Visiting the Unity, Maine Amish Settlement

Being a bit off the beaten path, we haven’t had too much on this site about Amish communities in Maine.  A reader recently visited the settlement at Unity and had the following story and photos to share.


My family was up in Maine this past weekend looking at land to purchase in Unity or Thorndike. The parcel we are most interested in is located near the Amish farm where it looks like a good deal of activity in the community *seems* to take place. We went around to where the Amish farm is to take a look and it is also the location of the “Community Market”.

The Community Market is still under construction and is located at the base of what looks like the central point of Community activity and endeavors and the large fields look like they grew a lot of product this past growing season.

Maine Amish Bakery

There was a lot of activity going on outside with several Amish men using a chainsaw to cut ice from a pond and using the horses and buggies to haul it off somewhere. There was an elderly woman there who was watching this going on and said pretty loudly, “….I haven’t seen that done in about 70 years.”

The Market would remind you of a small version of Lehman’s. It’s mostly a hardware store. My husband was relieved that there was such a high quality hardware store right there because there wasn’t a Home Depot in sight. They have wood cooking stoves on display and lots of oil lamps, etc. There was only a small section that had homemade items like pickles, pasta sauce, cookies. That was a bit disappointing. It was very dimly lit with propane lights.

Maine Amish Mill

The Amish gentleman manning the store was exceptionally friendly. Several of his daughters were helping him and also doing their schoolwork. His toddler was sitting off to one side on the store counter. He approached us and we explained what we were doing in the area and struck up a very easy non-touristy conversation about working land that hadn’t been farmed in 50 years or so and using the wood cook stoves in the home, etc. He has very limited solar at his house as it is gets to be expensive.

His daughters were very lovely and their heads kept popping up to look at us in wonder as we were talking about having our Maine home off-grid. This seemed to really amaze them.

Maine Amish Pie

He recommended we go around the corner to the Copp’s place (Living Grains Bakery) since I was looking for fresh bread. Mrs. Katie Copp was likewise very, very friendly and welcoming as was their daughter. The bakery is really a long table set out with some baked goods and pasta.

The remainder of the building is taken up with Mr. Copp’s wood items. His items are very refined and not bulky country items. The daughter was keen to show me her father’s wood items (including a handmade coffin on display…Note how Locust Grove’s motto includes “from the cradle to the grave”.).

Maine Amish Woodworks

A beautiful handmade case clock was slightly over $4,000. She explained the showroom was pretty bare because most of his pieces had been bought during Christmas. I guess no one wanted to fit a coffin under the tree for that someone special.

I was surprised at how professionally marketed each of the businesses are. No handmade signs. The signs for the businesses were custom made and very nice. The Copps have professionally printed brochures for each of their businesses.

Amish Coffins Maine

We only snapped one discreet picture of a buggy in front of us because we stand an excellent chance of moving there and didn’t want to be the losers who took pictures and then moved in.

Unity Maine Amish BuggyBesides their very real friendliness what surprised me the most were the children. No matter what age they were (and we saw toddler to about age 16/17) they were all very centered and calm. That kind of centered and calm that can’t be faked. Their manners were beautiful and authentic. That restlessness and high energy paired with edginess that is so prevalent in kids today was completely absent.

The locals do seem to most sincerely adore and value the Amish being there – genuinely so. Not as a curiosity. I think I read/heard somewhere that the Unity settlement hopes to be a “beacon” for people and I certainly saw that effect on all the locals who were in the Community Market. Just by being themselves and living their lives fully around the town they were making a positive mark.

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    1. Andrea


      What a lovely piece on Maine, the vistitor will be truly blessed to live in a place like Maine. Would love to live somewhere like that myself, work the land and live of the grid? How nice that would be. But i move to Dunblane Scotland next tuesday, and have a nice little piece of land in are garden were i will grow my own veg and have a few free range chickens, and the bonus is the people seem really nice too. 🙂

