Amish in Texas
Texas is a lot better known for ten-gallon hats than broad-brimmed plain ones.
But a single Amish settlement does exist in the Lone Star state, near the town of Beeville in Bee County. The Bee County settlement is the 2nd-most southerly Amish community in North America.
Read more in today’s Amish State guide entry on Texas Amish.
(For more on other Amish communities in the South, see Southern Amish).
Photo credit: Chad Hunter
I could understand some Amish moving to Texas with its extended growing seasons, and I’m sure competitive land prices. I think its safe to say that the Amish wont be starting settlements in Alaska any time soon, but like myself I’m sure a lot would love to visit there. Richard from Lebanon county’s Amish community.
I do know of a Mennonite Community in the Kaufman County area, It is of a nice size also. At least I believe they are Mennonite and not Amish.
"The Amish in America, Settlements that failed 1840-1960" by David Luthy
The book “The Amish in America, Settlements that failed 1840-1960” by David Luthy is one of my favorites. I liked the short write up on Newberry, Michigan. Especially the part about the frost scaring people away in the fall. But that was nothing compared to what Kauffman reported about the three feet of snow that winter, and how the ground was covered for 6 months. (Page 182)The Upper Peninsula story of bears and dog sleds make this one of the most interesting parts of the book for me.
Actually Richard a lot of Texas soil is really not suitable for growing veges but is great for cattle. Alaska actually has a great growing season for cooler crops because of 6 months of daylight. Even so with the expense of living there, I do not think many Amish would relocate to Alaska.
Alice I’m originally from the state of Texas, and although the soil there may not be ideal for growing things, about 19% of the land is actually used to grow cotton and vegetables in Bee county. Lori
I visited the Bee County settlement back in November….all I can really say is that if you go there expecting Holmes County or Lancaster County or Shipshewana, you’ll definitely be disappointed…it’s a very, very unusual settlement, that is for sure….and tiny, very small….
Bad storms in the south
Erik I’m not sure if you have been following those storms that have hit Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia. In addition to the storms, tornados have also touched down in these states, resulting in almost 300 deaths as of this writing. I just wanted to let you know because you grew-up in the south, and so far your home state of North Carolina has been spared so far. Richard from Penn.
Hello Richard. It has been one stormy and rainy month here in Kentucky. I seen on the local news that my area has recorded 13 inches of rain this month which makes it the 4th wettest month on record in Kentucky. My area has seen a frequent storms but nothing compared to the tragic weather that struck the deep south yesterday. As you stated numerous deaths and whole towns torn apart.
The storms that hit the south. Responding to Tom.
Sounds like they are still doing inventory of the damage in most of the states hit hard Tom, they say this might go down as the worst storm of its kind in history. here’s hoping everyone on Amish America are safe, and everyone else out there.Glad to hear you made it in one piece Tom. Richard from Penn. http://www.Amishstorys.com
The part of ohio where I live, an hr. from Cincinnati has had more rain here this year than the last 150 yrs……
We’ve also had some tough winds & lots of storms, but nothing compared to the other states…..
But God knows what he is doing…..Summer must be going to be a hot and dry one….
And the wells are filling up and the lakes to take care of the fish…..
Comment on Amish in Texas
I also visited Bee County in March of this year and was very disappointed in what I saw, not like any other Amish community I have seen, I have been to one in KY, one in MO.and One in Tenn.And was raised in Ohio among them around Homes County, also visited the Amish family in Salem Arkansas,
I’m wanting to visit the Amish community in Beeville but I can’t find anything about days and hours their community will be open for business in the Combination Shop. I bought a pie from them at a previous Farmer’s Market in Rockport/Fulton. I tried to find them at the Rockport/Fulton Farmer’s Market but no vendors were present on the 5th Saturday as posted around town. I’m assuming the Farmer’s Market was cancelled because of the tropical storm in the Gulf that didn’t materialize a drop of rain in Rockport. If you have been to their community, I would appreciate any information you might remember from your visit.
