Kidron. I first heard the word when one of Dad’s cousins, Mark Ross, was visiting our family at Elida, Ohio. I was a boy, and we were living on a farm, the only residence on the very short Neff Road. Mark was making his rounds visiting friends and selling his own special mix of cereal made from multiple grains and seeds. He ground it himself, and marketed it as Morning Cheer. It was delicious —especially on cold winter mornings — with honey and fresh whole milk from Pogey, our Jersey cow.
Mark lived in the village of Kidron, in Wayne County, Ohio. It was just another fairly obscure little town out there somewhere in the middle of farmland. He told us about the Amish, and described how they dress, and how they used horses and buggies for transportation. He explained how they were a plain people, living simple lives. I liked that. Living like my Grandparents had lived. I wished we had a horse and buggy.
But visiting Kidron? Probably not. It was too far away. This was long before Lehman’s became a tourist destination, and there would likely never be a reason to go there. I remember when one of my older brothers made the trip to Wayne County to spend some time with Mark’s son Lynn. He told how they had hitched a ride on an Amish wagon. I couldn’t imagine how exciting that must have been.
Little did I know what the future held. By the time I was twelve, my Dad was called into the ministry at the Salem Mennonite church near Wooster. This put us in Amish country! I would see Kidron after all! It was exciting to see buggies going by, and we were no different than tourists—grabbing our camera for a picture of a real Amish man with his horse and buggy.
As it turned out later, I attended high school in Kidron, and there I met the love of my life, a Swiss farm girl who lived at the south end of Kidron. In one of our early conversations, she wondered if I was related to Mark Ross. “Yes,” I said, “I am.” I mentioned that Mark used to come to Elida selling his specialty cereal — Morning Cheer. A surprised smile appeared on her face, and she told me that Mark ground the grains for Morning Cheer in the shop on her farm. Amazing! We were connected a long time ago by a man and his cereal.
For quite a few years, a sign at either end of our town proclaimed, “Entering Kidron, an Energetic Swiss Community.” The signs have been gone for a long time now, but the statement is still true. This is a community built from hard working Swiss immigrants who first settled here nearly two-hundred years ago.
A lot of the older Swiss people still speak the language. It’s a dialect of German, and some of the words have a distinctive sound that reminds me of someone trying to dislodge a popcorn hull from the back of their throat. It’s amazing that the language has hung around so long.
Today the signs at the outskirts of our village say, “Welcome to Kidron, established in 1819.” Hard working families invest in the community in many ways. Kidron Community Council is made up of volunteers who look after the welfare of the community and initiate community events. Kidron Volunteer Fire Department is second to none—staffed by men and women who love our community, and who want to give back. Occasionally during a Sunday morning services, the beepers will go off, and at least four of our men will rapidly walk rapidly from the building and hurry to the fire house. Our local schools are top-notch, and our churches are attended by the families who own the village businesses and provide employment for many local people. This is community at its best. It takes mutual respect, hard work, and a desire to love our neighbors as ourselves.
This is Kidron, the energetic small town nestled in the middle of rolling hills and picturesque Mennonite and Amish farms. It’s home, and there’s no other place I’d rather live. Come see us sometime.