10 Views From the Berne, Indiana Amish Community

According to the most recent figures, the community in Adams County, Indiana, centered around the town of Berne, remains the country’s fifth-largest, with over 11,000 Amish.

This is really a sprawling community spread out across the wide expanses of flat Indiana farmland. I have visited here several times over the years, but don’t know it nearly as well as other communities in the state, like nearby Allen County or the Elkhart-LaGrange County community. I do like driving around the place though as it’s simple straight grid roads and hard to get too lost.

The Amish here are of Swiss background and have a number of customs distinct from other Amish. Amish from this heritage have a bit of a rep for being a bit more closed towards non-Amish, among other things.

Jim Halverson shares a batch of photos from a recent visit to the area. Let’s have a look.

The Amish of Adams County, Indiana

Here we are inside a store with a look at the fabric supply that goes into making this community’s clothing. All the familiar, plainer Amish shades are on display. Notice no reds, yellows or other particularly vibrant hues. Bottom shelf: Spring Melange. Top shelf: Crinkled Spring Melange.

A long look down the aisle in one of the larger Amish stores in the community. It looks like we have the sodas right across from the herbal supplements section. Healthy vs. unhealthy all in one shot. I guess we all are human after all.

“Easy Carve.” First time I’ve seen that kind of marketing on a ham.

Time for a quick gulp. Stainless steel cups are there for anyone’s use.

Do you know what this large wagon is for?

I’ve never seen so many basketball hoops in an Amish setting as I have in Indiana. They have gyms here. No surprise, considering it’s Indiana.

This is the one photo which, for me, is utterly unique in the set. Jim says that this appears to be a maypole.

That’s something I’d never heard of before. And certainly never in connection with the Amish. Perhaps another lesser-known custom among the Swiss group. If I had no other information besides the photo, I’d call it a pine-palm tree. Curious.

The vast majority of Amish here strictly drive open-top buggies.

There are a few exceptions however.

So these are bonnets. What a lot of people call bonnets, aren’t bonnets, but prayer coverings, aka kapps. Bonnets go on when you go outside, the kapp is worn all the time.

So technically here’s another thing I haven’t exactly seen before. You do see some sports and/or university team paraphernalia on Amish buggies – usually youth buggies.

I have never noticed the license plate however. We have Ohio State backers in this buggy.

The funny thing is, this is one of the few communities (being in Indiana) where buggies are required to have a regular license plate. So why is this buggy owner not displaying one, opting to show allegiance to the Buckeyes instead?

My guess is that this person actually lives just over the border in Ohio, where the community has expanded, but where plates are not required. So they used the space to pay tribute to OSU.

Neat set of shots here by Jim. What do you think?

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    24 Comments

    1. 10 views from Berne Indiana

      I certainly enjoyed this photos. I noticed the fabrics are still plain on colors. Nice store. Loved photos of the beauitful countryside so peaceful not like in calif bumber to bumber traffic on freeways.
      The license plates don’t look too bad but I thought they now had to have lights. Don’t know what the purpose for the license plates. That does seem unessarry. Thank you for sharing this nice place in Indiana.

      1. Yea it is pretty uncommmon to see plates on buggies, mainly it is Indiana, though I think not even in all communities as I believe it’s a local jurisdiction thing. Glad you liked the post!

    2. Photos of Indiana

      Certainly enjoyed seeing these photos. Your column are always so interesting and informative. Thank you .

      1. Thank you Connie! And thanks to Jim for making this post possible.

    3. debbie burns

      Parke County Indiana amish

      I’m really enjoying your articles and videos; thanks so much. I’m near a large Amish community in Parke county and wondering why I have never seen anything on your pages about them? Very friendly, intersting folks in a beautiful setting. They’re always very welcoming.

      1. Thanks Debbie glad to hear that! I’ve visited Parke Co once and found it interesting, though brief. We actually had a post last year featuring Don Burke’s photos, you might enjoy it, I also shared the story of its unusual background: https://amishamerica.com/amish-parke-county-indiana/

    4. Frank Comstock

      Berne Indiana

      Isn’t the wagon next to the porch a bench wagon used to carry the benches to the home where services will be held every other week? Too low to to be a cook wagon for weddings and funerals, but just the right shape and size for a bench wagon. I have seen taller ones, though, so maybe it is something else.

