A Visit to the Amish of Alton, MO (16 Photos)

Don Burke is back with a collection of wonderful photos from a visit to an off-the-main-drag Amish community. This one is located in Oregon County in southern Missouri. Don shares the story of his visit below. You can find more of Don’s photos here.


Being a freelance photographer, when I recently discovered I had two-and-a-half spring days free, I quickly made plans for a visit in the beautiful Ozark region of southern Missouri – specifically in the Alton and Eminence area. The region is scattered with active springs, many with historic mills or mill sites that I hoped to capture in a spring setting.

As I started mapping out my trip, I realized that my route would take me near a couple of Amish settlements (Hartshorn and Licking, MO). So I planned a passing visit to these two communities on the final leg of my journey.

As I arrived in Alton the first evening on the road I was more than a bit surprised to see a familiar road sign.

So the next morning I carved out a block of time to go see what I could find of the Amish in this place.

Armed with nothing more than an assumption that wherever there are horse-and-buggy road signs there are presumably horse-and-buggy Amish, I set off on my search. Fortunately I did find a small bulk-food store, and went in for a visit.

The store was actually only a small area in a metal building beside the family house.

But it had various bulk ingredients for cooking, a few ready-to-eat baked goods (bread, cookies), some cereals, etc.

The woman tending the store looked to be a relatively young mother or possibly older sister in the family. She didn’t seem at ease, possibly because it was just the two of us there, and this didn’t allow much of an opportunity to learn more about the community.

I did find out that the settlement first started two years ago, that there are currently eight Amish families living there, and that at least this one family moved to Alton from Kentucky.

And with that I left with the loaf of homemade bread that I purchased.

Down the highway a short ways I was able to locate – or more accurately, to track down – another of the Amish homes.

Seeing this sign I followed the buggy tracks a mile or so down the gravel road until I got to a low-water bridge.

Recent rains had water levels up, and with advisories out about flash flooding (and the erosion it can cause), I decided to end my pursuit at this point and not attempt to cross.

The third and final home place I discovered had a red barn/shed which apparently had been first built to house the family until a more proper home could be constructed.

The shed now had what seemed to be beehive materials stacked up on the front porch.

The place now also sported a new home (not yet fully completed), a garden area, a modest-sized greenhouse, a few farm animals, and was scattered with a few implements common in the Amish world.

I spoke with a couple of the local English about the new Amish community, and was told there was some initial uncertainty about the new group moving in, but things had gone quite smoothly and the Amish and English get along well. With a chuckle a local motel owner added, “They even just recently put up a hitching post for them down at the local grocery store,” seeming to suggest that that was a sure sign that the Amish had been fully accepted.

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    15 Comments

    1. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing these pictures. I always enjoy seeing pictures of Amish communities I likely will never have the opportunity to visit. It would be interesting to visit this community several years later to see how things have developed.

      1. Stan Davenport

        Where are the MO.. Communities?

        1. There are a lot of Amish communities in Missouri, Stan. At six years old this list is a bit dated, but it will give you a good idea of all the various places the Amish are. (Look to pg 116-117 for MO info.)

          https://kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/57700/JAPAS_Donnermeyer_Luthy_vol1-issue2_pp107-129.pdf?sequence=1

    2. Donna in Florida

      A visit to Alton, Mo.

      I never have heard of this area of Amish, so I found it very interesting. So glad people will write in to tell us of new experiences and new locations. I have a place in Berlin, Ohio which I love, but I’m still working so I cannot get there as often as I would like. I know those Amish, but Amish in other areas seem to each have their own ways of life aa they address the Amish way of living.
      I agree with Al – – it would be interesting to see how this community has grown and established roots in their new community.

      Donna

    3. Kathy

      Alton, MO Amish

      I live in the Alton area and own a business there. What a surprise to see a write-up about “our” Amish here!

      1. Hello...

        Hello Kathy. This was my first visit in Alton, and you have a nice little community there, at least from what I saw. Everyone there was so friendly and helpful to a stranger (me) just passing through. May I ask what business it is that you run there? Just wondering if it was one I noticed while passing through.

        1. Kathy

          Yes, we own a Day Spa there in Alton on the town Square. We frequently see the Amish buggies circling the Square to shop.

    4. Thanks...

      Thanks everyone for your interest and compliments. It is always a joy to share here, and I thank Erik for the opportunity once again.

      1. Jeff Baker

        Thank you -Don

        Don -You wrote a Great article with Excellent pictures – Thank you.

        1. Thanks Jeff.

          Thanks Jeff.

    5. Andy Miller

      Alton MO

      Don
      So glad to see that you are traveling again and the very good photos. I also did not know of the settlement at Alton. As you know I also have Amish background. And have nephews that live in the Jamesport, MO.areas.
      Well done and am also wondering what the growth will be in a couple of years.

    6. Don Burke

      Thank you, Andy. Yeah, it would be interesting to drop back in on the Alton community in 5 yrs or so to see how it’s coming along / growing.

      Do I remember right that your nephews run a pallet business and a greenhouse? And the big open house for the purple martins happens first of next month, doesn’t it?

    7. Andy Miller

      Don Burke

      Don
      That is correct. My nephew id Ivan Ray Miller and I was planning to be there also but will be unable to be there. His brother from Michigan
      is planning to be there too this time his name is Nelson Miller. I believe
      I am correct that Ivan had 147 pair of purple martins last year. The best to you.

    8. Sam Brandt

      Yep. It's a wood burner!

      “The name’s Yoder…Sam Yoder!”

    9. Ann

      Hello! Are there any Amish who do construction work around Alton area? I’m not sure how to find, prefer to work with Amish.