The Only Amish Community In Texas (21 Photos)
Did you know there are Amish in Texas?
Since the late 1990s, a community has existed near Beeville in Bee County. This is about a 2-hour drive from the Mexican border.
As you can see in these photos, the climate and landscape here are rather different from what Midwestern Amish are accustomed to.
This small community has some businesses and agriculture (including fig and citrus trees), but it’s not your typical Amish dairyland. Produce is grown with the help of irrigation. There is honey from beekeeping.
Author Kelly Irvin has a collection of 21 photos of the Bee County settlement up on her Pinterest page. I’ve shared a few here; the top photo is by Bob Rosier from a previous photo post.
The Bee County community is known for its annual school benefit auction (see photos from the 2015 edition).
The best-known business is probably Borntrager’s Combination Shop (pictured in the photo below; also see Kevin Williams’ video here), run by the settlement’s bishop.
Amish have tried to settle in Texas multiple times since the early 1900s.
But as of today, Bee County is the only place you’ll find a permanent Amish presence in the Lone Star State. You can read more on this community here.
Amish in Texas
Amish tried to settle in Texas long before that. There were some in the early-to-mid-1980s, at least. They were from Indiana and were trying to establish a settlement in the northeastern corner of the state. It only lasted a few years.
By the way, when I tried clicking the link to this article from my email, it just got hung up and wouldn’t finish getting here. I had to come here manually. Maybe the error was on my end but just thought I’d let you know.
Earlier Texas Amish Settlements
You’re right JM, the first community in Texas was actually way back in 1909. From our Texas Amish page:
But the first bona fide settlement did not arise until 1909, near the town of Plainview in Hale County.
Amish historian David Luthy informs us that this area was already home to an Old Mennonite congregation. Five Amish families, from Daviess County, Indiana and Ford County, Kansas, settled the region. However, drought and the lack of ministry led to this settlement’s disbandment just five years after its founding (The Amish in America: Settlements That Failed 1840-1960, pp 456-8).
There was something like a migrant Amish community in the 80s outside Fort Worth, maybe that’s the one you are referring to? Here’s the relevant excerpt:
As for more recent times, by the late 1980s Amish had begun living in the area of Stephenville in Erath County. The unusual Stephenville community consisted primarily of “migrant” Amish that worked on local dairy farms.
An article from the time notes a community roughly 20 families in size, where many of the Amish have phones and “live in small houses or mobile homes with electricity”, typically provided by their English employers(“Stephenville Journal; Faraway Amish Try to Keep Faith”, Peter Applebome, New York Times, August 25, 1987).
Thanks for letting me know about that email click through challenge, I haven’t heard it from others so might have been a local issue, but if I do I’ll look further into it.
Stumbled across this post just now, missed it at the time it was current. My wife and I actually lived in Plainview, Texas when we first got married. I was with a farm publication and we really enjoyed that part of the state.
I will say, in the days before massive pumps could bring water up from the underground Ogallala Reservoir (which allowed for massive irrigated farming operations), I could see how it would have been a pretty tough place for a farmer to eke out a living.
Oops, I mis-read and thought it said “early 1990s,” not “early 1900s.” That’s what I get for reading before I’ve had all my coffee! 😉
Thanks for the reply, Erik. No, it was not the Stephensville community. It was in a tiny town called DeKalb, in Bowie County. I don’t know when they arrived. I was just a toddler. I think they left by the end of the 1980s. They definitely did not have phones or electricity. They didn’t even have plumbing. They used outhouses. They were Old Order Amish, and quite poor. But I think their poverty was because they were new there and so small and isolated. Like one of your articles says, that tends to be the case with such communities. They weren’t so poor back home in Indiana; it was a rough adjustment for them. And they weren’t able to make it, economically.
Alright, I think I finally figured it out. It seems that the Amish I knew in the mid-80s were only one family, but they had at least one relative in the Stephensville settlement. This family was basically a guinea pig to see how well they could do; if they succeeded, more would join them from their home community in Indiana. But they did not succeed. The climate was not conducive to farming, and without local support, living so far from things, it was just too hard. They ended up leaving after just a couple years. I guess that’s why nobody’s written about them! But now you, at least, know. 🙂
Interesting JM, thanks for swinging back to share this. I enjoy these histories even if they are of communities that ultimately did not last. If you read accounts of failed communities, climate affecting farming is often a cause of struggle. If you like these stories of past Amish settlements, there is a fascinating book I can recommend called The Amish in America: Settlements That Failed 1840-1960 which tells in rather great detail the story of dozens of failed Amish settlements, some in places you wouldn’t expect.
