In 1991, there were 215 Amish settlements in North America. 20 years later, the number was 427 (see this 20-year review at the Amish Studies site).
The Amish population doubles every 2 decades (give or take). But this doesn’t mean that existing communities just double in size.
As they grow, Amish move. Big communities lose members to daughter settlements. Smaller settlements shed residents too, as Amish form new churches with differences in Ordnung or find themselves drawn to new vistas.
This has meant Amish creating communities in places they’ve never lived before. States like Kentucky, Wisconsin, and New York have seen their Amish populations rocket.
The Amish growth rate doesn’t seem to be slowing. Coming years will only see more migration. So if Amish don’t live in your area right now, there’s a chance they just might one day.
Where are the Tar Heel Amish?
That said, my hometown of Raleigh, NC–or rather, the general vicinity–probably won’t be seeing a lot of Amish moving trucks rolling in.
For one, it’s a pretty high-growth area, with the Research Triangle Park generating jobs, and the mild climate attracting northerners for some years now. Land prices won’t encourage Amish farmers to the area–though I’m sure Amish businesses within 30-60 min of the Triangle would go gangbusters.
So to reach an Amish community from my stomping ground, you have to go about 2.5 hours west (to NC’s only Amish, at Union Grove). Or, head 2 hours north (to the Halifax County, VA Amish settlement) .
For awhile there were Amish even closer (1.5 hrs away) near Yanceyville, NC near the VA border. But for some reason(s), Amish have made only a few attempts to settle NC.
Other states have drawn Amish though, including some recent new ones (see the Amish Studies state population list).
Between 1991 and 2010, the number of Amish states went from 22 to 28, with new communities in such diverse geographic areas as New England (Maine), the Deep South (Mississippi), and the West (Colorado).
Choosing a destination
How do Amish decide where to move? Some factors include:
- Land Prices– Want to start farming? Land prices are your biggest obstacle. By the same token, selling a farm in one high-priced area may let you buy 2-4 farms somewhere else.
- Land Availability– Are enough properties available within buggying distance?
- Legal – Conservative Kentucky Amish are currently having serious problems over the SMV triangle–that their counterparts in Ohio or Tennessee are not. Amish left Nebraska in the 80s over school issues. How does local law view Amish ways?
- “Local Climate”– This is about English locals and Amish newcomers. Have Amish lived in the area before, or do any live in the vicinity now? Have there been clashes over roadways, manure, etc.? Receptive local governments and citizens can ease a transition (putting up hitching posts in town, $ support of Amish auctions and businesses, etc).
Actual Climate– How does the climate affect growing conditions? And human comfort? A beard and broadfall trousers get sticky down on the Bayou. That said, Amish have settled in less favorable climes, with some success.
- Road Traffic and Population– Many Amish settlements have failed due to overcrowding. Besides practical problems and dangers, closeness to the “world” is a spiritual threat.
- Closeness to other Amish– To survive, you’ve got to attract enough settlers–not to mention crucial ministry. Visiting family “back home”, as well as young folk finding special friends (and eventual mates) outside their home group are also issues.
- Employment– If farming is not an ideal option (ie, in drier areas such as Colorado’s San Luis Valley), what scope is there for employment (either by opening small businesses or with non-Amish employers?)
So, has your area seen any Amish settlement in recent years? How’s it going?
And if not, how do you think Amish would do in your neck of the woods?
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Amish in neighborhood?
Well, since I live on the east coast of Florida, I have not seen any Amish settling here — We are a “coastal” tourist mecca, and there’s not a whole lot of nice farm land left–thanks to the greedy developers, wanting to build shopping meccas and housing developments, or condos or resorts! (that’s one reason why we took a vacation to Lancaster, PA, last year, to get away from all of this rat-race!)
I would think to attract Amish, climates have to be similar to our Northern states, plus the soil has to be fertile, to allow them to crow their many crops, and to live comfortably as they are used to doing. Also, not sure there are many county roads left, that are “buggy friendly” around here — and if there are they don’t lead to anywhere! I just can’t picture Amish traveling on our busy roads and Interstates — people are too much in a hurry, these days.
I think if a group of Amish tried to settle in this area of Florida, they would fast become “homesick” for the Northern states of their origin. I do know that “one” settlement has survived however, over on the west coast, right in the heart of Sarasota, FL. It is mostly for the “snowbird” Amish, I believe, but they do have some that live full time. Not sure how they survive, (crops?) but maybe they sell lots of their homemade crafts, have bakeries, or serve yummy meals from at least 2 Amish restaurants, that I have heard of. Still need to make a trip over there, to have a yummy dinner!!
