Maine’s 3 Amish enclaves are the only settlements in New England
New England has seen little Amish settlement. Maine is the exception, with three small Amish communities as of 2010 (Young Center 2010).
Amish can be found in two locations in Aroostook County–Smyrna and Fort Fairfield–and near the Waldo County town of Unity.
The oldest Maine Amish community is located in Aroostook County near the town of Smyrna. This settlement was profiled in a piece in the Boston Globe in 2005. The town of Smyrna itself is described as a “rugged town of potato farmers and loggers, notable for its fierce winters and solitary general store” and “a remote place with little allure for outsiders.” (“Putting Down Roots: Amish find a home in rugged Maine”, Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer, February 2, 2005).
However the area has held enough allure to keep Amish around, with families hailing from states as varied as Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa and Maryland making up the settlement. The community remains small at one congregation in size. In describing why they came to the area, an early settler explained: ”We wanted to be in an uncontaminated community”…”One less populated with plain people” (“Putting Down Roots”).
The path this group took to being considered part of the Old Order Amish today is unusual. Individuals comprising a church somewhat like the Amish, but with key differences leaving them outside the Amish fold, first came to the Smyrna area in 1996.
Following internal change, the group eventually did affiliate with the Old Order Amish in 2000, which may be considered the founding date for this settlement as an Amish community (personal correspondence Stephen Scott; see also Bryce Geiser, “The Christian Communities: A Brotherhood of Covenant and Commitment,” Old Order Notes, 321 Spring Summer 2000).
Amish in Smyrna have created a range of businesses, which as of 2005-06 included greenhouses, a furniture shop, bicycle center, a horse breeder, as well as more traditional farms (read more on Maine Amish furniture).
A second Maine Amish community can be found near the town of Fort Fairfield, also in Aroostook County. Karen Johnson-Weiner notes that a group of conservative “Joe Troyer” Swartzentruber Amish left the Heuvelton, NY Amish settlement in 2007 in order to found a settlement in Maine (see New York Amish, p. 60).
Amishman Noah Yoder explained that he had spent 2 years searching for the “ideal place” to relocate. “What drew us to the area was the beautiful scenery, availability of farmland and some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. We’ve been well-accepted here and appreciate that.” (“Fort Fairfield and Easton Welcome Amish Families to Their Communities”, Fort Fairfield Journal, David Deschesne).
Like the other Amish settlements in Maine, the Fort Fairfield Amish are a small group, comprising just a single church district. Amish in this very plain group supplement their farming with small businesses, including a dry goods store and furniture (“Amish in Fort Fairfield”, March 17, 2011, WLBZ2). Local news station WLBZ did a profile of this community, which can be viewed here:
The youngest community in Maine, at cheerily-named Unity in Waldo County, was founded in 2008. Some families arrived at this location from the settlement near the town of Smyrna in Aroostook County. Other areas contributing settlers included Amish settlements in Missouri and Kentucky.
The Amish have cooperated with locals and have opened small businesses, including wood businesses and a farm stand featuring doughnuts one day a week. “We’ve been welcomed by the community. The community has been what we expected. They’ve welcomed us and helped us any way they can,” explained Ervin Hochstetler, Deacon of the Unity church. “Farmers have a lot in common, although our method of farming would be quite different than most farms.”(“Amish families reviving farms in Thorndike, Unity”, Bangor Daily News, Walter Griffin, October 23, 2009).
Warm welcome for more Amish in Maine?
Amish have generally found a warm welcome in Maine. Maine remains the only New England state with an Amish presence, however.
Harsh climate and distance likely discourage Amish from settlement, but the relatively cheaper land prices and low population typical of the state are pluses for many Amish when considering a new location.
If the current communities continue to show that New England can work for Amish, perhaps more will look North when considering new home locations in future.
