Diverse cultures living at Jamesport

Jesse Harris was determined in 1836 to prove that two diverse cultures could live harmoniously, so he built a log cabin in the tall grasslands inhabited by Indians near what is now Jamesport, Mo.

Jesse Harris was determined in 1836 to prove that two diverse cultures could live harmoniously, so he built a log cabin in the tall grasslands inhabited by Indians near what is now Jamesport, Mo.

Jesse Harris and his family were the first white settlers in the area, and his Sauk and Fox Indian neighbors seemed to welcome them. Today, this log cabin stands in Jamesport City Park. And, although the Indians have long since departed, in 1953 a group of Old Order Amish settled here. The first Amish family to arrive was the Harry Yoder family, followed by the families of Levi Miller, Dan Stutzman, Chrissie Ropp, Tobe Detweiler, William Yutzy, and Simon Hostetler. The farms they bought were at top prices; the first year proved disappointing as it was a year of drought and grasshoppers. More families followed, however. Today, two diverse cultures continue to live in the area: Missouri’s largest Amish community and the “English,” which is the Amish designation for the everyday folks who call Jamesport home.

Jamesport is one of about 50 Amish settlements in North America. Amish family traditions including morning and evening prayer services. But there’s much more to Jamesport than what some consider a quaint lifestyle. Located less than a hour’s drive from Kansas City, Jamesport offers more, many craft shops, antique dealers and specialty shops along with a couple of bed-and-breakfasts and a motel. Most shops serve as information centers and provide a rundown on the 1,100 Amish residents who live on roughly 150 farms in the area. Maps are available that detail shops in town and the Amish homes that contain stores open to visitors.

Many Amish welcome outsiders to their homesites and offer a variety of goods for sale, including Amish quilts. Most of the Amish stores, located generally south of Jamesport, are open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thursdays and Sundays when they are closed. Some of the stores in town, as well as on the Amish homesites, sell fabric for quilts and can provide information on having a quilt custom-made. Antiques offer a true country atmosphere. Many grocery items are stocked in bulk. You will also find beautiful custom built furniture, footwear, spices and more among many crafts. Jamesport hosts a variety of annual events which are favorite times to visit. The annual May Days Festival, the Junior Livestock Show & Fair in July, the Heritage Days Festival each September and the “Step Back In Time” Christmas celebration in late November all showcase all that Jamesport offers.