Arthur, Illinois Amish

Outside of a childhood trip to Lancaster County and a brief day in a southern Michigan Amish community, Arthur,  Illinois was the place where I first came to know Amish, while selling books there in 2004. 

Arthur is in fact the sixth largest Amish settlement, with a population of about 4,000.Arthur illinois amish farm

Arthur is a community about 3 hours south of Chicago in the flat farmland of central Illinois.  The Amish community spreads outward from the small village of Arthur about a half-dozen miles in each direction.  It stretches from the edge of Sullivan, the seat of Moultrie county to the southwest, to Arcola, located off the busy I-57 corridor corridor to the east, and up to highway 36 to the north.

The grid-like, mile-blocks of country road around Arthur are easy to navigate.  Most if not all roads are blacktop, unlike those in the dusty Daviess County Amish settlement, and therefore navigable during the rain (which can’t be said about a few of the mud-susceptible byways in Daviess County, as I found out the hard way).

There are a large number of woodworking shops in the Arthur area (read more: Amish Furniture-Illinois).  Other Amish work for the large garage door plant in town, while dairy farming continues as a favored occupation as well.  A recent article stated that Amish run over 225 small businesses in the area.  A tourist industry exists in Arthur, but not to the same degree as in larger Amish settlements further east.

Interestingly, for a period before the founding of the Arthur community in 1865, there was another sizeable Illinois Amish settlement located in Woodford and Tazewell counties near Peoria.  With its five congregations, it was larger at the time than Lancaster County.  However,due to progressive change, there is no longer an ‘Amish’ presence there today.

(Tazewell/Woodford info from David Luthy, The Amish in America:  Settlements that Failed 1840-1960)

For more on Amish in the Land of Lincoln, try the Illinois Amish state guide.

Image: harrygamboajr.com

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    6 Comments

    1. Jack Vahe

      Arthur, Ill. is a great place to visit – -when you arrive – – slow down, now is the time to learn about these gracious people who call themselves “Amish”.
      Here is what I can describe to you about them after talking to them and taking a genuine interest.
      They are honest hard working people – – who have adopted a lifestyle based on religious, moral, traditional and communal beliefs. Each one of these attributes contain a myriad of details that cannot be covered adequately in a day or a week. we were lucky enough to be-friend an “Old Order” Amish family who have become friends with us – – -we stay with them when we visit and always look forward to seeing them at least twice a year. Please visit Arthur and don’t plan too much for Sunday’s. use the day to travel. Jack Vahe

    2. C. U. Later

      Mostly gravel roads? How long ago was that? Most roads in Central Illinois are paved including the Arthur area. The real problem is lack of stop signs at most country intersections. This is especially true during the corn season and you cannot see until you are IN the intersection.

      From someone who just about got run over by a HUGE combine. Well, it looked huge close up.

    3. CU, you are right on the gravel/paved roads–my goof, and have corrected it. I do recall a few places where stop signs would have been useful as well. Can’t really understand how that is supposed to work!

    4. Linda Neering

      Looking for an Amish family in IL or IN where my daughter and her girlfriend can visit and stay for one or two nights to learn the Amish way of life.
      They are both intersted since meeting 2 Amish families July of 2010 who camped nearby at Potato Creek in Liberty, Indiana.
      The girls loved the children and the relaxed way of life and now want to learn more.
      Any suggestions would be appreciated. They are both going to SIUE Fall 2011, and desire this Amish experience this summer. Thank you. Linda Neering
      neering55@aol.com or 708-275-4202
      I understand Arthur Settlement is the largest but any family willing to take in these two caring girls, either IL or IN would be great.
      Thanks for your time.

    5. Pat Camden

      Love the Amish

      We visited Authur for a few days on vacation and just loved the area.Returned later and stayed longer.Went through lots of stores.Checked prices at other stores that sold Amish furniture.Then checked the Amish shops and bought Amish furniture.The furniture we want to take home that day we got to tothe Simply Amish Warehouse to pick up.Plus we ordered more furniture to be delivered later when our house was finished being remodeled.We bought all our furniture from Furniture Plus.The Amish are very good at helping you find out what fits your pocketbook.We also ordered a Amish staircase a support beam and Amish trim for our house.Someone told us we have everything but a horse and buggy.By ordering directly from the Amish we saved money even after paying someone to deliver the rest.It’s a great place to visit and buy Amish made goods.That includes home canned pie fillings to make we you get home.Also the fresh baked goods.Yum yum.Can’t say enough about the Amish.Go and take a family vacation there.You won’t regret it we didn’t.

      1. Marcus Yoder

        Did you get a tour of the Simply Amish wharehouse? Some of my relatives own this.The first part of january a couple of my brother’s went to Arthur for the veiwing of an aunt, and got a tour of this place.
        Marcus Yoder