For further information, see:
“Putting Down Roots: Amish find a home in rugged Maine”, Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer, February 2, 2005
“Profiles in Rural Maine”, allmainematters.com, Ken Anderson, Vol. 1 No. 9, September 2006
Bryce Geiser, “The Christian Communities: A Brotherhood of Covenant and Commitment,” Old Order Notes, 321 Spring Summer 2000
New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State, Karen Johnson-Weiner
“Fort Fairfield and Easton Welcome Amish Families to Their Communities”, Fort Fairfield Journal, David Deschesne
“Amish in Fort Fairfield”, March 17, 2011, WLBZ2
“Amish families reviving farms in Thorndike, Unity”, Bangor Daily News, Walter Griffin, October 23, 2009
“Living in Unity”, Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer, November 29, 2009
“Maine’s latest immigrants: Amish”, Morning Sentinel, David Leaming, March 17, 2010
Amish Settlements Across America: 2008, David Luthy
The New American Almanac 2011, Raber’s Bookstore (Baltic, Ohio), Ben J. Raber
“Amish Population by State (2010)”. Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College (http://www2.etown.edu/amishstudies/Population_by_State_2010.asp;
Photo credit: all Maine Amish photos by Andy Mooers of Mooers Realty
I am sorry Reggie but no can do on Trump. I do not want to see America turn into a dictatorship. I also support the rights of others. I can see from Trumps stand of Religious freedoms that as soon as he is done with Muslims, Hispanics, LGB, he will be after groups like our friends the Amish & Mennonites. Also as a woman I want to keep my rights and freedoms that we have worked so hard to gain over the years. You really need to read, “IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE: WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN AMERICA HAS A DICTATOR?, by SINCLAIR LEWIS. It is like a prophecy of trumps coming.
I’m not so sure your comment on Trump being a Dictator aged well. Seems what we have now in 2022 is 1000% worse.
Further, I do not believe this is a site for political discussion. Leave that to Facebook and social media.
Amen! Well said Natalie! There are plenty of sites on-line that will welcome political discussions.
American Artist, Amish Content
I am an American Painter of some renown. I am very interested in to know if there would be an Amish Community in Main where I might be able to live amongst, or at least visit and interact a number of days each week, for a period of a few months, preferably in the summer. I am also willing to work a couple of days a week in whatever capacity needed, to broaden my experience. I wish to do a whole series of paintings about the people, their culture, and my experiences there. I am respectful, and willing to abide by any rules or requirements set forth by the community, and would welcome any suggestions.
Amish settlements in Maine.
I’m from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is famous for “Old Order Amish”. Some have made the move to Houlton, Maine. Other settlements areas are Smyrna, Fort Fairfield, and Unity. These Amish are from all over our nation and looking for cheaper land to farm. This area is in the northernmost area in Maine right on the Canadian border. The Amish are very entrepreneurial with not just farming, but green-housing, shed-building, etc. I’m not Amish, but I have Amish relatives who moved to this area.
I thought it was strange to see a blog about the Amish. They don’t have computers! So who is running this blog? I am a 59 year old nurse thinking about joining an Amish community. I live in Massachusetts so Maine is the closest. I am a born again Christian so I am accustomed to their beliefs and baptism. I got baptized in 2010. Not sure about speaking German though. They live in America, they may be Amish but they are also Americans. Americans speak English. I’m not willing to do otherwise. It’s a patriotic thing I have. I believe in having ancestry, that’s important. But when you decide to live in America, you speak American. I was born here and I will die here and I will speak English. They don’t talk much about healthcare except that they take trips to the hospital. I am a nurse of 38 years. Can’t I work for them and take care of them as a nurse? I also cook and bake. I am wondering what restrictions they have on ingredients other than alcohol of course.
So… you are thinking about joining the Amish but have already decided a large part of the culture – the language – is not going to work for you. (And Americans DO speak many languages, or are you saying immigrants who don’t immediately drop their language are not really Americans? That could really open up a can of worms and start a discussion on America’s history.) Anyhow, so in deciding you won’t speak German because of your patriotic beliefs you are not going to read the history & religious writings, understand sermons or hymns, converse with children who might not yet know English, or grasp all of the casual conversations going on around you? Joining another culture can be challenging enough — doing so while choosing to isolate yourself linguistically is almost impossible.
