If you were scanning a map of Kansas for places where Amish might be found, Yoder in Reno County would seem a logical guess, given how common that last name is among Amish today.
And it’d be a good guess–the town itself was named after the son of an Amish bishop, Eli M. Yoder, who came to homestead here in 1870 (see GAMEO – Yoder).
In 1886, the Missouri Pacific railroad company built a track which cut across a corner of Yoder’s farm. Yoder in turn built a post office and general store on the 5-acre section the railroad separated from the rest of his farm. This was the beginning of the village.
A railroad was economic lifeblood in those days, and must have encouraged the Amish who came to the area in the 1880s. The Amish community’s official date of founding is 1883.
The Amish community is also referred to by the name of another nearby, larger town, Haven (Haven is a more common postal address for Amish here). Despite being around for over 130 years, the Amish settlement has remained small.
I’ve called Yoder both a town and a village, but technically it is either an “unincorporated community” or “census-designated place”, with a population of right around 200. The photo of Yoder’s downtown above was taken by Tom Geist on one of his many jaunts through Amish communities in the Plains States.
Though he admits “I really have not explored this area out as much as I should,” Tom has a few photos of the Yoder settlement for us today. The comments that follow are his.
Anna Borntrager runs Country Variety Store at 5805 Red Rock Road, Haven Kansas. She has done so for over 30 years.
Since I don’t have many details about the area, if you stop in Haven, stop and talk with her. You are bound to find something you want at her store.
There are three church districts, North Haven, South Haven and the Middle district.
The North has 36 families, the South has 28, and the Middle district has 13.
What stood out the most for me was the use of tractors here.
I saw several of the Amish people riding their tractors around town in Yoder like others use their buggies.
Yoder Wood Products, at 10409 S Yoder Rd, Haven, Kansas.
Thanks to Tom for this nice glimpse of Kansas’s largest Amish community.
Yoder Heritage Day takes place each year on the fourth Saturday in August (this year: August 23, 2014). This event features a quilt auction, wheat thrashing demonstration, “horseback drag racing”, wagon rides, and buggy races (and, of course, food).
A second Amish community, Hutchinson, lies near the Haven/Yoder settlement. The Hutchinson settlement was also founded in 1883, and has two congregations.
As of late 2013, Kansas was home to seven Amish settlements.