I’ve got some photos of the community at Daviess County, Indiana to share with you today. These were taken by a friend of mine and emailed to me several years ago. For whatever reason, at the time I didn’t get around to posting them.
I wanted to share them because we have surprisingly relatively little on Daviess County on this site – and basically no photos – which is too bad, as it is one of my favorite Amish communities.
This was the second Amish settlement I ever spent time in, living in the area for several weeks in 2004. Over the course of that time I grew quite fond of the area and its people. I met many Waglers, Knepps and Stolls here, names you don’t find in too many other Amish places. The local Amish accent surprised me after having just spent several weeks in the Arthur, Illinois settlement. I remember imagining what it might be like to live as an Amish person while I was meeting people here. I talk about this community in this video on friendliest Amish communities.
Today Daviess County is home to the fourth-largest Amish settlement in the state of Indiana and seventh-largest overall. There are about 33 church districts here (that number was around the low-20s in 2004), and a 2020 population of 5,465 Amish.
You’ll see the following shots were actually taken in autumn. I usually try to match what I post to the season of the year, but this time will make an exception 🙂
A visit to the Daviess County, Indiana Amish community
First, a weatherworn sign from one of the area’s handful of tourist-oriented businesses welcomes you to southern Indiana’s largest Amish community. I remember eating breakfast some mornings at a Mennonite-owned restaurant in the local town of Washington, called The Black Buggy. Some years later it closed under sad circumstances.
Gasthof Amish Village is still in business however, and offers a restaurants, hotel, and shops. Tourists do not flock to Daviess County like some other communities, but there are some attractions for those that do.
The Amish area had mostly gravel roads when I was there. I’m not sure if that has changed much in the meantime. It doesn’t look like it going by these photos. It was dusty in the summer with the windows rolled down.
The buggies in Daviess County have unusual rectangular windows, on the sides and back. That’s a detail I wouldn’t have noticed back in 2004.
This buggy gets attention for different reasons.
Here’s a parked open carriage. Daviess County has a mixed heritage of Swiss Amish and Pennsylvania German-background Amish. At one time, open buggies were the standard here, like in other Swiss communities. However closed-top buggies were adopted in 1990.
The Pennsylvania German dialect has also displaced the Swiss dialect here. For these reasons, Steven Nolt and Thomas Meyers describe the community as “Swiss and not-Swiss” in their book Plain Diversity.
This place catches the eye for more than one reason.
Here’s one of the reasons. Boats are pretty common in the large northern Indiana Amish community. I can’t recall how many I saw here back then. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amish here also have them in numbers; I seem to recall going out on the water was a thing here then too. There are a number of lakes and ponds in the area.
One of the larger Amish schools you’ll see. This being Indiana, the basketball hoops come with the territory. It was this Indiana community where I first heard about Amish basketball gyms.
Loooong laundry line.
This looks like the same place, from a different angle.
It’s a boy.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the Daviess County Amish community. And a late thank-you to my friend for the nice photos.
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The Amish of Davies County, Indiana
Enjoyed the article and photos, Erik.
Any idea if there’s a why and what it may be if so to the rectangular windows on the buggies?
Do they add any type of canopy to the open buggies for possible, unexpected rain or for that matter too hot of sun beating down? I could see that as a nice option.
That blue house certainly does stand out. Initially it struck me as it was fancier than the norm; including the blue exterior. It would have stood out even more to me if it’d been other than white or blue.
All of the laundry out on the line—a very familiar sight-hahaha.
Superb job on the Bikes/Scooters video! Keep ’em com’en. Looooove the brick back drop!
On the windows I do not know for sure, but while wondering about it, it occurred to me that in Swiss communities where they only use the open top buggies, they do have an innovation which at one point I was calling the “kid box” – an enclosed space in the back of the carriage where children can ride protected. Looking at the photos of such buggies, the windows are rectangular and somewhat resemble the windows on the Daviess County buggies. So my speculation is that maybe the same sort of “kid boxes” were at one time used in Daviess County as well, and when closed top buggies became acceptable, this sort of window carried over. That’s totally my speculation; I would be curious to know if it were the case that such carriages were used in Daviess Co pre-1990. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about, I have a few photos here:
They do tend to carry heavy umbrellas in those open carriages. I think there is a photo or two on this site somewhere of such umbrellas engaged.
Very happy to hear you like the bikes and scooters video 🙂 I will have I think 3 more videos with the brick backdrop still to edit and post (I record them in batches). I plan another recording session this week, but with a new backdrop.
The Amish of Davies County, Indiana
Erik, your possible explanation regarding the windows makes sense. Of course we know that sometimes there are no explanations; “it is what it is”.
