Following yesterday’s post on the Ohio Amish shooting, there was some discussion on the group of Amish victim Rachel Yoder belonged to.

Rachel was apparently a member of the Andy Weaver Amish, which is colloquially known as the “Dan” Church (thanks to Michigan Mary, who was about a mile away at the time of the shooting Thursday, for filling in some gaps).

Rachel’s home community of Holmes County is unlike other large Amish settlements like Lancaster County and N. Indiana in one way: it is home to numerous Amish affiliations (if you’re wondering what terms like ‘affiliation’, ‘settlement’, and ‘district’ mean, try this short explanation).

amish groups ohio

Lancaster County and Northern Indiana are more-or-less comprised of a single unified group each.  While there are differences among church districts in those communities, there has not been anywhere the same degree of division and formation of new groups as has been seen in Holmes County.

Holmes County OH Amish affiliations

A brief outline of the 4 major Amish affiliations in Holmes County:

Old Order– the largest and what might be called the “mainstream” Amish affiliation in Holmes County.  They make up close to 2/3 of the total Amish population in Holmes Co.

New Order  This is a more “mission-oriented” offshoot from the Old Order which emerged in the 1960s.  They also dress plain and use the horse and buggy like other Amish.

Contrary to belief New Order Amish do not always use a higher level of technology than Old Order Amish; in some cases Old Order Amish can be more open to using certain technologies.  That said, there are groups of New Order Amish that even permit electricity and telephones in the home.  They make up around 10% of the total Amish population in the Holmes community.  More on New Order Amish.

amish mother daughterSwartzentruber– The most conservative Amish group.  Very limited technology, plainest dress, no SMV triangles on the buggy.  There are 3 subgroups of Swartzentruber Amish in Holmes County, comprising close to 10% of the total.  More info on the Swartzentruber Amish.

Andy Weaver– Between the Old Order and Swartzentruber in technology used and degree of conservatism.   Near 15% of the total Holmes Amish population.  Read more on the Andy Weaver Amish affiliation.

The names above are a bit misleading;  in a sense you can consider all of these groups “Old Order”.  In addition to these, there are about a half-dozen other subgroups in the Holmes County community which are typically offshoots of the affiliations listed above.

The circles are distinct, although that doesn’t mean that Amish don’t interact on many levels, including in the workplace, mission activity, and at events such as weddings, auctions and funerals.  An Amish Paradox does an excellent job detailing the differences among these groups.


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