10 Unusual Amish Communities
One thing that makes the Amish such a rich and vibrant group is that there are various ways of “being Amish”.
Something about each of the 10 settlements below makes them unusual – meaning something seen in few, or no other Amish communities.
This might have to do with their transportation, way of worship, or other cultural aspect. You could probably add quite a few more to this list, but I thought this was a good start.
Ten Unusual Amish Communities
1. Dover, DE – The Amish in the First State’s only community have an unusual buggy design, with rounded sides. Dover affiliation Amish can be found in other states including Kentucky, Virginia, and New York.
2. Pearisburg, VA – This small settlement is tucked away in Giles County in the mountains of western Virginia. In this seeker-friendly community, live interpretation may be provided for guests to worship services.
3. Colonia Naranjita, Bolivia – Amish live mainly in the US and Canada. The only exception is this community in Bolivia, and another in Argentina. These are former Mennonite communities which affiliated with Amish in 2015.
4. Somerset County, PA – The Amish here worship in meetinghouses. Only a few other communities have them, including nearby Oakland, Maryland.
5. Milverton, ON – By far the oldest Canadian community, founded in the 1820s. Ontario saw an influx of Amish after World War II, with the country seen as a refuge for people of nonresistant belief. The Milverton people long predate the next oldest existing Canada settlement, which came about in the 1950s.
With their venerable pedigree, the people in this community have several things that make them stand out among Amish in Canada. These include an “older” style of dress, buggies without tops, and last names (such as Jantzi and Kuepfer) rarely seen elsewhere.
6. Garnett, KS – The Amish in this community may drive cars for work purposes. They do not own the cars, and do not allow car usage for personal reasons.
This “exception” has occurred, rarely, elsewhere, notably Arthur, IL, where the practice eventually declined.
7. Enon Valley, PA – Amish here drive buggies with a distinct hue. It’s been described as a “pale yellow“, or “cream.”
To be honest, I’ve never visited, and don’t know that I’ve ever found a good photo of this – the photo linked here is tagged “Enon Valley” though seems to have had some effects added to it…that noted you can see how it might be similar to that of the New Wilmington Amish, but not so yellow as that of the Byler Amish.
This old but small settlement (just one church district) has had “very limited fellowship” with other Amish groups (see “Clusters of Amish Subgroups and Networks, 2009”, unpublished paper by Stephen Scott).
8. Berne, IN – Amish in this Swiss community have maintained the unusual custom of yodeling. Also seen (heard) in the Allen County Swiss settlement, but more common here.
9. Pinecraft, FL – This is probably the only Amish settlement where the Amish don’t use the horse and buggy. In some communities the horse and buggy has become less common (“tractor Amish” settlements), but still used at least on Sunday. In this Sarasota-area neighborhood, Amish walk, bike, or go by large adult tricycles.
10. Aylmer, ON – This community is home to arguably the most influential and best-known Amish publishing house, Pathway Publishers, responsible for widely-read publications such as Family Life.
Aylmer can be considered a part of the “Reformist Amish”, who emphasize high moral standards while maintaining low levels of technology. Related communities are found in locations in the US and Canada including Unity, ME and Fertile, MN.
In regards to the photo with the solar panels
This comment has to do with the photo that has the solar panels in it. If you look closely just behind them, there is also a wind turbine as well. So they use these as well. If they have solar panels and/or wind turbines, they probably have banks of batteries to store the power generated by them. They are needed to keep the power flowing when its dark and/or there is no wind.
Good observation Kevin. Batteries in general are pretty common among Amish, even the most conservative use flashlight batteries, of course the ones for this setup would be more robust.
Interesting articles. I read somewhere that Pinecraft allows the use of electric. I also read in that same article that some use the air conditioner and some don’t. Can you clarify this?
I live in Pinecraft. All Amish use electricity. Those who live here year round use air conditioners.
Can an Englisher be included in the circle letters with the Amish ?
Almost all communities use the horse and buggy as their first mode of transport except for Pinecraft. That includes “tractor settlements”. Probably the only other exception are a few smaller transitioning (i.e transition to Amish-Mennonite) settlements. There are several communities that are today transitioning similar to the way the Beachy Amish transitioned in the early 1900s and New Order in the 1960s. Some communities have become more liberal and slowly merged into broader society, while others became more conservative. It’s possible that “tractor settlements” will eventually merge with the Mennonites or New Order Amish at some point in the future. Does that mean the end of the Amish? I don’t think so. At least not if you base it on history. Splits, mergers, and transitions are a part of Amish history.
The Pinecaft Amish community is not a normal Amish community. It was always an unusual community: An Amish vacation spot, that overtime became kind of a summer home/retirement home community for certain Amish. I would even call it a semi-Amish community because of the fact that the majority of the Amish are themselves visitors from other communities.
I enjoyed reading about these unusual Amish communities. Thanks, Katie Troyer, for your comments about Pinecraft. I did not realize that the Amish who live there use electricity and air conditioning. Pinecraft is on my “bucket list” to visit some day.
I especially enjoyed a visit to the Pearisburg community about five years ago. It was a little hard to find, since it is at least 20 miles southwest of Pearisburg. Sam and Lydia Chupp of that community write very interesting letters in The Budget newspaper almost every week and often include information about people who once lived in the community, but left, and have come back to visit. It seems like some of these people were at one time “Amish seekers”, as mentioned above in this post. From what the Chupps write, it seems like the bulk food store/deli is doing very good business, but is under different management than the previous store (I think it was called Nature’s Way).
Al in KY
When I drive to Lancaster County I come through the Shenendoah Valley, through Staunton, is Pearisburg fairly close by?
If it is, (within 20-30 miles) would it be worthwhile to go out of the way a bit as far as what you will see? I like to stop at a general store or at least see some horses and buggies. Any home businesses to stop at?
Loretta — I would say that Pearisburg is about 125 miles southwest of Staunton. The bulk food store/deli would be an interesting place to visit; not sure how many home businesses there are at the present, not too many.
Also, I was in the community five years ago driving around for about two hours and I only saw one buggy — and it was in a shed. I think it would be worthwhile to go out of the way to visit if you contacted someone in the Amish community ahead of time and see if they could offer assistance in arranging a visit.
Al in KY
Thank you so very much for responding Al I appreciate it so much. That does tell me that at this time it likely wouldn’t be worth my going so far out of my way. One day, maybe.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of Amish on vacation.
It must seem like paradise for them to go from the cold up North to the Gulf Coast of Florida.