The kid box photos were interesting. Thanks for sharing. I’ve not had the opportunity as of yet to see those in person. I’ll do less of a double take if/when I do since I’ve seen the photos.
They are quite odd-looking if you’re not prepared for them. I don’t believe these are present in Daviess County (could be wrong on that), but they are in truly Swiss settlements, for instance Allen County or Steuben County, IN.
Thanks for the pictures and narrative about Daviess County. The only thing I missed — no picture of Dinky’s Auction.
I think most new visitors to the Amish community in Daviess Co. would enjoy going to Dinky’s Auction — almost every Friday night year round. I haven’t been there since Dec. 2019, but I think that things are about the same — it’s a huge place with two very large buildings including a livestock area in one of the buildings, and often there are a couple of auction areas outdoors. There are usually several Amish auctioneers, and as many as ten auction rings going at the same time. It’s hard to list all the types of items sold — produce, antiques, livestock, furniture, lumber, household items, lawn equipment, etc. There is a food stand with sandwiches, ice cream, pie, etc., usually run by an Amish school or youth group. It would be best to call ahead at 812-486-2880 just to make sure they are having a regular auction that Friday (i. e. once a year it’s just a Draft horse/carriage auction, once a year a farm equipment auction, etc)
For another good introduction to the community, I would suggest going to the Amish-run Daviess Co. Produce Auction, in a large auction building across the road from Dinky’s. In the peak of the produce season, auctions are held on Mon-Wed-Friday. I think visitors would enjoy going to the produce auction on Friday morning for a little while, then go to some Amish stores and just drive around the community, then on Friday evening go to Dinky’s Auction. Produce Auction phone: 812-486-2445
As far as I know, there are still many gravel roads in the county. I’ve been on gravel roads in many different states/areas, but I have never seen ones with as large gravel stones as the ones in Daviess County. The roads are fine to travel one, just drive slowly so it’s not quite as bump a ride.
If I understood correctly, bicycles were first allowed amongst the Amish there just a few years ago. And as the previous reply said, the newer houses in Daviess County are fancier styles and?or different colors than the traditional white frame houses.
The Daviess County Chamber of Commerce has a good map of Amish stores,businesses, restaurants in the area on their website – daviesscountychamber.com Dinky’s website – dinkysauction.com
It occurred to me to mention Dinky’s, but unfortunately had not photos so it got left off this time. I know you are fond of that place. I drove past it many times but never attended (my schedule at the time would not allow it). That’s very interesting about bicycles. I have no recollection of them there, but it was a long time ago. I wonder if it would have been scooters, but then they’re not terribly practical given the gravel roads.
Thanks for the link to the Amish map. I might need to do a separate post on that.
Coincidentally, I just bought a book on ebay last night titled “The Amish Community in Daviess County, Indiana” by Bill Whorrall. Fairly thick, from 2002 if I recall. There’s also copies on amazon and abebooks.
Neat. I wasn’t aware of that book. It has 700 photos and “many interviews” with the Amish according to the author’s page.
I have a copy of that book and have read it a couple of times. It is a very interesting and enjoyable book to read and will give the reader a good introduction to Amish life in Daviess County. It was printed in 2003, and as in many Amish communities, life in Daviess County has slowly changed since then. I got out my copy today and looked through it and didn’t see many pictures of the more contemporary style of homes I’ve seen in recent years. One interesting thing to observe in the book is the clothing style of the Amish people pictured. I’ve long thought that the Daviess style of clothing is less traditional than many other Amish communities. The men wear less plain styles of hats and many different colors of pants, and the women’s dresses and everyday coverings are less traditional style.
Another interesting book is entitled “Devastation in Daviess County”, which tells of the very destructive tornado that went through there Nov. 15, 2005 during which 65 homesteads were destroyed and 50 seriously damaged. I am pretty sure a person can still buy a copy of the book at Amish stores in Daviess County, but I don’t think it is available on Amazon. A person can also see a good sampling of the book on the Daviess County Historical Society website. I like the book, because many of the families whose homesteads were destroyed wrote first-hand accounts of what happened that day and their accounts are included in the book. There is also a You tube video about this — the link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3f0foz1ZeE. This video (it is about 10 minutes long), includes stories and pictures from the day it happened and then revisiting the community only one month later when much of the rebuilding had been completed. The story is very inspiring. Amish and Mennonites from many different communities in many states came to help rebuild and it is a good example of mutual aid as practiced amongst many Amish.
Neat to hear that Al. I’m particularly interested as the Daviess County I remember is the Daviess County of 2004, right around when this book was produced. So I imagine it captures essentially what I experienced. I remember that tornado happening and the book following later. Thanks for the Youtube video as well, I wasn’t aware of that.