I can and do speak English. (I write it, too. :)) But within our community, I speak the dialect. Knowing more than one language enriches a person. (As I believe is the idea behind teaching other languages besides English in the public schools.)
Americans speak English? I do, but I also speak another language. I am born & raised here and expect to die here, but I also appreciate my heritage and culture! What a puzzling attitude for someone wishing to become Amish. I’m starting to get why the Amish are wary of people who want to join them out of the blue.
I agree with you.
Too many people see Amish as a fad, they do not realize the hard work and dedication it takes to be one of these very unique people. It is saddens me to see this sort of thing. Being Amish takes a very special person.
I fear you are not committed
It appears to me, reading your statement that you are chasing a dream and not committed to the cause. You are seeking a slower quieter world, not the hard and dedicated life of the Amish. Amish do not get involved in politics, do not show patriotism, or practice the Christianity you are “born again” to. You do more than bake and cook, you will be growing food-animals and you don’t go to the store when you need meat or veggie. You will be sewing your own clothes. Laundry is done with homemade soap and if you are lucky with a ringer washer run on a generator. Your walls will be barren of photos art or decorations. You will heat with wood that YOU carry in after cutting and splitting. You cook on a wood stove. The language is an important part of the community and heritage. I would say, reading what you posted you are more set to be an off girder than a member of the Amish community. As far as being a nurse, yes it maybe helpful however Amish are strongly natural-herbal medicine. Minimal encounters with modern medicine. I hope this will help you in your decision. FYI, we have been close friends with several Amish families for years and am sharing this info with you based on our knowledge of these fascinating and loving people.
The Seeker's Quandry
Your desire, Christine, is plausible. People have gone Amish and stayed. It is possible but extremely difficult. Be prepared to deal with requirements that are not, to your way of thinking, scripturally defendable but upon which your acceptance and membership hinge. Listen closely to what Mark and Natalie said. It will cost you more than you can possibly anticipate. If you wish to dive into the mechanics of culture, Christianity, and seekers, I recommend this book which just came out:
If you wish to do everthing the hard way live in a cult environment where everyone worries what the deacon thinks, or the pope! Become amish and expect to do womens work
You speak American?
You “speak American”? So what Native American language do uou speak? English is from England, a bunch of immigrants Christine.
The reason you don’t want to speak another language is not a “patriotic thing”, rather it is a “lazy thing”.
Re: Too lazy to speak another language???
Sorry lady. I think you watch too much Rachel Maddow.
Yes, English is the common language spoken in the United States. (Taught in schools, etc). And what do English immigrants have to do with it? Many people immigrated here legally from other parts of the world (Ireland, Poland, etc). They all learned English, not told Americans to learn their language and stop being lazy. Lol.
Would you expect someone from Japan or France to speak English to you in their country?? I’d expect to hear Japanese & french.
Best of luck with your “Blue Wave”. Lol
Smarter than you!
Amish are way smarter than you appear to be. Most speak fluent English and their native tongue, Dutch German. They do not speak it in front of you as they are not rude, but amongst themselves they converse in their native tongue. Are you afraid they are talking about you? Perhaps you should take a few lessons from them and learn their language. It is not easy, but is beautiful when spoken.
Let Me Guess - Chris can't Speak another Language!
Something tells me you can’t speak another language either (except “American”!). LAZY! America’s first language was not English. So, if you are so interested in only doing things the “American way”, then pick a Native American language – and learn it! Good luck!
Browning , Vermont Amish
We have a community of Amish living in Brownington Vermont for the pass few years. It would be closer then Maine for you.
Would this mean that it would be possible to live/work amoungst your community in the future for reference information for my artwork??? Interested.
I Totally agree with Mark, Natalie, and Will
If you want to become Amish then it is 100%, you adapt to their culture and not that they adapt to what you want them to be.
I Respect the Amish very much what they do (culturally, tradition, Faith, their inventiveness and etc). Because of my respect to the Amish, I have never asked them if I could join them!
