The Amish of Yoder, Kansas

If you were scanning a map of Kansas for places where Amish might be found, Yoder in Reno County would seem a logical guess, given how common that last name is among Amish today.

And it’d be a good guess–the town itself was named after the son of an Amish bishop, Eli M. Yoder, who came to homestead here in 1870 (see GAMEO – Yoder).

In 1886, the Missouri Pacific railroad company built a track which cut across a corner of Yoder’s farm. Yoder in turn built a post office and general store on the 5-acre section the railroad separated from the rest of his farm. This was the beginning of the village.

A railroad was economic lifeblood in those days, and must have encouraged the Amish who came to the area in the 1880s. The Amish community’s official date of founding is 1883.

The Amish community is also referred to by the name of another nearby, larger town, Haven (Haven is a more common postal address for Amish here). Despite being around for over 130 years, the Amish settlement has remained small.

Yoder Kansas Downtown
Yoder, Kansas

I’ve called Yoder both a town and a village, but technically it is either an “unincorporated community” or “census-designated place”, with a population of right around 200.  The photo of Yoder’s downtown above was taken by Tom Geist on one of his many jaunts through Amish communities in the Plains States.

Though he admits “I really have not explored this area out as much as I should,” Tom has a few photos of the Yoder settlement for us today. The comments that follow are his.

Amish Store Haven Yoder Kansas

Anna Borntrager runs Country Variety Store at 5805 Red Rock Road, Haven Kansas. She has done so for over 30 years.

Country Variety Store Haven Kansas

Since I don’t have many details about the area, if you stop in Haven, stop and talk with her. You are bound to find something you want at her store.

Amish Home Kansas Haven

There are three church districts, North Haven, South Haven and the Middle district.

Amish Farm Haven Yoder Kansas

The North has 36 families, the South has 28, and the Middle district has 13.

Red Barn Amish Kansas

 

Haven Kansas Amish

What stood out the most for me was the use of tractors here.

Amish Tractor Haven Kansas

I saw several of the Amish people riding their tractors around town in Yoder like others use their buggies.

Amish Made Cabinets Kansas Yoder Wood

 

Yoder Kansas Amish Cabinets

Yoder Wood Products, at 10409 S Yoder Rd, Haven, Kansas.

Yoder Wood Products Gazebos Outdoor Furniture

Thanks to Tom for this nice glimpse of Kansas’s largest Amish community.

Yoder Heritage Day takes place each year on the fourth Saturday in August (this year: August 23, 2014). This event features a quilt auction, wheat thrashing demonstration, “horseback drag racing”, wagon rides, and buggy races (and, of course, food).

A second Amish community, Hutchinson, lies near the Haven/Yoder settlement. The Hutchinson settlement was also founded in 1883, and has two congregations.

As of late 2013, Kansas was home to seven Amish settlements.

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    18 Comments

    1. Thanks...

      Thank you Tom and Erik for this neat little visit.

    2. Juanita Cook

      I lived in Kansas most of my life and didn’t know until recently that there was Amish living there. Now that I have found out, I have been wanting to go back and visit the Amish communities that are there. Hopefully that will be some time in the near future.

    3. Margaret

      Great pictures! I grew up in nearby Hutchinson. There is a great restaurant in Yoder called The Carriage House, with an attached gift shop. I’m not sure if it is still owned by the Amish, but they employ a great many Amish. We just ate there a couple of weeks ago, and it was delicious, as always! If you are ever in the area, Yoder has great stores and is wonderful place to stop and spend some time!

    4. Randy

      Cell Phone Tower

      I noticed what appears to be a cell phone tower behind Yoder Wood Products. Since they use tractors, maybe the Amish also have cell phones?

      1. I can’t speak to this community, but I have seen Amish with cellphones. In one place the teens were allowed to have one until they joined the church (then it got passed down to a younger sibling); in another even church members where allowed to have one. (Both of these were in Holmes Co.)

        But I’d also guess that a cell tower is placed based upon area topography, and not whether the people within eyesight of the tower use the service or not.

      2. Cell phone usage

        Don is right that there is definitely cell phone use among Amish youth and adults, and on the second part, since cell phone signals aren’t isolated to specific users, it’s not like the Amish would have their own cell phone tower. But if there are any Amish with cell phones in the area they may be using this one.

        I don’t know if the owners of the land where the tower is located are Amish or not, but it’s possible the owners have leased it for the purpose of building a tower.

    5. Marilyn

      I have a friend outside of Oswego,KS, and in the last few years a community of Amish have moved in near her farm. It is a new settlement.

