Southern Amish

Kentucky amish

photo:  Scroonch

From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, through Ohio and Indiana and on out to other long-established settlements in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, we tend to associate the Amish with the nation’s middle latitudes.  Since their earliest years in America, the Amish have gravitated to the cooler climes of these corn and dairy regions.  However, the Amish have also had a long history of attempting to settle America’s southern states–sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.

In the early 1900s, Amish groups made numerous attempts to settle in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and other southern locales.  During this same period, four separate communities existed in Texas, three in Virginia, and some adventurous Amish even made a go of it in North Carolina’s Dismal Swamp.  And in the mid-1800s, an atypical Amish community existed in New Orleans.

Today, we find the heaviest ‘southern Amish’ presence in Kentucky, with around 60 church districts.  If we count the southern third of Missouri as belonging to Dixie, as many locals do, that would add significant settlements near Springfield and smaller ones scattered throughout the region’s rural counties.

Heading further east and south, Tenessee clocks in at nearly a dozen church districts, according to the Young Center’s Amish Studies site.  Virginia is home to a handful of one-district settlements.  North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida all contain a single district today–in North Carolina, a New Order community, and in Florida, the unique Pinecraft settlement.

Pinecraft florida amish

photo: Becky Mabry

A couple of Amish America readers share some local knowledge on two of these settlements.  William says the community near his home in Mississippi, which uses steel-wheeled carriages and avoids propane and gas lights, is of the Swartzentruber affiliation.

According to a local newspaper article, the approximately two dozen families originated from Tennessee, and came in search of affordable farmland.  A landowner made an attractive offer, and the original group moved in during an ice storm in the mid-90’s.  William says that there are a few furniture businesses, but that many of the men are involved in the local lumber industry.
Amish kentucky

photo: Dave and Lolo

Texas seems an odd spot for the Amish.  Yet a small group is making a go of it in the southern part of the state.  Reader OldKat recently paid a visit.  Conditions in the area sound pretty rough, especially when stacked up against, say, the lush hills of the Garden Spot, aka Lancaster County.

OldKat says that the community inhabits a flat, nearly treeless plain.  The area can experience both drought and tropical storm rainfall.  The Amish rely on drip tape irrigation to water crops and produce.

Despite the harsh surroundings, he says that the Amish are set on expansion, making plans to purchase more land.  An entrepreneurial spirit exists in this community, with most of the dozen or so households operating some sort of home business, including beekeeping, produce farming, and horse training.  The community speaks what they refer to as ‘Swabbish’ or ‘Swiss’.

They’ve also got what sounds like a bustling combination general store, tack and carriage shop.  They sell produce, shoe some of the area’s many horses, and makes buggies for non-Amish as well.

OldKat shares that these buggies even come in non-standard colors, though you’d best pay heed when ordering one in an unusual hue.

Apparently they’ll make it, but as OldKat relates with a wink, the uglier the colors you choose, the bigger the deposit they require.  And the Amish who run the place have a sense of humor.  A recent request for an orange-and-white contraption supposedly required special conditions.  “Better make that paid in full, right up front!  Couldn’t sell a surrey painted up like that if we had to,” said one of the men.  Apparently these Amish are neither Texas Longhorn fans nor followers of Sam Houston State, as OldKat found out.

Sources:  Raber’s Almanac 2008 edition, Amish Studies website of the Young Center at Elizabethtown College, and David Luthy’s The Amish in America: Settlements that Failed 1840-1960.  And thanks to William and OldKat!

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    1. Robert Gschwind

      Thank you! That was it. I printed it and bookmarked it. I appreciate your time and trouble. I have been studying the Amish for over five years. I have most of the books tou list (if not all of them), plus your excellent book on Amish business.

      I live in NC and also spend a lot of Time in Wellman, Iowa. It is just five miles from Kalona, Iowa. I have also read quite a bit about Amana. I I made at least ten visits there and can highly reccommend the food at the Brick Haus. It is served family style.

      There are also a number of Amish families around the Kalona area that do dinners in their homes for tourists. You would have to ask around about it. The place to ask would be at the Springtown Grocery or the Scratch and Dent store. Both are Amish run. Springtown sells bulk foods and fresh produce.

      When I am out there the next time I am going to check into the church house. Thanks again for your help. I am always learning something new about the Amish.

      1. Oliver Raendchen

        your family name

        at least your familyname reminds me of the region you mentioned between Germany and Swizzerland…

    2. Robert, glad it was a help and nice to hear from a fellow NC native. Kalona is an interesting community and interesting to hear about the dinners. I lucked into a dinner in someone’s home in Kalona once thanks to locking my keys into my car. Not the standard way to do it but a good way to pass the time while waiting for a rescue!

    3. Robert Gschwind

      Well, can’t say that I am a native, but might as well be. Between service in the Marine Corps and retiring outside of Cherry Point, we have been here 38 years.

