Amish have lived in Illinois since the early 1830s. The Arthur community, with a population of around 4,000 Amish, dwarfs all other settlements in the state, most of which measure at most a few hundred souls.
The Arthur Amish settlement holds a special place for me, as it was the first community where I met Amish on a wide scale. I sold a set of Bible-oriented books, the Family Bible Library, in this settlement in 2004. I found them to be quite popular among Amish in this community, but less so in another Illinois Amish community which I also visited that year.
Amish in Illinois facts
- At one time, one of the largest Amish communities in North America–larger at the time than Lancaster County–was found near Peoria. No Amish remain there today.
- Over the past two decades, Illinois has had one of the fastest-growing Amish populations of any state.
- Amish at Arthur make frequent use of bicycles, which are well-suited to the area’s paved roads, and often tow their children or groceries in attached “bike-trailers”.
- Arthur is a highly entrepreneurial community, with many woodworkers among other Amish businesses (read more: Amish Furniture-Illinois).
Learn more about Illinois Amish in today’s new Amish State Guide entry.
Photo credit: Tripp