BUT, as they increase their population, they will have to branch out into neighboring states; these hard economic times sure don’t help any; and some areas, price of land is WAY OVER PRICED! I hope for their sakes, that they can continue to live their lives, and find peace wherever they go.
Why not Idaho?
Next state over from Colorado and much nicer weather conditions,
much farm land and people love Amish crafts. A couple stores import Amish crats, quilts and etc. Many back country roads even near capital city of Boise. We have open markets even in the city of Boise all summer long.
Amish in Idaho
Amish are nearly there Rusty–there are 3 western Montana communities and even one in a county bordering Idaho! Idaho did have a community in Boundary County in the early-mid 2000s, but no more.
I think Nebraska could see the Amish population explode. They are back (I’m assuming the laws have changed regarding schooling…this is something I could ask my schoolteacher dad about). the state is largely rural, good roads networks and really cheap land. When I was down in Pawnee City, the locals I spoke to seemed downright enthusiastic about having Amish in the community, and it seemed they worked to accomodate them. Probably the drawbacks are closeness to other communities (I would venture to say Jamesport, Missouri would be closest large community; but Marysville and Axtell, KS communities are fairly close). The other issue might be climate, as the winter/summers are very very harsh.
I posted on another thread, but I’m surprised Oregon hasn’t been settled yet, but I’m not completely sure what the cost of good land is there.
Amish in Oregon
Lindsay there have actually been a few Oregon Amish settlements but one reason there aren’t any today may have to do with #7 above. Those really distant locations seem to struggle (like the BC Canada settlement we had a post on last week). That said Montana has had Amish since the 1970s.
As for Nebraska you may be right. I don’t know how different/similar it is to Kansas climate. Kansas has had an Amish presence forever, but has never really grown much.
The climate would be pretty similar. The Pawnee Country group is originally from Wisconsin from what I understand, so I imagine the summers have taken some getting used to. Missouri’s weather wouldn’t be any milder either and they’ve seen lots of growth, so we’ll have to see!
Bumps in the road
Yes, there are more Amish in our neighborhood but there are a few bumps in the road. They have no triangles, no lights or reflectors of any kind on their buggies and they will not put smoke detectors in the homes they are building. Some people have complained about manure in the road. And one more problem that they share with a lot of us is that if your family didn’t move here before the Civil War, you are “newcomers.”
The upside for me is the fresh vegetables over the summer, the beautiful baskets for everyone on my Christmas list and the feeling of having a 150-year flashback when I saw a horse-drawn sleigh going up the road.
Amish in Illinois
Of course it is well known about the Amish in Arthur, IL but I wonder if any more will venture into the state. Farm land has gotten very expensive here. Personally I would love to see an Amish settlement closer to me but I have been watching the prices of farms and I doubt that will happen. As for the job industry that is pretty much belly up. One minimum wage job will net 1000+ applications because there just are not any jobs. Times are tough and getting tougher, whether Amish or not, I do not think I would be wanting to relocate right now, especially without any guarantees of what will occur on the other end.
Arthur Amish furniture industry
Alice I think farm prices is one reason the furniture industry is so well-developed in Arthur. Also construction, which has been important in that community for quite awhile. Here’s hoping the job market picks up in your neck of the woods and everywhere else that needs it.
Amen on that Erik!! Unfortunately I only see it getting worse. 🙂
Amish in IL
There are a couple of Amish settlements in IL other than Arthur, IL. There is one near Flat Rock and one near Oblong. These are both in Crawford County. They have been here for probably 10 years now. There is an Amish store where they sell bent/dent good as well as fresh made noodles, cinnamon rolls, meats/cheese, etc. Just saw a buggy going down the road yesterday.
Living near Amish in IL
I would love to be living near an Amish settlement! I live in west central IL and I’m wanting to find a market and/or woodworking furniture.
I too live in NC. I think its too over regulated here for the Amish. Which is too bad. I would love to see them move this way.
Well, I think land prices are so high because land, unlike so many investments these days, can’t disappear; it’s always there. There are no Amish here in Louisiana. As Erik points out, the climate can be awfully sticky. And South Louisiana is a world of its own, in many ways as unique in modern America as are the Amish. I would think that areas of north Louisana could be very suitable, though I have no idea how the legal issues – schools, building codes, etc – would work out.
Amish in Louisiana
Adair did you know at one time there were actually some Amish in Louisiana. Not a typical community though. David Luthy describes it in his book, here’s a little summary: https://amishamerica.com/settlements_tha_2/
Actually Erik I did see an article about Amish in New Orleans; some famies arrived at the port and didn’t have the funds to get up to Ohio and Illinois so they settled in and tried to make a go of it, even had a bishop come down this way but eventually assimilated and/ or moved on up to the Midwest. Fascinating. I would love to know where they were; probably upriver in an area still known as Des Allemands ( “the Germans”) where German farmers settled. And actually, I can see how assimilation happened. As different as the cultures look on the surface, and are to a considerable extent, there are some underlying important similarities – strong family ties run deep and wide because we all tend to stick around for generations; a generally devout population; strong cultural traditions, including our own (excellent!) food…..all of which gives us a sense of community and identity a little apart from and yet a part of modern America.
