The 14 “Two-State” Amish Settlements
Last week we saw the release of the 2021 Amish population figures at the Young Center website, showing an estimated Amish population of 361,635 Amish in 608 settlements.
Joe Donnermeyer has dug deep into the settlement data – particularly a separate set of data which he discusses below – and today presents us with a list of Amish communities which cross state borders. In other words, communities having households in two neighboring states.
Joe has identified 14 such communities. If you enjoy the geography of Amish settlements as I do, I imagine you’ll like the following post by Joe.
It can be said that the Amish know no borders. Their history begins in mostly German-speaking regions of Europe, but transitioned completely to Canada and the United States, a process that began nearly three centuries ago.
A county-based estimate of the Amish population in the U.S. was recently completed for the Religious Congregations and Membership Study, conducted by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Like the census of the U.S. population, it is a decennial census, which means it is conducted every ten years.
Since it is a county-based census, I was continuously challenged by Amish settlements whose families are located in more than one county and how to divvy up the population. There were 166 multi-county settlements in my study. Essentially, that meant staring at maps for a great many hours.
As I progressed through my county-based census, I also noticed that there were a number of Amish settlements that straddle state borders. Fourteen, altogether! Some are large communities with only a few families spilling over into another state. Others are more evenly divided. Here is the list.
(1) the Adams-Jay County, Indiana settlement includes about 40 families living in either Mercer County or Van Wert County, Ohio;
(2) the large Elkhart-LaGrange-Noble County, Indiana settlement includes 7 families living in St. Joseph County, Michigan;
(3) less than a handful of families from the Grabill/New Haven, Indiana community of Allen County live in Defiance County, Ohio;
(4&5) Williams County, Ohio, located in the northwest corner of the Buckeye state, is the location for a couple of families from the Camden, Michigan (Hillsdale County) settlement and nearly 20 families from the Hamilton, Indiana (Steuben County) community;
(6) the Lamoni/Davis City settlement in Decatur County, Iowa includes about a dozen households residing in Mercer County, Missouri;
(7) the population of the Mercer/Davis City settlement is split down the middle between Mercer County, MO and Decatur County, IA;
(8) the Seymour settlement in Wayne County, Iowa spills over into Putnam County, Missouri, contributing a “baker’s dozen” families to the “Show Me” state;
(9) the population of the Grange/Cresco settlement on the Minnesota & Iowa border is almost almost equally divided between the two states;
(10) on the east side of Ohio is the community of Conneaut/Pierpont (Ashtabula County) with nearly 30 of the approximately 145 families living in Crawford County, Pennsylvania;
(11) Trumbull County, Ohio is immediately south of Ashtabula County and plays host to a small settlement that goes by the name of Kinsman, and the town of Kinsman in located in the state of Ohio, nearly two-thirds of the families actually live in Mercer County, Pennsylvania;
(12) the largest settlement, the Greater Lancaster County community, includes slightly over a dozen families who reside in Cecil County, Maryland;
(13) the Meyersdale/Springs settlement of Somerset County, Pennsylvania (one of the oldest of all Amish communities) shares about two dozen families with Garrett County, Maryland; and
(14) Sugar Grove is located in the northern Pennsylvania county of Warren, but about 10 families live in Chautauqua County, New York
Joe Donnermeyer is Professor Emeritus at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, and co-editor of the Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities. Read this free online journal and sign up for future issues here.
I am a Ffrom Switzerland and i like visit amish people.
I stay 1 time in Bird —in —Hand but i dont speak with the amish for respect.
I is posible a Suisse amish friendly cumunity you can recommend me ?
Thank you for your time
friendly Swiss Amish
There is a settlement in Switzerland County, Indiana. The bishop, Daniel Girod is friendly and enjoys meeting people.
This was a very interesting post.
I have visited the Granger/Cresco settlement several times. It is interesting that the persons I know of in the settlement have addresses of Harmony, Minn., Cresco, Iowa or Lime Springs, Iowa. As far as I know, Granger, Minn. does not have a post office at this time. The village of Granger blends right into the village of Florenceville, Iowa (just across the border). Florenceville does not have a post office, either.
I am also a little familiar with the boundaries of the Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble settlement. I remember a few years ago when the scribe/reporter of news from a district north of Shipshewana reported that in The Budget newspaper that a family in their district had purchased a homestead just across the border and “we now have a family in our district who lives in Michigan”.
I have a question for Joe Donnermeyer — if an existing district’s boundaries now extends into another state, and there are members of an Amish church of another Amish affiliation who lives very close by, does the family who just moved there have to join that other church and become part of that affiliation? I was thinking not only of the Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble settlement extending into the area of the St. Joseph settlement, but also was thinking of the Elkhart-Lagrange-Noble settlement soon extending (if it doesn’t already) into the Nappanee settlement area. Are there any church rules about this?
Where are we getting these numbers from? Slightly over a dozen families in Cecil county? Maybe in Cecilton in southern Cecil county. But there are likely hundreds of Amish in northern Cecil county. There are many in north of North East, MD and in Rising Sun. I’m certain that Maryland numbers way off.
I’ll pass the question along to the compiler. So when you say hundreds, how many Amish houses would you say that is on the MD side of the line?