      I was born and raised in Ohio, in Maple Heights, which is between Cleveland and Akron. I used to spen a lot of time in Geauga County and Holmes County (Millersburg and Wooster). I have been exposed to the Amish most of my life, but like most people did not understand that Amish is not a religion, but a way of life. Big difference. My family on my dad’s side came from the area of Germany and the Swiss border where there was a strong anabaptist prescence for some time. I would not be surprised if we had some anabapist blood there somewhere.

      1. Oliver Raendchen

        way of life

        this was indeed the core statement.
        I am doing studies in ways of life in Asia professionally, as an anthropologist, and you are right in this assumption.
        Their religion is a part of their lifestyle also…
        though single parts of a lifestyle could change by the time, but not the general or overall feeling of the culture.
        I am writing from Germany.

    4. Varsha Phillips

      I would like to unsubscribe from the comments.

    5. Varsha, there should be a button you can click on the email you get to do that–check near the bottom I believe.

    6. Robert interesting to hear about your roots and sorry I’m slow getting back to you. The ‘religion-vs.-way-of-life’ discussion is one that not all Amish can agree on, and an interesting question. I think if most analyzed it the conclusion would be Christianity is of course the religion and Amish the culture or way of life.

    7. Robert Gschwind

      I believe you are correct Erick.

    8. Rodney

      Hey Erik do you know anything on the amish that live in Delano Tennessee. i have ben by here a few weeks ago but didnt stop on count of rain. im planning on going back in a few weeks. and im enjoying this sight

    9. Robert

      I came across your site by accident and found it somewhat interesting. I am considered Beachy Amish.
      To jump in on your conversation here…..We are Christians, although we are Anabaptists, and under that “category” we are Beachy Amish. Or one could be Anabaptist, and under that they could be Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, Holdeman, and I believe the German Baptists and Dunkerds also fall under that. Its kind of like you are a protestant and under that category you are either Baptists, Methodist, etc… So Amish is really part of the religion, not neccesarily the way of life. You couldn’t be a Baptist and be considered Amish just because you choose to live that life style. You would have to join the Amish church to be Amish. Does that make sense? Not quite everything in our circles make sense to some people….even our own people. LOL

    10. Pingback: Amish in Texas « Vannetta Chapman's Blog
    11. Hey Rodney, on Delano, TN, I don’t believe I do. But do you know what county that is in? I might be able to tell you something more then.

    12. Is it right to say "Amish religion"?

      hey Robert, thanks for jumping in here with some good points. I should have elaborated a bit more above. I had in mind some comments from an Amishman that seemed to make a lot of sense. Thinking about it, the 2 are really intertwined. Just some scattered thoughts: We can talk about “Amish Christianity” but is there an “Amish religion”? Well, that’s probably not incorrect to say. Religion informs many/most Amish cultural practices.

      I find this gets interesting when you talk to Amish about business promotion, however. Is putting a buggy on a product, or calling it Amish okay, or is it “exploiting” one’s religion?

    13. Rodney

      hey Erik, im not sure what county Delano is in. it is between Benton and Etowah Tnn. on hwy. 411. we are going back up there this comeing weekend with our RV. and im going to stop by there Friday and Saterday. ill sure let you know how it comes out. i have some cood friends that live by them that i go kayaking with and they said that it was a large group. or if i can get your e-mail i could give you a call while im there. thinks Rodney

    14. Hi Rodney, I’m still not sure about that area. I wish I could tell you more, but I’d be glad to hear how your trip went. There is the large Ethridge settlement, and a few much smaller communities, but it doesn’t look like that area, at least from what I can tell. Could it be another Plain group?

    15. Robert

      YOU WROTE “I find this gets interesting when you talk to Amish about business promotion, however. Is putting a buggy on a product, or calling it Amish okay, or is it “exploiting” one’s religion?”
      That is interesting…..I own a store in Amish Country (oops) but I hesitate putting the Amish label on it because it somewhat does exploit the religion. And its not very often that you see a products endorsed as Catholic made, or Baptist made etc… The Amish name has quality attached to it but I’ve seen some Amish craftsmanship and eaten some Amish cooking that I would not necessarily call it good quality, or think of it as good old fashioned cooking. But the majority of the Amish food and work done by Amish is of good quality.
      I know of someone that had a business that makes and sells different sauces and spreads and it has a buggy on the label and even has the Amish word in the name of her product, however she is the furthest thing from amish and never has been or has any amish roots. LOL

    16. Robert interesting to hear, I got a number of reactions from people when I was researching my book on the point of using “Amish” to promote products. Most felt it was a religion, but the ones that were more open to promoting “amishness” tended to describe it as their culture.

    17. Rodney

      hey thinks Erik. the Delano community is on the east side of Tennessee just above Chattanooga. but i will let you know how it go,s.

