Amish settlements that failed

The Amish Studies site based out of Elizabethtown College tells us that as of mid-2007, there were approximately 400 separate Amish settlements comprised of approximately 1,600 church districts in 27 states and Ontario.

The Amish continue to grow at a rapid pace and can today be found in such unlikely places as Mississippi, Florida and Montana.


photo:  Mennonite Church USA

Throughout their 250-plus years of existence on the continent, Amish groups have made many unsuccessful attempts to settle in places as far afield as California and Latin America.

In David Luthy’s excellent book, The Amish in America, Settlements that Failed, 1840-1960, we can read about dozens of settlements which for one reason or another failed to get off the ground, sputtering out within a few short years.

Other communities documented in Luthy’s book lasted many years before gradually going extinct.  In some settlements you may find buildings or cemeteries left behind by the Amish inhabitants.  In others there remains hardly a trace.

In a companion pamphlet to the work, Luthy outlines reasons why settlements fail, including a lack of ministry and harsh economic conditions.  Drought, Indian attacks, and community disunity also play a role in many settlements’ downfall.

Settlements that Failed is an ongoing feature on the Amish America blog.  Look for more posts on the topic in the near future.

In the meantime, you might enjoy the following posts on Amish communities that didn’t make it:

NC ‘Swamp Amish’ battle killer mosquitoes and flammable marsh dirt

Nuclear power wipes out one Ohio settlement

Amish in New Orleans?  The fate of the original urban Amish

Amish remains at a Colorado ghost town

California dreaming–Why are there no Amish in America’s ‘foremost farm state?’

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    1. Courtney Bargerhuff

      Paradise Valley, Mexico

      At the end of Dale Cramer’s book Paradise Valley, he refers to the comprehensive written record of the Paradise Valley settlement in Mexico in David Luthy’s book about Amish settlements that failed. Why did this Mexico settlement fail?

      1. Why the Mexico Amish settlement failed

        Courtney there is a pretty extensive 8-page history on this community but it looks like there were a few causes, including that a promised railroad (for marketing crops in cities) was never built, ministry never settled there, and political instability with harassment by rebels was ongoing, all factors that discouraged the settlers living there. At some point visitors were apparently prevented from entering the country as well which probably didn’t help the outlook either.

        1. Courtney Bargerhuff

          re: Paradise Valley, Mexico

          Thank you, Erik, for your information!

    2. nancy parrow

      david luthy

      i tried to find david luthy book on amish in ameica in the libary system is their a website i can go to to read obout them. i love your books and think you are a wonderful writer

      1. Nancy you can order it at Amazon and also from this link, where I think it may be cheaper: