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Unusual Amish names

Millers, Yoders, Schrocks, Stoltzfuses.  These names are a dime a dozen in Amish America.

Meet enough Amish people, and once in a while you’ll come across an unusual name, one that may sound non-Germanic or even a Germanic-sounding name that is simply uncommon.

The Amish have welcomed a fair share of converts to the faith over the years.  Last names such as Jones, Jess, Chupp and Delagrange have entered and remain within the Amish onomatology.

A number of Amish names present during the early years in America no longer exist among the Old Order.  These include Holly, Umble, Conrad, and Blough, all once present in Berks County, Pennsylvania, considered the earliest Amish settlement this side of the Atlantic.

Extinct Ohio names include Kennel, Wyse, and Nafziger.  Among the Iowa Amish were once found Goldsmiths, Klopfensteins, Rogies, and Wereys.

David Luthy continues on the topic in an issue of Family Life from June, 1973:

Many of these names vanished at the time of the church divisions between 1850 and 1880 when it has been estimated that two-thirds of the Amish left the old paths and went with the liberal Amish-Mennonite movement.  By the 1920’s this group had merged with the Mennonites, taking numerous once common Amish names into the Mennonite Church.

Luthy also examines the histories of names which entered the Amish ranks only to disappear again soon thereafter.  These include Smiley, Morrel, Hartz, Briskey, and Schwietert.

All of these names existed among the Amish for a generation or two, and then vanished, either due to an overabundance of daughters, or the general reluctance of male descendants to stick to the more conservative path.

Source:  David Luthy, New Names Among the Amish, Family Life June, 1973.

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    10 Comments

    1. I know in my pretty much daily work with the Amish I have come across a few last names the surprised me as well. Names like Mullet and Fry. In many cases it’s the first names that really surprise me though. I know more than few men named Laverne. Some other interesting ones are Ura, Mose, Atlee & even Casper.

    2. Jason sounds like you may be in N. Indiana…?

    3. VT Dairyman

      Our church has many Klopfenstiens, also many other German/Swiss sur-names like Bahler, Moser, Hoffman, Kloter, Kupferschmid, Luginbuhl, Reutter, Virkler, Wagenbach, and Zahner. Many of which have Amish/Mennonite roots. Also many immigrants in the 1850s. Our anabaptist church stems from the reformation movement but much later on, 1850s. Apostolic Christian Church.

    4. MA

      The Amish surname, Lee, supposedly has an interesting history.

    5. mike

      I am plannig on joining amish community or just live as amish do can you help me do this. I hope you can
      SINCELY
      MICHAEL D ANKENEY

    6. mike

      I am plannig on joining amish community or just live as amish do can you help me do this. I hope you can
      SINCELY
      MICHAEL D ANKENEY

    7. eric

      dear Michael,
      I’ve tried to “join” the Amish community ..as a single man it is very difficult – there is a large issue of lack of trust and willingness on part of Amish families to accept an English into their close family loop – also unless you are younger, ( 16-21) it is hard to establish creditablity .. many fears the Amish have are of Men who were English , going back to their old ways after they had become Amish , have married , have had children etc.
      – at the time I was very serious about living a plan lifestyle – had made many close friends I have today … however it was a political thing keeping me at bay ( maybe because of my age at the time of 24 .
      also I should remind you people are people – I know the language “pa dutch” and “blat dutch”- better than I let on ..and found out somethings I thought rather disturbing .
      anyway I feel your best bet would be to meet an elder , be ready to work for a young family as a hired man , live with them, attend church etc as I did – as a man with a wife and family( rather than being a single man) – I think you would stand a better chance .

      honestly you don’t need to become amish to be very good friends with the community ,and live the simple life – infact I truley believe the Amish like it better to have friends living the simple life in their community with abilities that their religion will not allow – I have Amish friends who are always asking me to come to farm auctions with them , and telling me I should buy land in their area .
      with todays technology you can live a more pure simple life not being amish, while being honest in your intention .
      also the best for last – it is difficult living with the hyprocy ..being raised outside of the faith. this you will have to learn first hand .
      best of luck , Eric

    8. La Vonne De Bois

      Unusual Sirnames amoung Amish in Holmes County are Swantz (could have moved from another Amish community), Lambright, Knowles, Kempf, Glick, Fehr, Beam and Oliver of which most of the latter have joined the Amish. First names stay rather consistant with the Culture as not to get to much attention or otherwise be considered to fancy.

    9. Dawn Isaman

      My Grandparents might have been Amish

      My grandmother name was was Hazel Phillips,, she married John Whybrew I was told we have Penn. Dutch in our family (German) . could my grandmother have been part of the Mennonight faith. She was born in Mishawaka In she also wore an small bonnet type hat all the time not like the Amish where but smaller, I do know she was born into a large family. Just wondering my mom dose not talk about her rieligous up bringing. Thank you an GOD BLESS

    10. Brian Paul Kaess

      A Question about Henry Miller Sr. (1726-1798)

      Hello,
      My name is Brian Paul Kaess, a U.S. Disabled Veteran (10%) living in Durango, Mexico. My father Gerd Edwin Kaess (1947-1972)was from the Neckar Valley, Germany. My 5th Great Grandfather was Henry Miller Sr. (1726-1798), who lived in both Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania and Virginia. Since his last name was Miller during that time period, is it possible he was related to the Amish or future Amish families? As far as I know, he was Scotch-Irish or English depending on how you look at it. Nonetheless, I thought he might be related to a future Amish convert in North America.
      Thank you for any insight you can provide.
      Brian Kaess