Could the Amish be headed to your neighborhood?
I think we have Amish in our area. I live in Tacoma, WA & I was at a business Costco recently, I do a lot of my grocery shopping there, and I noticed some men working that looked like they could be Amish. I didn’t get the chance to talk to them. I wouldn’t be surprised. Costco is a good company to work for. You get all your major holidays off & at the business Costco’s you get off work, they close at 6pm daily & on Saturday, they close at 1pm & you get Sundays off, because the business Costco’s are not open on Sundays, whereas the regular Costco’s are open on Sundays.
Amish in Washington
Esther, actually there were Amish in Washington state up to a few years ago, but no longer. Those were perhaps another Plain group, similar to the Amish, that you saw? I got an email from someone asking a similar question a few years back. For the time being, there are no Amish in Washington, though maybe that will change.
I think Washington like a lot of these possible West Coast destination is just daunting due to the distances involved (I don’t know much on farming in the area, though that is not a deal-breaker as Colorado Amish have shown). The post we had last week on the Amish attempt to settle British Columbia was a good example of how distance really becomes a challenge at a certain point.
Could the Amish be headed to your neighborhood?
Since I didn’t get a chance to talk to the men, I can’t tell you. The farming is good in some parts of WA state. I will say that if there are, or they decide to move here, they would have to get used to work in the rain, because it rains here a lot. This is not called the rainy state for nothing, LOL. It actually does rain here a lot.
Amish in Washington
A lot of people in Spokane, Washington seem to confuse the Hutterite communities in the area with the Amish. When I was working in a women’s clothing store in the mall, we had a few semi-regular Hutterite customers who would purchase undergarments and other essentials from us. I found myself correcting my co-workers with surprising frequency!
I’ve been privileged enough to attend the Amish school auction in nearby Montana, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a settlement of Amish flourishing in central or eastern Washington. The state as a whole tends to be very conscious of agriculture, especially of the sort that could be considered “natural” or “organic”, as well as small, local business. I think they could do well here…but maybe leave the Level III sex offender elsewhere, this time! I know that when the Amish community disbanded a few years back, the admission of one fellow with a record of child molestation into their community did a bit to sully their reputation, even among their most supportive neighbours.
Amish in Washington state
Rochester has a population of Mennenites. Eastern Washington -Yakima etc is known as the Palm desert of our state. Farming is wonderful for Apples, grapes etc even product! I live by Seattle (more North) and we had a awesome record breaking Summer!! Dairy farmers are mostly in Snohomish county! The roads however would not be very buggy friendly! Maybe more South down in the Rochester area. I bought Rose petal jelly from a small farm from there! I’m thinking about relocating myself! Prices for residential living, the freeways are maddening, prices of groceries are all sky high here!! Even though we have a high minimum wage.. It’s all relative! Any suggestions for a middle age, single woman w/ a cat..to relocate to??? (I’m a security guard) Amish settlements couldn’t really use my “Skill”! Lol
Could the Amish be heading to your neighboorhood
I’m in Oakland county Mi. We have Amish settlements in the state but none by me.They are in Clare , S western Mi, Sanilac & Tuscola counties. I wish they would move into Oakland county. The land is good, there are farmers markets every where.
the amish have moved here :)
we have a new amish community here in marathon,ny (cortland county. they hail from the punxatawney/smicksburg, pa area. and i drove a couple over to another community about and hour and a half east of here today…
one more reason for them to move here: natural resources! this community seems to come from an area where natural gas drilling is established. that was one of the deciding factors for establishing this community. the land prices were cheap because gas exploration was in it’s early stages. and most land didn’t have a gas lease yet. from what i’ve seen… almost every new amish family signs a gas lease as soon as possible after they have purchased the property.
Amish energy industry income
Sarah, that’s interesting. This is a hot button issue in OH and PA where a number of Amish have done quite well leasing their land to companies for the purpose of extracting energy resources.
An Amishman whom I respect very much and who I discussed this with recently fears it’s going to be very damaging to his community due to the jackpot wealth it is apparently bringing some “lucky” folks.
