When I was a kid, one of my favorite outings was going down to Topeka, Indiana to visit our Amos great-grandparents. Because we only went once or twice a year and because life there seemed so amazingly different, those trips were very exciting.
Topeka, located just 25 miles south of the Michigan border, is a small town in the heart of Indiana’s Amish country. As a kid, I remember the magic of turning off the main highway, going round a bend and, voilà, we were in a magical world—a long-ago land where people drove horse and buggies and dressed in old-fashioned clothes.
This is the land of our Amos people; even though, no, we’re not Amish.
Roland, whose birthday we celebrate today, was born in Corunna, just a few miles east in DeKalb County. (His grandson Roland Scott also celebrates his birthday today—happy birthday Scott!)
Roland’s parents, Beatrice and William Arthur, who went by Arthur, were also from this area and eventually lived in DeKalb, Noble and LaGrange Counties. They did so specifically because of the Amish.
“He (Arthur) was a blacksmith first in Swan, Indiana,” says Duane. “He came to Topeka because at that time farmers were shifting over to tractors. He could see there wasn’t going to be much demand. But there were a lot of Amish near Topeka and there would always be demand.”
In the weeks ahead, we’re going to shift our attention to the Amos branch of the family tree. As I talk with the Amos Boys and look at old pictures, it’s intriguing not only because this area of Indiana is different than our own, but also because it’s home to ancestors we know little about.
But something also becomes poignantly apparent—something I didn’t think about before. The magical world of Indiana isn’t one we all share. In fact, a whole branch of our family gets left out—Jerry’s family.
After the wonderful reunion we had together three weeks ago, leaving part of us out seems kind of weird.