The Amish Ordnung

One distinguishing characteristic of the Pinecraft Amish community in Florida is that it attracts Amish from a range of backgrounds, many of whom are seasonal visitors.

Because of this, Amish at Pinecraft are likely to follow differing guidelines for daily living (or at least do so while in their home communities).

These guidelines, which take in everything from technology used to style of clothing, are known as Ordnung.

Since the mish-mash of Amish who comprise the Pinecraft community hail from many different places, one may see a wide variety of dress, for instance.

One obvious example would be the varying kapps (head coverings) of Amish women indicating their origins in places like Lancaster County or Midwestern communities.

The Ordnung

There are over 1800 Amish church districts across North America.  Each has its own individual Ordnung, which may differ little, or greatly, from that of neighboring districts.  Respecting the Ordnung is considered key to maintaining the integrity of the Amish church, and to preserving values of humility and community.

How is the Ordnung created? What happens when members violate the Ordnung?  Does a church’s Ordnung ever change?  Read more on these questions and others in this Amish Online Encyclopedia entry on the Ordnung.

Photo credits: Lancaster covering- Joe Shlabotnik; Midwest style covering- daned

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    1. Alice Aber

      Here in Illinois Amish country I have seen 3 different shaped kapps plus all in either white or black. What or who determines the particular shapes and also, who wears the white and who wears the black? For a while I thought it looked like only the young, perhaps single women wore the black but then I have seen them on elderly women as well. Is there a rule for who wears what color or is it determined by the time of year?

      1. Diane

        amish wear white during the week and black on sunday.

    2. Suzanne McMahon

      Great question Alice,I am from the Indiana amish area and have wondered the same thing myself.

    3. dana

      That is exactly what I have discovered reading about
      Pinecraft Amish community in Florida, variety of dresses as much in colors and in styles. I can only guess that because Florida is hot and sunny for most part of the year.

    4. La Vonne De Bois

      Holmes County, Ohio ~ Head Coverings.
      We have around 8 – 10 different groups among both Old and New Order Amish. With regard to the coverings, there are 22 sizes to the head covering. Most women make their own using a stainless steel pleater, plastic spray starch and various types of organza materials. Each group and/or Order will determine what “identity” would best signify the group they belong to. Swartzentruber vs. New Order would be obviously different. Swartzentruber coverings are formed more to the shape of the back of the head and the women must keep their coverings tied, where as the other groups may vary on the width of the pleats, depth of the covering and these groups do not have to tie the strings except on Sundays. All our married wear white coverings during the week along with single girls who are out of school and single working, but all singles wear black on Sundays.

    5. linda saul

      How do these coverings differ from the Mennonites ?

    6. Linda on the whole Mennonites’ head coverings generally cover a smaller area of the head, and in less conservative groups may not cover any part of the ears, or may even sit far back on the head covering only a small area of hair.

      However Old Order Mennonite head coverings can cover as much of the head as Amish ones do in some cases. There are a variety of styles.

    7. Paula

      So, what about the long-term and permanent residents of the Florida community? Are there several ordnung operating simultaneously or is there an overarching local one? It seems to me that after a while, groups permanently residing there would have to develop a more uniform, local ordnung, no?

    8. Permanent Amish residents in Florida

      Hey Paula,

      This really is a great question, one that I’ve wondered about myself. There is technically only one “church district” at Pinecraft, but I can’t comment on what % of people are there more or less permanently and to what degree that serves as a church for visitors and seasonal residents.

      Another interesting thing is the number of bishops that are listed to reside at Pinecraft–technically 4, as of 2010. So am not exactly clear how that might work either.

      As I’ve understood it, things are pretty flexible, but on this question I would really like to get the nitty gritty from a Pinecraftian who would know better.

      Perhaps if Sherry or Katie Troyer is reading this they could comment? 😉

    9. What most people don’t realize when talking about coverings that Amish women and girls wear is that both women and girls have two different coverings one light, for girls black for church and white for everyday and married women, white for both places. Both girls, and women wear a heavier black covering on top of the lighter one they are already wearing on Sundays and in some communities when ever they go to town or anywhere except at their home.

