Bernson's Corner: The power of one - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bernson's Corner: The power of one


New Amsterdam, Indiana, is at the southern tip of Harrison County, about ten miles outside the county seat of Corydon.             You may not have heard of New Amsterdam - it's the smallest incorporated town in Indiana.

But as you'll see in Bernson's Corner, it could be a town that's famous for the wrong reason.

New Amsterdam, Indiana: population -- one.  Not including cows -- one person.  But that's only if you believe the U-S Census count from 2000. 

Mary Faye Shaffer runs the only business in New Amsterdam, a general store with a wood stove, which is mostly a social club, serving a great bowl of potato soup. 

Ms. Shaffer says the Census got it wrong when they officially listed her town with a single resident.   That official population, she claims, doesn't mean spit. She says, "the Census messed it up. Their totals didn't correspond with mine, so we got one person."

Shaffer explains, "they kinda referred to us as the last wilderness.  And we don't feel like that.  We feel like we're living in Paradise, don't we, guys?"

The problem in 2000, says Faye, was that all the other residents told the Census they lived in nearby towns, at their mailing addresses.  The only New Amsterdamian counted was Juanita McCarty, who died a couple of years ago.  So has being a town of one led to some jokes?

Shaffer says, "people making fun of us?  At first it was.  Now we laugh with 'em.  What are we gonna do?  We know we've got more people down here.  Right now we've got 19, possibly 20, 'cause I'm not sure if one of them's counted with us, or counted in Kentucky."

One story has it that the largest fish ever caught in the state of Indiana -- a 93-pound catfish -- was taken out of the Ohio River right here at New Amsterdam.  But the man who caught that fish, Benny Mullins, who calls himself a known liar, says not only was the fish not 93 pounds, but he caught it on the Kentucky side."

Just like the falsehood about the town of New Amsterdam having one person.  For the 2010 Census, Mary Faye Shaffer is all about getting an accurate count.  

She says  she's not taking a chance this time and will actually be out knocking on doors.

Schaffer says it doesn't really matter to how she feels about New Amsterdam, "I never did feel like a town of one.  We knew the truth, and that was all that counted."

From New Amsterdam Indiana -- Barry Bernson, Fox 41 News.

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