Illinois Amish Use Horsepower To Move Their Oldest-Known Home

Photo by Jim Bowling Photos, Herald & Review

Amish in Illinois have made news by moving the oldest-known Amish home in the state, using the power of eight mighty Belgian horses.

Belgians are a common breed used by Amish for farm work. This past Tuesday morning they found themselves with the uncommon task of transporting a 150-year-old farm home–though it turns out they only did a small part of the job:

A team of eight hulking Belgian plow horses was hitched up to a trailer and, after a couple of false starts, began moving the circa-1866 Moses Yoder farmhouse at a surprisingly brisk clip-clop.

“This is my first house pull,” said Amish farmer Eldon Schrock, who helped supply the horses while his farming assistant Steven Hostetler controlled the reins. “But it’s not our first rodeo,” added Hostetler, who made handling the straining equine muscle look easy.

The horses only towed the two-story wood house a symbolic distance across the big parking lot near Yoder’s Kitchen restaurant, creating a poignant photo-op, before the more concentrated horsepower of a diesel truck took over.

The home’s destination was a location three miles away, where along with several other structures it will become part of the new Illinois Amish Museum and Heritage Center. This Amish-backed project will also provide a home for items previously housed at Rockome Gardens.

Amish move homes and structure often enough. Some homes, such as skid houses, are even designed to be disassembled and relocated (see Karen Johnson-Weiner’s photos of English helping Swartzentruber Amish move a skid home in New York).

In some cases, a community may even relocate a building through well-coordinated muscle power. You can see video of two examples of that at this post, or in the video below (foul language warning at 0:38):

Interestingly, Amish may even make a business of moving houses. At least that is what I discovered when perusing the Holmes County Amish directory when putting together this post on unusual Amish jobs several years ago.

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    1. Debbie H


      Wow, I was hoping those poor horses didn’t have to pull that house very far.
      Interesting that the Amish are sponsoring a museum but happy they are. This might inspire me to visit Indiana.

      1. Horse power

        That isn’t much of a load for that many horses. Spring plowing is more work

    2. Al in Ky

      I’m glad to know the Illinois Amish Museum and Heritage Center is going to continue. I visited it several times when it was in Arcola and found it to be a very worthwhile, interesting place to visit. One time I visited there, they had a traveling display on “Fences” which I believe was from the Smithsonian in Washington, D. C.

      It was interesting to see the video of the house moving. It’s almost as interesting as a barn raising.

      1. Tom in ky

        Greetings Al,

        Thank you for mentioning the museum, I was not aware it existed. I hope to visit the museum soon.

        1. Al in Ky

          Tom (and all AA readers) — I would encourage you to go to the Illinois Amish Museum and Heritage Center Facebook. It will give you some good information about the status of the center. It also has lots of good pictures of the house moving. It seems like the museum is still in the fundraising stage and I am not certain how soon it will be open. It certainly will be a good asset to the Arthur area to help visitors/tourists learn more about Amish faith and life.

    3. Marcus Yoder

      Mose Yoder home

      The Mose Yoder home belonged to my Great Great Grandfather.
      Marcus Yoder

    4. Harriet

      Mose Yoder Home and some questions

      Really interesting article, Erik. If you don’t mind, I have some questions for Rebecca, Mark or anyone else. I read in an August Budget article about the teachers going to teacher’s meetings. It appeared to me that they traveled some distance. What are the meetings for? What do they do at the meetings? Where do they stay? Is this for Amish teachers, Mennonite teachers, Amish-Mennonite teachers or all of them. If it is for all, do they meet together? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!!

      1. Terry from Wisc

        School meetings

        I’m glad you asked about them as I have read about those school meetings in the Budget. It will be interesting to learn what they are about.

      2. Mark -- Holmes Co.

        I’ll see if I can get an answer for you… There are several large teachers’ meetings and they are arranged by geographical distance. The Amish magazine “Blackboard Bulletin” puts in notices of the location, date, time, and contact information. These are for Amish teachers, but here in our area some of the Old Order Mennonite teachers from Shiloh and Bainbridge attend also. I don’t recall ever seeing Amish-Mennonite or non Old Order Mennonites at any of these meetings.

