Amish Family Size: How large is the Amish family? What do Amish think about birth control? (Video)

I did a video looking at the question of Amish family sizes. How do they compare across communities? They can vary by a good bit – differing by several children on average (I give some examples from Indiana settlements). What can influence that?

I also look at the question of what Amish think about birth control. Amish “officially” align with the “go forth and multiply” of Genesis and are against the use of birth control. But in practice…it’s not always the case. I talk about some surprising evidence of that, uncovered by the authors of An Amish Paradox.

Finally, I share the case of an man named John Troyer, who may have had the largest Amish family ever. I hope you enjoy.


Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Rozy

      Large Family

      My mother, not Amish, was #12 of 15 children. All were single births, no twins, and the first, a boy, and the last, a girl, were born on the same date, 23 years apart. My Nana loved children and had promised God that she would have as many as He wanted to send to her. Two of the fifteen died in childhood, one of spinal meningitis, the other of diabetes (insulin had been recently discovered, but was not in wide production or use). My mother said that the most that was ever at home while she was growing up was nine. They lived in a three bedroom, one bathroom pioneer built home. She shared not only a bedroom, but a twin bed with the sister two years older, until she left home to marry. Mom was a great advocate of large families, saying that she was never lonely, there was always someone to pal around with, and chores were done quickly with so many to help. She married a man who grew up with only one sister (not by choice, that grandma wanted 12 children, but God blessed her with only two). There were five born to them, which overwhelmed my dad, but mom always wanted more. Later they adopted a special needs child to whom my mother could devote all her excess love and attention.

      1. Sounds like there was a lot of love to go around there. Thanks for sharing Rozy, I enjoyed reading that.

    2. Penny

      Large Families

      I thank you for the video. My Grandmother married a widower with 7 children and went on to have 16 more, no multiples. She was expecting her last baby when he passed. Needless to say I have a huge amount of cousins.

      1. Sure thing Penny. Sixteen children is simply amazing. Plus another seven. Those must be some lively family gatherings.

    3. Anne Schulz



      I know that the Amish don’t like the pictures taken. And I’ve seen plenty of pictures hoots that you’ve of the Amish.
      And I’m wondering if you get their permission to take photos.

      Anne Schulz

      1. Amish Pictures

        The old order Amish do not want to have their pictures taken. Having a picture taken is seen as prideful, and there are many comments in the bible against showing pride.
        Some new order Amish might not object, but the old order Amish do object.

      2. Thanks for the question Anne. Three points in response:

        1 – No, I don’t get permission for these. Neither do the photographers who took them (most are not mine, but have been shared with me to use).

        2 – There are many other photos out there that I wouldn’t or don’t use. (Faces fully visible, close-ups, etc.)

        3 – The line is not as black and white as this common objection (also reflected in Dean’s comment here) suggests. Here is Karen Johnson-Weiner, commenting on the most conservative of all Amish groups, the Swartzentruber Amish:

        “Most Swartzentrubers just ask folks not to take their pictures, but when someone’s picture appears in a newspaper (reporter photographing a barn raising, for example), that person will want a copy to keep.”

        In addition to those links, we’re actually planning a Q-and-A with one of the photographers, where we’ll go into this topic further – so, good timing with your question.

    4. Amish Families

      My family is Hispanic (Mexican), born and raised in Texas then Michigan. My maternal grandmother had 17 children with my mother being the oldest. My paternal grandmother had 10 children with my father being in the middle. We are Catholic, both sides, so I know that plays a part in having large families. Especially, Mexican-Catholic families…lol.

      1. Awesome – I bet your family reunions could rival some Amish get-togethers 🙂

    5. Paula


      I am very much enjoying your videos Erik.

      My lineage is Mennonite from Southern Ohio, coming up from VA in the 1700’s. There was literally nothing settled there before them, save the Indians. My progeny, like many before birth control had many many children, due to needing helping hands to farm & develop their homesteads. But so many died in childbirth…both mother & children. Or they died early from disease. One spoke in the wheel had 16 children…only a few survived. And so they married a sister or cousin & had more children.

      It’s quite sobering actually to think of burying & grieving so many in a lifetime, especially when an adult lifetime was also generally short lived.

      The commitment & steadfastness was great & meaningful. They had already had to leave their home country from religious prosecution & survived a journey in a small crowded ship across the sea. It is humbling, is it not, to acquaint yourself with the sacrifices of our ancestors & the founding of this land upon their calloused hands.

      1. Glad to hear you like the videos Paula!

        And sobering is a good word for what you describe. Makes me realize how fortunate we are to live in a time and place where that is now rare. People had to endure things that we don’t really much contemplate nowadays.

    6. Elizabeth


      Why do you now have so many videos on your site? I used to enjoy reading thoughtful pieces about the Amish, which seemed to be done in a tasteful way. Now the videos seem intrusive and almost callous, at times. I get the feeling that these stories of late are trying to ‘expose’ the Amish and other Plain groups, and open them up to scorn & ridicule by today’s general public. Why do you now find it necessary to have videos for everything?
      Please remember that we are ALL imperfect human beings, but made in the image of God, and everyone deserves both respect and some measure of privacy, not judgement.

      1. Each video has a corresponding article or post covering the same topic on the site. There are currently 30 videos, and 3,000+ posts/articles.

        I don’t agree at all with the other things you suggest here. I’m not sure where that’s coming from. Doesn’t seem to match either the content itself, or my general approach, at all.

        But I’m sorry to hear you have that impression. If you have an example(s), I’m glad to hear about it.

        Videos are not for everyone, and that’s OK. I personally still prefer reading content, although videos have grown on me.

    7. David Stear

      Where do most Amish get their water?

      Although this may not quite fit with the topic of “family size” however all households of course depend on water for a variety of things. I assume that the vast majority of Amish people, generally being farmers, prefer well water because it isn’t connected up with a municipal water system, which leads me to the next question: for those who have flush toilets in the house, how is that handled? My guess would be septic tanks or cesspools. I seem to recall a recent Supreme Court case that dealt with Amish people in Minnesota using “gray water” from their house (or was it septic tank?) to irrigate crops among other outside uses for non-potable water and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. I think a future topic might be how the Amish obtain their water as well as how they generally obtain what we know as “utilities”–in addition to water, gas and electric (I know electric, if used, is generally severly limited and is in the form of batteries and gas, if used is generally bottled). I’m sure the Schwartzentruber Amish use wood or coal burning stoves, maybe have well water in the form of old fashioned pumps (??) and maybe kerosene and candles for lights and make use of chamber pots and outhouses instead of modern bathrooms.

    8. Paula


      I like the videos because it puts a face & voice to Erik, who I’ve been reading for years. I enjoyed hearing him talk about how came to know the Amish. And I always wondered if Erik would ever become Amish if he’s been asked to do so. I Feel Erik has immense respect for Amish & Mennonite & cares for them very much.

      And besides…turns out that Erik is easy on the eyes!!!