The South has been the fastest-growing region in America in recent years, thanks in large part to transplants from other parts of the country.
But Amish, despite their willingness to move, aren’t heading south in quite the same numbers.
However, you’ll still find a number of Amish places in the region. Below, a look at five Amish communities in our Southern states.
5 Amish Communities in the South
1. Ethridge, TN
Depending on what you consider “the South,” this may be the largest Amish community in the region. This is a very plain Swartzentruber Amish settlement. There are 10 Amish congregations at Ethridge, which could mean anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 people.
The community has a modest tourist industry, which Amish participate in to some degree (selling products at tourist spots and being featured on an Amish business map distributed by a local tourist center).
Amish are well-established here, having been in the area over 70 years (since 1944). For more info, here’s one of our all-time most-viewed posts, an account of my 2010 visit to the community.
2. Union Grove, NC
I’m a Tar Heel, so I take special notice of any Amish presence in my home state, of which there has been relatively little. North Carolina is one of the South’s fastest-growing states, but hasn’t proven as attractive to Amish as it has to English people.
The small electric New Order settlement at Union Grove remains NC’s only Amish location. Amish have lived in other locations in North Carolina in the past–including in the Dismal Swamp region in the first half of the 20th century, and a more recent, short-lived and unusual community at Yanceyville.
I’ve visited this small one-church-district settlement a couple of times, including a trip last year with stops at two nice Amish-run businesses, Shiloh General Store and Wholesome Country Creamery.
3. Pontotoc County, MS
Is this the most Southern of all the Southern settlements? The one-district community at Randolph in Pontotoc County is 20 years old this year. Amish here originate mainly from Ethridge, and like the parent community, this is a very plain settlement of Swartzentruber-affiliation Amish.
Historically, Amish attempted to settle in Mississippi on a number of occasions, with four tries previous to 1950, but little besides the Pontotoc County community since.
4. Salem, AR
Salem is one of the Natural State’s two Amish communities, in Fulton County on the northern border (so I guess by some definitions, barely in the South). Arkansas has actually lost one of its communities over the past few years.
This one-district settlement was founded in 2009 by Amish from Tennessee. The area has a number of businesses including woodworking, a general store, baked goods, and peanut brittle, which you can see in this recent account of a visit to the community.
5. Halifax County, VA
Amish began to arrive in Halifax County in southern Virginia in 2005 from the Dover, Delaware settlement (a community facing land pressure which has seen significant out-migration).
Ten years later the Halifax County settlement has grown to two congregations in size. I made a brief visit when it was just one church, back in 2011.
Of the Southern states, Virginia has seen a decent amount of recent settlement, with three new communities in the past seven years, doubling its Amish community total from three to six.
What other Southern Amish settlements could be added to this list?
Image credits: map of the South- etc.usf.edu; Mississippi- Erin Tracy Photography; Arkansas- Don Burke