Orange County, Indiana Amish reader photos

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Cindy Seigle (you can find Cindy on Flickr) has shared some interesting photos of a conservative Amish settlement in southern Indiana.

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In An Amish Patchwork, Meyers and Nolt explain that Orange County is home to two distinct Amish communities.

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The newer of the two groups is comprised of ultraconservative Swartzentruber-affiliated Amish from New York and Ohio who began settling in the area in 1994.

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The older of the two groups, which originated in other settlements in Indiana and Pennsylvania and is known as the Paoli group, is in many respects highly conservative as well.

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Meyers and Nolt explain that both groups observe similar technological restrictions–very plain dress, buggies without storm fronts or lights, and very restricted use of ‘Amish taxi’ providers, for example.

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But the groups are not identical, and in fact are unaffiliated with one another.  The authors explain the key difference:

‘Yet in many ways unlike their tradition-minded Swartzentruber neighbors, the Paoli group has staunchly opposed older customs surrounding traditional courtship practices or adult smoking habits.’

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‘The Paoli settlement is notable for this combination of intentional traditionalism and intentional reformism.  Their refusal to compromise on issues they deem important has led them to not affiliate with any other Amish settlements in the state.’

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I am not sure which community Cindy’s photos are from.

As the authors describe the two settlements as being adjacent to one another, the photos may very well be from both communities.

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Read more on Indiana Amish, or visit the Indiana Amish furniture guide.

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    16 Comments

    1. SophiaAM

      Beautiful photo’s.

    2. Thank you for using my photos. I’m sure my pics are a mixture of both communities. I didn’t realize there is two different communities here. I remember when the newer ones moved in and I know which ones have been around for years and years. Some of these pics may have been taken in Washington County, Indiana also. The ones in Washington County are the ones who have been around since I was a kid. They are quite dangerous at night, as they refuse to use slow moving vehicle signs and travel with one tiny lamp that you can’t see until you’re almost upon them. They sometimes have reflective tape in strips on the back of the buggy, but not all the time.

      SophiaAM, thank you for looking at the photos. I take them as opportunity lets me and will continue to do so.

    3. Matthew

      Cindy, I have enjoyed viewing your photos in the past on flickr – it was nice to see them again here. Washington/Orange Countes are one of my favorite areas in the state. There are actually three Plain communities in Washington County as well. There are the Swiss Amish on the east side south of Old 56. Then there are the New Order Amish by West Washington School Road (Rosebud area). Finally, there is, somewhere, a small settlement of Old Order Mennonites, but I’ve yet to locate them! There is also the the Holdeman Mennonites in the West Washington area, but they of course, are not horse and buggy.

      Erik, thanks for the information on the two different groups in Orange County. I had not realized that, since, as you note, both groups are so similar.

    4. Reid Hochstedler

      While I always enjoy hearing about the Indiana Amish, it always seems to be Amish from the Elkhart County and southern Indiana areas. I would love to see entries about Amish from other parts of the state. The Amish are dispersed throughout Indiana, I believe there are communities in Kosciusko, Howard, Miami, Whitley and Steuben counties. Thanks again for all your hard work.

      Reid

    5. Matthew, thanks for looking at my Flickr pics and the ones here also. I didn’t realize there were that many communities in Washington County. That’s where my aunt lived and where I used to play with the Amish children. I was welcomed into their home and we had a grand time.

      Reid, the Amish in northern Indiana work in factories and are a lot more modern than those down here in the south.

      Erik, thanks for making all this information available. I’ve learned a lot from you and will learn more as I get through the various catagories on the left. Thank you, thank you!!!

    6. SophiaAM, Matthew, Reid, Cindy, wonderful to hear that you have enjoyed the post…thanks again to Cindy for making the photos available, hope everyone will check out the rest on her Flickr site. If she doesn’t mind I might put a few more up here in future as well.