        Many people will attend just for the day, but if it happens to be a two-day meeting or the ones attending come a great distance, they might contact the teachers’ committee and make arrangements to stay with local folks overnight. Typically the teachers’ committee will have a list of local families who are willing to host overnight guests and because teachers enjoy getting together with other teachers from other communities, most people attending might already have teacher-friends in the host community and may have made their own arrangements.

        The meeting is mainly to help encourage and prepare everyone for the upcoming school term. Some topics (or presentations) are geared more towards the beginning teachers, others towards all teachers, some towards the parents, and some towards schoolboard members. There is a lunch-break and usually a question & answer session. People submit their written questions earlier in the day, and a panel discusses them amongst themselves, and later in the day presents answers and opinions. It’s a day to look forward to and enjoy! Not only do teachers get encouragement, advice, and exchange ideas, there are often book vendors there, art-idea exchanges, and a chance to visit with other teachers.

        I hope this answers your questions.

        1. Harriet


          Thanks, Mark. This sounds a lot like the Teacher’s Meetings I used to attend. I figured that was the case, but what stumped me was my belief that each Amish school was completely autonomous.

          1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

            You are welcome, Harriet. Even though the schools are independent, the teachers enjoy and benefit from getting together. In this community the monthly teachers’ meetings find every different group of Amish except the Swartzentrubers attending. The big meetings bring a wide variety of teachers together.

            Besides the big teachers’ meetings which cover part or all of a state and bring hundreds of people together, there are teachers’ classes, beginners’ classes, special ed. meetings, and more informal gatherings throughout the year.

            1. Harriet

              Ok, Mark, I’ll ask…why not the Swartzentrubers?

              1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

                A good question, Harriet. They’d certainly be welcome, so not attending is a decision on their part. They tend to stick to themselves and avoid that kind of thing. I suppose they don’t want their teachers influenced by others, but that’s guesswork on my part. Some of their teachers will attend the more informal gatherings, but they avoid the structured larger meetings.

        2. Terry from Wisc

          Denke Mark

          Due to having Amish friends all my life I’ve had many a conversation about teachers and preachers both good and not so good, just as it is in the English world. It takes a special person to take on the task at hand, and when you’re a newby, good preparation is a must.
          One would be able feel the buzz in the crowd after a teachers meeting with excited teachers looking for tricks of the trade to use on their own scholars!

          We’ll save the preacher questions for next time! 🙂

          Standing on His promises †

          1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

            You’re right, Terry, you can feel the enthusiasm in the crowd after such a meeting.

    5. M.H. G

      Amish Horsepower

      Awesome.. Photo-Video

      Thanks for mentioning about the Amish Museum, a great tip…
      Also, the Bulk horse power moving the oldest Amish home was great..

      Enjoyed THE fantastic video on – Manpower ingenuity too…

    6. Alice Mary

      So good to hear!

      I am really happy to hear about the Amish museum in the Arthur area of my home state. On our “whirlwind tour” of the area one Sat. about 12-15 years ago, we never got around to the Rockome Gardens & ran in and out of the museum. I’m so happy that the museum artifacts & other Rockome Gardens items will get a proper home!

      I’m even going to suggest my local community college (I’ve been on 3 Amish bus trips through the college) add the museum & general Arthur area to their Amish trip schedule in the next year or two.

      An aside—I’d also recommend the “Broom Corn Festival” in nearby Arcola—usually in early Sept. If nothing else, you get to see how brooms are handmade (real corn brooms) in what is touted as the “Broom Corn Capital” of the world (or at least, the U.S.). You can buy them, too. (The town is also where Raggedy Ann and Andy were “born”, but that museum moved out several years ago.)

      Alice Mary

    7. Adam

      Erik, is your email listed on the contact info still correct?

    8. Janelle

      Who can I talk to in order to see about getting a double wide 28×60 manufacturer home moved? I was told the amish could help me and I’d love to get a quote. Thanks