I compared statistics from the 2003 Amish Settlements Across America by David Luthy with numbers from the 2012 Raber’s Almanac to come up with a list of 5 fast-growing Amish settlements over the past decade.
Past calculations have found the Amish population to double roughly every 18-20 years; these communities would be exceeding that, some by a significant margin.
Why “fast-growing” and not “the fastest-growing”? There are 3 caveats-
a. I only looked at settlements that were at least 4 districts in size in 2003. There may be smaller, less-established settlements that are technically experiencing a higher rate of growth.
b. Districts can vary in size. For example, for its calculations the Young Center estimates that districts in Holmes County, Ohio are 130 people in size while those in Lancaster County are significantly larger at 165 people.
c. Raber’s is not always updated so its information is not quite as reliable as other aggregate sources (ie ASAA or Young Center).
Given all that, it’s still safe to say the following 5 settlements are among the fastest-growing Amish communities over the past decade:
- Munfordville/Horse Cave, Kentucky 6 districts (2003)-13 districts (2012) The only sizeable settlement to have more than doubled over this time period. The Munfordville Amish community has seen a lot of in-migration from its parent settlement in Geauga County, Ohio.
- Kenton, Ohio 4-8 districts The Kenton Amish settlement doubled in number of church districts over the time period. Amish at Kenton (Hardin County) are noticeable by the unusual reflective tape pattern on their buggies.
- Heuvelton, New York 6-11 districts New York has seen many new Amish settlements founded in recent years. Existing settlements such as the conservative Heuvelton Amish community near the Canadian border (settled 1974) have also seen a lot of growth.
- Clark, Missouri 6-10 districts Missouri is another state with high Amish growth happening. The Clark Amish settlement in Audrain and Randolph Counties is one of the state’s 3 largest communities.
- Berne, Indiana 36-53 districts Though a few much smaller settlements may have technically added a higher % of church districts, I included the Berne Amish (Adams/Jay Counties) as the fastest-growing of large Amish settlements.
Why do some communities grow faster than the average?
Some are seeing a lot of people moving in from other places–for cheaper farmland, for a more traditional community, etc (see reasons Amish move).
The % of youth who join the church, and defection of baptized members also influence growth.
Finally, some are simply having family sizes larger than the 6-7 child Amish average. For instance, families in the Berne settlement average 9 children per family (see An Amish Patchwork p. 80).