Eilonwy- no worries! I totally understand wanting to be clear (especially in an online forum where words are, as the play says "all we have to go on")
I was trying to say in my post that we have Amish communities AND Mennonite communities in the area. The largest Anabaptist group near here actually identifies as "Amish-Mennonite" however, so since it's their own term I don't fight it. I'm not sure where they fall into the Anabaptist world (not a religious branch I've looked at in any detail) but they seem closer to the "black bumper" than to the "orthodox" groups, if that makes any sense? I can find out more if you're interested though...
Oneida is, by far, my absolute, 100% favorite "fringe group" of all time. I adore them. They were a utopian group that allowed women to were "bloomers" and cut their hair short. They practiced a form of group marriage in which all members were "siblings" but also all members could request "relations" from other members (hetero only however). An individual could deny a request once, but a second request had to be honored or explained in an open forum. They also had open confession and communla absolution. Eventually they decided that a controlled breeding program would allow them to give rise to spiritually advanced children (called Stirpicults). Of course, it soon became clear that the groups founder was the most "spiritually advanced" and so he fathered the most children, even across generations (why does that always seem to be the case?).
The stirpicults were raised communally and in some cases did not know who their biological parents were. They were supposed to avoid emotional attachments to earthly elements (there was a case in which some children were becoming too attached to their dolls/toys...the children organized a ritual in which they burned all the dolls/toys in the community). And they generated a lot of interest so they were always being observed and measured and, well, poked at. It reached approx 3 generations of stirpicults before the whole thing "fell apart". However, these stirpicults were the original stock holders of what is now Oneida silverware...the original community did a variety of crafts to support themselves (including pottery, which they still sell from the original community buildings), but it was the silverware that really took off!
Another favorite group of mine was the community founded by Jemima Wilkins, the "Universal Friend" (called "Friends" but not to be confused with other religious groups using the same terminology!). Short version, she fell into an illness/coma and when she miraculously recovered she claimed to be the female incarnation of Jesus. She was one amazingly cool lady...very in charge of herself and just, well...amazing. Preached in public, wore her hair free and topped off with a man's hat, rode horseback, etc. And fast on her feet too.
One day a group of people asked her to walk on the water of one of the local lakes to "prove" her divine claims. She said "sure thing, meet me there tomorrow". The next morning there was a huge crowd and as she stood on the edge of the lake she asked "Does anyone here not believe that I can walk on the surface of this lake?". Well, the "doubters" all called "oh no, we believe!" (since they thought she'd claim that their lack of belief had prevented her from performing the miracle) and of course her followers all chimed in with the affirmative. Her reply? "Your Faith is precious to me. If you believe then there is nothing to prove." and she turned around and went back to town.
I certainly wouldn't want to pass judgement on her claims (or the claims of any religious group, person, or event), but no matter what, she would have been a very cool lady to know.
Sometimes I wonder if the vibe of the burned over region didn't inspire my own religious studies?