    7. melissa

      I am in paoli and when my relationship broke up just two weeks after moving here it was a Paoli amish family that took myself and my daughter in. They have been “my family” for over a year now. They are the ones I can count on and vice versa. I have been allowed inside their way of life and have so many photos that make me smile when I look upon them and remember that moment in our lives. I am truly blessed to have this family as my own. No matter what when or where they are always there for my daughter and I. I have been their taxi, their connection to family and friends via phone or internet. It has just been great having them in my heart.
      Thanks for your pics. I will always share my everyday pics but dont share the ones of them personally as it is a respect issue.

    8. Ken

      Hello, I am familiar with the Davis county Amish. I do have a question about the Amish in Paoli, Indiana:::: when did the community start and do they affiliate with the main body of Old Order Amish…..if not, do they have sister communitys elsewhere??? Thanks

    9. Tina Parks

      My aunt had a farm years ago in Hardinsburg that is now a winery. When I visit (I now live in Florida) the area, I love to drive the back roads. I remember a small store that had a huge cheese wheel and would like to find it, or similar old grocery stores in the area this week when I visit. I have a friend traveling with me that I would love to show this all to!

      1. lisa

        The store you’re looking for has to be Brewers in Borden. They were known for the huge cheese wheel. I used to go there when I was a kid.

    10. JIM VALARTA

      I have a I believe to be 100 yr Old Amish Buggy I baut in 1957 when I was attending Goshen College. My roommate lived in Middlebury whose gradmother passed away that year and had lots of buggies. the one i baut was all wood no canvas so no one wanted it and i got it.
      any one interested please email me.
      Jim Vallarta
      jimvallarta@comcast.net

    11. Ian

      Great website Eric, and beautiful photos Cindy. I live near Orange county, and enjoy visiting the Amish areas around Orangeville/Orleans with my wife and our new son. The fact that there are two distinct communities here is fascinating to learn; I had no idea! I will certainly be more alert to the presence or absence of orange triangles on buggies from now on. It seems to me that the character of many communities (such as Orange county) will gradually change as the Amish assume an increasing share of the population. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this Eric. It would sure be interesting to see some data on the Amish as a percentage of Orange county’s population over time, and to see specific population statistics comparing the Amish and the ‘English’ communities here, though the general trend is easy to guess. Can we project an ever-increasing patchwork of Amish majorities in various rural counties in the decades to come? And how might the character of Amish customs change as they assume a more dominant role in specific rural regions and communities? Will practices relax and drift toward greater cultural assimilation absent the strengthening ‘dissonance’ of being a marginal, outside group? Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    12. Ian

      Follow up: I’m reading a book called Plain Diversity, Amish Cultures & Identities (Johns Hopkins Press). In it (pages 15-16), the authors identify the Amish communities to the South-East of Paoli as the older settlement, founded in 1957, while the settlement around Orleans/Orangeville is the more recent, founded in 1994. So if any of Cindy’s photos were taken north of Paoli, we would likely be looking at the Swartzentruber settlement.

      1. Mike Lucas

        SE of Paoli Amish.

        It’s my understanding the first Amishman in Orange Co., IN was Simon Gingerich. I’m acquainted with several of his descendants. They are Old Order Amish and among the most conservative of the faith. Although they don’t interact with other Indiana Amish settlements they do interact with those in Clark, MO, Kenton, OH as well as settlements in Wisconsin and Michigan. Wonderful people. I have the highest respect for them.

    13. Amish population a majority in some counties?

      Ian, thanks much and great comments. That is a good book and a good point. If I recall the original 1957 settlement is very conservative as well. You raise some great issues which I wish i had more time to address and probably ought to in a full post sometime. Depending on teh county and local factors in certain areas Amish ought to take a more and more dominant share of the population–the sheer disparity in growth rate probably being the greatest factor. Already in Holmes County, OH, Amish are half the total county pop (compared to Lancaster, where they are around 7-8% only). It’s also the case in some other rural counties where Amish make up a large segment of the population. It is interesting to imagine. I had fun with this in one population post a couple years back: https://amishamerica.com/2008/04/a-thought-exper.html

      Here are some related posts as well if you are interested: https://amishamerica.com/tag/amish-population-growth

    14. Karol

      Sad

      Did you know that the amish dislike their photos being taken and its against their beliefs? Sad someone would go against their beliefs!