The more Languages you know the better. In the German speaking part of Switzerland the Dialects is the Spoken Language and High German is learned in School so is French, Italian, or Raetoromanisch (which is a descendant of the spoken Latin Language and it is spoken in parts of the Canton of Grisons or in german Graubuenden). And when I came to North America I learned English. Pennylvannia Deutsch is an American Language same as French is for Quebec Canada or Spanish for some parts of the US.
Very well said, Urs. your first paragraph is quote-worthy!
Does the Amish Community offer cooking class's?
Do any one in the Amish Community offer cooking classes? I personally would love to try my hand at a few dishes?
Hi: So there are two other newer communities here in Maine that I know of: One in Smithfield which are Black Top Amish, and one in Whitefield which is older and bigger.
Amish in Whitefield Maine
We currently have at least five families, here now in Whitefield. They have been good respectful, quiet neighbors. Mr. Yoder has re-opened a local sawmill on RT 218N, while another gentleman has begun a small shed/storage/outhouse business on RT 126W. The local farms they’ve moved into are coming back to life and that’s so very wonderful to see. Three of those farms have small stands where they sell homemade jelly/jam, pickles, pastries and other foods. Fresh handmade yeast bread and many types of vegetables from their gardens. One sold cantaloupe and watermelon last summer as well. The family that has settled into what has been known as Norman Chases Farm or Happy Farm on Rt126W by the Sheepscot River bridge (near the Whitefield Elementary School) by locals, sells handmade quilts, baskets and straw hats as well as farm made food and preserves. A fresh vege stand on Rt218S also sells preserves and Pickle’s made on site. Just past that Amish farm lies another on the opposite side of 218S,headed toward Alna and
Wiscasset. They also sell fresh breaf and other lovely things made on site at the farm. It’s a lovely ride on a bright sunny Saturday to check out these places and meet our newest Whitefield Amish farmers.
My husband and I purchased property in Sebec Maine last year and are about to build our home this summer. I would love to see some Amish families locate to our area, at least we’d know we have peaceful hard working neighbors moving in.
We have many Amish families here in Somerset county. I love their fresh garden stands they have and I love buying local supporting my local farmers. They are very polite and very dedicated to their lifestyle.
Growing Whitefield Amish community
You might be interested in this Album of the now MUCH larger Amish community of Old Order Amish at Whitefield.
Thank you, lovely photos. Joan Gibson, Levant, Maine
am a writer currently engaged in preliminary research for a book about eating and appetite, and the impact that particular circumstances- spiritual, physiological, situational and geographical- have on cooking and eating, both for the individual and community.
One of the chapters will focus on spiritual and religious communities and I wondered if it might be possible to be put into contact with representatives of the Amish communities in various states for the purpose of eventually interviewing them/spending time locally. I would also love to talk to any member of the Amish or Mennonnite community about their cooking, growing and eating lives and I have included my email below.
I will also be talking to Muslim food writers and chefs about Ramadan and how they cope when their careers are so food-focused and people who have converted to Judaism, exploring how illnesses such as diabetes affect participation in rituals of fasting and feasting.
Thank you so much in advance,
Nicola Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
40 acre farm for sale in Palmyra Me
Would like to see an Amish Family take over this small farm. All cleared land very good soil..3 bedroom house with attached barn a storage shed Maple Syrup she’d complete with evaporator..
would love to know who to contact to see about purchasing some of the Amish horses and mules that are no longer needed due to age/health. No judgement, just would like to see if i could purchase a few before they went to auction.
Growing Whitefield Amish community
I am the sales manager for an industrial lubricant company. We have many Amish that use our lubricants as well as resell them I am trying to get in contact with someone in Maine that would want to learn more about our lubricants as well as be a distributor. Please email me or call me at 208-251-8156
Growing number of Amish communities
Amish America needs to update on the current number of Amish communities in Maine. Smyrna, Unity, Wales, and now Hiram are all related. Besides Houlton and Fort Fairfield, a community has sprung up in Island falls. Then you have Whitefield, and the more recently established Palmyra community. An update is greatly needed.