    2. John


      In 2009 we had an opportunity to visit the Unity Settlement over a weekend and had an amazing and heartwarming experience. Unity is connected with the Smyrna District in northern Maine. The incredible part of our visit was the mixture of the Old Order/New Order ways of life and the above story is a verification of what we experienced. When we planned our trip I mentioned we need to stay for the Sunday Church services and what an experience that was. This is the only group that I know who considers themselves as Old Order Amish that actually go out of their way to testify to the general public, neighbors and anyone that they meet. We were there before they had a Church House built so the Church service was in the building shown above, the Community Market. They had only chairs to sit on instead of benches, one side for men & boys and the other side for the women & girls, all facing the Ministers. They have one very unique way of life that is very different from any other Old Order Church that I am aware of and that is they have two translators for any of the neighbors/friends that may want to experience an Amish sermon, one man and one woman. All Amish Church services are split in two segments, the one being like a short introduction which includes a few hymns and the first Minister preaches about 20 minutes or so and it is split by a silent prayer, followed by the Main Sermon. The difference here was the first Minister preached in German and was translated to English to the “English” people there, this was two men and one lady, however the Main sermon is all English. The couple we stayed with has a daughter who married a man whose family converted to Amish, so the testimonies have the rewards.

      1. Interesting description John, from what Rich Stevick has shared I understand Pearisburg VA also has a translator(s?) as well.

      2. Shelli Block

        Great Post ! I have questions

        Hi,I”m Shelli and I’m writing an Amish book. I’ve been researching the Amish for 2 years.

        In your post you said that the OOA have a church building. This is rare among the OOA . Usually they have Church in their houses and their houses are built to accommodate church . Do you know why these OOA have a church building? Do the Modern Amish also go church there? According to an allegedly true book, do the Amish in Unity have church every Sunday? I have never heard of a church with translators, have you been to one of these services?
        I would appreciate any information you could give me.
        Thank you very much,

    3. Alice Aber


      What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it!! It certainly sounds like a place I would love to visit. It seems to me from reading various stories and my own personal experiences some Amish Communities are more welcoming than others. This sounds like an awesome place!

      Blessings, Alice

    4. Liz

      This writer’s description of mainstream teenagers is spot-on: “That restlessness and high energy paired with edginess that is so prevalent in kids today”. People like to blame it on hormones but I think the Amish kids have exactly the same hormones. Its about how kids are raised, the environment they are raised in, and the influences they are exposed to. I think the Amish have the right idea when it comes to raising kids.

      1. reader/contributor

        The Amish kids were probably on my “radar” because we have homeschooled our two children since 4th and 2nd grade, respectively. I am a product of 1980s Massachusetts (liberal) public education and my husband is the product of 1980s 1st tier, exclusive private schools (Choate and Andover).

        Regardless of their religious affiliation these children were centered, poised, and confident because their parents remain the primary influence in their lives, NOT schools (institutions), celebrities, or peers.

        Like the Amish children we observed, you can always pick homeschooled kidsokidsout in a crowd because they are so calm and polite….as my kids have been constantly “outed” as homeschooled by strangers throughout the years.

    5. Annmarie

      This place deems a visit:). Sounds a little like a small piece of heaven on earth!

      1. reader/contributor

        While Waldo County is indeed lovely, I would gently encourage people to please be realistic. Unity is an interesting choice for the Amish. It is very quiet, undeveloped – and a chunk of the Amish in the area are strategically located near the office of Maine Organic Farmer’s Association and the central farmer’s market in the ara – so they have followed the classic strategy in choosingnwhere to establish farms. Anyone who moves there with the goal of farming (like my family and the Amish) will most likely be hacking farms out of land that hasnt been farmed in 50-70 years. There is real evidence of grinding rural poverty as well as enduring Yankee, Maine spirit. That is the area’s real beauty (besides the views).

        If intense, back breaking farm work and subsistence farming off-grid is heaven on earth then unity may be a good choice. 😉

        Personally, I would

        1. reader/contributor

          …continuing my above comment:

          Personally, I would be impressed by the fact that the basic, “simple” level that these folks were living at (the store proprietor uses his stove to heat his family’s hot water needs – without the luxury of the hot water element option that can be ordered for these stoves) did not in any way “weigh” on him or his children. That is a very powerful lesson into and unto itself.

          We were truly impressed and humbled….and also knew that we would have the luxury of a battalion of solar panels to power my nuclear hot bubble baths.

          ….just encouraging people to keep it realistic. It’s not cute like Lancaster up there…it has a very stripped, rugged New England beauty. Very pioneering.

