‘In 1847, nine families, all Bylers, moved to Lawrence, PA, they were: Solomon, Christian, Yost, Daniel, Noah, John, Reuben, Rudy, and Eli, and were among the first Amish in that section.
In year 1880 bishop Crist (Christian) Byler walked from Lawrence County to the Valley. He traveled a distance of 250 miles in 4 days at the age of 68. He also made the trip once since. There were quite a few who walked out and back after the Lawrence County Settlement established allowing 5 or 6 days for the journey.’
The Valley that Eli J. Byler writes of here is the Kishacoquillas Valley, also known as the ‘Big Valley’, of Mifflin County, PA, home to Nebraska Amish, Renno Amish, Byler Amish and a host of higher-order Amish and Mennonite groups.
The Amish surrounding New Wilmington, a quaint college town in northern Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, have a few customs not commonly seen elsewhere in Amish America. One is their use of reddish-brown-topped buggies, which Byler describes as ‘yellow-top’. He writes that the Byler Church of Mifflin County also uses yellow-top carriages, as do a few other settlements that have split off from the New Wilmington group.
The Amish here seem to be pretty big on the color blue. Nearly every house-door is painted a light sky-blue. I also noticed stairs leading to a front porch, and the door of a milk house painted in the same shade. A woman I asked ascribed this practice to tradition.
The New Wilmington Amish tend to stick with shades of blue when it comes to their shirts and dresses as well–navy, sky, royal, turquoise. I got to visit on wash day.
This community is perhaps the eleventh or twelfth largest of all Amish settlements. The 2003 Church Directory gives the following statistics:
Families: 439 more or less
Total Population: around 1693 19 couples moved out
People I spoke with in this settlement mentioned trips to, family in, and business connections with the Lancaster settlement. I didn’t have a chance to ask, but there’s a decent chance they’d be back-and-forth with Amish in Mifflin County as well. Farming and sawmill work seem to be two of the most common occupations, as well as other types of woodworking and carpentry.
(Quote Source: Pennsylvania Amish Directory of the Lawrence County Settlement, 2003.)Looking for more good reading on the Amish? Check out our list of best Amish books.