Amish have long leased small chunks of their land in places like Holmes or Geauga Co. Ohio, where you’ll see mini oil wells pumping. However this is small potatoes compared to the newer and much more profitable extraction methods being used.
it will be many years before they start drilling here. legal technicalities, etc… however those “bonus” checks from the gas companies have enabled these new, young amish families to get their farms going, make improvements,or buy more land. i think it will be many years before they have to start worrying about royalties…
It’s an interesting issue Sarah. I can see the upside especially in the young farmer situation, and how it would be easy to rationalize (not that I’m here blaming anyone).
I believe it is directional drilling happening in Ohio, but I see from a recent article in NYT that fracking is happening as well. I know little on the issues but that these new techniques seem to be making resource extraction viable in places where it once wasn’t.
My girlfriend lives near Burton, Ohio with many Amish neighbors. Unfortunately, gas company landmen have taken advantage of the Amish folks’ trust and lied to them.
The process is horizontal drilling with high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing, the same process that’s poisoning well water and causing earthquakes around the Northeast. A typical well pad will be five to ten acres, measure 70-90 decibels at 200-400 feet distance, and require thousands of truck trips.
Because of low natural gas prices, companies are moving further into Ohio where more profitable liquids can be extracted. I am seeing Amish trust in gas companies decline – over broken promises of road repair, temporary disturbance, and wealth – but it may be too little, too late.
Wish you (Amish) were here!
There are no Amish in this part of IL that I know of, but I wouldn’t doubt that they could make a go of it here in McHenry County, as well as other counties nearby. The area is VERY much “for” land conservation, adding more parcels of every year(yes, still quite a bit of farmland just west of my immediate area…not sure of pricing, but developments are few and far between due to the economy.)There are Farmers Markets here and there, well used (mostly summer/fall).
Just this past Saturday, there was yet another pair of photos featured in our local newspaper (The Northwest Herald) of Loyola University’s “Ecology Campus” in nearby Woodstock (where the movie “Groundhog Day” was filmed and is celebrated annually). The owners of the land that houses the “campus”, Lane and Ricki Linnenkohl, formerly farmed in Ky for 9 years before moving back to Illinois. They call their spread “Equus Oaks Farms”. The photo showed Mr. Linnenkohl behind 2 Percheron draft horses, plowing a quarter acre which will be planted with organic wheat for the university.
There are still enough “backroads” in the area that could and still do safely accommodate “slow moving vehicles”. If I owned farmland, I’d consider giving it to the Amish if they’d agree to keep it farmland…and I know there are others in this area of the state that feel the same way.(A member of my church bequeathed her land to the McHenry County Conservation District so that it would not be developed.)
There’s certainly ample interest in things Amish (at least 2 Amish furniture stores on one stretch of road within 2 mi. of each other).
Should I hang out a shingle, “Amish wanted! Stop here!”?
Alice Mary, great ad for your area 🙂 We do have some Amish friends among our readers here so maybe you’ve planted a seed for Illinois!
Out to the West Coast?
We live in Northern California and contrary to the belief of a lot of people, we live in the country!
Land around here is very cheap since the real estate bust hit very hard. We live eleven miles from town and the road is a two lane road most of the way, and coming into our valley it’s a perfect place for a horse and buggy.
Being California, people can be or believe anything they want to, and nobody says anything. It would be nice to have the Amish begin a settlement out here. Our land is variable in quality ,but all around us wineries flourish.The climate is good. Hot summers, but very mild winters. Rain only, usually no snow.Low humidity, no insect problems. Some horses out here, so manure happens.
The population of our nearest little city is 13,000 and that is the biggest city in the county.
We do have a lot of poverty, but then, not everybody is poor, no matter where you live.
It would be wonderful to welcome the Amish!
Lois I think you’ve convinced me to move LOL!
Amish Bed and Breakfast?
I have been looking for an Amish Bed and Breakfast or Inn in California or at least on the West Coast. I am not Amish but would like to experience the peace and quiet as a retreat that comes from the lifestyle of a slower pace. I am a sincere Christian and love the Lord dearly.
Sheila there are no Amish on the West Coast, there are some Mennonites.
Bed and Breakfast in Northern California?
Where would I be able to find them Mennonites? Might there be a possibility of some of them running a Bed and Breakfast. Would they be Old Order Mennonites? I saw a family dressed in what I would consider Amish dress here in Sacramento over the weekend. Ladies and girls in long dresses and caps, the man in white shirt, suspenders, black pants and hat. I got excited because I have researched the subject before and as you said, couldn’t find any Amish communities on the west coast. Curious.
Sheila, about 10 families in Sacramento comprise an independent Mennonite Church, but I don’t know the name of it yet. I don’t think it is Old Order Mennonite; it is unaffiliated. A plain couple was married there in recent months.