You are very welcome, Erik. Thank you for the reading suggestion!
I very interested in the amish and mennonite faith and people I live in central texas is there a community near me
There are no Old Order Amish in central Texas, but there are probably some sort of Mennonite communities or perhaps Beachy Amish near you. Here’s a site that might help: http://www.beachyam.org/churches/tx.htm
Mennonites in Hunt County Texas
I wanted to help with this, I love history. So there are a group of Mennonites living near Commerce in Hunt County. It’s about an hour and a half away from Dallas. I don’t have any other information on it just that. When I worked for Goodwill they often came for goods. I assume they have a more conservative standard for the usage of modern items such as vehicles cellular phones. They speak dutch maybe. They wear clothes from Goodwill but maintain the same dress code. They don’t have to sew all their clothes. They can be purchased, lol. I hope that’s worded right. I hope this is useful.
Hi – This community is right in the crosshairs of Hurricane Harvey and the expected torrential flooding rains, isn’t it? Any idea what will happen (or has happened) to them?
How are the Beeville Amish doing during Hurricane Harvey?
Adair sorry your comment landed in spam for some reason so I had to fish it out – on your question, I did hear from one TX reader via email over the weekend that it looked like that community “dodged a bullet, at least wind wise”…of course we see now that flooding is doing the biggest harm.
He says the Beeville people live on a flat, low plain, so water would “have a hard time draining off”. I haven’t heard a lot more besides his analysis which is from about 5 days ago.
I do see an article from around the same time, reporting on 1700 residents of Bee and a neighboring county being without power…of course that doesn’t really apply to the Amish residents, does it.
There are Amish people in Grimes County, Texas on FM 2 just west of Highway 6 near the Luther Prison Unit!
Christopher, interesting, I see that’s just a bit north of Houston, is it possible they are volunteers helping with rescue and disaster operations? Or is it possible they are not Old Order Amish but a related group like Beachy Amish or a Mennonite group?
Texas Amish is there an active
Is there an active Amish community in Texas that I could visit December 30, 2018?
This community (Beeville) is still there and is the only Texas community. However don’t expect a whole lot if you go there, as it is quite a small community, though there is at least one store you should be able to visit if it’s during business hours (Borntrager’s Combination Shop mentioned above).
I was recently in Wisconsin and tried some peach pie and raisin nut bread from an Amish bakery. I’m a Type I diabetic and was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not have to inject insulin to cover the carbs in these items. I was told that it was because the Amish food is not processed. It would make a big difference in my health if I could purchase Amish baked food near home. I live in Corpus Christi, not far from Beeville. Do you know if Borntrager’s sells baked goods?
I have heard of an opportunity to seek holistic type of treatments for illness, do you know of this being available anywhere in Texas through the Amish community?
Mennonites in Texas
There are two Mennonite communities in Texas also. Their actual church is located in a small town called Greys Prairie, in Kaufman County. About 45 minutes east of Dallas off 175. My sister is a member there. I can’t remember where their sister church is.
Some of them members own, and run The Pennsylvania Dutch Bakery and Amish Furniture Store on the service roed of 175 BUS e in Kemp.
Anyone know where I can make contact to buy a used 4 passenger (or larger) black family box buggy, or a nice surrey? Also looking for someone who makes single horse shafts and wheels.
Amish and Farm Animals
Be it PA, the mid west or TX, when it comes to using draft horses, usually Belgium or draft mules or any horse, the Amish work them to death, then dmp them at acution and kill pens.
Arleen Rooney is mis-informed!
Please do not believe the mis-guided opinion of Ms. Arleen Rooney above. She is very far from truth. I have dealt with many different Amish people over the last 30 years by having them build me a wagon, sell me horses, custom make me a harness etc. Every single one have been more than fair in pricing, completely honest about every detail whether it be good or bad, extremely friendly and respectful and their horses are the best you can buy in regards to training. I would not by a Belgian from anyone else. By the way Arleen…… it’s BELGIAN.
Thank you for correcting her. I feel her answer and the nature of the reply are incompetent from factual truths. But her opinion is valid, as a human, but it’s an opinion rather than an educated answer. I think an educated answer is what we are looking for here. Your welcome