    6. SharonR

      Unity, Maine Amish settlement

      YES, indeed — a very good place to visit….agree with Liz – it’s all in the way children are raised, that effects how they are, in public or at home; Unity does sound like a small piece of Heaven on earth, just like Annmarie said! Maine is a place I’ve always wanted to see, and it’s on our ‘List’ to do, very soon.

    7. mark

      I thought these folks were Swartzentrubers but they don’t sound like such. Was Not sure why I thought that, though. Was I wrong?

      1. Valerie

        Not Swartzentrubers

        There are Swartzentrubers not too far from either the Smyrna or Unity Amish (I can’t remember which) that have been there a few years too, but Smyrna & Unity consider themselves Old Order.

    8. Morinne

      Unity Maine

      I was so happy to read the information about Unity Maine. I live in MA which is not too far away and have often thought of taking a ride to Unity to see the Amish. I had attended services at a conservative Mennonite church and one of the Mennonite families from there moved to Smyrna to join the Amish community. I often wonder how they are doing.

    9. MarkFitzGerald

      I’m not sure if this has been mentioned before, but the group in Unity has connections to the old Christian Community in Cookeville,TN , connected with Elmo Stoll. Elmo’s widow and sons are part of the group in Unity. Elmo was a foreward thinking Amish bishop – much concerned with a witness to the outside world. Anyone researching Elmo’s beliefs would get a good idea about what makes Unity so unique.

    10. Carolyn B

      After reading this and the comments, I feel very happy for your contributing reader, Erik. This settlement sounds like an ideal community to move into, whether you’re English or Amish.

    11. Susan Fryman

      I read this post daily and don’t comment often. Really enjoyed this post today. My husband and I live in Southern New Mexico in a mid sized town. We’re country folk at heart and have decided to sell and move. Unity sounds like a wonderful place. I wonder if the author would be willing to exchange emails with me about this? Also if anyone else knows of an Amish community that would welcome us, I would love to hear about it. We have similar views, values and beliefs as the Amish. We cherish peace and quiet and clean air and living. We just can’t be Amish due to medical disabilities at this point in our lives. We need a climately controlled home and electric to power our medical machines. Blessings and thank you. Susan Fryman susanngarrylee at yahoo dot com

      1. Ex Maine Boy


        I think a little more reality is in order. Rural life in central or northern Maine is far from the ideal picture you folks are discussing. And not every resident is as welcoming as you all may think. You would be considered “from away”. It’s like having a scarlet letter on your forehead. The poverty and the cold, and the darkness and length of the winters followed by the flood and mud season will defeat most newbies.

        I would suggest reconsidering.
        God bless.

      2. Jason Laws of Amity, Maine

        About Amish Home Builders

        While we were members of the Amish in Smyrna, Maine, we did not allow for jobs away from home either, but sometimes, on a temp. basis. So, I don’t know if anyone would do that or not, in Unity. People would always ask us at Sturdi-bilt {in Smyrna)if we did on-site work or not, and we would aways reply with a curt “no” But between myself and others in Maine, I am sure you can find a carpenter, even if they aren’t “Amish”….I am still a Christian 🙂

    12. Chris

      A nice article on Unity....

    13. Joan Sheldon

      Amish in Unity

      I am very glad to see such glowing reports of this wonderful Community that I spend a fair amount of time in. I was there just today, and I know all the people spoken of here, especially the Stolls and Copps. I agree with Mark about Elmo. I have read his book and some of his writings. John, since your visit in 2009, the Community has built a combination Meeting House and school so they don’t meet at people’s houses anymore except for evening singings. This area is indeed a piece of heaven on earth.

    14. Nelson

      Unity Amish

      Morrine, was the last name of that Mennonite family,Salisbury, who moved from Mass to Maine.
      They are still living up there in that area, but were not treated in a Christian way by the Amish in Smyrna, Maine and therefore left the group there…
      It is sad but true, and their daughter was even baptized into the Amish Church there,,, and is now studying to be in law enforcement..
      e-mail me if you want more info,,

      Yes, looking in from the outside is nice, in both Smyrna, and Unity, Maine..but if you ever try to become a member and see how the wheels of the Amish Church operates,,, you will someday learn that it does not operate its gears out of the Bible,,,
      Read Ernie Yoders comments on ,,,”So you want to Join the Amish”