    18. Rodney

      Hey Erik i stoped by the Delano community in Tnn. they are old order Mennonites. and a lot of them to. it was a grate trip. i got out and helped get up hay by horse and wagon. I think i like my 4640 John Deere tractor even better now to do hay with.
      i stayed there with one family all day saterday and even got to milk a cow by hand and the kids got a rely big laugh about that. they have a big produce market, a harness shop, buggy maker, animal sale barn, and they make storage buldings. there is more but i didnt get to go everywhere. there Church was grate this morning. they preach out of the 1611 king james bible, and they sing from the Still Waters dong book. it is in a church bulding and its in english. i loved it so much. i just left and at the RV. headed home. id like to go visit ethrige Tnn. this next weekend—tell me more on ethrige Tnn. thinks Rodney

    19. Sounds great Rodney–I wondered if they might not be Old Order Mennonites.

      As for the Ethridge Amish, try this post:

    20. Rodney

      Hey Erik thinks for letting me know what sight to look up for the Ethridge Amish. i went up there this last thursday and stayed tell last night. i got to visit 13 amish homes at there home stores. i got to talking to one family there and ended up spending a night with them–that was so grate. Friday evening i went to 3 other places and left saterday morning and im going back in 2 weeks to get a buggy i baught. i loved it much. Rodney

    21. Lana Sosenka

      Is there an Amish commumity in Texas. I have heard Stephenville and Beeville but where are in location to these towns.
      Thank you,
      Lana J. Sosenka

    22. Rodney

      Lana, i Read the Budget newspaper for the Amish amd Minnonite communities and there listings are the 2 you listed and also Grandview and Lott Texas

    23. Rodney

      The Budget is a great paper to get. It’s $42.00 a year and it comes every week. Their phone number is {330}853-4634

    24. Pingback: Friday brain dump: Lone Star Amish, getting hitched, and an Illinois buggy “brew-thru”
    25. The Freeman Family Of Halifax Va

      We are leasing our farm if any of the Amish Community would like to lease please contact

    26. The Freeman Family Of Halifax Va

      We are leasing our farm if any of the Amish Community would like to lease please contact us.

    27. Eddy A. Flick

      If Rodney sees this I’d like to email you privately or you can just email me

    28. Karen Duplantis


      I live in the south. I am wondering if there are any Amish communites in the south that allow outsiders to come a visit?

    29. Robert

      If you are looking for a Amish settlement in the south, you can check out this website
      This site is a Beachy Amish website. We drive cars and use more modern technology than the mainstream Amish. But if you check out this site, there is a tab where you can locate a church. This might give you a place to start.

    30. Thanks Bob, and Karen, for horse and buggy communities, here are some places that might be of interest:

      The Mississippi settlement is small, but the KY and TN communities are fairly large and have tourist industries.

    31. I have heard there are Amish in Stratton Texas, has anyone heard of this community?

    32. Jessica M.

      Was doing a Google search earlier for the Beeville Amish and found an interesting website about two Amish brothers from that community who have left (or were excommunicated, rather) the Amish for reasons of faith. These two brothers are so strong. I can’t imagine leaving behind family like that… how hard it must be. I know their faith is going to be multiplied and they will be blessed immensely for their courage. Here is the link to the page and there is a video on there about 10 mins. long that I also highly recommend.

    33. ruffice

      trying to find any amish settlements around middle indiana

      i have found a few amish familys outside of spencer indiana wondering if there were any others in that area. i like buying in large quanitys of produce.and would like to know where i can find bulk herbs and spices in bulk. would welcome any help if anyone knows. contact me via e mail at

    34. Rodney

      Karen, there is a big mennonite group in Delano Tennessee of 200. they have a rely big farmers market and animal sale barn. its a rely good place to go visit. Im in Alabama but i go up every 3 weeks. its just above Chattanooga tennessee on 411 north from there

    35. Rodney

      Erik can you e-mail me at and let me know how i can contac you and let you know about some amish and mennonite places i know and also about Delano. thinks Rodney

    36. connie


      i have look at your amish building photo’s (real nice) could you give me some info on how i can get started on building a home(with little money) i just don’t know where to start. “HELP” sincerly connie

    37. erik beale

      Amish communities

      Dear Sirs:
      I’d like to ask FOR REAL are there or have there ever been
      Amish Communities in Mexico or central or south america?
      Thank You

    38. Amish in Mexico and Latin America

      Hi Erik,

      Yes, there have, for real, been Amish in the places you mention, for instance Mexico in the 1920s and Honduras in the 1960s-70s. These are typically very small and short-lived communities, and it’s not common for Amish to try to start such settlements. The only country outside the US in which Amish have an established presence is Canada.

    39. Rodney

      hello to everyone. anyone who likes to look at amish photos, you can look up and click in the word amish at the upper right page and there is over a 100 photos. thought i would share this

    40. Anna

      I’m really intrested in the Amish way of life. I feel like something is missin in my life here. Is there any way that I could test the waters so to speak.

    41. Jonelle

      I love and respect everything about the Amish. I’m living in Georgia now and it would be a grate pleasure to visit an Amish settlement if there is any in my area.

    42. Jonelle

      Hi Erik

      Do you know of any Amish settlement in Georgia?

    43. Wow. I had been wondering about this. Thanks for the insight.

    44. LeKeicha Douglas

      Any amish communities in louisiana???

      Looking for the nearest or currently residing in louisiana communities… Please and thank you in advance..