      1. David Stear

        Berne

        I took note of the name of the settlement being Berne–the capital of Switzerland is Bern. I wonder why or how they added the “e” in the name. I agree with Frank Comstock that the long wagon is used to move benches/church furniture around from house to house depending on whose turn it is to “host”. How is it determined whose house will be the one for church on any particular sabbath day? Is there a list of households which keeps rotating? Given the fact that the Amish have little to no use, usually, for education beyond the 8th grade, I found it somewhat ironic, if that is the word to use, that a license plate referring to Ohio State University “buckeyes” was on one of the buggies. I guess more to identify the owner/driver as being from Ohio, but seemingly an unusual way to do it for someone Amish (?).

        1. Don Burke

          David, while the Amish do tend to not have much involvement or connection with higher learning, at least some are avid sports fans. I live in MO, about an hour out of St. Louis. When visiting Amish in OH and PA, when they first find out I’m from near St. Louis they open up with all kinds of questions about the Cardinals. (And the odd truth is, since I’m not so much the sports fan, the Amish almost always know more about the Cards than I do.)

      2. Glenn Renfrow

        Bench wagon

        This wagon is used to haul benches. They are used for church, weddings, funerals, and gatherings. The Amish in the area where I live,(Breckinridge County, Kentucky) come from the Berne area. I have visited the area several times.

    5. Loretta Shumpert

      Thanks to the photographer for sharing these great pictures. I do love that kind of store, just walking the aisles looking at evetything.

      1. Loretta Shumpert
    6. Adam Hershberger

      OSU

      Perhaps the OSU license plate is to salute Joe Donnermeyer of OSU that has done great work with Amish demographics?

      1. Ha well there’s an idea, I passed this on to Joe, we’ll see what he thinks…maybe he knows the guy in the buggy 😀

    7. Hans Overturf

      language spoken by the Berne Amish

      I read an article about an Amish family from Berne that still spoke the Swiss German spoken in Berner Oberland (Bernese Mountains, Switzerland). I am wondering if a larger number of the Berne Amish speak Berner Oberland dialect?

      1. It is a Bernese Swiss dialect that they speak – different from most other Amish – though I’m not sure if it is known as Berner Oberland or not. Are there other Bernese dialects besides Berner Oberland?

        1. Romain S.

          American accent

          What always amuses me is hearing the American accent of the Amish when they speak their dialect. Being fluent in Alsatian and being close to the Swiss and German border my ear hears this difference well. However, I can’t hear if the Amish have a Germanic accent when they speak English.

        2. Hans Overturf

          Yes, but they don’t vary that widely. Based on what I have read, the Amish from the canton of Bern came from the Alps/Berner Oberland, hence their dialect.

          1. Romain s.

            Thanks for the answerHans 😉

    8. Romain S.

      Transport the bench

      For the big black wagon, I also think that it is to transport the bench from one barn to another for the worship. I’ve seen something similar before.

    9. Where will they go

      You said this community is closing. Where will these folks go. There so Amazing. My life time dream of being part of a community. Yes I do understand there are strict rules. Please write back to let me know where they are going. Thank You.

      1. Erik Wesner

        This community is one of the country’s largest and in no danger of disappearing. Possibly you are thinking of a different one. Recently we’ve had coverage of a community in South Dakota which has disbanded.

    10. Russell Bowman

      Can you help us?

      Your people have learned how to live off the grid and with no high end technology. What if it is true that enemies of our nation set of an EMP, shutting down all the grids, making anything with electronics in it useless. How could we survive without a massive die off and much turmoil? There are plenty of good people out there that are not Amish. I wonder if you all could write a reference set of books to show us how to live a more simple, Godly life that includes all aspects of life? I am too old to change, but I know you would have a lot to teach us to live with less fancy stuff, and spend more time getting involved with things the Lord would approve of. Trapped in a society that ignores this eventual fact, every weapon invented by evil people eventually gets put in use. Can you help us with a good reference set of books to buy?

      1. Michael Coleman

        I can help you, Bowman

        I live in Berne. I can tell you that the Amish enjoy tech as much as anyone non-amish. They shop at Wal-Mart in Decatur and buy gaming systems and all the rest. I’ve personally seen it. I had my place painted by Amish women that used cell phone s and blue tooth speakers to listen to country music as they worked. They even brought a 4 yr old boy with them that was watching cartoons on his own cell phone.