Bigger in Texas and Windy in Ontario
I’m sure that if the families of the Bee County Amish feel that they can make a go in their area they will. According to what I read in the Texas entry, they’ve only been there since 1999, but there was a precursor community in the state, according to the Texas listing. If at first you don’t succeed.
Southern Ontario had a wild and windy day today. In my community trees were down and heard about power outages. I saw one tree had taken out a power poll or something and blocked part of the street, and a large business sign in an old and under used strip mall had many of it’s wiring ripped out because of the wind. I went into the grocery store in the mall site and luckily the power wasn’t out.
Howard, how long were you there? Why were you there? Did you go to the Combination Shop? Just curious because it is SO out of the way…I mean, in fairness to them, I don’t think they really WANT to be found…I think they deliberately live very private lives….It is different, I’ll give you that…
Kevin, actually I’m pretty sure that their biggest income producer is the “Combination Shop” and they very much want to be found. Hard to sell many buggies to the “English” if they can’t find you.
Truman Borntrager told me that the real reason they relocated from Tennessee was that most of their buggy customers were located in Texas, so it made sense to be where the market is. Interestingly enough I went to their community in Tennessee in the 1980’s. It didn’t look a whole lot different than the one near Beeville.
Know how “Spartan” their community looks? Would you believe that a few years ago they were negotiating to buy about 1,000 acres of additional farm land for $700,000. They had the money in hand, ready to buy, when the owners backed out. Don’t let the looks of their community deceive you; they are doing quite nicely.
How would one go about finding an Amish horse trainer, harness and carriage maker in the Houston or Bee County area?
OldKat, interesting…yea, I will only say that it was a very different community, very different than any other Amish settlement I’ve been to…I do agree with you, I guess they do want to be found by at least some people…commerce keeps the wheels greased..and, heck, maybe they did just move there for the climate, etc….
When you leave the Combination shop the road makes a little bend and there is a road that takes off at a 90 degree angle right in the curve. There is a sign that says “Private Road” so you probably didn’t go down there.
One of the Borntrager boys was training some driving horses for me and one day I was down there visiting when he asked if I would like to drive one of my mares. The only vehicle he had available that you could drive with just a single horse was his Amish buggy, so he let me use it. Kind of surprised me.
Anyway, he lives at the far end of the community, maybe a mile and half from the shop. He asked if I would mind dropping something off for his father. Turns out the shop was closed that day because a whole group of them were cleaning chickens at his father’s house which was at the end of that private road. When I was driving old Rachel over there I noticed that the two or three houses on that road before his fathers place and especially his fathers place looked a lot more like what you would normally expect from an Amish community; larger, better maintained homes, nice barn, well kept yard and gardens. They also had plenty of trees, so it was a whole lot more shady back there too. None of it was elaborate, just more like the places I have seen in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Perhaps if they are down there long enough the rest of the community will begin to catch up in that regard. Looks fairly rough around the edges as is.
Life is never easy, spiritually or “worldly” is it
Of course the argument could be made that the families/church community that is there may have chosen the area for its toughness, maybe they feel that in order to live a spiritual life it ought not to be easy for them. Just a thought.
I am heading to Beeville
I just talked to Bishop Borntrager and I am going to meet with him next week. He says there are 8 families presently. He seemed receptive to meeting, so if you have any questions please pass them along. I will take pictures and naturally share them with the group.
i am very interested in the lifestyle of the borntrager and would really like it if you could send me any info on their lifestyle. i really admire their closeness and hard work. im not sure if he would open up to women like he would a man. i would love to knoe his wife and some of the women in the community. We buy from them as often as we can get to beeville and enjoy thier company for the short while we are there.i was surprised one day to see the women tending the garden eith their hoes and rakes in bare feet but once they ordered some bottles for us and he had left them at his house his wife and small son brought them over and they were walking bare foot on the caliche rocks. i think they are wonderful people. i will keep an eye on this website to see if you post anymore on this family
i have been to their community and find mr. borntrager and his family very friendly. If anyomne is outside as we pass by they always wave at us and they sell beautiful rockers and the best baked goods,jerky spices and so much more. Everything is reasonsbly priced.we always try to go on fridays as that is when they sell their baked goods in the shop.They have even helped us by ordering some products for us. Their houses may not be as fancy as lancaster but i for one am happy to have met them and being able to go visit.
