A recent story on Vermont Public Radio suggests Amish are starting a new community in Vermont, a state with no other Amish presence. From the article on the Orleans County town of Brownington:
At the other end of the village, Amish families are starting to move from Pennsylvania into this unlikely melting pot in the Northeast Kingdom.
As you weave your way through tree-lined dirt roads, you almost expect to see a horse and buggy. These days, you just might: three Amish families have bought land in Brownington and more are expected to follow.
I spoke with a bonneted, long-skirted matriach at the farm her family, the Kauffmans, have recently bought. In line with Amish practice, she declined to be recorded or photographed. She said they drive only a horse and buggy and stitch their own clothing from pedal-operated machines. They will farm with animals and raise beef cattle.
My first thought on seeing “Vermont” and “Amish” together in a news story was: Are these Old Order Amish families? There’s not a lot of detail given in the story. Old Order Amish are sometimes confused with Old Order Mennonites or other plain groups.
But, the article writer spoke with someone from the group who presumably described herself as Amish, and the details that are provided–last name, technology–suggest as much.
Vermont a good match for the Amish?
We’ve previously discussed where Amish might settle in future, and Vermont has been mentioned as a possible location. Back in 2011, former VT resident and Why I Left The Amish author Saloma Furlong wrote the following:
When I lived there for thirty years, I always thought Vermont and the Amish belonged together. There were many family farms growing nothing but new housing developments for many years, but now that has slowed. So many barns are collapsing from not be used or maintained as the family farms are no longer being farmed. Vermonters would be very welcoming, I believe. In fact, a friend of ours was trying to attract Amish to settle into an area they were trying to preserve as agricultural land.
She also noted that Amish have made an attempt in the state before:
Back in 1976, there were two families living in Shoreham, Vermont. They were growing vegetables. The owner of the farm they were on wanted them to buy or move out after renting the farm for a year. They decided to move out, because the summer had been dry and they didn’t want to buy just yet. One family moved back to the Big Valley in PA, the other to upstate NY.
In Why Some Amish Communities Fail: Extinct Settlements, 1961-2007, David Luthy describes a community existing at Shoreham from 1977-1979, which I assume must be the one Saloma is referring to. Other than this, I cannot find mention of another settlement in the Green Mountain State.
UPDATE: It turns out that Saloma visited this community a few days ago, and wrote about the two families she met here, which she found she has some connections with. You’ll find quite a few more details in her post.