      1. Amish in Labette County, Kansas

        Looks like Oswego is in Labette County, there are at least a couple of Amish settlements in that area. As it happens Tom has been to those too 🙂 So we should have some more on that area upcoming.

        They were both started in 2006, so might be the community you are talking about (unless there was a third community started in just the past 6 months or so).

    6. Brad of the Brethren

      Kansas Amish

      It seems the Amish communities here in Kansas are growing every year. The settlement here in Fort Scott has grown quite a bit. It used to be you would see them every now and then but now every day you ‘ll see buggy’s in town shopping, and on market day, Saturday, there are lots of them selling their produce on ‘Town Square’. The on in Oswego, that Marilyn speaks of, I believe is an off shoot of the ones here in Ft.Scott. The price of land may be the big draw ! Also the Old Order Mennonites in Nevada,Mo. just East of here, has really grown.

      1. Tom Geist

        Hi Brad,

        I really liked the friendly Amish people I met in Fort Scott. As you noted, you will see them out in the buggies and on horse. That’s the thing I missed seeing in Yoder/Haven Kansas, as the only ones I saw were on tractors. I want to get back there soon!

        Tom in Lincoln

        LincNebr@hotmail.com

        1. Homer Smuck

          Homer

          We drive through Yoder on our way to church in Hutchinson. We often see horse and carriages carrying families going to their meetings. But there are a lot of tractors around town too.

    7. Alice Mary

      Thank you, as usual for the interesting photos and story of Yoder, Kansas. It’s one more place I’d like to visit, especially for Yoder Heritage Day. The first “event” of the day has me sold: “6 a.m., Pancake and Sausage Feed begins.” Who could resist?!

      I’d also like to visit that teeny tiny Country Variety Store. I’d love to see what’s inside of it (I’m SURE I’d leave with a number of items!)

      If anyone here goes to the “fest” this year, I hope you’ll take many photos and be so kind as to share them here. I’ll be waiting! 🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. Linda

        Yoder Heritage Day

        Thank you, Tom, for these fine pictures!

        In the meantime, Alice Mary, if you like, you could look at 127 photos of Yoder Heritage Day 2013.

        https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151765843556192.1073741825.57599026191&type=3

        Would you like to see pie? Thanks to:

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carriage-Crossing-Restaurant/57599026191?sk=wall

        Tom wrote earlier on the Kansas Amish page that Anna’s store “is a house with a basement and a add on room that all have sale items in them.” So maybe there’s room for me, too!

        1. Enjoyed your photos! We were there, too. We live in New Mexico for now, but our family is in Yoder/Haven. You have a parade picture of my cousins Jay’s blue van that he drove in the parade. Great fun day. Were you at the Friday night dinner/games the night before? We had such an incredible rain storm that the men were holding down the tent poles on the quilt auction/eating area tent. Then it cleared up, and we had the games anyway.

    8. Al in Ky

      Glad Amish America is back and enjoyed this post. I drove through
      the Yoder area several years ago during a rainy, dreary November
      afternoon (didn’t have time to stop) and couldn’t get much of a feel for this settlement, so glad to see some pictures.

    9. Sara

      Yoder/haven settlement

      I am looking for an address for the Yoder/Haven Settlement for the Amish to correspond with. Would any one have this address or know where I could get this address? Thank you.

      1. ShipshewanaIndiana

        Corresponding with Yoder Kansas

        There was an Amish directory published in 2000 that covers Kansas and Oklahoma. Raber’s bookstore in Baltic, Ohio had a copy in their store during my last visit in November 2013. I assume it’s still there, I was told they sold poorly. I have a friend whose brother lives out there, he says all the Amish live in a small area (6 or 7 miles wide) around an abandoned military base. It would be easy to locate the community if you can get there. You can google raber’s bookstore for their address or phone number and they can send you a copy. Using whitepages.com to search for Amish names (miller, yoder…) in yoder, KS may also turn up some addresses.

      2. Tom Geist

        Hi Sara,

        I actually have a Amish directory that is newer than the 2000. (I think mine is like 2010 or 2012, I just don’t have it right in front of me) It actually covers the Kansas Amish, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and Arkansas I believe.

        I am not sure if you just want a pen pal or a business contact. If you write to me privately I could at least give you an address for one of the scribes that write for the Amish papers there. I met the scribes just a couple of weeks ago near the time they had Yoder Days in the Haven/Yoder area.

        Tom Geist
        LincNebr@hotmail.com