    15. Nelson

      Check out

      Check out Ira Wagler’s website and read all of his interesting archives,,,
      He was a nephew of Elmo Stoll, and in one of his archives he has all, about Elmo’s life…

    16. Tara

      Unity Amish

      Unity is only about 3.5 hours from me and the closest Amish community. I plan to visit when the weather is warmer and I cannot wait. So glad I saw this article. I suspect I might have been Amish in a former life. 🙂

      1. reader/contributor

        I am the reader who is purchasing a farm in unity as our weekend home and visited the settlement in unity in this post. Our principal residence is in massachusetts. We are 3 hours from unity (which is exactly why we chose this area because it is a reasonable travel time for us to a 2nd home.

        Fyi For when u go up there….gps/navigation may try to direct u into thorndike. You want to be on route 220. Gps/navigation gets a bit wonky up there.

        1. ShipshewanaIndiana

          Best wishes

          Thank you for sharing with us! We moved into an Amish community six years ago and our lives have never been the same! Although we left and moved to another Amish area, we cannot imagine living away from the Amish. We wish you the best in your adventure!

    17. Janet Lance

      Question on Maine Amish home builders

      I love and miss Maine, my question is are there any Amish home builders.
      My husband and I own land in Cooper, Maine and would love to build a very small, one story home to move back home now that we are retired.
      Is there any contacts that would do work in the Washington County area?
      Any reply will be welcomed.
      Please feel free to contact us at

      Thank you and God Bless : }

      1. PLS

        Amish Home Builders

        @Janet Lance

        Hi Janet,
        My family is the one that purchased the weekend farm near the Unity settlement and we have lots of business interactions with them.

        While one of the businesses has done work on our house, the Unity Settlement does NOT have a construction crew as they do not like to engage in jobs off of their farms.

        I have no idea about the Amish in Aroostook.

        1. Janet Lance

          Hello PLS, thank you very much for the information.
          I am looking to build a small home in Cooper, Maine.
          I wonder if out of state Amish builders do travel to work.

    18. Pilgrim

      more from non plain backgrounds,joining or living with Amish in Maine than have been for a long time

      Interestingly,,some more and more families from non plain backgrounds are moving into and among the Amish of Hodgdon,Maine,,,some of which have driven horse and buggy before,went to cars ,and now back to horse and buggy…
      The bishop of all three communities,Crist Hilty,lives in Smyrna Mills ,Maine, and he pea and runs the store,on U.S. Highway 2…
      Their three communities are Smyrna Mills,Unity,and Hodgdon,Maine.

      1. Jason Laws of Amity, Maine

        Hello Pilgrim. I guess we will have to see how long they stay. When we left the Smyrna Amish, many others left, too. The one family moving in from Plain Christian in Corinna, was New Order at one point, left and is now going Old Order, but I think he is going to find them Out of Order; Hodgdon is a daugther settlement of Smyrna. Who art thou, Pilgrim? 🙂

    19. According to this article, Kenneth Copp is no longer Amish.

      Copp is a voracious learner with a deep-seated inclination to seek and to question. Those questions — about religion, God and the Earth’s history — eventually led to his decision to leave his Amish faith behind. His admiration for Amish traditions and lifestyle, however, remains largely unabated. Copp still wears Amish clothing for its practicality. He is an avid believer in reducing consumption of fossil fuels. He believes in shared community support, travels by horse and buggy almost exclusively and hopes to teach students at nearby Unity College about horse care and how to drive a horse and buggy.

    20. Butch TRACY

      New Community in Mercer, Maine

      I have visited here and other Maine Amish communities, always a pleasure. Two families have recently settled in my original home town of Mercer. I admire their ability to strike off from Ohio to settle in totally new territory. And at every place the home made goods are excellent. I love to surprise them with greetings and small talk in Pennsylvania Dutch which I picked up down there. They are so composed, yet friendly. I hope more will relocate here.

    21. Sorrel Wunderlin

      Wisconsin Amish

      We live rurally amongst the largest Old Order communities of Amish in Southwestern WI. I am privileged to know & call our close neighbors of nearly 30 years as good friends. I am a retired nurse & have gladly helped this community when asked if I was able. It’s a hard but peaceful joyful life which I am blessed and thankful for being a part if. I enjoy reading a out all the other interesting amish communities! Thank you for sharing.