There have been Amish here in the maritimes, but the group left due to problems with immigration. Land is cheap, and a lot of farms are available; there is a dirt trail system that is seldom used now that could be utilized for buggy traffic. The downside is that immigrating to Canada requires a lot of paperwork, sponsors in some cases, or cash in hand to support a family. The climate is harsh, but not any worse than Maine. The locals would be very accepting of Amish, I think, as many of the older people remember horse-drawn traffic and we are used to slow-moving vehicles such as tractors.
I have a sister in BUNCOMBE, ILLINOIS and she is about 10 mins. from the Amish……so there are Amish in Illinois……
How about South Carolina? Any chance the Amish Could come here?
Amish in South Carolina
Good question Carol. With the South in general, I think it must be a combination of climate and distance from other Amish that has prevented a lot of Amish settlement there. South Carolina is quite far from other Amish, though there are Mennonites in SC.
There have been attempts to settle in the Deep South going back 100+ years, but Amish have never really taken off.
Tennessee has done well, but other than that, you’ve just got a few scattered southern settlements (MS, TX, NC)–unless of course we count Kentucky (and at least 1/3 of Missouri) in the South, which I would probably do, and then there are quite a few.
I’m doubtful about South Carolina seeing a lot of Amish settlement, but you never know.
Amish in Western New York
Living in the Rochester New York allows me to visit many Amish friends who I have met over the last 20 years. Last Saturday I was in the following settlements…Fillmore, Conewango Valley, Angelica and Dansville. If I had gotten an earlier start I could have stopped in Mount Morris , Clyde and Rose. An Amish friend and I would like to start out in Clymer and travel by buggy to Addison. It would be an easy drive each day to the next settlement along the Southern Tier of New York.
New York attractive for Amish
Tom your state really is one epicenter of Amish growth. A lot of diverse groups in NY too. Not unlike the current situation in KY there have been some legal issues (and also “local climate” issues) with Amish in some New York communities, but nonetheless I’m betting the growth will continue.
When I stop to think about it, there are at least nine Amish
communities within 50 miles of Louisville, Ky., — Sonora, Irvington, Willisburg, & Campbellsburg, Ky; and English, Salem,
Rosebud, Paoli, and Orleans,Ind. Four of these communities are
fairly new. And just last week I heard of a new community in
Gravel Switch, Ky., and an Amish group from Ohio planning to settle in another area 50 miles east of Louisville. I haven’t studied the reasons about why the Amish population has grown so much in he past 20 years, but I would say it has to do with land prices and land availability. Many farms in Ky. have traditionally
been small in comparison to farms in other states. It will
be interesting to see if we lose some of our Ky. Swartz. Amish
if the SMV triangle issue is not resolved in a way acceptable
to those Amish settlements.
Amish South of Louisville, KY
I wish I had read this prior to a trip earlier this year. We were in Boston, KY, which although close to a few of these settlements mentioned, we somehow missed seeing any signs of Amish on our route. It is amazing how different an area can appear from the back roads, which the Amish tend not to venture off of as much. I wish I knew whether these Amish surrounding Boston KY are of the conservative Swartzentruber variety, or of the kind having a greater variety of business occupations. I realize I’m commenting on a old post, but would appreciate learning of someone with local knowledge.
I am not familiar with any Amish group near Boston, Ky., but I will ask around and if I find any information, I’ll send an update here at Amish America. The closest ones to Boston I know of are the Swartzentruber Amish at Sonora, and a progressive Amish group at Willisburg. If I am correct, there is also a conservative Amish group at Upton.
Wow, that was a quick response
The information we have available today via collaboration over the internet is amazing. I had pieced together location of communities in multiple areas via maps, the Budget, obviously this site, and still I find none are exhaustive, especially when it comes to smaller, or recent communities.
I’ve wondered how much research Amish put into deciding where to begin a new community? It seems most would want to avoid being the early adopter who later learns not enough others are following, forcing them to eventually move again. The rural lifestyle doesn’t allow you to just pack everything up and relocate as easily as moving to an apartment in a new city. Often significant building, some amish specific, takes place. Then there’s the fruit trees and other long term things with life invested into them, which is a loss to abandon.
I spoke with an Amish friend about someone I knew moving from Lancaster Pa to a new community in Tennessee. It sounded exciting to me, but to him, not at all. He told me that their farm is already in the fifth generation, and he wouldn’t ever want to leave the neighborhood.
I would love to see them somewhere in the Golden Horseshoe of Lake Ontario between Niagara Falls and Western Toronto, but it is unlikely. That’s not to say that there isn’t fertile farmland, but the pricing is probably a bit steep. Who knows they might come here (I can hope and dream).
I think it is a little more likely that the rural areas in the large geographical area between Kingston near where the St. Lawrence River connects with Lake Ontario, and the national capital Ottawa, on the Ottawa River would likely see some future Old Order Amish or Mennonite settlement there.