I met an Amish man in Kentland Indiana Sat. Aug 1, 2015. Here is what he said and I just wondered if it sounds legitimate to you:
While picking my grand daughter in Kentland yesterday, I met an elderly gentleman who had a unique story. I am interested if this sounds legit:
In what he called a colony of Dutch Amish (not German) in New Hampshire. Another colony of the same group in Texas. He said the original colony was recognized by the govt in 1946. They had helped a lady and when she died, she left 400 acres of land for them in Texas, and hence the sister colony was formed. The two groups are like one big family and communicate only twice a year through the hand carried mail system described below.
Says he walks and makes the trip twice a year carrying mail from New Hampshire to Texas and back.
They don’t use mail service.
They don’t use dr’s or medicines.
No phones. No electricity. Raise all of the food for the colony and make all of their clothing.
Said he was given $4,000 on this twice a year trip when they leave and can stay in motel if they have no other place to stay and can buy their meals with it, but a large portion of it is to be used help people along the long who might be broke down, etc.
Said he had used all of his money. Said a man stopped and asked to pick him up and he turned them down politely and the driver of the truck sprayed Raid in his eyes and drove off. His eyes were red and watering down his face.
He was wanting a dark room he could close his eyes and try to flush them out.
He said he had made this trip enough that a state trooper had talked to him on previous trips. When he told the trooper what had happened, he paid for a room at the Red Roof Inn and gave him money to eat.
He said the group does not participate in social sec or medicare, Medicaid, or any govt program. I believe he said they didn’t any pay any social security taxes. They take care of themselves.
He was very mild mannered and not aggressive and did not ask for money. I did give him some money, and it doesn’t matter at this point. But I was just wondering if all of this sounds legit.
(Judged to be 70 or so) Had a back pack that he said contained mail. Said a woman had donated 400 acres in Texas that allowed that colony to be formed.
??? Really interested in your thoughts.
It sounds very suspicious to me. Dutch Amish? Never heard of them and there is no listing for them in the Amish church directory.
I agree, sounds very peculiar. Assuming the story is true (maybe a big assumption, however if he didn’t ask for money that is a plus in the direction of credibility), I wonder if there is a religious basis to this group, or if it is a living-off-the-land commune type of community which maybe simply adopted the Amish name at some point to describe their way of living. True or not, I found the story fascinating 🙂
He did say they were self sufficient and may have even used the term “commune” instead of colony. He said they were Dutch Amish and specifically said not German.
Something that caused me to think it may be religious, he did say that they do not believe in using medicine or medical services of any kind.
me and my brother picked up the same gentleman on dec 11 in mt Vernon Illinois and he gave us the same story as listed above…he was the mail carrier between texas and new Hampshire…except he got beat and robbed around Oklahoma city which resulted in a leg broken in 2 places. he posed no threats and told us his whole life history and said he had been doing the trips since 1969 after his father retired from the position..his current age was 72 and his last name was borntrager. we fed him some sandwiches and gave him a raincoat then hauled him 40 miles down the road towards indiana
I’ve understood that the Amish were Swiss German and German translates to Deutsch. Many “English” started calling them “Dutch” instead of “Deutsch”. That would seem to rule out the Dutch descendants.
Someone asked about medical and they do take up a collection and give needed funds directly to members of the church. This is the job of the church deacon. He keeps in regular contact with church members. My Amish friends were quite concerned about the new health Insurance. They had to pay a small required amount the first year, but then it has increased considerably. This would be another great topic. They want to keep taking care of themselves. This is another case where they would abide by the law, but they would not use the service. Perhaps time for another special ruling for the Amish??