    10. 2whls3spds

      Hi Erik,
      I have just recently started following your blog.

      My first “encounter” with the Amish was in Kidron, OH about 10 years ago, on market day! Currently I am working in Lancaster, OH.

      I have observed in some areas the younger Amish use push bikes and in others they ride conventional bicycles. I assume this must be determined by Ordnung, any insight on it?

      In Lancaster I have seen both, but most have been on push bikes. I am an avid cyclist and am curious about it.


    11. Do Lancaster Amish ride bikes?

      Lancaster Amish mainly use push scooters. But there are a few districts in Lancaster that permit regular bikes at least to a degree and you might see the children in particular having them. And yes this is typically an Ordnung issue. In fact have long wondered why Amish in Lancaster largely use only scooters and have heard a couple of theories on it, though I don’t know that I’ve gotten the conclusive word.

      One Lancaster Amish friend and I have discussed this a lot and speculated that it must be a facet of tradition, and since there is not a lot of economic rationale to change from scooters to bikes (often changes to the Ordnung on the technology side are driven by financial necessity, for instance the economic pressures that compelled change of Lancaster Ordnung decades ago to allow bulk milk tanks and other farm technology), they have simply maintained scooters. It’s an interesting question.

      Great that you commented Aaron. And would that be Lancaster OH or PA? I think you meant OH of which I am only somewhat familiar (think I drove through once?) though in the better known Lancaster (from an Amish sense at least!) in PA, and some related settlements, scooters are considered the norm.

    12. Amish clothes iron

      Mary Ann and Lavonne, thanks for helping out with this topic. Maybe someone can comment on how often Amish women need to iron their coverings.

      I just used my friend’s iron for the first time (not for a covering but for a shirt), and it was a challenge (heat metal part of iron on stove, attach clamp handle, quickly iron one sleeve as iron cools down, return metal part to stove, wait 3 mins, repeat…) Seems like doing a covering would be a hard job, I know I’d toast my fingers.

      1. Terry from Wisc

        Hot irons...

        Hi Erik,
        When you heat irons on the cookstove you have more than one. Maybe two on the stove and one in your hand. Then there’s no waiting for the 3 minutes you mentioned. All of our Amish friends use a gas iron. Every so often when it cools down you get your small air pump out and give the iron a couple squirts of air, and you’re good to go. (They have bigger air pumps for the lights). Most often the lady who is ironing always has matches, and that small pump in her apron pocket, so there’s no down time to take a break!

        When you think of sewing for a large family the sewing machine is always up, except if you’re having church or on Sundays in general, and the ironing board and iron are ready to go as well! The easy part is that the patterns don’t change. An Amish friend of ours who has 11 children said to me one time that it was easier to sew a patch on than sew something new. Her kids wore “Patched” clothes! And we wonder why them ladies look tired…sigh…

        1. I am sure the Amish ladies who do this daily are smarter about it than I was 🙂 I think I’d prefer a gas iron though.

    13. 2whls3spds

      Hi Erik,

      Forgot there is a Lancaster, OH…

      I am in Lancaster, PA for a few more days then headed home to NC. I work industrial construction, so I get to see a lot of the country.

      I find the Amish lifestyle very interesting and have had a few conversations with a couple of the farmers about the equipment and the mules they were using.

      I asked one fellow about the bike/scooter thing and he didn’t know, thought you might be able to shed some light on it.


    14. 2whls3spds

      About ironing with sad irons…

      My grandmother had 2 or 3 of them and there was always a couple heating while she was using the other one. No waiting around for the iron to heat up.


    15. La vonne De Bois - Amish Heartland tours

      Hello Eric:
      Re: Ironing the head coverings. If there is a place to add photos to this sight, I would be glad to upload the “ironing” boards and “irons” that are used. Remember, I am referring to the Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. The ironing boards have 2 “arm levels.” The lower arm is to press the wide band that would fit around the crown of the head. The upper arm is smaller and works well to reach the smaller pleats. The iron is also interesting. It is not like the English irons. It would have to be heated on a stove (remember, there is no electrical outlet to plug in 🙂 Actually washing the coverings is simple too,. They use a whale of a pale ice cream bucket – fill it with warm sudsy water, let it soak, or use a small brush around the edges where it may be soiled. Rinse and hang up to dry. Since they use a craft spray starch, it really holds the pleats in. Hope this helps!