Erik, great analysis. Amish migration an settlement expansion has huge implications for rural development, land prices, and rural culture that are still very much “under the radar” but no doubt will be discovered by demographers and the general public in the coming years. There have already been some articles on “Amish arbitrage”, that is to say, the trend of Amish who live in areas with very high land prices (such as Lancaster PA) to sell their land and move to areas with lower prices.
Personally, I think if one is looking to invest in land, or for a rural location to live in, following the Amish could be a very wise decision.
Amish land arbitrage
Ed, very interesting observations. I’ve often wondered about your second point. I imagine some have done just that, particularly in places where the settlement is well-established and you know the Amish aren’t going to be leaving.
It’s interesting b/c English locals have complained more than once about land prices shooting up when Amish move into a new area.
We don’t think as much about how it could happen in reverse, with English speculators attracted to land in smaller but growing Amish communities, raising prices for the Amish (I think this phenomenon would be something other than the inevitable residential development you see in heavy population areas like Lancaster County).
As much as I would love to see Amish move to Central California, I don’t think it will ever happen. In the sense of farming and land availability – yes! Farming is great and I drive by land currently used as range cattle land that is about 1000 acres for sale (different parcels but I am guessing there is about 1000 acres total close together that is for sale). It would all make great farm land, dairy farms (dairy farms are plentiful in Central CA), etc. Weather is great. I get some mild snow where I live in the foothills but the area I am talking about would only get rain. However I know first hand that CA regulations are very strict and the Amish would not enjoy dealing with all the regulations we impose on farming (water, air -yep air pollution control for dairies is a big issue right now, etc). This area is also too far for factory type work. They would need a driver to get to large stores, and any type of factory type job. I also don’t think drivers would be considerate of the Amish. I know I would be but in general….not the nicest group of drivers. There are a lot of accidents just from people speeding to pass slow drivers.
Anyway, wishful thinking on my part but I don’t expect to see any Amish in my neck of the woods. 🙂
Not in So. Calif. Ever
Spent my first 34 years in Southern California-if a buggy showed up trying to maneuver through traffic people would assume a new movie was being made. Too bad the central & northern areas couldn’t accomodate them, due to those mentioned regulations as it is a whole different world from So. Ca, thankfully.
It is amazing how they are spreading out, I know of some in Dunmore Ireland, Beachy, I believe-and I heard the Maine Amish were looking into someplace in S. America not to long ago.
Amish in California
Hi Karen, Valerie, anyone else interested in Amish in California–here is the one attempt Amish made to settle in CA, which is detailed by Amish historian David Luthy. I’ve given a little summary here–It was in Monterey County, and didn’t last very long: https://amishamerica.com/settlements_tha/
Amish movin in!!! :)
Hi Erik. I live in MI and we have about 5 family’s of Amish that have moved in the Hastings area. I’m Beachy Amish, and have not seen any Amish until we saw them in Wal-mart shopping. Said they are settling in Hastings. I think this is very exciting! It’s so wonderful good for them to be around. Such plesent souls.
Great to hear Rachel. I don’t mean to be nosy but I’m curious to what degree you as a Beachy Amish person “connect” with horse and buggy Amish. You described them as “pleasant souls”–but do you also think–“kindred souls”?
Let the story begin!
Erik. Let me tell you a little of the story for it would take a day to tell you everything. My husband and I are from non-amish/mennonite background. We first attended a Mennonite Church in Arthur IL we were living in Champaign at the time. We spent 9 months their. We moved up to MI because Adam my husbands parents need a little more help taking care of their 5 achers they live on. And his dad is not into good of health. So we desided to move. We are living with them until we can get a place of our own. So it took us about a month to find a church up here! Their is no strict mennonites around this area. Adams parents knew a Amish man from Vermontville area and knew they were moving into the Hastings area. So I wrote him a letter asking for his help in anyway of trying to find a strict mennonite church or see if we could actully join the Amish. He wrote back and he came over to our house and we have a wonderful good chat. Listing to our lives and they way we live now he was very happy for us. He told us it would be easy for us to become Amish, the only thing that would hold us back is the languish. But anyway to make a long story short. He took us to Centreville MI to meet with the Bishop of a Beachy Amish church. We had a long chat and we started going to church. Everyone their is so blessed by us. They want us to join them. So were getting ready for our 6 month proving period. Then if the Bishop thinks we will make it, we will be accepted. They already say were accepted lol. So were bran new to all the amish stuff. But for our lives it has brought us closer to Christ than ever before in our lives. We are not wanting to become beachy amish for the lifestyle, well maybe a little. But we now have only one purpose to live life and that is to live for Christ. We picked to become Beachy Amish because we felt it to be good to be around others that have the same beliefs that we do. Hope this explains a little. Like I said their is so much to be said. Sorry if I confused you in any way. Any more questions just ask.
