Pennsylvania Amish edge out Ohio in latest Amish population figures

Just got word the new Amish population stats are up on the Young Center Amish Studies web site.

The big shocker is Pennsylvania coming in ahead of the Ohio Amish, and Lancaster County a hair ahead of Holmes County (by 25 people, which means that if Holmes County delivers more babies this week, they could retake the lead!) With the numbers at around 29,000 each, they could basically be considered the same size.

However, Holmes County has traditionally been considered significantly larger than Lancaster in previous Amish population estimates.

Amish wagon in Wayne County, Ohio
Does Ohio have a response?

Why the change? Taking into account differences in average church district sizes.  The authors of the study used settlement-specific church district sizes to figure the averages this year.  Previously, the average of 135 Amish per district had been applied to all settlements nationwide.

So even though Holmes County has 227 districts to Lancaster’s 179, the average church membership of 165 in Lancaster vs. 130 in Holmes puts Lancaster over the top.  It’s nice that the Young Center used the more specific numbers, as district averages can vary from settlement to settlement.

The other neat bit of news is that Amish have added a new state to the tally–South Dakota.

A group of six families settling in the southeastern part of the state means that at present Amish live in 28 states and the province of Ontario.

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    1. Kim

      I have to say I was surprised by the numbers for Nebraska. (My home state) The last I heard there were just a couple families. Do you know when this boom happened?

    2. Kim I don’t have specific information, but to qualify as a settlement, usually it takes only a few families, three for example. There are only 2 districts in Nebraska, and YC has used the low number of 75 members for each, which may be the standard number they’ve applied to new districts/settlements (seeing as they use that # for other states with small populations).

      1. Sharon

        Amish genealogy

        I have family name NEFF in Sugarcreek Ohio coming from Somerset PA. Also SCHROCK and DOMER. A gg grandfather (NEFF) was a dunkard preacher. Are these family members Amish? If so how can I find out more info for my family genealogy?

        1. Porky Jim

          Geneo-logical Information

          You can get a lot of family tree information at the Amish library in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Those people are very helpful.

    3. Kim

      I’ve noticed that many Amish are moving out of Cattaraugus & Chautauqua counties. Many farms for sale or just standing empty in both counties. I wonder where everyone is going?

    4. Kim that is interesting, Karen Johnson-Weiner has a great new book on the New York Amish and I will plan to ask her about that.

    5. Bill

      Any idea as to how many districts go unreported? I know there are Amish located between the Tionesta area and Cook Forest in W. PA that do not show up in the minister’s list in Raber’s Almanac. Are they reported from another source or do they go unrecorded? I would guess there are districts elsewhere that go unreported also.

    6. Catching up on your blog tonight, Erik! Always enjoy it. ~Suzanne

    7. DennisP

      I believe the report said there were only about 5000 Amish a little over a century ago. I think the report also said only about 100 people had converted to being Amish. My wife and I both wondered about the degree of in-breeding among the contemporary Amish. Would that lead to higher incidence of certain kinds of illnesses?

    8. Hi Bill, back from my hiatus here–I am not sure how many go unreported, but do now the Young Center uses a variety of sources, including Raber’s,David Luthy’s Guide, Die Botschaft, and local informants. There are probably a few, but they are pretty thorough.

    9. Thanks for checking in Suzanne! Am hard at work on some additions to the site, and because of that the email subscription delivery has been on the fritz. Hope to have that working again soon.

    10. Founder effect and genetic disease among Amish

      Dennis, that is correct that there were about 5K Amish circa 1900. I think 100 might be the 20th-century converts but not sure off top of my head. And yes there is a founder effect which leads to higher incidence of certain genetic disorders in some Amish communities. Distant cousins may marry.

      This issue can affect smaller communities in that the young folk have to look further from home for marriage partners, and can even threaten the survival of some smaller communities if there are not enough youth.

    11. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      My local paper up here in Canada showed an Old Order person, or couple, in a horse and carriage riding in a parking lot in front of a Wal-Mart Super Centre. The description beneath the picture didn’t say where they were, and the article didn’t touch on the faith, but was about Wal-Mart’s fiances or something. I liked seeing the picture though.

    12. SHOM, on Wal-Mart, check out this post, pic #2:

    13. Pingback: amish in ohio? - (OH) - City-Data Forum
    14. Porky Jim


      I was thinking of joining the amish persuasion, but what are their views on musical instruments? I have several guitars.