Amish at Verdigre, Nebraska
There has been some discussion over whether an Amish community exists at Verdigre in Nebraska. Here’s what I wrote a year ago in the Nebraska Amish state guide:
The Verdigre area (Knox County) was home to another Amish settlement founded by Amish from Michigan in 2003. The pioneer couple, Eddie and Mattie Petersheim, were profiled in a newspaper article shortly after arriving in Nebraska. The Petersheims sought land in a less-populated area, as their home community of Marlette, Michigan, had experienced crowding due to its proximity to the city of Detroit.
A number of newspaper articles written about the couple note their unusual occupation of running a restaurant over an hour’s drive from their home. Other Amish, including relatives, joined the Petersheims in Nebraska. The Verdigre community survived five years, and was reported extinct in 2008 (Amish Settlements Across America: 2008, David Luthy, p.4).
However, there have been indications of some Amish currently living in the area, either remnants of the original settlement or a new group that started a fresh settlement following the first community’s extinction.
Some have reported, as recently as May, that there are still Amish at Verdigre. And now Linda shares the following from the Budget, from an ad that appeared on page 37 of the June 13 edition:
More families to join a tractor farming Amish community in N.E. Nebraska. At present, there’s 3 households, 6 youth and 4 scholars.
A good place to raise your family while farming, ranching or business. We are all well settled and do not wish to relocate. We trust the Lord will send more to join us.
or Eddie Petersheim
88170 519 Ave.
Verdigre, NE 68783
I wish I knew more on the story of this community. Why were they recorded as extinct a few years ago, though apparently the founding family is still there, along with a couple of others?
“Tractor farming” is an indicator of what’s probably a pretty materially progressive group. Have they adopted a practice that has left them out of the fold? (in other words, because of some unorthodox custom or belief, are they the only ones that consider themselves “Amish”?) Was the original report simply in error? Or perhaps the Petersheims moved away, then returned? If anyone knows more, would enjoy hearing about it.
Nebraska Amish photo: Lindsay O’Brien
There are other tractor using Old Order Amish scattered around. Kokomo IN, Anderson Co KS & there are others. It depends on the Bishop, I think.
You are right there are Old Order Amish who use tractors Marvin, and “tractor using” can mean a few things, though I am assuming they mean using them for field work rather than just power at the barn. Otherwise many if not most Amish farmers would have tractors but would limit how they can be used.
Of course, I’m sure these folks are hoping more Amish come settle in their area. But what if English (with conservative or other “Plain” religious leanings, or just wanting to settle in an area with open spaces for farming, ranching, “business”) want to “help them out” by moving there? Have there been any “hybrid” groups/areas like this, with a similar situation? Just wondering…
Interesting question Alice Mary, I would bet they have plenty of contacts and friends and business relationships among English in the area, but for the purposes of growing a church there’s not really a gray area…what they want here is more members of their church community.
There have been more lenient groups but at a point they are not really considered “Amish” anymore (by anyone other than maybe themselves)
I think how Amish think of themselves is an important issue. A young Amish family I know moved to more progressive settlement and still think of themselves as the same, but others most likely would not.
For all those who express a desire to “join the Amish,” this type of community sounds like one that might be more amenable to the idea of it.
might be an interesting road trip
Vergigre Nebraska is only about 175 miles from me. Might be an interesting road trip for the weekend.
Suggestions on what to look for, etc?
Tom, they sell some baked goods at a grocery store in Norfolk, Nebraska, and on Saturdays at a Farmer’s Market in Sioux City, Iowa. The Petersheims no longer have a restaurant.
Woo-hoo, a new group being grown. More questions to be asked or mysteries to be solved. Will look forward to seeing more about this community.
That’s a fascinating way to grow their community, by advertising like that. Sort of the Amish version of Match.com. 🙂 I hope they’re able to succeed; my son only lives 3 hours from there, so next time I’m visiting him, maybe I can persuade him to take a road trip to see how their community is working out.
David Luthy’s criteria to be considered a church is to contain 2 households with 1 head of household being an ordained person, or then 3 households without an ordained person. Verdigre had 3 households with 1 minister at one time. Their minister died with one family moving out, thus being considered extinct by Luthy. A wedding in June 2011 put the number of households back to 3 thus once more meeting the definition established by Luthy as a church (3 households).
They have gone through a series of Fellowship changes during their time in Nebraska, but are currently a part of the New Order Christian Fellowship, which consists of less than 10 congregations in the USA. This is the most progressive or liberal of all horse-and-buggy Amish groups, but would still be considered Amish by all other Amish.
There is also a congregation of the ultra-conservative Swartzentruber Amish nearby in the Verdigre area, about 2-8 miles away. This would be virtually at the other end of the spectrum of what is considered Amish.
Daniel, do you know which group Harley Yoder of Yoder’s Kitchen is associated with? They are one of the vendors at the Sioux City Farmer’s Market.
Tom: Yoder is part of the tractor-farming Petersheim group.
Still in the Area as of 2023
So just an update from Jan. 2023, they or a similar group is still in the area.
I was going fishing today at a wildlife management area about 12-15 miles south of Verdigre and low and behold 2 buggies parked at the Wildlife management area with 2 horses harnessed nearby.
So they or similar group is still very much in the Area 20 years later.