Rachel, wow, I enjoyed reading your atypical and interesting story. I hope you continue to take steps in the right direction. Thanks for sharing this!
There are probably still some areas in NC where an Amish settlement would be possible. The one in Union Grove seems to be doing alright, and that region of the Piedmont still has a lot of open country. It’s also closer to the mountains so the summer heat is not quite as brutal. Same might be said of the SC Back Country.
Oddly, I had a fellow talk to me last weekend in Raleigh who assured me that there were Amish in Bladen County, NC, but I think he was mistaken. There is also a Conservative Mennonite settlement out in Eastern NC near Pantego.
Amish in Maine?
I was wondering if anyone had any updates to the Amish settlement that moved to Symrna Falls, Maine? I think they moved there in 2003-2005, or thereabouts. I’m from Maine but am temporarily relocated away for a couple more years. A few years ago, I heard they were making a good go of things, but haven’t heard anything since. I know the Maine peoples would be very welcoming and I think most of the other factors would be favorable. Although learning the ins & outs of the short growing season can be a challenge.
Amish in Smyrna, Maine
Julie, don’t know that I have a lot of info–here is the state guide for Maine–when doing it I didn’t find a lot for Smyrna post-2005, though there was a good bit for the other 2 Maine Amish communities:
The Smyrna photos I used in that post were taken by a local photographer in 2009. Raber’s Almanac 2011 still lists a single district for Smyrna.
Interestingly the Amish Studies site has a 4th Maine settlement listed this year, though I’m not sure where it is:
I believe that settlement in Smyrna Mills Maine started in 1996. It’s done really well, from what I’ve been informed and many outsider families have had an interest in joining-3 actually have & stayed for many years and doing well, along with an older legally blind woman they took who is now an actual member. Some outsiders have tried it and left.
They then branched off to start the community in Unity-SO Smyrna Mills I believe was the 1st settlement in Maine of Old Order Amish.
They’re very welcoming of visitors in their church services, & for visits-they get alot of visitors.
The Smyrna Mills & Unity both have been accomodating in reaching out to people outside to share their beliefs when asked. They readily will send Christian books etc.-
I wonder if there is an Amish population in the Canadian province of Quebec. I know Erik has the insightful State Guide for Ontario and Canada, but I am lead to believe that there are Old Order Mennonites in “Le Belle Province” so it would logically follow to wonder if their neighbors elsewhere have followed them there.
I could be wrong about the Old Order Mennonites in PQ
I live around a Amish community in Central KY, they have been here since the early 90’s. They seem to be doing okay with 4 church districts, and most are farmers or builders. They have many small businesses. The dollar general store has horse hitching in the parking lot. Some of the most recent Amish families have come from New York, and Delaware.
I dont know, but I wonder if central-SW Ohio, south of Hardin Co down to about Miami County wouldnt be a good potential future Amish settlement location. With Belle Centre just to the north/east and plain German Baptists already with horses + buggies in Miami Co and westward already, I wonder if that’ll happen someday. Lots of agriculture, not sure of land prices or other industry though; then of course once you get south into Montgomery County, you immediately get into urban/suburban territory. But there’s a whole corridor along I-75 there, Kenton-Lima-Sidney-Troy, where I could possibly see it.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALICE ABER…..HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT ONE…..SO WHAT KIND OF CAKE DID YOU HAVE ? 🙂
Another factor I believe you left out, Erik, is that of topography. We have Amish both to our north and west of here, but they won’t settle in about a 3 county area between the two because it is simply too hilly with many drop offs, steep hills, and dangerous curves. Probably why more Amish don’t settle in West Virgina as well.
Topography and Amish settlement
Great point Matthew. WV seems like it would make sense for Amish settlement (wedged between the 2 biggest Amish states, and I imagine you can find inexpensive land) but the terrain might just play a role. There are quite a few Amish in PA in mountainous areas, but often in flatter valley areas between the big hills.
That said Amish haven’t shied away from hilly places with twisty roads (Munfordville KY, where they actually have buggy pull-offs on the hilly roads, comes to mind), but there’s probably a threshold for that.
Atleast half of my state of New Jersey is dedicated to farming, but alas, as most of you know, we have some of the highest taxes in the country and property isn’t cheap, either. A shame, as there is really some beautiful spots that would be perfect for the Amish.
wish the amish would come to belton,sc 29627 there is alot of farm land here dont belive there would be any problem god bless
New community sizes? Only from same church district?
What is the typical size of a new community?