    16. La vonne De Bois - Amish Heartland tours

      Re: 2whls3spds question to the scooters, vs. bicycles ~
      This also comes down to each districts ordnung.
      Definition of Orgnung is “order”, a “system” or list of guidelines. It goes hand in hand with the Anabaptist teachings of separation from the world.
      In Holmes County, (world largest Amish community) we see more and more diversity with the groups. Swartzentruber Amish near the Kidron area still adhere to the one lef scooter, whereas the Walnut Creek area (more afluent as well progressed, will use state of the art bicycles.

    17. Sharon Dixon

      Hi Erik,
      As for head coverings. I am Dunkard bretheran and we wear a smaller head covering. We just hand wash ours in a bucket and let them air dry and spray starch as needed. One thing though. We have more than one kapp on hand. Usually one for home and one for Sunday for nice. The Old order German Baptist here (eastern washington state) wear a kapp that completely covers their ears and also ties under their chins. In the winter time they sometimes wear a black bonnet over the top of their kapp to keep their heads warm.

    18. La Vonne–would be great to share the photos. Maybe by email? I will shoot you a message.

    19. Aaron, you know what, I actually had a second one sitting there, but wasn’t coordinated enough to keep the rotation going. I am not cut out to be an Amish housewife 😉

    20. Sharon that is interesting to hear. The lesson is be prepared 🙂 And that Old Order German Baptist kapp sounds pretty heavy and conservative with the complete ear cover. OOGB that I’ve run into in Ohio definitely wore a lighter version.

    21. Kerry

      La Vonne – we clearly live close to each other. 🙂

      There is an Amish home-based business close to my home called the Cap Shack. Its windows are filled with coverings. I believe they take on the sometimes tedious work of making the many varieties of coverings according to whatever standards are required by the customer’s district. As La Vonne stated, there are so many – some longer, some short, some have tiny bow-like additions to the bottom of the back, some have tiny almost invisible pleats on the back, others are flat…around here, the Swartzentruber coverings look odd because they are so fitted to the head, softer, and always tied, whereas the majority are not like that.

      Where I live now and where I grew up in northern Stark County (in an area that was very Amish back then but now mostly Mennonite), there are many Mennonites who wear what we called “doilies” when we were kids – little lace circles almost the size of the circumference of a large coffee mug.

      Several of the local girls public high school sports teams have players who wear these little flat coverings and you can always see the opposing teams staring at them the whole game, lol – the girls are wearing the uniform (often tight) but still have their hair up with the little “doilies” laying on top. Does look kind of incongruous, I guess, if you aren’t used to seeing that on a basketball court!

    22. Dee Goodhand

      Travel to Sarasota

      If the Amish do not use Automobiles or electricy how do they travel to Sarasota for vacation?

      1. Debby W.


        I’ve read all of Katie’s stories from Pinecraft, FL, & they mostly come by tour bus! Easy enough! 🙂

      2. Amish bus transport to Florida

        Dee there are a couple of different lines that provide bus transport to Florida, depending where you are coming from. Pioneer Trails services the Midwest (Ohio, Indiana); Elite provides service to and from PA.

        Here’s a fairly recent post and video on the Pioneer Trails bus:


    23. Bruce Bucholz

      Web Site

      Who provides information for this website? I am a graduate student and am doing a qualitative research project on the text “Pacifists in Chains.” I want to make sure that I am obtaining accurate information on the Anabaptists.

      1. Bruce, this is my site (Erik Wesner). We try to be pretty accurate here, using academic and Amish sources. If you’re looking for other resources you might want to tap some of the books we recommend here: https://amishamerica.com/best-amish-books/

        Here’s an even more extensive resource list that might be helpful for you:

        Also The Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies (JAPAS) is a free online journal published twice-yearly featuring articles on Amish and other topics. Accessible here: https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/54888