Multi-Settlement Amish Counties

Joe Donnermeyer of the Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities guest posts today with a look at multi-settlement Amish counties across America.

In March I did a list of 10 Amish “supercounties” – which I defined as having at least five settlements (full or partial) within their borders. Joe expands on that list with this guest post. He actually finds 20 counties that qualify under the above definition.

Why the discrepancy? My list was based on the 2020 Amish Settlement List, of which Joe is one of the compilers. Joe’s list here is based on additional research which includes even examples where there might just be a handful of households in one county (though those counties would not have been listed in the Settlement List descriptions, due to there being so few Amish there). 

In addition to the expanded list, Joe also offers some other interesting population facts regarding Amish county locations below.


Amish by the Numbers

There are 3,134 counties and county equivalents in the United States. Fully, 459 of these governmental subdivisions play host to one or more Amish settlements, either completely or shared with at least one other county. Altogether, nearly 600 Amish communities are now spread out over 31 states. As well, 21 Amish settlements can be found in 13 political subdivisions of four Canadian provinces, plus two localities in the South America countries of Argentina and Bolivia.

Getting back to the U.S, 175 counties play host to at least two Amish communities. Perhaps the most unique of these is Williams County, Ohio, which is not really the location of an Amish settlement, but a few families from the Hamilton, Indiana and the Camden, Michigan communities live across the border in this northwestern most county of Ohio. Looking at it from the point of view of a single settlement, it could be argued that the most unique is the community known as Glenwood City, Wisconsin. Families in this tiny community reside at the intersection of four counties (Barren, Dunn, Polk and St. Croix).

Ashland County, Ohio. Photo: Mike Sparks

Thirty-one counties play host to three Amish settlements, either completely or partially. In another seventeen counties are located all or part of four settlements. And then, there are the counties in which at least five Amish settlements are located. Altogether, there are 20 counties that hold this distinction. Here is the list:

Aroostook, Maine: 5
Branch, Michigan: 6
Hillsdale, Michigan: 6
Montcalm, Michigan: 5
Osceola, Michigan: 6
Todd, Minnesota: 5
Macon, Missouri: 5
St. Lawrence, New York: 6
Ashland, Ohio: 5
Ashtabula, Ohio: 7
Coshocton, Ohio: 6
Guernsey, Ohio: 6
Holmes, Ohio: 5
Knox, Ohio: 8
Crawford, Pennsylvania: 8
Mercer, Pennsylvania: 7
Barron, Wisconsin: 5
Clark, Wisconsin: 5
Taylor, Wisconsin: 6
Vernon, Wisconsin: 5

Readers may be surprised by the inclusion of Holmes County, since it is the second largest Amish settlement, now known as the Greater Holmes County community, which itself spreads out into five other counties. Is there room for any other settlement in Holmes County itself? It seems too crowded already! The answer is that there are four others on the north and west sides of Holmes County that it shares with its neighboring counties. These include: Lakeville – shared with Wayne County; both Brinkhaven/Danville and Glenmont/Brinkaven, shared with Coshocton and Knox Counties; and Loudonville/McKay, shared with Ashland County.

Perhaps the most interesting cluster is a three-county area comprising Ashtabula County, Ohio, and Crawford and Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania. Together, they host a full 20 settlements of Amish, including the larger settlements of Spartansburg, PA and New Wilmington, PA. Ashtabula and Crawford Counties share the community of Conneaut/Pierpont and Crawford and Mercer Counties share the Atlantic settlement, or the total would be 22 settlements instead of 20. Likely, no other three-county combination comes close to a total of 20 settlements.

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    4 Comments

    1. Lucinda

      county equivalent

      What are county equivalents? I know that Louisiana has parishes – are there other administrative subdistricts?

    2. Emogene Eildish

      dogs

      where do I get a Teddy Bear puppy?

    3. David Stear

      How do they get from point A to point B

      I’m somewhat puzzled about how the Amish travel longer distances that a horse and buggy cannot do. I’m fairly sure that the Amish generally do not fly (and I don’t blame them at all if that is the case) although I don’t know how their ordnung is interpreted regarding travel by plane/jet. I do know that in some situations the Amish do travel by train and of course there is the “Amish Taxi”.

      With expansion of the Amish into states where they have had little to no settlement, I am wondering first of all how they find out about disused/available farmland for sale and secondly, if it is one or several states away, how they get there. Are there Amish men who travel ahead of their families to explore possibilities of farmland purchase? I subscribe to American Farmland Trust e-newsletters and it might make sense, with more Amish families looking for farmland, to bring the two groups together. I am not sure how popular the idea is of some of the Amish leaving farming and becoming wage earners/laborers, but my guess is that having to do that rather than farm is something they would do reluctantly.

      1. Right, pretty much just the New Order Amish group permits flying, but that’s only around 3% of all Amish.

        The Amish taxi is quite commonly used especially in the larger and more progressive communities, but not only. In the plainest communities, hiring a driver is not permitted, so they have to rely on horse and buggy and then bus and train for longer distances.

        They’ll do land scouting trips and there is the “Amish grapevine” and correspondence publications like the Budget and Die Botschaft which are widely read and can be one means of communicating about potential land in new places.

        A lot of Amish are not farmers, running their own business (woodworking, construction, manufacturing). In some communities factory work is quite common (RV factories in Northern Indiana).