Cultural History Tour of Southern Tennessee
Several of our visitors say they came to see the Amish because of their way of living. Their cultural difference makes them attractive to those interested in cultural history or who want to teach their kids about different people groups. We have a few places of national importance in our area! The Klu Klux Klan was founded on Rose Hill in Giles county in 1865, and we have the backward marker to this day! The Farm Community started in the 1970s when Stephen Gaskin migrated with over 60 buses from San Francisco to Summertown, Tennessee. The Bell and Benge routes of the Trail of Tears crossed in 1838 within a few weeks of each other on a small bridge where the piling is still visible today. This significance prompted the devotion of the Trail of Tears Interpretive Center and Pleasant Park Trail, where they also have the bridge overlook. We are not pushing anyone into living in a commune but adding this page for educational purposes. We believe having these cultural points of interest can enhance your Amish Adventure and provide an opportunity to teach kids about these historical events!
These groups put the "Commune" in "Community"
The term "Commune" is a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. This definition seems to fit several people groups and cultures. The Amish have a type of commune they call a church district. Amish people who vow to keep the Amish way of living will place themselves under the Ordnung and live according to its laws. The Amish define this arrangement differently depending on how the community sees the "order" the community is under. A New Order Amish community will have specific allowances compared to an Old Order Amish community. We will explain how these groups achieve communal life within their community!
The Different Amish Communities
The term "Amish" is a shortening of the name by which the person who was famous for the beginning of the group. That is to say; they are named for those who in 1693 followed Jakob Ammann and were known as Amish. These people came from a split where Jakob Ammann separated from those who followed Menno Simons, the father of the Mennonite people we discuss later. The Amish would go on to come to America and split into different groups. We have 3 groups of Amish in our area. The Old Order Swartzentruber Amish is our most common in Ethridge. The New Order Amish lives in Summertown in Lewis county. The Amish Mennonite or the Beachy Amish live around Minor Hill along highway 11 in Giles county. These three Amish communities are a great example of a communal lifestyle based on shared beliefs and behavior!
Native American Tribal Inclusion
The dark past of the Tennessean president Andrew Jackson who brought in the Indian Removal Act that removed the native first peoples off their lands, has left us with no official native tribe. Today the native populations do not live in a communal tribe but identify with their tribal inclusion. The Central Band of Cherokee has a presence here in the Lawrence county area, but so far, the families of those who were removed but returned later have not reformed to live as a community. They have settled into the day to day life. The natives lived in communal tribes and shared what they had with each other. They did things as a group, and you can learn all about the area natives by seeing the Trail of Tears Interpretive Center in Pulaski, Tennessee. This museum is more about natives' history and life than the trail of tears, so it is not all about the negative aspects of the migration. See our page and another page we found interesting below!
The Farm Community in Summertown
The charter buses can sometimes be seen with a group of visitors ready to see The Farm Community in Summertown! Plenty of documentaries have been made about this place. Stephen Gaskin was a creative writing teacher from San Francisco State University and had a crowd of followers who listened to him give lectures. He would lead a grand caravan of over 60 school busses to Summertown, Tennessee, where they would form a commune that still exists today! There are many things to learn here about ecological green living, alternative energy, vegan diets, yoga, and much more! Teenagers will see more innovation in these areas and be ahead of their peers if they are aware of sustainability concepts early. Younger kids will love the mud houses and outdoor sections of the farm experience. Homeschoolers have other options as they have a Farm School program for those who need a curriculum from a legitimate provider. The Farm puts on a Kids to the Country program similar to a kids camp if you are interested. We believe The Farm Community can offer a unique environment seeing a different way of living when combined with your Amish Adventure.
The Klu Klux Klan
The most controversial group we have to see on our cultural history tour is the Klu Klux Klan. This organization is nationally known and famous for its fraternal secrecy with its hoods and conical hats. The rights of initiation and vows bond these groups into a single group with the sole purpose of setting things right according to their beliefs. Several members told us at The Amish of Ethridge that the Klan started when they needed more vigilante justice to set things right in the community. When a man needed the "Fear of God" put in him so he would act right. The Klan would have 3 major groups that would vary in extremity, but we are only interested in the birthplace of the Klan since the Pulaski group started the national order. Today the meeting place of the Klan is little more than a backward plaque where the meeting room still stands, but it is still worth the trip to see it in person. Naturally, the Klan was not a commune. Still, the KKK was a group of like-minded people who put themselves under a specific belief system, rites, and rituals that confirmed a member's dedication to the group's directives.
The Underground Railroad and Education of Colored People
Tennessee and Virginia were the northern most southern states so slaves at that time would have to use the rivers and select routes in order to escape. Tennessee played a role in freeing slaves on riverboats to go north to freedom. The colored school in Lawrenceburg called the West Gaines Colored School had to go all the way to the state supreme court to even get built and was located down from a German prisoner of war camp. The school building will be getting fixed and become a wonderful community center for black history and arts entertainment.
Cultural History Tour Conclusion
The Amish people were hunted down and killed in their country of Switzerland by the same clannish belief that those who believe differently should be imprisoned or die for their standing against those in power. We here at the Amish of Ethridge understand that there is little in resemblance to these different groups but if you want to include these places of interest for education or homeschooling then please look into some of our points of interest where the underground railroad was used. We believe these places can can offer historical interest to our visitors so we include them here.We hope those who love cultural education will take a trip to see our cultural tour. We understand if you don't want to add a culture tour to your Amish Adventure. This page is for those who want to extend their Amish vacation into these other areas of historical significance. Below are lists of other points of interest you may want to see on your trip.
Other Great Southern TN Points of Interest
Tennessee is home to some of the best whiskeys, brews, and wines in the country. The Amish are not usually permitted to drink but do make tinctures for medication and can supply fruits to make ingredients to makers. The heritage and methods of these makers are sure to be a place you will want to see.
Tennessee Whiskey is nationally known in Eastern Tennessee as the best when it comes to a stiff drink. Distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Tour are sure to help lift your spirits! Most of them have tours and tasting rooms to sample their whiskey!
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We have a whole page devoted to group travel on charter busses and school field trips that include some of the places on this page. See our page in the button link below!
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