Amish in New Mexico?

Since 2020, a small Amish presence has been found in New Mexico, not far from the Colorado border, at Ortiz in Santa Fe County. And as to Amish in the Land of Enchantment, there is also one interesting nugget from Amish history worth mentioning. Kevin at the Amish Cook blog points to an article about Amish and Mennonites visiting the site of an old Amish settlement in New Mexico. It turns out Amish attempted to settle around the town of Chico in 1921, founding a community which maxed out at 10 families before expiring in 1929.

I haven’t been able to find evidence of other settlements, but it seems Beachy Amish have had and may still have a presence in New Mexico today. While the original link seems to have expired, here is another link to the cached version of the Trinidad News article (whoops-that’s gone now too!) where you can still read the text.

It’s an interesting article for the description of the settlement, but also as an example of Amish engaging in domestic historical tourism. Amish typically have an interest in their own history and genealogy, and some Amish even travel by boat to visit Anabaptist points of interest in Europe.

Of the New Mexico trip, the Amish tour historian commented that “It’s a thrill. It’s like a thrill of watching your kid be baptized or your marriage ceremony. It’s one of the highlights. It would be a right [sic] of passage for me as a senior.”

As for the Chico community itself, David Luthy adds the following on its demise, from his exceptional book The Amish in America: Settlements that Failed, 1840-1960:

“When the Amish had moved to New Mexico in 1921 there was a saying going around that the only people who died in New Mexico were the doctors who starved to death because the climate was so healthy that they didn’t get enough patients to make a living.  But the settlers soon wished they had never heard that saying.  While the climate was healthy, it might best be called a “vacation climate” rather than a “farming climate.”  All sunshine and no rain make tourists happy but not farmers.”

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    4 Comments

    1. Your comment about a farmer’s climate is interesting. Are there / have there ever been any Amish communities in Florida?

    2. Jason

      I bought a book in New Mexico called “No Life For a Lady”, an autobiography of a woman who grew up there during that time period. She talks about how the government attempted a homesteading program in New Mexico, which failed because the land wasn’t fertile enough for small farms. Only large-scale ranching that allowed cattle to forage over a wide area. It sounds like the Amish settlement fell prey to the same limits.

      It does make me wonder what would have happened if they’d adapted to their new surroundings and started Amish ranches. We’d have Amish cowboys.

      Of course, it didn’t happen that way, and probably for good reasons. I don’t think the open range lifestyle is compatible with the communitarian aspects of Amish society.

    3. Hi Breezy Point, there currently is an Amish community in Florida, at Pinecraft in Sarasota. It is one of the most unusual Amish communities. You can read more here: https://amishamerica.com/florida_amish_pinecraft/

      Jason, interesting, a lot of these settlements have failed because of poor growing conditions, plain and simple. I haven’t heard of any Amish cowboys, but from time to time you do see the occasional Amish person in the saddle–though that is a rare sight.

    4. Robert Shane

      While shopping at Cub Foods in Minnesota I noticed a two Amish chicken brest package had been marked at the same price as Tison,Golden Plump and Pilgram Farms. I bought two packages. The Amish product was clearly ten times better, in texture, color,taste and I will be willing to bet more healthy for people. I went back the next day to purchase but the price was changed to over $2.50 per/package more. I now live in New Mexico and would like to purchase my food from them rather then what I have been eating at Wal Mart. Is this possible?