Walnut Creek's first permanent settler was Jonas Stutzman (1788 – 1871), who traveled here from Somerset County, Pa., in 1809 to clear land for farming and build a log home for his family. He was the first permanent settler in the eastern portion of what would become Holmes County. Jonas and his wife, Magdalena Gerber Stutzman, were of the Amish faith – descendants from a group of strict Protestant Anabaptists.
Jonas Stutzman was both a pioneer and an eccentric. He published a booklet announcing that the Lord would return to earth in 1853 and warned all to repent. He even prepared a wooden chair for Christ's return. Since we should always "hold Christ above us," Stutzman made the chair larger than an ordinary one. The chair can be viewed at Behalt, the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center, in nearby Berlin, Ohio.
Besides being an eccentric, Stutzman played a part in easing differences among the Amish. When local progressives wanted a meetinghouse, Stutzman donated land for them to build one. The land is still in this particular church's possession, though the old building was razed and a new one built..
Who Are the Amish?
The Amish are the most conservative group in the Anabaptist family, which includes the Mennonites and the Hutterites. The Anabaptists emerged from the Reformation in Switzerland. They differed with the popular reformers in that they rejected infant baptism and insisted that the church was to be a voluntary brotherhood of adult believers. They were the first to teach separation of church and state, an idea otherwise unheard of in those days. The word "Amish" comes from Jacob Ammann, the name of an influential leader.
The three largest settlements of Amish are in North Central Ohio, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Northern Indiana. Many practices of the Amish seem quaint or old-fashioned to outsiders. They are based on Biblical principles, and their belief in a close-knit brotherhood of believers, nonresistance and nonconformity. They will not take part in any violence, either in war or in self - defense. They feel strongly that it is impossible for a church to maintain its beliefs and values if its members associate freely with people who hold different values or none at all. In view of this, they have not unquestioningly accepted all the cultural changes that have been introduced as progress. For example, they still use horses and buggies, not because they think the automobile is wicked in itself, but because they believe the trend of life the automobile brings with it can break down the basic structure of the community.