Do only people from within a church district form a new one, or do the Amish ever form communities with people outside their church district?
How new Amish communities are formed
Nitin new Amish communities may be started by people from one church or from different communities, even in different states. Some of the largest communities today were originally comprised of people from settlements in different states.
A new community may have just a few families early on…survival often depends on attracting enough new families within the first few years, and most importantly, establishing ministry in the new settlement (either by ordaining leaders from within the new community or having them settle there from outside). Without this spiritual leadership Amish communities have historically struggled and often disbanded.
From where do new districts form, proportionally? How, when distance & culture separation?
Wow, this is fascinating.
I would have thought that it would be difficult for Amish who follow different beliefs and practices to create a new community.
That spurs several more questions…
Is it more common for Amish to start a new community from a single church district, or many? For the ones that do start from many church districts, are they usually from the same settlement?
In the cases where they are from different settlements, how do they even find one another and plan starting a new community when they are so far apart?
Amish coming from different communities
Actually just because they are from different locations doesn’t mean they have different practices, or practices that differ that greatly that they can’t create a new community. They may be within the same affiliation and are close enough on technological issues that they can agree upon Ordnung points. For example one of the newer Indiana settlements was formed by Amish from Lancaster County as well as a few Amish from central PA’s Big Valley. The Big Valley people had to change to the Lancaster style of buggy to conform to the new community’s standards (see Plain Diversity by Nolt and Meyers for more on this; there have been many many other examples).
A bigger issue than technology is a church’s stance on shunning. There is streng Meidung which is the more permanent approach to shunning, and then there is shunning which is of a milder form. If they don’t agree on this point then the technological differences are probably moot anyway. https://amishamerica.com/why-do-the-amish-practice-shunning/
I don’t know the answer to the question about coming from the church districts, though I’d guess it is relatively common especially since many offshoot settlements come from the large communities. Kin networks and Amish publications are two ways the word is spread about a potential new settlement.
And thanks, I took care of the duplicate posts 🙂
I'd welcome a settlement of Amish here! ;-)
For my part, I’d love to share our corner of the world with an incoming settlement of Amish. But unlike the more gentle rolling hills of OH or more northern MO, we’re in the foothills of the Ozarks, and the settlement distribution seem to suggest that the Amish are not too keen on settling in such terrain. Would that be an accurate observation, Erik (or others)?
Erik, you point out the need for adequate space (property) for an Amish community. Just curious: What would the Amish consider “adequate” before starting a new settlement in an area? From my limited discussions, Amish farms seem to be something like 75-100 acres; and would some 50-75% of the settlement be farming? So to eventually have even a full single church district of around 20 families, that would seemingly require something upwards of 1,000-1,500 acres — or am I way off?
Hilly Amish terrain
Don that sounds reasonable. Since farming is a common motivation when Amish move to start these new settlements, you may have a large majority of farming households.
As far as rolling hills go, some Amish settlements are quite hilly. Daviess County Indiana has a decent bit, the Holmes County settlement is quite hilly over its southern two-thirds especially, Kalona, IA is another you know. There are definitely others…I have spent time in the Ozarks but I guess I’m not sure how hilly the foothills you are referring to are, sounds like maybe more than these. Buggies can handle hills though all things considered it makes for a less safe terrain (and less horsepower friendly too).
We have a farm to sell near the Wadena/Todd County settlements in Minnesota. Any idea who/ how to let the Amish around there know about it?
Have you considered advertising in “The Budget”? Call 330-852-4634 for more information, of the FAX # 330-852-4421. I hope this helps.
I think Mark’s suggestion is very good.
Another possibility might be to contact the bishop or one of the other ministers in one of the Amish districts in the area and let them know you have a farm for sale. Raber’s Almanac lists the bishops/ministers of many of the Amish districts throughout the country. If my information is correct, you can order a copy of Raber’s Almanac by sending $5.50 (that includes postage) to Raber’s Bookstore, 2467 CR 600, Baltic, Ohio, 43804.
Another suggestion — if you are within driving distance of the Wadenda/Todd County settlements, drive to the areas some day and ask in town (Wadena, Bertha, Long Prairie, etc.) where there are Amish farms in the area that sell some products such as eggs, produce, firewood, etc. Go to one of the farms and talk with the people there. I think if they feel you are sincere, they will talk with you and might have some insight if there are fellow Amish looking to buy property. Hope this helps!
why not WV?
West Virginia is beautiful and full of land for farming. There are Amish in VA, PA and OH. I often wonder why this state is overlooked.
Few Amish in West Virginia
Good question Dana, there has never been a very large Amish presence there, even though neighboring states have large Amish populations. However, WV is up to 4 separate communities now, maybe we’ll see more moving there.