Please help me understand
I hope my question doesn’t sound disrespectful or condemning to the Amish. I’m truly just trying to understand the other side. Let me start at the beginning. I’ve always loved horses while growing up in the 1980’s. However my family was not able to afford a horse so I would clean stalks, feed, water, brush basically do any work needed for the wealthy folks horses so I might be able to get a riding lesson at half the rate.
Now I’m 51 and can afford lessons but I’ve found as I get older learning how to drive a carriage is more my speed now. I’ve been looking into buying a driving pony and in the process of looking for a horse stumbled across the sad and horrible world of slaughter auctions for horses, donkeys, mules etc.
I’m so sadden by this new knowledge and when I looked into it further I came to realize most of the animals are from the Amish. I was absolutely shocked because I always thought they respected life of all kinds. To my surprise I was told animals are just disposable to the Amish. As soon as a pony can’t run as fast or perform as well as before they are sent to the slaughter auction paid for pound for pound to the highest bidder.
How can a family have a devoted beast do all that is asked of them and then be tossed to the trash like a broken car? My heart was broken when I learned of this. If only I could afford to let these gentle servants retire to a pasture until they pass away peacefully and naturally. These animals showed dedication to their families and doing all that was asked of them. How could anyone toss an animal so dutiful into a trash heap? I guess my question is #1. Is this true? Do the Amish toss out their animals when they can’t perform as well as they could when the animal was younger? And second if that is true then how is getting a newer faster pony any different than being boastful and being full of pride? I would think to show you are humble would be to show kindness towards a slower, older pony and treating it well and making it live humanly until his last breath. Why is it okay to just get rid of innocent animals in a horrible evil way like a slaughter house. The Amish should know that Christian kindness extends towards helpless animals too. I have been giving donations to Equine Rescue Network in Middleton MA. that goes to the slaughter actions and buys horses to rehabilitate. Once the bought animal is healthy and back to trusting people the animal is put up for adoption. Kind humanitarian people will adopt them and give them a place to live out their lives until they pass away naturally. Many of the Amish animals (goats, ponies, minis, donkeys, draft horses etc) are so beaten down that they no longer can be ridden or driven. Some are so beaten that it takes months and months of rehab to get theses animals to trust a human again. Please explain to me why the Amish do this?
Do all “English” (aka non-Amish) American’s beat their animals? Do they ALL treat them as part of the family? Nope. The same for the Amish (and Mennonites and Hutterites too.) They are just as diverse as you and your town are. There is definitely some issue in some Amish communities on crimes against animals, and even worse crimes than that. Some run horrid puppy mills and they’re fairly open about it if you ask them. Here in Maine, I saw a grown man show me a foal born early that morning and get tears in his eyes and praise God! The Amish certainly see things differently than we do in many ways, but the communities are all very diverse. Many do see animals as tools though, that would have been typical of our grandparents’ generation that farmed too. But MANY Amish treat animals with respect throughout their life. Do not believe rumors, please.
Thank you for your thoughtful explanation. I should not have assumed that all Amish are of the same mindset. I appreciate your honest and open reply. I’m sorry I was not thinking about the good points you made before writing my first message. I’ll think first before assuming rumors are truth. My apologies to any anyone I offended.
I live in central Maine and have heard of some barns that were built by the Amish community. I’d love to have one built for this old farmstead I live on. How do I go about having that happen?
Best place to visit Amish for my son
Hi everyone. My son and I used to live in Lebanon, PA near Lancaster about three years ago. We now live in Londonderry NH. He is 20 years old, non-verbal with severe autism. He LOVES watching the horse and buggies. We used to hang out at BB’s and Hornings in Lebanon County to shop and see all the sights. Now that we moved to NH, I was wondering which community would be the best to see the Amish closer to us. There are communities in Vermont and Maine. Nothing will compare to the Lancaster area but the six hour drive is something I’d rather avoid for now. Any ideas which community work be best for us to visit? I think they’re both around a three or four hour drive compared to the six hour drive to PA. Thanks!
How far are you from Charleston Maine
Amish in Vermont
Maine is not the only NE State some Amish call home. Since 2015 quite a large community of Amish have settled around Browington, VT.