belle would love Amish country, mostly because of the food. As Ruthy says, be still my heart. So many good things. Especially pie. Yum.